Tag Archives: Department of Labor

COBRA extension deadline considerations for multiemployer plan sponsors

Recently, the U.S. Departments of Labor and Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service jointly issued guidance extending certain deadlines related to COBRA continuation coverage.

The extension of deadlines described are based on the “Outbreak Period,” which is defined as the period from March 1, 2020, until 60 days after the federal government declares the end of the National Emergency, or other such date announced by the agencies. The guidance issued by the agencies also includes suspension of time limits related to HIPAA special enrollment rights and filing benefit claims, appeals, and external reviews during the Outbreak Period. These time limits do not begin to run out until the end of the Outbreak Period.

In this Multiemployer Alert, Milliman’s Sean Silva and Eric Walters discuss the COBRA election period, COBRA payment deadlines, and the potential impact on plan sponsors.

ACA guidance: DOL notices, IRS minimum value and premium tax credits

The federal agencies with health reform regulatory oversight continue to publish guidance to implement provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). On May 8, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued Technical Release No. 2013-02, which provides guidance and model notices for an employer to notify employees of health coverage options through the health insurance exchanges, or marketplace, beginning in 2014. The guidance also revises COBRA healthcare continuation coverage election notices to reflect the alternatives offered through the exchanges. The guidance will remain in effect until the DOL publishes updated information.

On May 3, meanwhile, the IRS proposed rules on the minimum value (MV) of employer-sponsored health plans and other requirements relating to the premium tax credits for qualifying individuals who purchase insurance on the exchanges. Plan sponsors may rely on the proposed rules, but the IRS proposes to apply final rules to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2013.

For Milliman’s perspective read our latest Client Action Bulletin.

More guidance issued on implementing ACA

The federal agencies with regulatory authority under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) have released several new pieces of guidance in the past few months, including final and proposed rules, as well as frequently asked questions (FAQs) or similar informational resources.

This Client Action Bulletin provides a broad overview of guidance from the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor (DOL), and Treasury (IRS), issued prior to April 1, 2013, as applied to group health plans beginning in 2014, when the health insurance exchanges are scheduled to become operational.

Employer deadline for notification about 2014 healthcare exchanges postponed

The U.S. Departments of Labor (DOL), Health and Human Services (HHS), and Treasury have announced that employer notification to employees regarding Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) health insurance exchanges will be postponed beyond the March 1, 2013, statutory deadline. Although the announcement does not specify a new date, it states that the timing for distribution of the notices will be in the late summer or fall of 2013, which will coordinate with the open enrollment period that begins in October 2013 for purchasing health insurance through the new exchanges. While there is no action for employers at this time, they should anticipate questions from employees as more attention is paid to this topic.

PPACA requires employers to provide all new hires and current employees a written notice about the exchanges. The notice must:

• Inform employees about the existence of the exchanges and give a description of the services provided

• Explain that employees may be eligible for a federal premium tax credit or a cost-sharing reduction if they purchase health insurance through the exchange because their employer’s plan does not meet the 60% “minimum value” standard

• Specify that employees purchasing coverage through exchanges may lose any employer contributions toward the cost of employer-provided coverage, and that all or a portion of the employer contributions may be excludable for federal income tax purposes.

The DOL is considering providing model generic language that could be used to satisfy the notice requirement or, alternatively, language based on information from the employer coverage template under the January 22, 2013, proposed rule on Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Programs, and exchanges.

The delayed notification announcement appears in the federal agencies’ “FAQs about Affordable Care Act Implementation (Part XI),” dated January 24, 2013. The document also provides guidance on health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) and other account-based arrangements; the DOL’s plan not to bring enforcement action against certain self-insured group health plans that are Employer Group Waiver Plans; fixed indemnity insurance policies that are not “excepted” benefits; and payment of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute fee by multiemployer plans.

For more information about the federal agencies’ announcement or for assistance with implementing PPACA’s requirements, please contact your Milliman consultant.

PPACA guidance: Full-time employee definition

Federal regulatory agencies have explained the means by which employers that sponsor group health plans may determine the employees to be considered “full-time” and, therefore, who must be offered coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

IRS Notice 2012-58, issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in coordination with the U.S. Departments of Labor (DOL) and Health and Human Services (HHS), expands on a “safe harbor” available under earlier guidance and specifies methods for calculating the full-time threshold for newly hired, variable-hour, and seasonal employees.

This Client Action Bulletin discusses recently released healthcare law guidance defining “full-time” employee and addressing the 90-day waiting period limitation.