Overview: Employers use health care benefits as a means to attract and retain good employees. These benefits are generally viewed by employees as an important part of their total compensation package.
Typical benefit packages generally include coverage for medical and prescription benefits, but many employers provide more comprehensive benefit programs that include coverage for dental and vision benefits as well. Given the tax advantages, flexible spending accounts (FSAs) continue to be a popular choice for employees.
Rising health care costs continue to be a concern, and employers are on the lookout for ways to manage this cost. Educating employees to help them make informed benefit choices suited to their individual needs provides employers with a means to start controlling costs. The continuing movement toward consumer driven health care can help employees get the care they need while making them more knowledgeable, engaged consumers.
Trends: Change is the new norm in the landscape of health benefit plans. Health Care Reform poses significant challenges for HR professionals, and its requirements affect how both employers and employees view health benefit plans.
Author: Tracy Morley, SPHR, Legal Editor
Updated to include information on the Supreme Court's ruling on contraception coverage under the Affordable Care Act and to reflect EEOC final rules on wellness programs, the ADA and GINA.
President Obama has signed an omnibus appropriations bill (H.R. 2029) that will significantly impact payroll operations. The Protecting Americans From Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH Act), which represents half of the bill, permanently extends parity between qualified (tax-free) employer-provided parking and commuter benefits and substantially revises the rules for filing Forms W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, and 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, which is the other half of the omnibus bill, amends the Affordable Care Act.
The Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Treasury have jointly published comprehensive final rules under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which essentially combine and solidify interim rules, several pieces of guidance and Questions and Answers issued since 2010, when the ACA was first enacted.
The IRS has released the final 2015 versions of Forms 1094-B, 1095-B, 1094-C and 1095-C, and instructions that an employer may use for fulfilling Affordable Care Act annual information-reporting requirements.
The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that forcing religiously-affiliated employers to offer contraceptive coverage to their employees, even indirectly, would violate those employers' religious freedoms. The decisions in two related cases could set up another Supreme Court challenge involving the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as they conflict with all other federal appellate court rulings on the issue.
These FAQs answer some commonly asked questions about the health plan identifier (HPID) required to be used in Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) standard transactions. Enforcement of the HPID rule has been delayed until further notice.
Employers seeking to advise employees who is eligible to participate in medical and dental insurance, whether and to what extent coverage may extend to spouses and other family members and when benefit selections should be made should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
HR guidance on managing health plans in light of increased costs and health care reform.