Human Resources

This is the Human Resources category of the Broad REach Benefits blog. At Broad Reach Benefits, we focus on employers that have between 30 and 500 benefit eligible employees. We’re employee benefit specialists, not a big box brokerage firm or payroll company with a sales force peddling policies.

IRS Releases Second Quarter Form 720 for PCORI Fee Payments

Employers that sponsor self-insured group health plans, including health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) should keep in mind the upcoming July 31, 2021 deadline for paying fees that fund the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).  As background, the PCORI was established as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to conduct research to evaluate the effectiveness of medical treatments, procedures and strategies that treat, manage, diagnose or prevent illness or injury.  Under the ACA, most employer sponsors and insurers are required to pay PCORI fees until 2029, as it only applies to plan years ending on or before September 30, 2029.

The amount of PCORI fees due by employer sponsors and insurers is based upon the number of covered lives under each “applicable self-insured health plan” and “specified health insurance policy” (as defined by regulations) and the plan or policy year end date.  This year, employers will pay the fee for plan years ending in 2020.

The fee is due by July 31, 2021 and varies based on the applicable plan year as follows:

  • For plan years that ended between January 1, 2020 and September 30, 2020, the fee is $2.54 per covered life.
  • For plan years that ended between October 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020, the fee is $2.66 per covered life.

For example, for a plan year that ran from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020 the fee is $2.54 per covered life. The fee for calendar year 2020 plans is $2.66 per covered life. The insurance carrier is responsible for paying the PCORI fee on behalf of a fully insured plan.  The employer is responsible for paying the fee on behalf of a self-insured plan, including an HRA.  In general, health FSAs are not […]

By |May 19th, 2021|Employee Benefits, Employee Communications, Human Resources, IRS, Medical, Private Health Care Exchange, U.S. Department of Labor, Voluntary Benefits|Comments Off on IRS Releases Second Quarter Form 720 for PCORI Fee Payments

Plan Design and Considerations Based on Section 1557 of the ACA and the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Employers that sponsor group health plans have many regulations to consider in their plan design choices, including nondiscrimination regulations. One of the newest sources of nondiscrimination rules is Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Employers also have to consider overarching laws and regulations that impact both their employment practices and their group health plans, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In recent years disparate treatment on the basis of sex, particularly gender identity and sexual orientation, has been a hotbed of discussion and litigation. Adding additional confusion has been shifts in interpretations and enforcement of Section 1557 between the last three presidential administrations.

Employers should be sure to consider the impact of both Section 1557, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as they make benefit plan design choices, as well as in developing overall employment practices.

Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Bostock v. Clayton County

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is an important law that is both a civil rights and labor law and on its basic level outlaws discrimination on the basis or race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. More specifically under Title VII, which governs equal employment opportunity, it is unlawful for an employer to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment for any of the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

The heart of the most recent Supreme Court ruling on Title VII in Bostock v. Clayton County was an employee’s “sex” included an employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity, therefore, protecting an employee from […]

By |May 14th, 2021|Broad Reach Benefits, Compliance, Employee Benefits, Health Care Reform, Human Resources, Legislation, Medical|Comments Off on Plan Design and Considerations Based on Section 1557 of the ACA and the Civil Rights Act of 1964

IRS Releases 2022 HSA Contribution Limits and HDHP Deductible and Out-of-Pocket Limits

In Rev. Proc. 2021-25, the IRS released the inflation adjusted amounts for 2022 relevant to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and high deductible health plans (HDHPs). The table below summarizes those adjustments and other applicable limits.

  2022 2021 Change
 

Annual HSA Contribution Limit

(employer and employee)

 

Self-only: $3,650 Family: $7,300 Self-only: $3,600 Family: $7,200 Self-only: +$50 Family: +$100
 

HSA catch-up contributions

(age 55 or older)

 

$1,000 $1,000 No change
 

Minimum Annual HDHP Deductible

 

Self-only: $1,400 Family: $2,800 Self-only: $1,400 Family: $2,800 No change
 

Maximum Out-of-Pocket for HDHP

(deductibles, co-payment & other amounts except premiums)

 

Self-only: $7,050 Family: $14,100 Self-only: $7,000 Family: $14,000 Self-only: +$50 Family: +$100

IRS Releases 2022 HSA Contribution Limits and HDHP Deductible and Out-of-Pocket Limits

In Rev. Proc. 2021-25, the IRS released the inflation adjusted amounts for 2022 relevant to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and high deductible health plans (HDHPs). The table below summarizes those adjustments and other applicable limits.

  2022 2021 Change
 

Annual HSA Contribution Limit

(employer and employee)

 

Self-only: $3,650 Family: $7,300 Self-only: $3,600 Family: $7,200 Self-only: +$50 Family: +$100
 

HSA catch-up contributions

(age 55 or older)

 

$1,000 $1,000 No change
 

Minimum Annual HDHP Deductible

 

Self-only: $1,400 Family: $2,800 Self-only: $1,400 Family: $2,800 No change
 

Maximum Out-of-Pocket for HDHP

(deductibles, co-payment & other amounts except premiums)

 

Self-only: $7,050 Family: $14,100 Self-only: $7,000 Family: $14,000 Self-only: +$50 Family: +$100

 

Out-of-Pocket Limits Applicable to Non-Grandfathered Plans

The ACA’s out-of-pocket limits for in-network essential health benefits have also been announced and have increased for 2022.

  2022 2021 Change
 

ACA Maximum Out-of-Pocket

 

Self-only: $8,700

Family: $17,400

Self-only: $8,550

Family: $17,100

Self-only: +$150

Family: +$300

 

Note that all non-grandfathered group health plans must contain an embedded individual out-of-pocket limit within family coverage if the family out-of-pocket […]

By |May 12th, 2021|Employee Communications, Human Resources, IRS, Legislation, U.S. Department of Labor, Voluntary Benefits, Wellness|Comments Off on IRS Releases 2022 HSA Contribution Limits and HDHP Deductible and Out-of-Pocket Limits

DOL Releases Model Notices and Other Resources Related to COBRA Premium Assistance

On April 7, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released a link to its webpage dedicated to the COBRA premium assistance authorized under the American Rescue Plan Act, 2021 (ARPA), the third COVID-19 stimulus bill.  The webpage includes model notices, frequently asked questions, and related information.  With the exception of the model notices, the guidance appears targeted towards impacted workers, leaving many employer-related questions unanswered.  This alert summarizes the recent guidance and model notices.

What does ARPA Provide and Who is an Assistance Eligible Individual?

Among other things, the ARPA provides a 100% subsidy for COBRA premiums for group health plans (other than health FSAs) from April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021 for assistance eligible individuals (AEIs).  AEIs are employees and their family members who are:

  • eligible for, and enroll in, COBRA (or state mini-COBRA) due to a reduction in hours or involuntary termination of employment;
  • not eligible for other group health plan coverage or Medicare; and
  • still within their maximum COBRA continuation coverage period (generally, 18 months).

AEIs include individuals newly eligible for COBRA between April 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021, individuals who were in their COBRA election period as of April 1, 2021, and individuals who would be AEIs but whose COBRA coverage lapsed due to non-payment prior to April 1, 2021.  AEIs also include any qualified beneficiaries, such as family members, who did not elect COBRA continuation coverage when first eligible.  Generally, this means an employee (and their qualified beneficiaries) with a COBRA start date on or after November 1, 2019, would have one or more months of eligibility for the COBRA subsidy.  Therefore, employers should identify any employees involuntarily terminated or whose hours were reduced on or after […]

By |April 8th, 2021|Broad Reach Benefits, Employee Benefits, Employee Benefits Adviser, Employee Communications, Health Care Reform, Human Resources, Medical, Private Health Care Exchange, U.S. Department of Labor, Voluntary Benefits, Wellness|Comments Off on DOL Releases Model Notices and Other Resources Related to COBRA Premium Assistance

Congress Passes the American Rescue Plan Act

Congress has passed, and President Biden has signed, the American Rescue Plan Act, 2021 (ARPA), the third COVID-19 stimulus bill.  This new $1.9 trillion stimulus package includes several health and welfare benefits-related provisions relevant to employers and plan sponsors, as summarized below.

FFCRA Paid Leave Extended and Enhanced

While COVID-19 vaccines are starting to become more readily available, the pandemic continues. In recognition, Congress extended through September 30, 2021, the refundable payroll tax credits for emergency paid sick leave (EPSL) and extended family and medical leave (E-FMLA), which were enacted pursuant to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.  As with the extension through March 31, 2021 under the second stimulus package (the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021), only the tax credits are extended, which means compliance with the EPSL or E-FMLA requirements is voluntary for employers after December 31, 2020.

The ARPA expands FFCRA leave in several ways for employers who choose to offer it from April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021:

  • The 10-day limit for EPSL resets as of April 1, 2021. Employees were previously limited to 80 hours from April 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021.
    • Paid leave continues to be limited to $511 per day ($5,110 total) for an employee’s own illness or quarantine (paid at the employee’s regular rate), and $200 per day ($2,000 total) for leave to care for others (paid at two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate).
  • A new “trigger” is added under both the EPSL and E-FMLA provisions. Employees qualify for leave if they are:
    • seeking or awaiting the results of a diagnostic test for, or a medical diagnosis of, COVID-19, and the employee has been exposed to COVID–19 or the employee’s employer has requested such test or diagnosis;
    • […]

By |March 14th, 2021|Compliance, Employee Communications, Human Resources, Legislation, Medical, U.S. Department of Labor|Comments Off on Congress Passes the American Rescue Plan Act

IRS Provides Guidance on FSA Relief Authorized in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, Grants Other Cafeteria Plan Relief

We are just weeks shy of the one-year anniversary of the President’s declaration of the COVID-19 National Emergency, and the COVID-19 National and Public Health Emergencies are still in effect.  As a result of the long-term impact of the pandemic, many employees faced forfeiting their unused health FSA and dependent care assistance program (DCAP) funds at the end of the 2020 plan year.

As a result, and as we previously reported, a second stimulus relief bill (the Consolidated Appropriated Act, 2021) was signed into law on December 27, 2020, which provided much-needed relief for health FSAs and DCAPs.  On February 18, 2021, the IRS released Notice 2021-15, which provides additional guidance related to the relief in the stimulus bill as well as further relief for cafeteria plans and HRAs.  The guidance and relief are summarized in more detail below.

IRS Guidance Related to the Second Stimulus Bill (CAA, 2021)

Health FSA and DCAP Carryovers – The stimulus bill authorized employers offering a DCAP or health FSA to allow participants to carry over all unused DCAP and health FSA contributions or benefits remaining at the end of the 2020 plan year to the 2021 plan year.  Notice 2021-15 clarifies that:

  • Employers may require employees to make an election in the 2021 or 2022 plan year to access the carryover from the previous plan year.
  • The carryover relief applies to all health FSAs, including limited purpose health FSAs.
  • If an employee uses the mid-year election change relief discussed elsewhere in this alert to prospectively elect to participate in the health FSA mid-year, the employee can access the full amount of their carryover from 2020 retroactive to January 1, 2021.
  • Employers can restrict the amount employees can carryover, i.e., […]
By |March 9th, 2021|Compliance, Employee Benefits, Employee Benefits Adviser, Employee Communications, Health Care Reform, Human Resources, IRS, Medical|Comments Off on IRS Provides Guidance on FSA Relief Authorized in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, Grants Other Cafeteria Plan Relief

How Many Years Is A One Year Extension? DOL Clarifies its Disaster Relief Guidance

The Department of Labor (DOL) has released Notice 2021-01, which clarifies the end date for the relief provided in April 2020 under Notice 2020-01. Per the latest guidance, individuals (and plans) are granted relief based on their own fact-specific timeframes and, therefore, may still take advantage of the relief beyond February 28, 2021 until the earlier of (a) 1 year from the date they were first eligible for relief, or (b) 60 days after the announced end of the COVID-19 National Emergency.

As background, in April 2020 the DOL announced that certain deadlines under ERISA were suspended starting March 1, 2020 until 60 days after the announced end of the COVID-19 National Emergency or such other date determined by the agencies (the “Outbreak Period”). The following deadlines applicable to participants and beneficiaries are tolled (paused) during the Outbreak Period:

  • The 30-day period (or 60-day period, if applicable) to request a HIPAA special enrollment;
  • The 60-day period for electing COBRA continuation coverage;
  • The date/deadline for making COBRA premium payments;
  • The deadline for individuals to notify the plan of a COBRA qualifying event or determination of disability;
  • The deadline within which employees can file a benefit claim, or a claimant can appeal an adverse benefit determination, under the group health plan or disability plan claims procedures described in the plan;
  • The deadline for claimants to file a request for an external review after receipt of an adverse benefit determination or final internal adverse benefit determination; and
  • The deadline for a claimant to file information to perfect a request for external review upon finding that the request was not complete.

Certain deadlines impacting employers/plan sponsors were also extended, such as the deadline to provide a COBRA election […]

By |March 1st, 2021|Broad Reach Benefits, Compliance, Employee Benefits, Human Resources, Legislation, Medical, Private Health Care Exchange, U.S. Department of Labor|Comments Off on How Many Years Is A One Year Extension? DOL Clarifies its Disaster Relief Guidance

EEOC Issues Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Related to Wellness Programs

Since 2019, employers faced uncertainty regarding the status of wellness program incentives under the ADA and GINA. On January 7, 2021, the EEOC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Wellness Programs Under the ADA and GINA that addresses this issue. The proposed rules deviate somewhat from prior EEOC guidance and positions.

Specifically, the proposed rules apply the ADA’s insurance “safe harbor” to health contingent wellness programs offered as part of, or qualified as, an employer-sponsored group health plan, thereby segregating them from health contingent wellness programs offered to all employees, regardless of their participation in the employer’s health plan.  Instead, the latter are lumped in with non-health contingent wellness programs (i.e., wellness programs that involve a disability-related inquiry or medical exam but are not activity-based or outcome-based) and subject to the ADA wellness rules.

Consistent with the EEOC’s announcement in the summer of 2020, the proposed rules require any incentives provided for participatory wellness programs and/or wellness programs not offered as part of a group health plan to be “de minimis.”  If the rules are finalized as proposed, employers may no longer rely upon the 30% (or 50% for smoking cessation) limit on incentives for these types of programs.

Finally, the proposed rules amend the GINA regulations by, among other things, limiting wellness program incentives for employees who complete health risk assessments that contain information about their spouse or dependents’ family medical history or other genetic information to a similar de minimis amount.

The proposed rules are described in more detail below.

Background

As background, under the ADA, wellness programs that involve a disability-related inquiry or a medical examination must be “voluntary.”  Similar requirements exist under GINA when there are requests for an employee’s family medical history […]

By |January 21st, 2021|Employee Benefits, Human Resources, Legislation, Medical, Voluntary Benefits, Wellness|Comments Off on EEOC Issues Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Related to Wellness Programs

Congress Passes a Second COVID-19-Related Stimulus Package

After weeks of negotiations, Congress overwhelmingly passed a second COVID-19 stimulus package – the COVID-Related Tax Relief Act of 2020 (COVIDTRA) and the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 (TCDTR), both part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA, 2021).  President Trump signed the bill into law on December 27, 2020.  The new stimulus package includes several employee benefits-related provisions relevant to health and welfare plans, as summarized below.  A provision on surprise medical billing (effective for plan years beginning in 2022) will be the subject of a future client alert.

FFCRA Paid Leave

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and the vaccine is unlikely to be available on a wide-scale basis in the next several months, the refundable payroll tax credits for emergency paid sick leave (EPSL) and extended family and medical leave (E-FMLA), which were enacted pursuant to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, are extended through March 31, 2021.  Notably, only the tax credits are extended, which means compliance with the EPSL or E-FMLA requirements is voluntary for employers after December 31, 2020.

The policy behind this may have been to incentivize employers to continue allowing employees in the middle of FFCRA leave as of January 1, 2021 to finish out, and be paid for, any remaining leave to which they would have otherwise been entitled.  The tax credit is only available for leave that would otherwise satisfy the FFCRA, had it remained in effect, i.e., if employees for whom the employer provides paid leave would otherwise meet the eligibility requirements under the FFCRA and did not use the full amount of EPSL or E-FMLA leave between April 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020.

Relief for Health Care and Dependent Care Flexible […]

By |December 28th, 2020|Employee Benefits, Employee Communications, Human Resources, Legislation, Wellness|Comments Off on Congress Passes a Second COVID-19-Related Stimulus Package

IRS Maintains Health FSA Contribution Limit for 2021, Adjusts Other Benefit Limits

On October 26, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released Revenue Procedure 2020-45, which maintains the health flexible spending account (FSA) salary reduction contribution limit from 2020, which is $2,750, for plan years beginning in 2021. Thus, for health FSAs with a carryover feature, the maximum carryover amount is $550 (20% of the $2,750 salary reduction limit) for plan years beginning or ending in 2021. The Revenue Procedure also contains the cost-of-living adjustments that apply to dollar limitations in certain sections of the Internal Revenue Code.

Qualified Commuter Parking and Mass Transit Pass Monthly Limit

For 2021, the monthly limits for qualified parking and mass transit are $270 each (which remain the same from 2020).

Adoption Assistance Tax Credit Increase

For 2021, the credit allowed for adoption of a child is $14,440 (up $100 from 2020). The credit begins to phase out for taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income in excess of $216,660 (up $2,140 from 2020) and is completely phased out for taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income of $256,660 or more (up $2,140 from 2020).

Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangement (QSEHRA) Increase

For 2021, reimbursements under a QSEHRA cannot exceed $5,300 (single) / $10,700 (family), an increase of $50 (single) / $100 (family) from 2020.

Reminder: 2021 HSA Contribution Limits and HDHP Deductible and Out-of-Pocket Limits

Earlier this year, the IRS announced the inflation adjusted amounts for HSAs and high deductible health plans (HDHPs).

 

  2021 (single/family) 2020 (single/family)
Annual HSA Contribution Limit $3,600 / $7,200 $3,550 / $7,100
Minimum Annual HDHP Deductible $1,400 / $2,800 $1,400 / $2,800
Maximum Out-of-Pocket for HDHP $7,000 / $14,000 $6,900 / $13,800

The ACA’s out-of-pocket limits for in-network essential health benefits have also increased for 2021.  Note that all non-grandfathered group […]

By |October 28th, 2020|Compliance, Employee Communications, Human Resources, IRS, Medical|Comments Off on IRS Maintains Health FSA Contribution Limit for 2021, Adjusts Other Benefit Limits