March 4, 2014 by Trent Teesdale, CEBS
Guidance on the Affordable Care Act continues to be issued at a dizzying pace. Deadlines come, and then are extended. Parts of the law are implemented as scheduled and others are pushed off, sometimes indefinitely. As a result, employers are left scratching their heads wondering what will appear next on the horizon. This confusion can often lead to policy stagnation with respect to employee benefits. Yet, there is a looming provision which could greatly affect the cost of providing high quality insurance to employees.
February 18, 2014 by Bill Enright
Health Insurance costs continually rise – it’s like a runaway train with no end in sight. Last year’s average increase was around 4%. School districts and other local governmental employers need to begin looking at cost containment in a new way. It’s a shift from financially-driven decisions to strategically-driven decisions. It is no longer feasible to only look out over the next year taking one contract/renewal at a time. Now is the perfect time to create a 3-5 year strategy to position yourself correctly for the future. Your insurance consultant can help you.
Retiree Health Insurance Interview Series, Part 3: The Long-Term Transition to HRAs for School Districts and Early Retirees
Keeping early retirees on the school district’s group health plans can be expensive for the retiree, the district and consequently, current employees (overall premiums increase with retirees as participants on the plan). While viable alternatives for retiree healthcare didn’t exist in the past, the Health Insurance marketplaces (previously called Exchanges) under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) provide early retirees with the ability to retire around age 55 and yet receive affordable healthcare.
Most early retirees perceive the insurance benefit as a reward for their years of loyalty and hard work; therefore, most districts have plans to continue offering the benefit. Also, more often than not, retirees still need financial help from their employers to pay for coverage. Retiree-Only Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) provide the solution for both early retirees and employers.
February 11, 2014
For those employers with 50-100 full-time employees (who work at least 30 hours per week), the IRS and Treasury Department have postponed the ACA pay or play mandate until 2016.
Large employers (those with 100+ full-time employees) will still need to adhere to the January 2015 deadline. In addition, the rule requiring that 95% of employees must be covered immediately has been relaxed. Large employers will need to offer coverage to 70% of their full-time employees in 2015 and 95% in 2016 to avoid being fined. For employers with non-calendar year plans, ACA compliance begins at the start of the plan year, rather than on January 1, 2015.
In addition, further clarification of the full-time employee definition has been made. Volunteer firefighters, part-time teachers and adjunct professors who teach less than 15 hours a week will not be considered full-time employees.
For more information, see: ALERT: Treasury and the IRS Delay Affordable Care Act’s “Play or Pay” Until 2016 for Smaller Employers
The ACA Watch newsletter and blog/website is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice.
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