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What Employers Need to Know About Telemedicine and HSA Eligibility

Telemedicine is becoming a popular method of providing a variety of medical services. Telemedicine benefits allow employees to interact with their doctor via phone, video chat, email or text for diagnosis, consultation, and treatment.

Employers that offer high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) that are compatible with health savings accounts (HSAs) need to understand how a telemedicine benefit may impact participants’ HSA eligibility.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has not specifically addressed the impact of telemedicine on HSA eligibility. However, the general rules for HSA contributions strictly limit the types of health plan coverage that eligible individuals may have. Whether telemedicine is disqualifying coverage for HSA purposes depends on how the telemedicine benefit is structured. Employers that want to offer a telemedicine benefit while preserving HSA eligibility will need to make sure that the telemedicine benefit is designed in a way that is HSA–compatible.

Telemedicine Benefits

Telemedicine is a way for health care professionals to provide patient care through technology (such as a web-based communication or phone/video chat) rather than in-person consultations. For example, through telemedicine, a patient may be able to communicate in real-time with his or her doctor from home via phone, video chat, email or text for the purpose of medical evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment.

While telemedicine is not a new type of employee benefit, it is growing in popularity with employers and employees. Telemedicine can provide easier access to health care services for employees who live in rural areas and employees who travel frequently for work. By accessing health care professionals through telemedicine, employees can avoid having to take time off from work for in-person office visits. Also, because telemedicine consultations are generally less expensive than in-person visits, incorporating a telemedicine benefit may help control health coverage costs. In some states, health insurance policies are required to cover at least some telemedicine services.

Before implementing a telemedicine benefit, employers should consider the compliance issues associated with this type of benefit. Employers that sponsor HDHPs will also want to consider whether the telemedicine coverage could disqualify employees from making HSA contributions.

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By |March 22nd, 2017|Uncategorized|Comments Off on What Employers Need to Know About Telemedicine and HSA Eligibility

Legal Alert: IRS Increases Health FSA Contribution Limit for 2017, Adjusts Other Benefit Limits

On October 25, 2016, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released Revenue Procedure 2016-55, which raised the health Flexible Spending Account (FSA) salary reduction contribution limit to $2,600 for plan years beginning in 2017. The Revenue Procedure also released the cost-of-living (COLA) adjustments that apply to dollar limitations in certain […]

By |November 1st, 2016|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Legal Alert: IRS Increases Health FSA Contribution Limit for 2017, Adjusts Other Benefit Limits

Department of Labor Compliance Assistance

You receive a letter in the mail notifying you that your company is being audited by the Department of Labor. Once the shock wears off you immediately start thinking back, is my benefit plan in compliance, did that last notice about the ACA go into effect, did I make the update, what about fines and penalties, am I subject to those? Why was my company selected to be audited? Instead of staying up at night worrying about whether your organization is […]

By |October 17th, 2016|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Department of Labor Compliance Assistance

EMPLOYER ALERT – IRS EMAIL SCAM

The newest scam involving a fraudulent email notice from the Internal Revenue (IRS) may have your employees coming to you asking about their insurance coverage for […]

By |September 28th, 2016|Human Resources, Uncategorized|Comments Off on EMPLOYER ALERT – IRS EMAIL SCAM

What You Need To Know about Narrow Provider Networks

So what’s a narrow network?  Narrow networks are health plans that offer their subscribers a limited choice in health care providers compared to their larger national or regional network.  These plans contract with a smaller group of doctors, specialists and hospitals, and those entities are then considered in-network.

Because all plan participants are directed toward certain facilities and physicians, these providers can then reduce the cost for each visit and service—operating under the idea of “buying in bulk.” This, in turn, results in lower premiums for the consumer and cost savings for insurers.

In recent years, narrow networks have gained popularity.  Many unsuspecting consumers have purchased health plans in the market and were unaware that the plan they purchased had one of these narrow networks.

On the employer side do these narrow network options makes sense?  They can in the right situations such as using a narrow network plan as a low-cost employee option alongside your other medical plan offerings.  And of course, you absolutely need to effectively educate your employees.

Why are narrow networks becoming more popular?

Narrow networks have been around long before the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In fact, 23 percent of employer-sponsored health plans offered narrow networks in 2012. However, their popularity has accelerated since the ACA was signed into law and the Health Insurance Marketplace was created.

Since insurers can no longer compete to cover the healthiest group of individuals or raise deductibles past the ACA’s limits, some have turned to narrow networks as a way to manage expenses. According to a study by McKinsey & Co., a consulting firm, 70 percent of the plans sold on the Marketplace in 2014 featured a limited network. Premiums for those plans were 17 percent cheaper than those with […]

By |July 20th, 2016|Employee Benefits, Employee Benefits Adviser, Uncategorized|Comments Off on What You Need To Know about Narrow Provider Networks

Beware of FICA-Reduction Arrangements using Wellness Programs

It has come to our attention that certain arrangements are being marketed to employers that are intended to reduce an employer’s FICA obligation by significantly increasing employees’ pre-tax salary reductions. We want to caution employers against entering into these types of arrangements before having a conversation with an employee benefits attorney who understands them. This alert provides some background on these schemes and our concerns with them.

Background
Over the last 15 years, we have seen certain arrangements that reappear from time to time. They come with various bells and whistles but they all have a common feature: They purport to have found a new way to save employer’s money on their FICA contributions at no cost to the employer or employees. Promotional materials from the vendor show employees receiving the same take home pay they received prior to the employer adopting the program, with perhaps even a little extra to spend on voluntary products.

The earliest versions were known as “double-dip” arrangements, where employees were reimbursed for premiums that had already been paid on a pre-tax basis. Once those were prohibited (Rev. Rul. 2002-3), variations surfaced. Under one, employees were reimbursed in advance for potential future medical expenses. Under another, employees received “loans” that were either offset by unreimbursed medical expenses or forgiven. In response, the IRS issued guidance (Rev. Rul. 2002-80) prohibiting those two variations. A more recent twist on the loan program involves the use of credit life insurance to secure the loan rather than it being forgiven, although it would also appear to be prohibited under Rev. Rul. 2002-80, as it is understood that the employee will never become obligated to repay any of the purported “loan.” A loan that is forgiven, or […]

By |May 31st, 2016|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Beware of FICA-Reduction Arrangements using Wellness Programs

Understand Your Group Long Term Disability Plans Income Offsets Before an Employee goes out on Disability

Long Term Disability coverage is one of the most important benefits you provide your employees.  If an employee is unable to work due to an accident or illness, Long Term Disability Insurance provides the money to replace their lost income.  And if they are out on disability you know that every penny counts.

It’s important to understand exactly how your Group Long Term Disability contract is structured to offset with other income sources.  Too many times no one takes notice until an employee actually goes out on disability.

Disability Payment Offsets

As an employer, you want to make sure your employees are taken care of but you also don’t want your employee who is out on long term disability earning more money from their disability coverage than they were earning while actively at work.  What is the employees’ incentive to come back to work?  To avoid a situation such as this, most disability policies have provisions that reduce or offset the Long Term Disability (LTD) benefits being paid when an employee has other sources of income.  Below is a summary of the five most common offsets for total disability claims: […]

By |May 15th, 2016|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Understand Your Group Long Term Disability Plans Income Offsets Before an Employee goes out on Disability

Happy New Year- ACA Reporting Deadlines Delayed

OVERVIEW

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Notice 2016-4 on Dec. 28, 2015 to delay the due dates for filing and furnishing forms under Section 6055 and 6056.

  • The due date for furnishing forms to individuals has been extended from Feb. 1, 2016, to March 31, 2016.
  • The due date for filing forms with the IRS has been extended from Feb. 29, 2016, to May 31, 2016 (or, from March 31, 2016, to June 30, 2016, if filing electronically)

ACTION STEPS

The IRS is encouraging employers and other coverage providers to furnish statements and file information returns as soon as they are ready.

The new deadlines are more generous than prior extensions and apply automatically to all reporting entities. No request or additional documentation is required. Entities that had previously requested extensions will not be receiving formal approval of those requests. […]

By |December 30th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Happy New Year- ACA Reporting Deadlines Delayed

ACA Subsidies in Federal Exchanges Upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court today issued a final ruling in King v. Burwell. This is the case that challenged the availability of health insurance Exchange subsidies in states with Exchanges run by the federal government.

In a 6-3 decision, the Court held that, in drafting the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Congress intended for the federal government to provide subsidies in all states—those that established their own Exchanges and those that have federally facilitated Exchanges, or FFEs.

According to the Supreme Court, without the availability of these subsidies in all states, several other key ACA provisions would not operate as intended (including the individual mandate and the employer shared responsibility rules). The Court’s ruling means that subsidies are available in all states, including those with FFEs. […]

By |June 25th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on ACA Subsidies in Federal Exchanges Upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court

Summer 2015- Minimum Wage Rate Increases

Most employers in the United States are subject to the minimum wage provisions of the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA). These employers are required to pay their employees a wage rate of at least $7.25 per hour. However, many states have adopted minimum wage rates higher than the federal rate. When the state rate and the federal rate are different, employers must pay their employees the higher rate.

As of April 2015, 29 states and the District of Columbia have already adopted a minimum wage rate higher than the federal minimum wage rate.

During the summer of 2015, four jurisdictions will see an increase in their minimum wage rate. Affected employers should review their employees’ pay rates and update their minimum wage poster notices as necessary to ensure their compliance with wage and hour regulations. […]

By |June 5th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Summer 2015- Minimum Wage Rate Increases