It's crunch time for new health information reporting mandates

For many employers, their most direct contact with the Afford­­able Care Act arrives this winter. Employ­­ers with 50 or more full-time-equivalent workers in 2015 must report to the IRS their offer of minimum essential and affordable health insurance to employees. Here are the details.

5 years in, what's ahead for Affordable Care Act compliance?

Phased implementation of the ACA has kept employers busy over the past few years. Here's your cheat sheet and some tips for what’s ahead.

Supreme Court to rule again on ACA birth control rule

In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that closely held private companies with religious objections to the Affordable Care Act’s birth-control mandate cannot be forced to pay for employees’ contraceptives. But some groups want a full exemption.

Congress repeals ACA's auto-enrollment mandate

As part of the congressional budget deal signed by President Obama on Nov. 2, lawmakers agreed to repeal the automatic enrollment provision of the Affordable Care Act.

Health coverage up, but not because of benefits

More working-age Americans had health insurance in last year, even though the rate of coverage through employment-based health plans remained essentially flat. That’s according to a new report by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute.

Child-care problems may justify unemployment


Employees who no longer work because they lose access to child care are sometimes eligible for unemployment compensation. But they must first seek help in the form of a reasonable accommodation from their employer and be turned down. Even so, the worker still has to look for “suitable employment” to retain the benefits. He or she can’t reject every job offer based on inconvenient day-care scheduling.

Half of employers invested more on health care in 2015

Spending on health care benefits was up in 50% of organizations surveyed this year. In contrast, only about a quarter of employers reported spending more on wellness programs and career development.

Health premiums steady, out-of-pocket costs spiral

Single and family premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance rose an average of 4% this year, continuing a decade-long period of moderate growth, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust 2015 Employer Health Benefits Survey released Sept. 10.

Can we require proof of a same-sex marriage?

Q. We received our first request for a same-sex spouse to be covered under our insurance. We’re fine doing this, as long as they are actually married. (We don’t cover domestic partners.) Can we ask for proof of marriage even if we don’t ask it from opposite-sex spouses? I’d like to create a policy that says if your last name is different than your spouse you wish to cover, we need proof of marriage. Is that legal? 

Consumer-driven health plan satisfaction rising

People with health insurance continue to express higher satisfaction with traditional health plans compared with so-called “consumer-driven” plans, but the satisfaction gap appears to be narrowing, according to new research from the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

Revisiting domestic-partner coverage after Obergefell

When the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, plenty of HR pros started to wonder: Do we even need to offer health benefits to employees’ domestic partners anymore?

Cutting hours to dodge ACA may violate ERISA

In the brave new benefits world defined by Obamacare, a new creature has sprung forth: the ERISA challenge.

IRS releases 2016 HDHP/HSA limits

In 2016, IRS rules will allow employees with self-only coverage under high-deductible health plans to continue contributing up to $3,350 to health savings accounts. The minimum annual deductible for an HDHP remains $1,300. Maximum out-of-pocket expenses increase $100, to $6,550.

Absence alone isn't grounds to deny unemployment comp

Employees discharged for being absent may still be eligible for unemployment compensation. That’s because employees must have committed willful misconduct to lose the right to benefits. An employee fired for missing work because he couldn’t call in or otherwise comply with his employer’s call-off procedure, for example, would still be eligible.

Health benefits alternative: HSA balances growing

Average health savings account balances increased from $1,408 to $1,933—up about 37%—in 2014, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute.
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