New Affordable Care Act Guidance Helps Some Health Plans Stay Grandfathered

August 2, 2011

Affordable Care Act To Require Health Plans Cover Contraception & Other Women’s Health Procedures Beginning In 2012

Contraception Mandate Might Not Apply To Certain Religious Employer Plans

Starting with plan years beginning after July 31, 2011, most employer and union sponsored group health plans and group and individual health insurers generally must cover contraceptive and certain other preventive services for women (“Women’s Preventive Services”) at no cost to comply with federal rules that these programs cover preventive care for members with no cost sharing enacted as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”).

On Monday, August 1, 2011, the Department of Health & Human Services (“HHS”) on Monday, August 1, 2011 announced guidelines (Women’s Preventive Services Guidelines”) that add contraception and a list of women’s health procedures to the preventive care procedures that ACA requires covered health plans and health insurance policies covered by the Affordable Care Act to cover without cost to members. ACA’s general preventive coverage rules generally have required covered health plans and policies to cover without cost a broad list of other preventive care procedures since the first plan year beginning after September 22, 2009. 

Interim Final Regulations implementing ACA’s new preventive care mandate published July 14, 2010 interpreted this ACA preventive care mandate broadly to dictate that ACA covered health plans and health insurers cover as preventive services at no member cost hundreds of procedures.

Concerning the Women’s Preventive Services, however, the Interim Final Regulations delayed implementation of requirements to cover Women’s Preventive Services until August 1, 2011 to give time to HRSA time to issue its recommendations about what procedures should qualify as Women’s Preventive Services.  When HRSA failed to finalize its input by August 1, 2011, HHS finalized its list of required Women’s Preventive Services now rather than to continue waiting for HRSA’s final input.   

Finalization of the list of required Women’s Preventive Services now means covered health plans and policies must add coverage for these listed procedures with no co-pay beginning with all post-July 31, 2012 plan years.

While the published list of required Women’s Preventive Services generally mandates that ACA-covered health plans and policies cover contraceptive services for women at no cost beginning in 2012, some plans sponsored by religious employers and group health policies covering these groups may be exempt from the duty to coverage contraception under a new regulation that HHS, along with the Department of Labor Employee Benefit Services Administration (“EBSA) and the Department of Treasury Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”)(collectively, the “Agencies”) will jointly publish in the Federal Register on August 3, 2011.  See here for more detailed information.

Plans & Insurers Should Review & Update Preventive Care & Other Wellness Benefits

Non-grandfathered health plans and policies, their sponsors, insurers, fiduciaries and administrators should carefully review and update their health plans for compliance with the existing preventive care mandates and other evolving rules about disease management and wellness benefits and coverages, as well as to consider the impending requirement to comply with additional Women’s Preventive Services coverage requirements in 2012 as part of their plan design and cost projections.

Existing health plans and health insurance should be reviewed to ensure that the programs appropriately cover all preventive services currently required by the applicable ACA mandates or other laws and re-reviewed for compliance with any updated rules before each plan year to identify any additional costs, changes to plan documents, communications, administrative procedures and vendor contracts required to administer the health plan in accordance with existing rules.  For 2012, this should specifically consider the need to comply with the new Women’s Preventive Services coverage requirements that take effect next plan year also should be considered.

In addition to specifically planning for compliance with ACA’s preventive services coverage mandates, all health plans and policies, their sponsors, insurers, fiduciaries and administrators should review the other wellness and disease management components of their plans. In addition to ACA compliance, these arrangements may need redesign to minimize emerging exposures to challenge by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) or private plaintiffs under the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”).  Since the Obama Administration took office, the EEOC has taken the position that many common wellness and disease management programs violate the ADA.  In addition to these exposures, amendments to the nondiscrimination requirements of the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (“HIPAA”), new nondiscrimination rules added by the Genetic Information & Nondiscrimination Act (“GINA”), federal mental health parity rules, evolving Affordable Care Act claims, coverage and other rules and guidance about essential benefits and other statutory, regulatory and enforcement changes often require updates to common disease management and wellness programs as well as other health plan provisions.  Appropriate steps should be taken to review and update these and other plan terms, procedures, communications and practices to maintain compliance and support the ability to enforce plan terms and rely on plan cost projections.

The author of this update, attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer frequently conducts training and publishes on these and other matters. She is scheduled to speak about these and other changing health plan requirements in light of health care reform at the September 14, 2011 Houston WEB Chapter lunch and will be conducting briefings on preventive care, wellness and disease management and other rules for several other organizations over the next few months.  You can find out about upcoming training or other events and get updates at www.CynthiaStamer.com.

For Help With These Or Other Health Plan Or Employee Benefit Matter

If you would like help reviewing or defending your organizations health plan or other insurance or employee benefit and employment practices in light of these or other laws, please contact attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer.

Chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) RPTE Employee Benefits & Other Compensation Group, a council member of the ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits, and past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Interest Group, Ms. Stamer is recognized, internationally, nationally and locally for her more than 23 years of work, advocacy, education and publications on employee benefit and related matters. 

A board certified labor and employment attorney Ms. Stamer continuously advises and assists employee benefit plans, their sponsoring employers, fiduciaries, insurers, administrators and others to monitor and respond to evolving legal and operational requirements and to design, administer, document and defend medical and other welfare benefit, qualified and non-qualified deferred compensation and retirement, severance and other employee benefit, compensation, and human resources programs and practices.  She works extensively with plan sponsors, insurers, administrators, technology and other service providers and others to develop and operate legally defensible programs, practices and policies that promote the client’s human resources, employee benefits or other management goals.  Ms. Stamer also is a widely published author and highly regarded speaker on these and other employee benefit and human resources matters who is active in many other employee benefits, human resources and other management focused organizations. 

You can review other recent human resources, employee benefits and internal controls publications and resources and additional information about the employment, employee benefits and other experience of Ms. Stamer here. Some recent publications and programs that may be of interest include:

Ms. Stamer is scheduled to conduct training on these and other health benefit requirements for a number of organizations over the upcoming month.  For information about these and other training opportunities or for other resources and information, see here or contact Ms. Stamer directly.

For Help or More Information

If you have questions or need help understanding or responding to the Regulations, with other health benefit design, administration or operations concerns, or with other employee benefits, compensation, labor or employment or other workforce management concerns, please contact the author of this update, Board Certified Labor and Employment attorney and management consultant Cynthia Marcotte Stamer here or at (469)767-8872.

Past Chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Interest Group, Chair of the ABA RPTE Employee Benefit and Other Compensation Committee, and a council member of the ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits, Ms. Stamer is nationally recognized for her more than 23 years pragmatic and innovative health program work.

Board certified in labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization with extensive leading edge health plan experience, Ms. Stamer has worked continuously throughout her career helping health plan sponsors, fiduciaries, administrators, insurers and others design, administer and defend health and other employee benefit and insurance programs domestically and internationally. She is widely recognized for her experience helping design and implement legally compliant self-insured and insured health reimbursement, mini-med, high-deductible health plans, limited benefit plans, 24-hour and occupational medicine, ex-pat and medical tourism, deductible reimbursement and other creative health benefit programs to solve a wide range of financial and other challenges while coping with changing regulatory and market realities. Her work includes both working with clients to design, document, implement and administer these and other arrangements, as well as the development of wellness and disease management, claims administration and appeals, eligibility, and other administrative services, processes and technologies.  She also works with plan fiduciaries, plan sponsors, insurers, administrators, brokers and advisors, bankruptcy trustees, creditors, debtors, service providers and their officers and directors about the prevention, investigation, mitigation and resolutions of civil and criminal liability arising from suspected or known benefit administration claims, breaches of fiduciary duty, privacy and data security breach, vendor disputes and other disputes arising in relation to employee benefit and insurance arrangements.  As a continuing part of this representation, Ms. Stamer regularly represents and defends plan sponsors, fiduciaries, third party administrators and other service providers and management officials in dealings with the Department of Labor, Department of Justice, Department of Health & Human Services, Department of Defense, Securities and Exchange Commission, state insurance regulators, state attorneys general and other federal and state regulators and prosecutors and private plaintiffs in connection with investigations, prosecutions, audits and other actions arising from employee benefit, insurance and related arrangements and products.

Recognized in the International Who’s Who of Professionals and bearing the Martindale Hubble Premier AV-Rating, Ms. Stamer also is a highly regarded author and speaker, who regularly conducts management and other training on a wide range of labor and employment, employee benefit, human resources, internal controls and other related risk management matters.  Her writings frequently are published by the American Bar Association (ABA), Aspen Publishers, Bureau of National Affairs, the American Health Lawyers Association, SHRM, World At Work, Government Institutes, Inc., Atlantic Information Services, Employee Benefit News, and many others. For a listing of some of these publications and programs, see here. Her insights on human resources risk management matters also have been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, various publications of The Bureau of National Affairs and Aspen Publishing, the Dallas Morning News, Spencer Publications, Health Leaders, Business Insurance, the Dallas and Houston Business Journals and a host of other publications. In addition to her many ABA leadership involvements, she also serves in leadership positions in numerous human resources, corporate compliance, and other professional and civic organizations. Her insights on these and other matters appear in the Bureau of National Affairs, Spencer Publications, the Wall Street Journal, the Dallas Business Journal, the Houston Business Journal, World At Work, the ICEBS, SHRM and many other national and local publications. For additional information about Ms. Stamer and her experience or to access other publications by Ms. Stamer see here or contact Ms. Stamer directly.

About Solutions Law Press

Solutions Law Press™ provides business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other resources, training and education on human resources, employee benefits, data security and privacy, insurance, health care and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press resources including:

If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail – by creating or updating your profile at here or e-mailing this information here.

©2011 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer.  Non-exclusive right to republish granted to Solutions Law Press.  All other rights reserved.


Labor Department 2011 Stats Show Employer Health Coverage & Other Benefit Statistics

July 29, 2011

A new 2011 U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics Study of employee benefits offered shares key insights into how many employers offer employer-provided health and other benefits  The study shows that health and other benefits offered by employers, how much employers contribute and when employees enroll in offered benefits varies widely varied by whether the employer is a government or private sector employer, the industry, size and other characteristics of the employer and the income, profession, education and other characteristics of the employee. It is no surprise that government employers that can pass along costs to taxpayers provide coverage more broadly and subsidize more of the cost. 

With regard to health benefits, the report reveals that practices vary significantly among employers, on average, medical care benefits were available to 69 percent of private industry workers and half of  workers participated in a medical plan. For single coverage, private sector employers paid 80 percent of the medical care premiums for full-time workers and  69 percent of medical care premiums for full-time workers in private industry.  Data shows employees often elect not to take offered coverage.  

In addition to data on medical benefits, the study also reports that paid leave remains the most commonly provided benefit nationally and includes data on other benefits.

The DOL highlights 1st time reporting of domestic partner status for 1st time in its announcement.  Data also provided on paid vacation and other leave. 

Read report summary and access report at http://www.bls.gov/news.release/ebs2.nr0.htm.

For Help or More Information

If you have questions or need help understanding or responding to the Regulations, with other health benefit design, administration or operations concerns, or with other employee benefits, compensation, labor or employment or other workforce management concerns, please contact the author of this update, Board Certified Labor and Employment attorney and management consultant Cynthia Marcotte Stamer here or at (469)767-8872.

Past Chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Interest Group, Chair of the ABA RPTE Employee Benefit and Other Compensation Committee, and a council member of the ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits, Ms. Stamer is nationally recognized for her more than 23 years pragmatic and innovative health program work.

Board certified in labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization with extensive leading edge health plan experience, Ms. Stamer has worked continuously throughout her career helping health plan sponsors, fiduciaries, administrators, insurers and others design, administer and defend health and other employee benefit and insurance programs domestically and internationally. She is widely recognized for her experience helping design and implement legally compliant self-insured and insured health reimbursement, mini-med, high-deductible health plans, limited benefit plans, 24-hour and occupational medicine, ex-pat and medical tourism, deductible reimbursement and other creative health benefit programs to solve a wide range of financial and other challenges while coping with changing regulatory and market realities. Her work includes both working with clients to design, document, implement and administer these and other arrangements, as well as the development of wellness and disease management, claims administration and appeals, eligibility, and other administrative services, processes and technologies.  She also works with plan fiduciaries, plan sponsors, insurers, administrators, brokers and advisors, bankruptcy trustees, creditors, debtors, service providers and their officers and directors about the prevention, investigation, mitigation and resolutions of civil and criminal liability arising from suspected or known benefit administration claims, breaches of fiduciary duty, privacy and data security breach, vendor disputes and other disputes arising in relation to employee benefit and insurance arrangements.  As a continuing part of this representation, Ms. Stamer regularly represents and defends plan sponsors, fiduciaries, third party administrators and other service providers and management officials in dealings with the Department of Labor, Department of Justice, Department of Health & Human Services, Department of Defense, Securities and Exchange Commission, state insurance regulators, state attorneys general and other federal and state regulators and prosecutors and private plaintiffs in connection with investigations, prosecutions, audits and other actions arising from employee benefit, insurance and related arrangements and products.

Recognized in the International Who’s Who of Professionals and bearing the Martindale Hubble Premier AV-Rating, Ms. Stamer also is a highly regarded author and speaker, who regularly conducts management and other training on a wide range of labor and employment, employee benefit, human resources, internal controls and other related risk management matters.  Her writings frequently are published by the American Bar Association (ABA), Aspen Publishers, Bureau of National Affairs, the American Health Lawyers Association, SHRM, World At Work, Government Institutes, Inc., Atlantic Information Services, Employee Benefit News, and many others. For a listing of some of these publications and programs, see here. Her insights on human resources risk management matters also have been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, various publications of The Bureau of National Affairs and Aspen Publishing, the Dallas Morning News, Spencer Publications, Health Leaders, Business Insurance, the Dallas and Houston Business Journals and a host of other publications. In addition to her many ABA leadership involvements, she also serves in leadership positions in numerous human resources, corporate compliance, and other professional and civic organizations. Her insights on these and other matters appear in the Bureau of National Affairs, Spencer Publications, the Wall Street Journal, the Dallas Business Journal, the Houston Business Journal, World At Work, the ICEBS, SHRM and many other national and local publications. For additional information about Ms. Stamer and her experience or to access other publications by Ms. Stamer see here or contact Ms. Stamer directly.

About Solutions Law Press

Solutions Law Press™ provides business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other resources, training and education on human resources, employee benefits, data security and privacy, insurance, health care and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press resources including:

If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail – by creating or updating your profile at here or e-mailing this information here.

©2011 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer.  Non-exclusive right to republish granted to Solutions Law Press.  All other rights reserved.


9/22/11 Cutoff To Apply For Affordable Care Act Annual Limit Temporary Waiver

June 20, 2011

6/17 Guidance Says Temporary Relief Offered Through 2014 Unavailable For Plans Not Applying By 9/22/11

Health plans and insurers wishing to qualify for a temporary waiver of annual limit restrictions enacted under the Affordable Care Act after September 22, 2011 must act quickly and should expect to face tougher qualification requirements.  Plans and insurers not applying by a newly set September 22, 2011 deadline will be permanently disqualified from eligibility to request the relief for post-September 22, 2011 plan years according to guidance issued Friday, July 17, 2011.

Plans Must Apply Before 9/22/11 & Meet Tightened Requirements To Preserve Possibility Of Temporary Relief Qualification For Post 9/22/11 Plan Years 

On Friday, June 17, 2011, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that CMS will not accept or consider any new applications or requests for extensions of temporary waivers of the Affordable Care Act annual limitation requirements.  

Additionally, CMS also updated the requirements that plans and insurers applying for a new or extension of an existing annual limit waiver  before September 22, 2011 through 2013.  Under the new guidance, any plans receiving these waivers also will have to meet tighter requirements to qualify for the requested annual limit waiver for post-September 22, 2011 plan years.

The Affordable Care Act will ban annual limits for non-grandfathered health plans beginning in 2014.  Until then, the Affordable Care Act provides for the phased out of annual limits.  The phase out of the annual limits is intended to preserve access to needed benefits and the affordability of coverage until the reforms scheduled to take effect in 2014 are in place. 

Currently, most plans cannot impose an annual limit that is lower than $750,000.  Beginning in September, 2011, the allowable annual limit under the Affordable Care Act will increase to $1.25 million and to $2 million for plan years beginning in September 2012. 

Temporary Waiver Program Provides Relief For Some Qualifying Plans

In response to concerns that compliance with the phased in annual limit restrictions would result in significant cost increases or coverage terminations for many plans,  CMS last year issued guidance that granted temporary waivers from the phased in annual limits for qualifying limited benefit,, “mini-med” or certain other qualifying plans that submitted timely applications demonstrating that compliance with the phaseout limits would result in a significant decrease in access to benefits or a significant increase in premiums and met other qualification requirements. (For a list of applications previously approved or denied by city and state, see cciio.cms.gov/resources/files/approved_applications_for_waiver.html.)

CMS Most Likely To Approve Waiver Requests For Plans With Lower Annual Limits But Other Plans Also Can Apply

Like the waiver program guidance for 2010, the June 17, 2011 guidance technically gives all plans and issuers with restricted annual limits below $2 million the opportunity to apply for a temporary waiver before September 22, 2011.  However, not all plans will necessarily qualify for the requested relief.   

Under the temporary waiver program, CMS authority to decide whether to approve or deny an annual limit waiver request made by a plan that otherwise meets all requirements. CMS has indicated that it is most likely to approve waivers for plans with low annual limits (e.g., $10,000), as CMS sees these plans as most likely to need waivers to prevent a significant increase in premiums or decrease in access to coverage to comply with the current limit of $750,000.  In contrast, CMS views plans with higher annual limits as less needful of a temporarywaiver because complying with the new rules is unlikely to lead to a significant increase in premiums or decrease in access to care. CMS says that its actuarial analysis indicates that most plans that currently have annual limits above $750,000 and below $2 million can meet the increased 2011 annual limit of $1.25 million with minimal premium increases (less than one percent).  Similarly, CMS predicts that increasing annual limits from $1.25 million to $2 million in 2012 will have a “small impact” on premiums. Consequently, CMS is less likely to approve waiver requests for plans that already have higher limits in effect.

CMS Also Tightening Other Requirements For Waiver Relief Qualification

In addition to applying for a waiver before September 22, 2011 and showing the requisite impact on plan costs or coverage, the July 17 guidance also will require that plans seeking a temporary waiver of the annual limit after September 22, 2011 meet other more stringent conditions.  Among other things, plans with waivers will be required:

  • To tell consumers that their health care coverage is subject to an annual dollar limit lower than what is allowed under the law;
  • Include the dollar amount of the annual limit along with a description of the plan benefits to which the limit applies;
  • Show how the annual limit would affect a consumer who was hospitalized to help people understand how far their coverage will reach if they become seriously ill; and
  • Must attest annually to their compliance with the consumer disclosure requirement.

Plans & Sponsors Should Act Quickly To Keep Option of Qualification For Temporary Relief Option

Plans and insurers that wish to preserve the possibility of qualifying for temporary relief from the otherwise applicable Affordable Care Act limitations on annual waivers for post-September 22, 2011 plan years should act quickly to prepare and submit their application for relief.

For Help or More Information

If you have questions or need help understanding or responding to the Regulations, with other health benefit design, administration or operations concerns, or with other employee benefits, compensation, labor or employment or other workforce management concerns, please contact the author of this update, Board Certified Labor and Employment attorney and management consultant Cynthia Marcotte Stamer hereor at (469)767-8872.

Ms. Stamer is scheduled to conduct training on these and other health benefit requirements for a number of organizations is upcoming months.  For information about these and other training opportunities or for other resources and information, see here or contact Ms. Stamer directly.

Past Chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Interest Group, Chair of the ABA RPTE Employee Benefit and Other Compensation Committee, and a council member of the ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits, Ms. Stamer is nationally recognized for her more than 23 years pragmatic and innovative health program work.

Board certified in labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization with extensive leading edge health plan experience, Ms. Stamer has worked continuously throughout her career helping health plan sponsors, fiduciaries, administrators, insurers and others design, administer and defend health and other employee benefit and insurance programs domestically and internationally. She is widely recognized for her experience helping design and implement legally compliant self-insured and insured health reimbursement, mini-med, high-deductible health plans, limited benefit plans, 24-hour and occupational medicine, ex-pat and medical tourism, deductible reimbursement and other creative health benefit programs to solve a wide range of financial and other challenges while coping with changing regulatory and market realities. Her work includes both working with clients to design, document, implement and administer these and other arrangements, as well as the development of wellness and disease management, claims administration and appeals, eligibility, and other administrative services, processes and technologies.  She also works with plan fiduciaries, plan sponsors, insurers, administrators, brokers and advisors, bankruptcy trustees, creditors, debtors, service providers and their officers and directors about the prevention, investigation, mitigation and resolutions of civil and criminal liability arising from suspected or known benefit administration claims, breaches of fiduciary duty, privacy and data security breach, vendor disputes and other disputes arising in relation to employee benefit and insurance arrangements.  As a continuing part of this representation, Ms. Stamer regularly represents and defends plan sponsors, fiduciaries, third party administrators and other service providers and management officials in dealings with the Department of Labor, Department of Justice, Department of Health & Human Services, Department of Defense, Securities and Exchange Commission, state insurance regulators, state attorneys general and other federal and state regulators and prosecutors and private plaintiffs in connection with investigations, prosecutions, audits and other actions arising from employee benefit, insurance and related arrangements and products.

Recognized in the International Who’s Who of Professionals and bearing the Martindale Hubble Premier AV-Rating, Ms. Stamer also is a highly regarded author and speaker, who regularly conducts management and other training on a wide range of labor and employment, employee benefit, human resources, internal controls and other related risk management matters.  Her writings frequently are published by the American Bar Association (ABA), Aspen Publishers, Bureau of National Affairs, the American Health Lawyers Association, SHRM, World At Work, Government Institutes, Inc., Atlantic Information Services, Employee Benefit News, and many others. For a listing of some of these publications and programs, see here. Her insights on human resources risk management matters also have been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, various publications of The Bureau of National Affairs and Aspen Publishing, the Dallas Morning News, Spencer Publications, Health Leaders, Business Insurance, the Dallas and Houston Business Journals and a host of other publications. In addition to her many ABA leadership involvements, she also serves in leadership positions in numerous human resources, corporate compliance, and other professional and civic organizations. Her insights on these and other matters appear in the Bureau of National Affairs, Spencer Publications, the Wall Street Journal, the Dallas Business Journal, the Houston Business Journal, World At Work, the ICEBS, SHRM and many other national and local publications. For additional information about Ms. Stamer and her experience or to access other publications by Ms. Stamer see here or contact Ms. Stamer directly.

About Solutions Law Press

Solutions Law Press™ provides business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other resources, training and education on human resources, employee benefits, data security and privacy, insurance, health care and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press resources including:

If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail – by creating or updating your profile at here or e-mailing this information here.

©2011 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer.  Non-exclusive right to republish granted to Solutions Law Press.  All other rights reserved.


IRS Releases Health Savings Account, High Deductible Health Plan 2012 Indexed Amounts

May 18, 2011

The Department of Treasury released the  inflation adjusted amounts for Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) applicable for purposes of § 223 of the Internal Revenue Code for 2012.

Under Revenue Procedure 2011-32,  for 2012 the following inflation adjusted amounts will apply for purposes of applying the HSA limits during 2012:

Annual Contribution Limitation

For calendar year 2012, the annual limitation on deductions under § 223(b)(2)(A) is:

  • For an individual with self-only coverage under a high deductible health plan is $3,100.
  • For an individual with family coverage under a high deductible health plan is $6,250.

 

High Deductible Health Plan

For calendar year 2012, Revenue Procedure 2011-32 leaves the minimum deductible allowable for an arrangement to qualify as a “high deductible health plan”  unchanged from the amounts implemented for 2011.  This means that  in 2012 a “high deductible health plan” will continue to be defined under § 223(c)(2)(A) as a health plan with an annual deductible that is not less than:

  • $1,200 for self-only coverage or
  • $2,400  for family coverage, and the annual out-of pocket expenses (deductibles, co-payments, and other amounts, but not premiums) do not exceed $6,050 for self-only coverage or $12,100 for family coverage.

HSA sponsors and administrators will want to ensure that their HSA plan documents, communications are timely and properly updated to reflect the adjusted numbers well in advance to the 2012 enrollment period.  At the same time, high deductible health plan and HSA plan sponsors and administrators also should verify that their programs, as well as any health care flexible spending arrangements are updated for changes such as new rules conditioning reimbursement of over-the-counter medical expenses by HSAs and health care flexible spending accounts on the fulfillment of prescription requirements enacted as part of health care reform as well as other updates. 

For Help or More Information

If you have questions or need help understanding or responding to the Regulations, with other health benefit design, administration or operations concerns, or with other employee benefits, compensation, labor or employment or other workforce management concerns, please contact the author of this update, Board Certified Labor and Employment attorney and management consultant Cynthia Marcotte Stamer here or at (469)767-8872.

Past Chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Interest Group, Chair of the ABA RPTE Employee Benefit and Other Compensation Committee, and a council member of the ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits, Ms. Stamer is nationally recognized for her more than 23 years pragmatic and innovative health program work.

Board certified in labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization with extensive leading edge health plan experience, Ms. Stamer has worked continuously throughout her career helping health plan sponsors, fiduciaries, administrators, insurers and others design, administer and defend health and other employee benefit and insurance programs domestically and internationally. She is widely recognized for her experience helping design and implement legally compliant self-insured and insured health reimbursement, mini-med, high-deductible health plans, limited benefit plans, 24-hour and occupational medicine, ex-pat and medical tourism, deductible reimbursement and other creative health benefit programs to solve a wide range of financial and other challenges while coping with changing regulatory and market realities. Her work includes both working with clients to design, document, implement and administer these and other arrangements, as well as the development of wellness and disease management, claims administration and appeals, eligibility, and other administrative services, processes and technologies.  She also works with plan fiduciaries, plan sponsors, insurers, administrators, brokers and advisors, bankruptcy trustees, creditors, debtors, service providers and their officers and directors about the prevention, investigation, mitigation and resolutions of civil and criminal liability arising from suspected or known benefit administration claims, breaches of fiduciary duty, privacy and data security breach, vendor disputes and other disputes arising in relation to employee benefit and insurance arrangements.  As a continuing part of this representation, Ms. Stamer regularly represents and defends plan sponsors, fiduciaries, third party administrators and other service providers and management officials in dealings with the Department of Labor, Department of Justice, Department of Health & Human Services, Department of Defense, Securities and Exchange Commission, state insurance regulators, state attorneys general and other federal and state regulators and prosecutors and private plaintiffs in connection with investigations, prosecutions, audits and other actions arising from employee benefit, insurance and related arrangements and products.

Recognized in the International Who’s Who of Professionals and bearing the Martindale Hubble Premier AV-Rating, Ms. Stamer also is a highly regarded author and speaker, who regularly conducts management and other training on a wide range of labor and employment, employee benefit, human resources, internal controls and other related risk management matters.  Her writings frequently are published by the American Bar Association (ABA), Aspen Publishers, Bureau of National Affairs, the American Health Lawyers Association, SHRM, World At Work, Government Institutes, Inc., Atlantic Information Services, Employee Benefit News, and many others. For a listing of some of these publications and programs, see here. Her insights on human resources risk management matters also have been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, various publications of The Bureau of National Affairs and Aspen Publishing, the Dallas Morning News, Spencer Publications, Health Leaders, Business Insurance, the Dallas and Houston Business Journals and a host of other publications. In addition to her many ABA leadership involvements, she also serves in leadership positions in numerous human resources, corporate compliance, and other professional and civic organizations. Her insights on these and other matters appear in the Bureau of National Affairs, Spencer Publications, the Wall Street Journal, the Dallas Business Journal, the Houston Business Journal, World At Work, the ICEBS, SHRM and many other national and local publications. For additional information about Ms. Stamer and her experience or to access other publications by Ms. Stamer see here or contact Ms. Stamer directly.

About Solutions Law Press

Solutions Law Press™ provides business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other resources, training and education on human resources, employee benefits, data security and privacy, insurance, health care and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press resources including:

If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail – by creating or updating your profile at here or e-mailing this information here.

©2011 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer.  Non-exclusive right to republish granted to Solutions Law Press.  All other rights reserved.


New Affordable Care Act Guidance Helps Some Health Plans Stay Grandfathered

April 20, 2011

Guidance published by the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor and the Treasury (the Agencies) on April 1, 2011 provides welcome clarifications about the workings of the “grandfathered health plan rules” that play a key role in determining what health plans and insurance policies must comply with certain key health insurance coverage reforms enacted as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (the Reconciliation Act) (collectively, the Affordable Care Act). 

Health plans, health insurers and sponsors, fiduciaries and service providers of these arrangements should monitor and consider carefully this and other emerging guidance when making decisions about the design and administration of health benefit programs in response to the Affordable Care Act.

Grandfathered Health Plan Status A Key Determinant of What Health Care Reform Rules Apply

While the Affordable Care Act generally requires that health plans and health insurance policies comply with a series of new mandates established by the Affordable Care Act beginning with the first plan year that begins after September 22, 2010, the Affordable Care Act, Interim Final Regulations originally jointly published June 17, 2010 as subsequently amended on November 17, 2011 (the Regulations).provide that certain plans or coverage existing on March 23, 2010 that qualify as “grandfathered health plans” are subject to only certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act.  The Affordable Care Act and Regulations refer to these plans or health insurance coverage as “grandfathered health plans.”

Qualifying As Grandfathered Health Plan

For plans and insurers wishing to preserve the grandfathered health plan status of their programs, understanding when changes or other events affect the health plan’s ability to qualify as a grandfathered health plan is critical to understanding the consequences and potential costs of proposed plan design changes or certain other actions.

For purposes of determining when an arrangement that existed on March 22, 2010 qualifies as a “grandfathered health plan” for purposes of ACA, the Regulations require that the plan meet certain notification, documentation and other requirements set forth in the Regulations.  The Regulation also provides a health plan that existed on March 23, 2010 will lose its eligibility for grandfathered status if the plan is amended to make significant changes that cut benefits or increase costs to covered persons. In order to avoid a loss of grandfathered health plan status, the Regulations require that except for certain “routine changes” identified in the Regulation, the health plan not have been modified or impacted by certain other changes after March 22, 2011. See HHS, DOL & IRS Rules Define “Grandfathered” Group Health Plans & Health Insurance Coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  Consequently, sponsors, insurers and administrators of health plans or health insurance policies that intend to rely upon grandfathered health plan status to limit the mandates applicable to their programs under the Affordable Care Act need a clear understanding of what changes and events will disqualify their plan or program for grandfathered health plans status.

April 1 Guidance

The FAQIV guidance jointly published April 1 by the Agencies helps to clarify certain aspects of the workings of the grandfathered health plan rules as construed and implemented under these Regulations. FAQIV, among other things:

  • Clarifies the date that a loss of grandfathered status becomes effective as a result of a plan amendment or other change is the date that the plan amendment or other change that will result in the loss of grandfathered status takes effect under the terms of the plan;
  • Shares a non-exhaustive list of reasons for transferring employees from a grandfathered health plan to another health plan that the Agencies recognize as “bona fide employment-based reasons” that permit the transfer of employees from one grandfathered health plan to another plan without a loss of grandfathered health plan status;
  • States that forfeiture of grandfathered health plan status does not result solely as a result of an increase in the participant co-payment or other cost-sharing under a health plan that results because a drug originally classified as having no generic alternative changes because a generic alternative becomes available and is added to the formulary, with a resulting increase in the cost-sharing level for the brand-name drug;
  • States that for purposes of determining if a health plan has experienced a change in the employer contribution rate that would result in a loss of grandfathered health plan status in a health plan where the employer contribution is determined based on a formula, an increase in the amount of the required employee contribution resulting as plan costs increase will not trigger a loss of grandfathered status if the employer contribution formula (or its underlying elements used to calculate the contribution) does not change;
  • Provides added guidance about when a health plan can add or expand value based design features to a health plan without forfeiting its grandfathered health plan status; and
  • Invites public input about how the Agencies should treat value based plan design or wellness program related additions or changes to health plans for purposes of the grandfathered health plan rules.

FAQIV is only one of a continuous stream of new guidance about the Affordable Care Act and other federal and state health benefit program mandates which plan sponsors, insurers, administrators and fiduciaries need to understand and respond to effectively as they deal with their health benefit programs and arrangements.  Ms. Stamer is scheduled to conduct training on these and other health benefit requirements for a number of organizations over the upcoming month.  For information about these and other training opportunities or for other resources and information, see here or contact Ms. Stamer directly.

For Help or More Information

If you have questions or need help understanding or responding to the Regulations, with other health benefit design, administration or operations concerns, or with other employee benefits, compensation, labor or employment or other workforce management concerns, please contact the author of this update, Board Certified Labor and Employment attorney and management consultant Cynthia Marcotte Stamer here or at (469)767-8872.

Past Chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Interest Group, Chair of the ABA RPTE Employee Benefit and Other Compensation Committee, and a council member of the ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits, Ms. Stamer is nationally recognized for her more than 23 years pragmatic and innovative health program work.

Board certified in labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization with extensive leading edge health plan experience, Ms. Stamer has worked continuously throughout her career helping health plan sponsors, fiduciaries, administrators, insurers and others design, administer and defend health and other employee benefit and insurance programs domestically and internationally. She is widely recognized for her experience helping design and implement legally compliant self-insured and insured health reimbursement, mini-med, high-deductible health plans, limited benefit plans, 24-hour and occupational medicine, ex-pat and medical tourism, deductible reimbursement and other creative health benefit programs to solve a wide range of financial and other challenges while coping with changing regulatory and market realities. Her work includes both working with clients to design, document, implement and administer these and other arrangements, as well as the development of wellness and disease management, claims administration and appeals, eligibility, and other administrative services, processes and technologies.  She also works with plan fiduciaries, plan sponsors, insurers, administrators, brokers and advisors, bankruptcy trustees, creditors, debtors, service providers and their officers and directors about the prevention, investigation, mitigation and resolutions of civil and criminal liability arising from suspected or known benefit administration claims, breaches of fiduciary duty, privacy and data security breach, vendor disputes and other disputes arising in relation to employee benefit and insurance arrangements.  As a continuing part of this representation, Ms. Stamer regularly represents and defends plan sponsors, fiduciaries, third party administrators and other service providers and management officials in dealings with the Department of Labor, Department of Justice, Department of Health & Human Services, Department of Defense, Securities and Exchange Commission, state insurance regulators, state attorneys general and other federal and state regulators and prosecutors and private plaintiffs in connection with investigations, prosecutions, audits and other actions arising from employee benefit, insurance and related arrangements and products.

Recognized in the International Who’s Who of Professionals and bearing the Martindale Hubble Premier AV-Rating, Ms. Stamer also is a highly regarded author and speaker, who regularly conducts management and other training on a wide range of labor and employment, employee benefit, human resources, internal controls and other related risk management matters.  Her writings frequently are published by the American Bar Association (ABA), Aspen Publishers, Bureau of National Affairs, the American Health Lawyers Association, SHRM, World At Work, Government Institutes, Inc., Atlantic Information Services, Employee Benefit News, and many others. For a listing of some of these publications and programs, see here. Her insights on human resources risk management matters also have been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, various publications of The Bureau of National Affairs and Aspen Publishing, the Dallas Morning News, Spencer Publications, Health Leaders, Business Insurance, the Dallas and Houston Business Journals and a host of other publications. In addition to her many ABA leadership involvements, she also serves in leadership positions in numerous human resources, corporate compliance, and other professional and civic organizations. Her insights on these and other matters appear in the Bureau of National Affairs, Spencer Publications, the Wall Street Journal, the Dallas Business Journal, the Houston Business Journal, World At Work, the ICEBS, SHRM and many other national and local publications. For additional information about Ms. Stamer and her experience or to access other publications by Ms. Stamer see here or contact Ms. Stamer directly.

About Solutions Law Press

Solutions Law Press™ provides business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other resources, training and education on human resources, employee benefits, data security and privacy, insurance, health care and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press resources including:

If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail – by creating or updating your profile at here or e-mailing this information here.

©2011 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer.  Non-exclusive right to republish granted to Solutions Law Press.  All other rights reserved.


Annual Benefit Limitation Waiver Guidance Offers Fast Acting Employers, Insurers Expanded Options To Meet Affordable Care Act Health Plan Rule

October 3, 2010

Many employers and insurers that act quickly may qualify for a temporary reprieve from the obligation to redesign their group health plans and health insurance policies to comply with the annual benefit limitations on health plan benefits imposed under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Affordable Care Act) applicable to most health insurance plans and policies beginning with post-September 22, 2010 plan years.  

On September 3, 2010, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Service published rules that enable qualifying employers and insurers to obtain a waiver of the application of ACA’s annual limits to their health plan for 2011 (Annual Limit Waiver).  In addition to the Annual Limit Waiver relief, HHS on October 1, 2010 also announced plans in the near future to publish additional guidance to provide some relief for mini-meds and certain other plans from the medical loss ratio rules of ACA.  Plan sponsors and insurers struggling to redesign their benefit programs to meet ACA’s annual limit and medical loss ration mandates for their 2011 plan year should act quickly to evaluate and where applicable take advantage of the added flexibility that this new guidance may afford regarding their 2011 plan design. 

With compliance deadlines impending, however, plan sponsors and insurers must act quickly to leverage these opportunities and make other necessary arrangements to update their health programs to meet new federal requirements.  When deciding how to respond to ACA and other new federal health plan rules, plan sponsors and insurers who maintain plans that can qualify as grandfathered plans under ACA should carefully consider all alternatives before deciding to forego this status.  Many plan sponsors and insurers feel soaring health coverage costs require that they make cost-saving plan design changes that preclude them from maintaining a grandfathered plan.  Creative use of the new Annual Benefit Limitation Waiver, grandfathered plan and other guidance may help mitigate the cost and other challenges of complying with these new federal rules. Read more details. 

If your organization needs assistance to apply for an ACA Annual Limit Waiver, reviewing or updating your heath care program design, documentation, policies or procedures in response to ACA or other requirements or with other employee benefit, insurance or human resources matters, please contact the author of this update, Board Certified Labor & Employment attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer at (469) 767-8872 or via e-mail here

Other Resources 

If you found this information of interest, you also may be interested in reviewing other recent Solutions Law Press updates including: 

About Ms. Stamer 

Chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) RPTE Employee Benefit & Other Compensation Group, a Council Member of the ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits and Past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Interest Group, Cynthia Marcotte Stamer is nationally recognized for her extensive work helping clients develop, implement and defend innovative, practical, legally defensible solutions to their particular health and other employee benefit, employment and insurance needs.  Ms. Stamer has more than 23 years experience advising and representing employer, association and other plan sponsors, health and other employee benefit plans, their fiduciaries, plan administrators, consultants, vendors, outsourcers, insurers, governments and others about health plan and product design; administration, legal and operational risk management, vendor and fiduciary credentialing, managed care and vendor contracting, cost-containment, documentation, public policy, enforcement, privacy, technology, litigation and other concerns.  Ms. Stamer also publishes, conducts client and other training, speaks and consults extensively on these and other health and managed care program concerns and practices for the ABA, American Health Lawyers Association, Institute of Internal Auditors, Society for Professional Benefits Administrators, HCCA, Southwest Benefits Association and many other organizations.  Her insights on these and related topics have appeared in Atlantic Information Service, Bureau of National Affairs, World At Work, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insurance, Managed Healthcare, Health Leaders, various ABA publications and a many other national and local publications. To learn more about Ms. Stamer, her experience, involvements, programs and publications, see here or contact Ms. Stamer.  

About Solutions Law Press 

Solutions Law Press™ provides business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other resources, training and education on human resources, employee benefits, compensation, data security and privacy, health care, insurance, and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and other key operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press resources available for review here. If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates and notices about other upcoming Solutions Law Press events, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail- by creating or updating your profile at here. For important information concerning this communication click here.  

©2010Cynthia Marcotte Stamer PC. Reprint Premisson Granted To  Solutions Law Press. All other rights reserved. 

 


Register Now For 8/24 2010 Health Plan Update Briefing

July 30, 2010

Learn If Your Plan Will Be Grandfathered Plan & What You Must Do Now To Meet Key 2010/2011 Affordable Care Act & Other Federal Health Plan Compliance Deadlines

A Solutions Law Press Live Internet Broadcast Briefing

August 24, 2010

10:00 A.M.-12:30 P.M. Eastern

11:00 A.M.- 1:30 P.M. Central

9:00 A.M-11:30 A.M. Pacific

Solutions Law Press invites you to catch up on the latest guidance about the new group health plan mandates imposed under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Affordable Care Act) and other federal health plan regulations by participating in a live 2010 Health Plan Update” internet[*] broadcast briefing on Tuesday, August 24 2010.  The briefing will be conducted via live video broadcast from 11:00 A.M.-1:30 P.M. Central Time.  Register here for a registration fee of $150.00[†] per participant.   

Affordable Care Act Requires Prompt Action By Group Health Plans, Sponsors, Fiduciaries & Administrators

The Affordable Care Act and other impending federal health plan changes will require employment-based group health plans, their employer and other plan sponsors, plan fiduciaries, plan administrators and other service providers and insurers to make quick decisions and to act quickly to meet impending federal compliance deadlines while preserving flexibility.  All employer and other group health plan sponsors, fiduciaries, insurers and administrators must act quickly to update their health plan documents, communications, insurance and vendor agreements and other practices to comply with new federal requirements that become effective under the Affordable Care Act on the first day of the plan year beginning after September 22, 2010 and various other changes in federal health plan rules effective or scheduled to take effect during 2010 or 2011 plan years.  Many plan sponsors also may need to act quickly to cancel or revise plan design or vendor changes planned or already implemented since March 23, 2010 to position their health plan to qualify for grandfather status.  Quick action also may be needed to claim small employer tax credits, retiree medical subsidies or other benefits. 

Register Now To Get Key Information In August 24 Internet Briefing

The August 24, 2010 “2010 Health Plan Update” briefing will cover the latest guidance on Affordable Care Act and other federal health plan regulatory changes impacting employment-based group health plans and their sponsors for plan years beginning between September 23, 2010 and September 22, 2011 and other key information to help employers, group health plans, insurers, plan administrators, fiduciaries, broker and others working with these plans to understand and respond to these new requirements including:

  •  How to qualify your health plan as a grandfathered plan under Affordable Care act
  • How to decide if maintaining grandfathered plan status is worthwhile
  • Claims & appeals requirements for grandfathered & non-grandfathered plans
  • Preventive care coverage mandates & wellness program requirements & rules under Affordable Care Act & other federal regulations
  • Updated dependent child eligibility, pre-existing condition & other requirements for grandfathered & non-grandfathered plans
  • Special enrollment, preexisting condition & other eligibility mandates for grandfathered & non-grandfathered plans under new Affordable Care Act, new FMLA, COBRA, Michelle’s Law, HIPAA & other federal regulations
  • Mental health & substance abuse, provider choice & other benefit mandates under Affordable Care Act, Mental Health Parity & other federal rules
  • Update on other recent & pending Affordable Care Act group health plan rule guidance
  • Tips to review & update your plans, vendor agreements & processes to meet Affordable Care Act & other federal group health plan dictates
  • Expected future Affordable Care Act & other federal rule changes & tips for preparing
  • Practical strategies for responding to new requirements & changing rules
  • Participant questions

About The Presenter

The program will be conducted by attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer. With more than 23 years of experience advising employers, group health plans, plan fiduciaries, plan administrators and vendors, insurers and others about health plan and managed care matters, Ms. Stamer is nationally known for her work, publications and presentations on health plan and other employee benefit, health care and insurance matters. 

Current Chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) RPTE Employee Benefit & Other Compensation Committee, a Council Member of the ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits and Past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance  Interest Group, Ms. Stamer continuously advises employers, health plans, plan sponsors, fiduciaries, plan administrators, plan vendors, insurers and others about health program related legal, operational, documentation, public policy, enforcement, privacy, technology, litigation and risk management and other concerns. Ms. Stamer also publishes and speaks extensively on these and other health and managed care program concerns and practices.  Her insights on these and related topics have appeared in Atlantic Information Service, Bureau of National Affairs, World At Work, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insurance, Managed Healthcare, Health Leaders, various ABA publications and a many other national and local publications.  To contact Ms. Stamer or for additional information about Ms. Stamer, her experience, involvements, programs or publications, contact Ms. Stamer at (469) 767-8872 or via e-mail here, or see here.

About Solutions Law Press

Solutions Law Press™ provides business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other resources, training and education on human resources, employee benefits, compensation, data security and privacy, health care, insurance, and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and other key operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press resources available for review here. If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates and notices about other upcoming Solutions Law Press events, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail- by creating or updating your profile at here. For important information concerning this communication click here.  If you do not wish to receive these updates in the future, send an e-mail with the word   ©2010 Solutions Law Press.   All rights reserved. 


[*] A limited number of participants on a space available basis will have the opportunity to participate in the briefing as a member of the live studio audio audience in Plano, Texas.  Interested persons should e-mail support@solutionslawyer.net. 

[†] Discounts available for groups registering three or more participants.  Sponsorship opportunities also available.  For information, E-mail support@solutionslawyer.net.