On February 18, 2015, the Internal Revenue Service issued Notice 2015-17 providing temporary relief from the excise tax under Code section 4980D for employer programs that reimburse employees for the cost of health insurance coverage purchased on the individual market (including coverage obtained through an Exchange). The Notice also extends limited excise tax relief to health care arrangements covering 2-percent shareholder-employees, employer reimbursements of Medicare Part B or D premiums, and programs that reimburse the medical expenses of employees enrolled in TRICARE. The Notice provides a brief but welcome respite for small employers that wish to reimburse employees for the cost of obtaining individual health insurance policies (on a pre-tax basis) rather than maintaining a group health insurance plan.
Employers grapple with the employee benefits consequences of employment terminations in a variety of contexts. In the retirement plan context when a vested participant’s employment ends the most significant consequence typically will be the participant's right to receive a benefit distribution. In most cases – where there is a complete cessation of employment, such that no further services will be provided to the employer or any member of its controlled group – the terms of the retirement plan governing benefit distributions (and the attendant administrative procedures) should apply without complication. But what happens if the terminating employee intends and expects to continue to work for the employer or to resume employment in some capacity after a short hiatus? In such cases, one must ask whether a bona fide termination of employment has really occurred. More specifically, the question is whether the “termination” is a termination that supports the payment of retirement benefits out of the employer’s tax qualified retirement plan.
The 2014 end-of-year rush seems somewhat less frantic than in years past. Nevertheless, with a month left in the year many employers may find themselves scrambling to meet plan amendment and notice deadlines, and planning for 2015 may still be in process for some. This summary discusses a few key developments regarding employee benefit plans – especially group health plans – for employers to consider as they finish 2014 and move into 2015, including developments in:
- Retirement Plans,
- Health Plans and Health Care Reform, and
- EEOC Challenges to Wellness Programs.
Join Richard Moon and Chris Lockman on Thursday, November 20, from 9:00 – 10:00 a.m. for a complimentary webinar that will provide a general overview of the final wellness program regulations and recent EEOC litigation attacking certain wellness programs. The DOL, HHS, and the Treasury Department have released detailed guidance explaining how wellness programs may be designed and operated in a manner that satisfies the nondiscrimination requirements of HIPAA. However, even an employer that has adhered to these regulations may not be insulated from EEOC enforcement activity and lawsuits brought under the ADA, Title VII or GINA. Recent litigation commenced by the EEOC brings these issues to the fore. Richard and Chris will explain the current state of affairs regarding wellness programs and offer recommendations for employers who wish to maintain compliant wellness programs while managing their exposure under the ADA, Title VII, and GINA.
Register for this webinar on the Verrill Dana website.
On October 31, 2014, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a statement delaying enforcement of the health plan identifier (HPID) requirement. Specifically, Controlling Health Plans (CHPs) are no longer required to obtain HPIDs by the originally announced deadline of November 5, 2014, which has been delayed “until further notice.” Because the duration of this enforcement delay is unknown, we recommend that CHP sponsors move forward with the application process to obtain HPIDs. Details about the HPID requirement and the application process are available here. We will continue to provide further updates on delayed enforcement of the HPID requirement on our blog, Employee Benefits Update.