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Elevation

Welcome to Elevation, our benefits blog devoted to information relevant to employee health and welfare benefits. Included here are regular articles coordinated by our benefits attorneys and communications team. We hope that you find them helpful and relevant. Your feedback is welcome.

Our blog is currently targeted to employer HR and benefits contacts as well as plan advisors. Our goal is to continue to expand the scope of content and the target audience.

Why “Elevation?” We view one aspect of our company mission to elevate the level of benefits compliance for employers. It is our practical goal to assist employers with technical and compliance matters for their plans, so that employers may focus on what they do best – providing goods and services and retaining talent and personnel to do so.

Dependent Care Reporting for W-2

by Christopher Macali on 13 December, 2017 with Add new comment

This reminder addresses the preparation of W2 Forms for your employees who participated in the Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account during the calendar year 2017.

New Guidance for Qualified Small Employer HRAs (QSEHRAs)

by Christopher Macali on 06 December, 2017 with Add new comment

The 21st Century Cures Act passed last year created Qualified Small Employer HRAs (QSEHRAs) providing a vehicle for small employers (fewer than 50 employees) to reimburse employees' individual insurance premiums and other medical expenses on a pre-tax basis.

Open Enrollment for COBRA Beneficiaries

by Christopher Macali on 30 October, 2017 with Add new comment

As we near open enrollment for calendar year benefit plans, it is important not to forget about COBRA beneficiaries during this time. Employers are often unaware that the open enrollment rights of active employees also apply to COBRA beneficiaries as they relate to available group health plans. In order to effectively administer COBRA, employers should provide open enrollment materials to COBRA beneficiaries and allow them to make corresponding elections for available group health plans.

Let’s face it … we all live in a world where ‘free’ feels better. With budget constraints and demands, the less something in one area costs means that more is available to spend elsewhere. As an employer, this is an easy and seemingly rational path to follow in employee benefits spending. When you have the opportunity to obtain a benefit for ‘free’, you jump on it to open up that money to spend in other areas. However ‘free’ administration can actually cause the benefit to be more expensive. How?

Does COBRA Apply to Health Flexible Spending Accounts (“FSAs”)

Church Benefits and Taxes for 2018

by Jason Cogdill on 05 October, 2017 with Add new comment

Churches continue to struggle with the complicated issue of how to provide benefits – particularly health insurance – to staff members. These issues have been further complicated in recent years by changes in the law that have made some prior options obsolete.

IRS 2018 Plan Maximums and Limits

by Christopher Macali on 27 September, 2017 with Add new comment

To date, the IRS has released a number of HSA and ACA maximums and limits applicable to 2018 health and welfare plans.

Are You Ready For Some . . . Open Enrollment?

by Jason Cogdill on 25 September, 2017 with Add new comment

Fall is a favorite season for many. Not only does it bring pleasant temperatures and beautiful leaves in places like my home state of North Carolina, but also a new season of football. Of course, with the arrival of fall and football, benefits enrollment season for 2018 is around the corner.

HSAs: The New Retirement Plan

by Kim Malleolo on 14 September, 2017 with Add new comment

Health Savings Accounts (“HSAs”) are becoming the most flexible option in retirement planning. As a refresher, HSAs are individually owned bank accounts that are a tax-advantage option for anyone enrolled in a qualifying High Deductible Health Plan. This can be an individual plan or a plan through an employer.

Election Periods & The 30-Day Myth

by Jason Cogdill on 08 September, 2017 with Add new comment

Frequently Asked Question: Is it correct that an employee has 30 days after making an election as a new hire, or 30 days after open enrollment ends, in which to make a change to his or her election?

ACA: Where Do We Stand?

by Jason Cogdill on 15 August, 2017 with Add new comment

We continue to monitor developments surrounding the Affordable Care Act ("ACA") in order to inform you of changes relevant to your organization. As you likely know, thus far in 2017 Congress has failed in its attempts to repeal or modify the ACA.

FAQ: Is This A Qualifying Event?

by Christopher Macali on 28 July, 2017 with Add new comment

My spouse lost his/her job and I can no longer afford my group health insurance. Can I drop my coverage through my employer?

July 31 is the annual deadline for two significant compliance requirements.

3 COBRA Basics You Need To Know

by Christopher Macali on 29 June, 2017 with Add new comment

COBRA can be complex, and employers often outsource COBRA to Third-Party Administrators (TPAs). Despite this, there are a number of basics all plan sponsors should understand. To help with developing basic compliance knowledge, below are three COBRA basics you need to know.

As attention has focused on developments regarding the status of the ACA and the proposed, new American Health Care Act (“AHCA”) during the first six months of the year, other items may not have made front page news. This is a summary of various 2017 developments that may be relevant to your organization.

In a previous blog post, we communicated an IRS memorandum addressing the taxation of supplemental benefits that qualify as “fixed indemnity” health plans. There has been no formal change or update since that development. However, in doing some research on a related issue, we learned that there may be soon modification or clarification of the prior guidance from the IRS.

You are invited to participate in our next client webinar on Tuesday, May 16 at 11:00 am. This is a mini webinar session (15 minutes total) and will feature a discussion on the basics of how Medicare impacts employee benefit programs.

Key Non-ACA Compliance Items for 2017

by Jason Cogdill on 24 April, 2017 with Add new comment

During these first four months of 2017, most of the discussion regarding employee benefits has focused on the status of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), including efforts of Republicans in Congress and the White House to repeal, repair, or replace the 7 year-old health care law. Those efforts continue, although after recent developments it may be later in 2017 or in 2018 when we know the ultimate result for the ACA and what will come next.

As we approach the July 31 filing deadline for calendar year plans, it is helpful to look at the Form 5500 filing requirement for health and welfare plans. As a refresher, Form 5500 requirements are part of ERISA’s reporting and disclosure rules. These rules apply to all group-sponsored health and welfare plans unless an exemption applies. Specifically, plans with 100 or more participants on the first day of the plan year must file an annual Form 5500 with the federal Department of Labor. The filing is due on the last day of the 7th month after the plan year ends. The DOL requires electronic filing through the EFAST2 system.

Health FSA Coordination With HSA Eligibility Rules

by Christopher Macali on 23 March, 2017 with Add new comment

Despite the growth in Health Savings Account (“HSA”) popularity over the past few years, there remains a considerable amount of uncertainty regarding the rules for HSA eligibility, especially as they relate to Health Flexible Spending Account (“FSA”) coverage. It is important that employers adding High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) and HSAs as benefit options understand HSA eligibility rules and educate employees in order to protect the tax-favored status of HSA contributions.

A recent IRS Office of Chief Counsel Memorandum includes new guidance on the tax treatment of certain supplemental health benefits provided by employers.

Refresher on COBRA Compliance Basics

by Christopher Macali on 22 February, 2017 with Add new comment

COBRA has long been one of the most significant benefits compliance responsibilities for employers. If you need a refresher course on COBRA basics and key compliance requirements for employers, our recent short course will be helpful to you.

As of today, the ACA remains the law of the land. Despite all of the news and chatter from Washington regarding potential repeal, no developments of consequence have transpired.

2017 Client Webinar Series Schedule Available

by Christopher Macali on 08 February, 2017 with Add new comment

The schedule for our 2017 Client Webinar Series is now available on our website. We look forward to bringing you relevant, quality content regarding health and welfare plan administration in 2017.

2017 IRS Maximums & Limits for Welfare Benefit Plans

by Christopher Macali on 17 January, 2017 with Add new comment

The IRS has announced the following maximums and limits for 2017 Welfare Benefit Plans. Notably, the Health FSA maximum and HSA maximum contribution for self-only coverage increased $50. The HSA contribution maximum for family coverage and the minimum deductibles for HSA qualifying health plans remained the same.

Reminder: Dependent Care Reporting for W-2

by Christopher Macali on 08 December, 2016 with Add new comment

This reminder addresses the preparation of W2 Forms for your employees who participated in the Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account during the calendar year 2016.

As we process the results of Tuesday’s national elections, we begin to consider the impact on the employee benefits industry for 2017 and beyond.

Application of COBRA Coverage and Health FSA Carryover

by Christopher Macali on 11 October, 2016 with Add new comment

Earlier this year, the IRS provided much needed guidance regarding COBRA’s application to Health FSA plans with the carryover feature in IRS Notice 2015-87. The guidance largely confirmed our understanding of the issues.

You are invited to participate in our next client webinar on Tuesday, June 28 at 11:00 am. As the smoke continues to clear...

Doing Your Taxes? Don't Forget Your HSA

by Jason Cogdill on 14 January, 2016 with Add new comment

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) continue to be a popular tax-favored investment and medical expense reimbursement component of employee benefits packages. Here are the basics to help you with tax time.

Reminder: Dependent Care Reporting for W-2

by Christopher Macali on 04 December, 2015 with Add new comment

This reminder addresses the preparation of W2 Forms for your employees who participated in the Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account during the calendar year 2015.

Turning 65? What You Need to Know About HSA Eligibility

by Christopher Macali on 30 November, 2015 with Add new comment

How is HSA eligibility impacted by an individual's 65th birthday and Medicare eligibility? There is often confusion around this topic and whether eligibility to make or receive Health Savings Account ("HSA") contributions ends upon an individual's 65th birthday.

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Recent Posts

  • 13 December, 2017 Christopher Macali
    This reminder addresses the preparation of W2 Forms for your employees who participated in the…
  • 06 December, 2017 Christopher Macali
    The 21st Century Cures Act passed last year created Qualified Small Employer HRAs (QSEHRAs) providing…
  • 30 October, 2017 Christopher Macali
    As we near open enrollment for calendar year benefit plans, it is important not to…