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Inside Compensation

Developments in Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation

ACA Prohibits Discrimination Against Licensed Providers

Posted in Health Plans, Welfare Plans

One of the more obscure provisions of the Affordable Care Act says that a group health plan may not discriminate against “any health care provider who is acting within the scope of that provider’s license or certification under applicable State law.”  What on earth does this provision mean?  Apparently not even the federal government is sure. Continue Reading

New Medicare Tax Makes FICA Errors Harder to Correct

Posted in Employment Tax, Executive Compensation (US)

Withholding and paying FICA tax on nonqualified deferred compensation can be a tricky business.  Because special timing rules apply to FICA tax, employers can’t simply withhold and pay FICA tax when they pay deferred compensation to the employee.  Instead, FICA tax is due when the deferred compensation vests (or, in some cases, when the amount of the deferred compensation can be determined).

It is not always easy to tell when these triggering events occur.  In fact, it is sometimes hard to tell whether compensation is “deferred compensation” that is subject to the special timing rules.  Employers faced with these complications often discover long after the fact that they have failed to withhold and pay FICA tax on deferred compensation when the tax was due.  The additional 0.9% Medicare tax introduced in 2013 makes these errors much more difficult to correct. Continue Reading

IRS Releases ACA Reporting Forms

Posted in Health Plans, Welfare Plans

Starting in 2015, the Affordable Care Act imposes burdensome new reporting requirements on employers and insurers that provide group health coverage.  We described the reporting requirements in earlier posts, here and here.

Employers and other reporting entities have anxiously awaited the IRS forms on which these reports will be made, so that they can program and test their computer systems, develop administrative procedures, coordinate reporting responsibility with their affiliates, and make arrangements with their business partners to collect and report the necessary information.  The IRS posted drafts of the reporting forms on its website yesterday.  Unfortunately, however, the instructions to the forms—which are expected to provide much of the detail programmers will need—will not be available until August. Continue Reading

Key Component of Affordable Care Act Might Be Invalid

Posted in ERISA Litigation, Health Plans, Welfare Plans

Yesterday two federal courts of appeal reached opposite conclusions on the question whether individuals in 34 states are eligible for federal subsidies when they purchase health insurance coverage.  Depending on how this issue is resolved, it could have a significant impact on the future of the Affordable Care Act, including the employer mandate scheduled to take effect in 2015. Continue Reading

Health Plans Have an Extra Year to Prepare for ICD-10—And They Might Need It

Posted in Health Plans, Welfare Plans

Group health plans with 50 or more participants, including self-insured plans, must be able to conduct electronic transactions in accordance with HHS standards and operating rules.  One of the more challenging aspects of the electronic transaction rules has been the transition to the new International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision (ICD-10) codes for health claims. Continue Reading

EEOC Issues New Guidance on Pregnancy Benefits

Posted in Employment, Fringe Benefits, Health Plans, Welfare Plans

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has issued new enforcement guidance explaining when an employer’s policies affecting pregnant employees might violate federal law.  The new guidance appears in an updated chapter of the EEOC’s enforcement manual, and in a related set of questions and answers.  Among other topics, the new guidance addresses the rights of pregnant employees under employer health plans, fringe benefit programs, and other benefit plans. Continue Reading

Health Plans Must Certify Ability to Conduct Electronic Transactions

Posted in Health Plans

By December 31, 2015, group health plans must complete a testing process and certify that they are able to conduct electronic transactions in accordance with uniform standards and operating rules.  Plans must also ensure that third-party administrators and other outside vendors are in compliance with the electronic transaction rules if the vendors conduct transactions on the plans’ behalf.

December 2015 might seem a long way off to group health plan sponsors and administrators focused on ACA’s shared responsibility rules.  Plan sponsors should bear in mind, though, that compliance with the certification requirements for electronic transactions can involve significant lead time.  Failure to comply carries substantial penalties.  Accordingly, group health plan sponsors that have not already addressed the electronic transaction rules might wish to develop a timetable for compliance. Continue Reading

Can You Reduce Your VEBA’s Taxable Income?

Posted in Health Plans, Plan Investments, Welfare Plans

Recent guidance from the IRS suggests that it will be helpful to segregate funding for retiree health benefits from funding for all other welfare benefits (such as retiree life insurance, disability benefits, and health benefits for active employees) in order to minimize tax liabilities.  A proposed regulation issued earlier this year indicates that segregating the retiree health assets in a separate trust might reduce the unrelated business income tax on the trust’s investment income.  (As we explain below, this tax issue is limited to benefits that are not collectively-bargained.) Continue Reading

Health Plan I.D. Application Deadline Is Approaching

Posted in Health Plans

Group health plan sponsors and administrators focused on compliance with ACA’s shared responsibility rules might not be aware that another compliance deadline is looming.   By November 5, 2014, most group health plans must apply to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for a unique health plan identifying number.  (Please visit the “Deadlines” page of our blog for information about other approaching deadlines.)

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