By Adam-Paul John Tuzzo
While some states are clamoring for stricter laws concerning mandatory influenza vaccinations, some lawmakers in Wisconsin have taken the opposite approach.
A public hearing was held on Nov. 13, 2013 regarding Assembly Bill 247, which would prohibit Wisconsin employers – including health care employers – from demoting, suspending, firing or discriminating against employees who refuse a seasonal influenza vaccination. Read more…
Open enrollment season begins this week for the approximately 8 million federal workers and their dependents who receive health care coverage through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program or FEHB.
The 2010 Affordable Care Act calls for some changes in that coverage. Below are some frequently asked questions and answers about how the measure will impact federal workers’ health insurance.
Question: I work at a federal agency and am enrolled in FEHB. Does the Affordable Care Act require me to purchase health insurance on the law’s new online marketplaces, known as exchanges? Read more…
Weeks after denying labor’s request to give union members access to health law subsidies, the Obama Administration is signaling it intends to exempt some union plans from one of the law’s substantial taxes.
Buried in rules issued last week is the disclosure that the administration will propose exempting “certain self-insured, self-administered plans” from the law’s temporary reinsurance fee in 2015 and 2016.
That’s a description that applies to many Taft-Hartley union plans acting as their own insurance company and claims processor, said Edward Fensholt, a senior vice president at Lockton Cos., a large insurance broker. Read more…
By Robert C. Christenson
The IRS handed health care flexible spending account participants an early Christmas present on Halloween when it modified cafeteria plan “use-it-or-lose-it” rules so that $500 can be carried over from one year to the next in Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA).
Under Notice 2013-71, these accounts may now be modified so up to $500 can be carried over to defray qualifying medical costs in the next year. The rule change followed sharp criticism of the “use-it-or-lose-it” requirement, and concerns that participants were undergoing unnecessary medical procedures at the end of the year to avoid forfeiting account balances.
But the IRS gift comes at a price. Read more…
By Ilyse Wolens Schuman
While the federal government remained on shutdown mode, the House Small Business Committee, Subcommittee on Health and Technology held a hearing on Wednesday to discuss how the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) definition of “full-time employee” will impact small businesses.
Under the health care law’s employer responsibility requirements – commonly known as the “pay-or-play” provisions – an employer with 50 or more full-time or full-time equivalent employees will be required to provide health insurance that meets certain ACA standards to at least 95 percent of their full-time employees starting in 2015, or pay a penalty.
The Affordable Care Act considers a worker “full time” if he or she works 30 hours or more per week, as opposed to the customary 40 hours used in other employment statutes and regulations. Read more…
Health-law provisions taking effect next year could save U.S. employers billions of dollars in expenses now paid for workers who continue medical coverage after they leave the company, benefits experts say.
Insurance marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act are expected to all but replace COBRA coverage in which ex-employees and dependents can remain on the company plan if they pay the premiums.
“As soon as the law was passed, the question among employers and benefits people was: Is there still going to be a reason for COBRA?” said Steve Wojcik, vice president of public policy for the National Business Group on Health, an employer group. Offered a choice between heavily subsidized coverage in the health act’s insurance exchanges or paying full price under COBRA, he said, “most people are going to choose the exchange.” Read more…
We are at a watershed moment in the history of employee health care in the United States. As Obamacare gets ready to go live on October 1, many companies are making moves to move their normal company sponsored health care to private health care exchanges.
What’s a private health care exchange, you ask? In a nutshell, it’s very similar to a 401(k) offering, but for health insurance.
Basically, your company will give you an amount of cash, usually similar to what they pay normally for your health care, and you make the decision of what health insurance you want to buy.
Don’t panic, but you have to do this on your own. And insurance companies have figured out how to best take advantage of you and keep within the Obamacare rules. Read more…
United Parcel Service got attention by dropping some working spouses from its health plan and partly blaming the Affordable Care Act. But UPS’s move is only one among many changes in employer health insurance, most of them having little to do with the health law.
Employers are raising deductibles, giving workers health savings accounts that look like 401(k) plans, mimicking the health law’s online insurance marketplaces and nudging patients to compare prices and shop around for treatments.
Together the moves could eventually affect far more consumers than the law’s Medicaid expansion or health exchanges aimed at the uninsured and scheduled to open Oct. 1. Here’s a rundown. Read more…
Workers who lose their jobs and their employer-based health insurance will have new coverage options when the Affordable Care Act’s state marketplaces open in October. But consumer advocates are concerned many may not realize this and lock themselves into pricier coverage than they need.
Today, the only option for many laid-off workers is to continue their employer-provided coverage for up to 18 months under the federal law known as COBRA. Because they have to pay the entire premium plus a 2 percent administrative fee, however, the coverage can be a financial hardship for people who are scrambling to keep up with expenses after losing their jobs.
Many of these people will likely be better off buying a plan on the state health insurance marketplaces, also called exchanges. Read more…
It seems like there is weekly news to report on the Affordable Care Act — generally about a provision being delayed, infrastructure that’s not quite ready or some other administrative or technical gum in the works.
If you’re wondering how to keep track of what’s delayed, what’s not and what the current slate of ACA deadlines are, wonder no more. Here’s a rundown of where things stand to date:
The employer mandate
Requiring employers with more than 50 employees to offer health benefits, it has been delayed for one year to January 2015. However, ACA’s individual mandate remains in effect for January 1, 2014. Read more…