Welfare Benefit Plan ERISA News
February 2013

Latest DOL FAQs about ACA Implementation
Exchange Notices - Employers must provide new employees upon the date of hire and existing employees by March 1, 2013 information about their health care coverage options through the future health Exchanges. These notices must explain the services the Exchanges will provide; whether the employee may be eligible to receive a premium tax credit to purchase insurance through the Exchanges because the employer's plan does not provide minimum value; and that in the event the employee opts to purchase insurance through an Exchange, the employee could lose any employer contribution to any health benefits, and that all or a portion of this contribution may be excludable from income for tax purposes. However, employers will not be required to comply with the new notice requirements until further regulations are issued and become effective. The DOL anticipates that this will occur in late summer or fall of 2013.
HRA Limits - Health plans are generally prohibited from imposing lifetime or annual limits on the dollar value of essential health benefits. The interim final regulations made a distinction between HRAs that are "integrated" with other coverage as part of a group health plan and those that are "stand-alone" HRAs. Generally, HRAs that are integrated with other coverage need not independently satisfy the requirements, as the total package does so. According to the guidance, an HRA is not considered integrated with primary health coverage offered by the employer unless, under the terms of the HRA, the HRA is available only to employees who are covered by primary group health plan coverage provided by the employer. The FAQs provide some explanation as to when an HRA can truly be considered "integrated" with other coverage. Earlier FAQs can be accessed here.
DOL Audits of Health and Welfare Plans Webinar
"With recent reports of increased DOL focus on health care reform and related compliance obligations, now is the perfect time to check your readiness for a DOL investigation. Whether you are a plan sponsor, advisor, or service provider, join [EBIA] experts in this 90-minute web seminar [on February 14] as they report on the contents of the revised DOL audit letter for health and welfare plans, explain the audit process, and help you be prepared with an effective response if the DOL comes calling. Here's some of what [they'll] cover:
  • Language of the revised DOL audit letter with detailed new requests relating to health care reform, including documentation of grandfathered status, compliance with various plan design and administrative mandates, and records showing distribution of required notices.
  • DOL investigative power, including the power to request copies of various plan-related documents; possible civil and criminal penalties.
  • Steps in a typical DOL audit, including initial document requests plus possible on-site visits and interviews, identification of violations, compliance requirements, and closing letters.
  • Types of documents to have ready for production.
  • How to respond to a DOL audit, including how to prepare personnel and how to document materials produced and other information provided to the DOL." (Source: EBIA)
ERISA Trivia

Last month we asked how many unique words can be made from the five letters in ERISA. Congratulations to Jess Knoth of Overland Park, KS, with 32 words and Barbara Murray of Omaha, NE with 13 words.

For a list of 50 identified words, click here.


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