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The New Year and How It May Affect Your Benefits

The beginning of 2017 signals a new plan year for some insurance plans. For individuals with these plans, this means that any changes made to health plans and new deductibles will take effect Jan. 1, 2017.

It will be important to keep these changes in mind when you or your family seek out health care. You should also be on the lookout for things like changing prescription drug coverage limits and changing copay amounts.

In addition to reviewing your policy, be sure to follow these quick tips to be a wise health care consumer next year:
• Consider using generic prescription drugs instead of brand-name drugs, when possible.
• Shop around for the lowest rates before visiting a doctor, when possible.
• Visit the emergency room for emergencies only.
• Opt for outpatient care instead of inpatient care when given the choice.

Contact Warren G. Bender Co. today if we can help you with your Employee Benefit needs: 916-380-5300

Filed under: Employee Benefits — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 10:25 pm December 22, 2016

Educational Assistance Programs: What you need to know

About 40 percent of private sector employers offer work-related educational assistance as part of their fringe benefits package, and 15 percent of employees are offered employer reimbursement for non-work related educational courses.

Educational Assistance Programs
An educational assistance program is an employer-sponsored program that reimburses employees for educational expenses. Employees can be reimbursed for almost any type of educational courses, with the exception of those concerning sports, games or hobbies. According to the Congressional Research Service, 40 percent of private sector employers offered work-related educational assistance as part of their fringe benefits package. In addition, 15 percent of employees are offered employer reimbursement for non-work related educational courses. (more…)

Filed under: Employee Benefits — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 6:28 pm August 29, 2016

IRS Penalty Assessments Coming this Fall

For those employers who have 50 or more equivalent employees: Now that you wrapped up the required 1095 and 1094 forms (showing that you did or didn’t offer coverage to your full time employees) and sent them to the IRS earlier this year, you may be wondering what is coming next…

Some of your employees may start receiving an IRS penalty assessment this fall. This notice would be issued if they or a member of their family accessed advanced premium tax credits from Covered California or when they were offered affordable coverage through your company (the affordable coverage clarification is confirmed through the 1095 and 1094 forms). As you may know, when you offer affordable coverage, your employees who are eligible for your plan, as well as their dependents, are not eligible for advanced premium tax credits.

Unfortunately, Covered California and don’t always make it crystal clear what an “affordable” plan is. So, you may find that many of your eligible employees will be receiving this IRS penalty notice for accepting advanced premium tax credits that they didn’t qualify for. If they receive it in error, there will be the option for them to appeal the IRS penalty in the late fall and early winter. Some of these penalties will be substantial, so it is good to have a basic understanding if you hear from your employees about this. Feel free to contact Warren G. Bender Co. if you need further clarification.

Filed under: Employee Benefits — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 2:32 pm July 27, 2016

Understanding a Health Savings Account

What is a health savings account?

Otherwise known as an HSA, a health savings account can be funded with your tax-exempt dollars, by your employer, by a family member or by anyone else on your behalf. Dollars from the account can help pay for eligible medical expenses not covered by an insurance plan, including the deductible, coinsurance, and even health insurance premiums, in some cases.

Who is eligible for an HSA?
Anyone who is:
• Covered by a high-deductible health plan (HDHP);
• Not covered under another medical plan that is not an HDHP;
• Not entitled to (eligible for AND enrolled in) Medicare benefits; or
• Not eligible to be claimed on another person’s tax return.

What is a high deductible health plan (HDHP)?
A high-deductible health plan is a plan with a minimum annual deductible and a maximum out-of-pocket limit as listed in the following table. These minimums and maximums are determined annually by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and are subject to change. (more…)

Filed under: Employee Benefits — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 2:17 pm July 21, 2016

DOL Increases Penalties for Health Plan Violations

penalty, 3D rendering, rough street sign collection HIGHLIGHTS
• The 2015 Bipartisan Budget Act directed the DOL to increase civil penalty amounts under ERISA to account for inflation.
• The increased penalty amounts reflect an initial catch-up adjustment.
• The DOL will adjust civil penalty amounts for inflation every year, beginning in January 2017.

July 1, 2016: The DOL published new penalty amounts in the Federal Register.
August 1, 2016: New penalty amounts for ERISA violations become effective.

On July 1, 2016, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued an interim final rule that increases the civil penalty amounts that may be imposed under various federal laws, including the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The interim final rule increases the civil penalty amounts associated with:
– Failing to file an annual Form 5500 (as applicable);
– Failing to provide the annual notice regarding premium assistance under the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP); and
– Failing to provide the Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC), as required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The increased amounts apply to civil penalties that are assessed after Aug. 1, 2016, for violations that occurred after Nov. 2, 2015. (more…)

Filed under: Employee Benefits,Recent Headlines — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 2:44 pm July 15, 2016