10 things to check when planning 2016 health benefit packages

The clock is ticking down to 2016 which means time is running out to dot the ‘i’ and cross the ‘t’ for your health benefit packages. Employee Benefit Adviser has these tips.

1) Employer shared-responsibility (ESR) strategy: Ensure the intended goal of avoiding or paying ESR assessments for 2016 coverage is supported by coverage offers, administrative and recordkeeping processes, and benefit documents.

2) ESR reporting: Arrange data sources, systems and administrative processes to collect all information about enrollees with minimum essential coverage (MEC), full-time employees, and coverage offers needed for reporting on 2016 coverage. Create a process for correcting any erroneous IRS filings and personal statements.

3) Preventative care: Ensure “non-grandfathered” group health plans comply with the final ACA rules and recent guidance on cost-free preventive services.

4) Other ACA reporting and disclosure requirements: Review delivery operations for summaries of benefits and coverage (SBCs) and watch for revised SBC templates. Prepare for round two of online submission and payment of ACA’s reinsurance fee.

5) Mid-year changes to cafeteria plan elections: Decide whether to permit mid-year changes to cafeteria plan elections for either or both of the status-change events in IRS Notice 2014-55.

6) ACA’s out-of-pocket maximum: Verify that self-only and other (e.g., family) coverage tiers in “non-grandfathered” plans meet ACA’s 2016 out-of-pocket (OOP) limits for in-network care. Confirm that family coverage also satisfies ACA’s self-only OOP limit for each enrollee.

7) Same-sex marriages and domestic partnerships: Assess how the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges ruling that legalizes same-sex marriage nationwide affects your benefit programs and employment policies. Also, consider the decision’s indirect implications for domestic partner coverage.

8) Mental health parity: Check that plan designs and operations provide parity between medical/surgical and mental health/substance use disorder (MH/SUD) coverage. Federal audits of health plans now evaluate compliance with the final Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) rules that took effect in 2015. In addition, state legislative activity and litigation around parity issues continue.

9) Wellness: Review employee wellness programs against the proposed Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) rules requiring voluntary participation and restricting incentives for completing health risk assessments and/or biomedical screenings. Be prepared to make changes after EEOC finalizes these rules for nondiscriminatory wellness plans under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

10) Fixed-indemnity and supplemental health insurance: Review fixed-indemnity and supplemental health insurance policies to ensure they qualify as excepted benefits under the ACA and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

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