10 compliance issues for 2018 health and benefit planning

The article below was published on June 18, 2017 by Employee Benefit News, written by Brian M. Kalish.

Compliance

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Introduction
Despite the uncertain future of the Affordable Care Act and pending replacement legislation, clients should continue finalizing their 2018 health and benefit offerings, contribution strategies, vendor terms, plan operations and employee communications, according to Mercer. The company hosted a recent webinar to share the top 10 issues for 2018.

“As employers begin to strategize for their 2018 benefit programs, it is important not to lose sight of new and ongoing compliance obligations and prepare to make any changes that may be necessary in employee benefit plan design and administration,” says Katharine Marshall, principal at Mercer. “Despite what may – or may not – come of ACA repeal and replace legislation, there are a number of compliance concerns that employers can count on sticking around – like HIPAA privacy and security requirements, mental health parity requirements and ERISA fiduciary duties, just to name a few.”

Employers and their advisers, Marshall adds, should keep these issues in focus because the consequences of sidelining them can be costly.

Employed shared responsibility strategy and reporting
Even with plans to dramatically alter or eliminate the Affordable Care Act pending in Congress, most of the legislative body’s reconciliation rules do not allow for the repeal of the employer shared responsibility, says Katharine Marshall, principal at Mercer.

While the minimum value requirement remains unchanged for 2018, affordability has decreased and an employer cannot charge a full time employee more than 9.56% of household income, down slightly from 9.69% in 2017.

It is critical for employers to document their offers of coverage and “most importantly,” waivers of that coverage, Marshall says. “As you head to 2018, correct any mistakes in prior year filings,” she adds.

Cadillac Tax
Employers should review their risk of exposure for when the tax is scheduled to begin in 2020. Although the American Health Care Act as it stands now delays the implementation of the tax until 2026, the fate of that bill is uncertain, Marshall says.

The best way to do that is to review an employer’s risk of exposure by identifying plans and benefits that could be a factor, such as flexible spending accounts, health reimbursement arrangements and health savings accounts, she says. An employer should also focus on pre-65 retiree plans and high-cost plans due to geographic location and claims history.

Preventive services
For employers to comply with this requirement they need to stay abreast of updates to what must be covered.

Changes are made on a rolling basis. For Jan. 1, 2018, preventive services now include screening for depression in adults, low dose aspirin for certain at-risk adults ages 50-59, syphilis screening for asymptomatic non-pregnant adults, among others, Marshall says. Continue reading

IRS Adjusts HSA Limits for 2018

The IRS has released the inflation-adjusted contribution and related amounts for health savings accounts (HSAs) and HSA-compatible high-deductible health plans, or HDHPs, for 2018. These limits are tied to changes in the Consumer Price Index by application of the cost-of-living adjustment rules. The limits for 2018 are set forth below.

2018 HSA Limits

Annual HSA Contribution Maximum: $3,450 for single coverage ($50 increase from $3,400)
$6,900 for family coverage ($150 increase from $6,750)
Annual Catch-Up Contribution Maximum: $1,000 (for HSA-eligible individuals age 55 or older) – no change
HDHP Minimum Deductible: $1,350 for single coverage ($50 increase from $1,300)
$2,700 for family coverage ($100 increase from $2,600)
HDHP Out-of-Pocket Maximum: $6,650 for single coverage ($100 increase from $6,550)
$13,300 for family coverage ($200 increase from $13,100)

Not Legal Advice: Nothing in this Alert should be construed as legal advice.