Affordable Care Act

Legal Alert- IRS Issues Affordability Percentage Adjustment for 2022

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released Rev. Proc. 2021-36, which contains the inflation adjusted amounts for 2022 used to determine whether employer-sponsored coverage is “affordable” for purposes of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) employer shared responsibility provisions and premium tax credit program. As shown in the table below, for plan years beginning in 2022, the affordability percentage for employer mandate purposes is indexed to 9.61%.  Employer shared responsibility payments are also indexed.

Code Section 4980H(a) 4980H(b) 36B(b)(3)(A)(i)
Description Coverage not offered to 95% (or all but 5) of full-time employees. Coverage offered, but unaffordable or is not minimum value. Premium credits and affordability safe harbors.
2022* $2,750 $4,120 9.61%
2021 $2,700 $4,060 9.83%
2020 $2,570 $3,860 9.78%
2019 $2,500 $3,750 9.86%
2018 $2,320 $3,480 9.56%
2017 $2,260 $3,390 9.69%
2016 $2,160 $3,240 9.66%
2015 $2,080 $3,120 9.56%
2014** $2,000 $3,000 9.50%

*Section 4980H(a) and (b) penalties 2022 are projected.

**No employer shared responsibility penalties were assessed for 2014.

Under the ACA, applicable large employers (ALEs) must offer affordable health insurance coverage to full-time employees. If the ALE does not offer affordable coverage, it may be subject to an employer shared responsibility payment. An ALE is an employer that employed 50 or more full-time equivalent employees on average in the prior calendar year. Coverage is considered affordable if the employee’s required contribution for self-only coverage on the employer’s lowest-cost, minimum value plan does not exceed 9.61% of the employee’s household income in 2022 (prior years shown above). An ALE may rely on one or more safe harbors in determining if coverage is affordable: W-2, Rate of Pay, and Federal Poverty Level.

If the employer’s coverage is not affordable under one of the safe harbors and a […]

By |September 21st, 2021|Affordable Care Act, Compliance, Disability, Employee Benefits, Employee Benefits Adviser, Employee Communications, Human Resources, IRS, Legislation, Medical, Private Health Care Exchange, U.S. Department of Labor, Wellness|Comments Off on Legal Alert- IRS Issues Affordability Percentage Adjustment for 2022

President Orders OSHA To Develop Mandatory Vaccine Requirement for Large Employers

President Biden announced that he ordered OSHA to develop emergency temporary standards (ETSs) that would require employers with 100 or more employees to mandate that employees either receive one of the three available COVID-19 vaccines or submit to at least weekly COVID-19 testing.  Employers who do not comply with these requirements could be fined approximately $13,650 per employee.  The President also announced the OSHA ETSs will require employers to offer paid time off to employees to receive the vaccine, as well as any time necessary to recover from a reaction to the vaccine.

The President also issued executive orders requiring federal executive branch employees to be fully vaccinated (i.e., no weekly testing option) and federal contractor employees under new or newly extended/newly optioned contracts to comply with vaccine safety protocols.  He also announced (1) health care workers at certain facilities that receive Medicaid or Medicare funding must be fully vaccinated, (2) that the Department of Transportation will double its fines for individuals who refuse to wear masks on public transportation, and (3) increased testing availability for individuals either at home (through certain, chosen retailers who will sell the kits at cost) [1] and at pharmacies.

The pending OSHA ETSs, and approaches large employers (i.e., 100 or more employees) and small employer (i.e., fewer than 100 employees) can take to incentivize vaccines are the focus of this alert.

Background

On August 23, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, one of the three COVID-19 vaccines approved for emergency use in the United States.  Due to this approval and the rampant spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant, employers recently began implementing different approaches to encourage individuals to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.  Some […]

By |September 16th, 2021|Affordable Care Act, Compliance, Employee Benefits, Employee Benefits Adviser, Employee Communications, Health Care Reform, Human Resources, Legislation, Medical, U.S. Department of Labor, Wellness|Comments Off on President Orders OSHA To Develop Mandatory Vaccine Requirement for Large Employers

Summary of Mental Health Parity and Transparency Provisions Under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (the “CAA”), which was signed into law on December 27, 2020, included several provisions impacting group health plans and health insurance issuers.  Below is a summary of the provisions focused on mental health parity and health plan transparency (specifically, broker/consultant commissions and pharmacy benefits and drug costs).

Mental Health Parity

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA), prohibits a group health plan from applying financial requirements (e.g., deductibles, co-payments, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket maximums), quantitative treatment limitations (e.g., number of treatments, visits, or days of coverage), or non-quantitative treatment limitations (such as restrictions based on facility type) to its mental health and substance use disorder benefits that are more restrictive than those applied to the plan’s medical and surgical benefits.

MHPAEA compliance has been a focus in DOL audits in recent years.  As part of the action plan for enhanced enforcement in 2018, the DOL, HHS and IRS released a self-compliance tool plans and issuers can use to evaluate their plan.  However, Section 203 of the CAA took this a step further, requiring more active engagement by group health plans.

Beginning on February 10, 2021, group health plans were required to perform and document comparative analyses of the design and application of non-quantitative treatment limitations (NQTLs).  Specifically, the NQTL analyses must include certain information specified in the CAA, such as, among other things, specific plan terms or other relevant terms regarding NQTLs and the specific substance abuse, mental health, medical and surgical benefits to which they apply, and the factors used to determine that NQTLs will apply to mental health or substance use disorder benefits and medical or surgical benefits.

Per the CAA, the DOL, IRS (Treasury) and HHS are […]

By |August 23rd, 2021|Affordable Care Act, Compliance, Employee Benefits, Employee Communications, Health Care Reform, Human Resources, IRS, Legislation, Medical, U.S. Department of Labor, Voluntary Benefits, Wellness|Comments Off on Summary of Mental Health Parity and Transparency Provisions Under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021

Legal Alert: COVID-19 Plan Design

As the United States continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccinations of Americans age 12 and older is underway with approximately half of the eligible population vaccinated against the virus. In the United States, there are currently three vaccines — one from Moderna, one from Pfizer and one from Johnson & Johnson—that are available, with distribution being handled at the state and local level.

To help combat the pandemic, many employers are implementing some level of a vaccine mandate at work, with some employers requiring all employees who return to the office to be vaccinated (e.g., Google, Facebook), requiring all new hires to show proof of vaccination (Delta Airlines) or merely requiring all their U.S.-based employee population to be vaccinated by a certain date (United Airlines). Members of the United States military will also be required to be vaccinated as a matter of national security to maintain military readiness.

As businesses are eager to return to the office and bring customers back on-site as applicable, many employers are wondering if they can modify their group health plan design to provide richer benefits for employees who are vaccinated.

Specifically, employers are wondering if:

  • They can limit eligibility for their group health plan to only employees who have received the vaccine (or who have a medical or religious waiver);
  • They can charge vaccinated employees lower premiums, co-pays, or deductible limits (or, conversely, charge non-vaccinated employees higher premiums, co-pays or deductibles);
  • Exclude all COVID-19 treatment from group health plan coverage for employees who are not vaccinated (example: the plan would deny all claims for out-patient, in-patient or prescription drug treatment of COVID-19 for individuals who are not vaccinated;
  • Provide larger HSA, HRA, or FSA contributions to individuals who are vaccinated.

At the most […]

By |August 16th, 2021|Affordable Care Act, Compliance, Employee Benefits, Employee Benefits Adviser, Employee Communications, Health Care Reform, Human Resources, Medical, Wellness|Comments Off on Legal Alert: COVID-19 Plan Design

Agencies Release First Rule on the No Surprises Act

On July 13, 2021, the DOL, HHS, and IRS released a joint Interim Final Rule implementing specified provisions of the No Surprises Act, a new law included within the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.  The No Surprises Act addresses, among other things, a prohibition on surprise billing, which impacts emergency room parity rules previously implemented under the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) and ACA provisions related to provider choice.

The Interim Final Rules will be finalized on September 13, 2021 and apply for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2022.

Background 

ACA Provider Choice and Emergency Services Requirements

Under §2719A of the ACA, most group health plans that require designation of a participating primary care provider must permit the participant or beneficiary to designate an available, participating primary care provider of their choice, and must inform participants of their ability to make a designation or, if they don’t, a primary care provider will be designated for them. A participant can designate a pediatric primary care provider for children, and the notice must inform participants and beneficiaries that they do not need prior authorization from the plan to access participating Ob-Gyn providers, though prior authorization may be required for certain services and providers may have to comply with any referral processes.  The ACA did not extend these requirements to “excepted benefits” such as stand-alone dental or vision plans, and grandfathered health plans were exempt from complying.

Additionally, §2719A of the PHSA requires emergency services to be provided:

  • Without prior authorization (whether they are provided by an in-network or out-of-network provider);
  • Without regard to whether the health care provider furnishing the emergency services is a participating network provider with respect to the services; and
  • Without imposing administrative requirements or limitations […]
By |August 10th, 2021|Affordable Care Act, Compliance, Employee Benefits, Employee Benefits Adviser, Employee Communications, Health Care Reform, IRS, Medical, U.S. Department of Labor, Voluntary Benefits, Wellness|Comments Off on Agencies Release First Rule on the No Surprises Act

IRS Issues Affordability Percentage Adjustment for 2021

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released Rev. Proc. 2020-36, which contains the inflation adjusted amounts for 2021 used to determine whether employer-sponsored coverage is “affordable” for purposes of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) employer shared responsibility provisions and premium tax credit program. As shown in the table below, for plan years beginning in 2021, the affordability percentage for employer mandate purposes is indexed to 9.83%.  Employer shared responsibility payments are also indexed.

Code Section 4980H(a) 4980H(b) 36B(b)(3)(A)(i)
Description Coverage not offered to 95% (or all but 5) of full-time employees. Coverage offered, but unaffordable or is not minimum value. Premium credits and affordability safe harbors.
2021* $2,700 $4,060 9.83%
2020 $2,570 $3,860 9.78%
2019 $2,500 $3,750 9.86%
2018 $2,320 $3,480 9.56%
2017 $2,260 $3,390 9.69%
2016 $2,160 $3,240 9.66%
2015 $2,080 $3,120 9.56%
2014** $2,000 $3,000 9.50%

*Section 4980H(a) and (b) penalties 2021 are projected.

**No employer shared responsibility penalties were assessed for 2014.

Under the ACA, applicable large employers (ALEs) must offer affordable health insurance coverage to full-time employees. If the ALE does not offer affordable coverage, it may be subject to an employer shared responsibility payment. An ALE is an employer that employed 50 or more full-time equivalent employees on average in the prior calendar year. Coverage is considered affordable if the employee’s required contribution for self-only coverage on the employer’s lowest-cost, minimum value plan does not exceed 9.83% of the employee’s household income in 2021 (prior years shown above). An ALE may rely on one or more safe harbors in determining if coverage is affordable: W-2, Rate of Pay, and Federal Poverty Level.

If the employer’s coverage is not affordable under one of the safe harbors and a full-time employee is approved […]

By |August 6th, 2020|Affordable Care Act, Employee Benefits, Employee Benefits Adviser, Employee Communications, Legislation, Medical|Comments Off on IRS Issues Affordability Percentage Adjustment for 2021