Welfare Benefit Plan ERISA News
May 2014

Insurers Covering Opposite Sex Spouses
Must Begin Covering Same Sex Spouses
In an effort to ensure that all individuals have access to health coverage and to clarify its prohibition against discrimination based on sexual orientation, CMS has issued this FAQ. For Plan or policy years beginning on or after January 1, 2015, health insurers offering non-grandfathered health coverage for opposite-sex spouses must also offer coverage for legally married same-sex spouses under the same terms and conditions that apply to opposite-sex spouses, regardless of the jurisdiction in which the policy was written or where the policyholder resides. Because this requirement applies to insurers, it only affects fully insured health plans.
Hospital Safety Ratings Vary Widely
The safety ratings of 2,591 hospitals were recently released by Consumer Reports magazine. The study analyzed readmission rates, overuse of CT scans, hospital-acquired infections, communications with patients after discharge, and patient mortality. Miles Memorial Hospital in Damariscotta, Maine, earned the best safety score of 78 out of 100, while Bolivar Medical Center in Cleveland, Mississippi, came out last, with a score of 11.
The differences between hospitals can be a matter of life and death. Estimates of the number of Americans killed by hospital errors are soaring. An Institute of Medicine study in 1999 revealed that 98,000 people died from medical mistakes in hospitals. An HHS study in 2010 indicated that poor hospital care resulted in 180,000 deaths per year (and that's just from Medicare patients!). Another study in 2013 estimated such deaths between 210,000 and 440,000 annually. If the 440,000 estimate is correct, poor hospital care would be the country's third leading cause of death, after heart disease and cancer. Source
See the May issue of Consumer Reports; however, accessing the ratings of individual hospitals requires a paid subscription. You may also be interested in our March, 2014 article on this topic.
Medicare & HSA Contributions Clash at 65
"By law, once you've enrolled in Medicare, you're no longer allowed to contribute to a health savings account. IRS Publication 969 Health Savings Accounts and Other Tax-favored Health Plans states: "Beginning with the first month you are enrolled in Medicare, your contribution limit is zero."
Therefore, if you're approaching age 65 and starting to think about your Medicare enrollment, here are four specific rules regarding health savings accounts (HSAs) you'll need to know:" (More at Mercer Advisors)
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