Category Archives: Newsletter

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MAJOR CHANGES TO FEDERAL HEALTHCARE REGULATIONS

The recent executive order issued by President Trump has led to several changes in particular points of the Affordable Care Act.  We’ll keep you advised of further changes as agencies adjust to this order and subsequent congressional or executive actions.

  • Health Care Bulletin: President Signs Executive Order Designed to Change ACA Rules   #156714
  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: IRS Reverses Policy on Certifying Individual Mandate Compliance #148720
  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: New Regulations Expand Exemptions from the Contraceptive Mandate     #156534
  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: White House Announces ACA Subsidies Will End     #156779
  • Benefits Buzz, November 2017:     #146356
    • Latest ACA Repeal Bill Withdrawn

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STAYING COMPLIANT THROUGH 2018

Although there will be many changes to federal regulations on health plans, plan sponsors must be mindful that compliance with existing rules is mandated until those specific rules are revised.  The following articles provide information on what you need to be prepared for going into 2018 for both health and retirement benefits.

  • ACA Overview: 2018 Compliance Checklist     #146410
  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: Health FSA Limit Will Increase for 2018     #157106
  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: Final Forms for 2017 ACA Reporting Released     #141490
  • Compliance Bulletin: Qualified Retirement Plan Limits – 2017 and 2018     #12221
  • Compliance Bulletin: IRS Announces Employee Benefit Plan Limits for 2018     #157394

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OTHER IMPORTANT REGULATORY CHANGES

The final rule on ERISA disability claims and appeals issued last December by the Department of Labor was expected to become effective on January 1, 2018.  However, that effective date has now been postponed to April 1, 2018.

The Department of Health and Human Services has withdrawn its proposed rule regarding the deadline for health plans to certify their compliance with HIPAA electronic transaction standards and operating rules as mandated by the Affordable Care Act.

  • Compliance Bulletin: New Rules for Disability Benefit Claims May Be Delayed     #146957
  • Benefits Buzz, November 2017:     #146356
    • New Rules for Disability Benefit Claims May Be Delayed
  • Compliance Bulletin: HHS Withdraws Rules on HIPAA Certification     #156479

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HEALTH AND WELLNESS ASSISTANCE

This month’s articles cover a range of topics that might be useful inclusions in your employee newsletter.

  • Live Well, Work Well – November 2017:     #146278
    • Fight the Flu with These Simple Tips
    • Start Planning Today for a Stress-free Holiday Season
  • HR Brief: November 2017     #146375
    • Flu Season is Here: Is Your Business Prepared?
    • Don’t Forget about Voluntary Benefits
  • Infographic: Take Control of Your Health     #157210
  • Open Enrollment Questions     #157247

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HUMAN RESOURCES UPDATES

Some significant guidance came through recently regarding federal regulations on employer policies regarding leaves of absence and discrimination against transgendered employees.

  • Compliance Bulletin: Court Rules ADA Does Not Require Extended Leave      #156531
  • Compliance Bulletin: U. S. Justice Dept. Reverses Title VII Transgender Policy     #156784

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STATE EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATES

The overview of ‘wage equity’ mandates across several states shows a trend that employers should be mindful of.  In addition, we are posting articles on California parental and Rhode Island sick leave laws.

  • Compliance Bulletin: Newly Adopted Wage Equity Laws     #156248
  • Compliance Bulletin: California Extends Parental Leave to Smaller Employers     #157045
  • Compliance Bulletin: Rhode Island Enacts Paid Sick Leave     #156762

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2018 ENROLLMENT

These articles provide varying levels of detail on your responsibility to ensure that the summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) distributed for 2018 health plan enrollment meets the requirements of the revised ACA template.  Only 2 pages (replacing the 6-page template) this format should be easier for your employees to quickly comprehend.

  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: New SBC Template Required for 2018 Open Enrollment     #146409
  • Benefits Bulletin:     #146329
    • New SBC Template Required for 2018 Open Enrollment
  • Benefits Buzz, October 2017:     #146351
    • New SBC Template Required for 2018 Open Enrollment 

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2017 KAISER SURVEY

The 19th edition of the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust survey summarizes responses from more than 2,100 U.S. employers.  The survey data reflects 2017 health-related employer benefit coverages.

  • 2017 Annual Survey: Employer Health Benefits (220 pages)     #155899

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DISABILITY RULES EFFECTIVE 2018

The bulletin reviews the changes required in 2018 for the handling of claims for disability benefits.  The infographics provide poster-like images to help your employees distinguish between short-term and long-term disability insurance provisions.

  • Infographic: Understanding Short-Term Disability Insurance     #155014
  • Infographic: Long-Term Disability Insurance     #155108
  • Compliance Bulletin: New Rules for Disability Benefit Claims Take Effect in 2018     #146957

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COMPLIANCE REMINDERS

Here are a couple of important requirements to remember, in addition to those noted in other articles in this month’s newsletter:

  • Benefits Bulletin:     #146329
    • Medicare Part D Notices Due by October 14th.
    • ACA Mandate Penalties Still Effective

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HEALTH AND WELLNESS ASSISTANCE

The first 3 articles provide information on recent court action that may cause the EEOC to revise its rules on wellness.  The later articles offer you some ideas for inserts to an employee newsletter or other communication.

  • Compliance Bulletin: Court Orders EEOC to Reconsider Wellness Rules     #155076
  • Benefits Bulletin:     #146329
    • Court Orders EEOC to Reconsider Wellness Rules
  • Benefits Buzz, October 2017:     #146351
    • Court Orders EEOC to Reconsider Wellness Rules
  • Live Well, Work Well Newsletter – October 2017     #146277
    • 10 Easy Halloween Safety Tips
    • Hidden Dangers at Your Child’s Bedtime
    • Have a Healthy Halloween
  • News Brief: 143 Million People Potentially Affected in Equifax Data Breach     #155265

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COBRA GUIDANCE

This 40-page booklet provides guidance on COBRA requirements for plan sponsors, including eligibility, election, notices, and premiums.  This serves as a good source for those who answer questions regarding continuing coverage or who administer health benefits.  It can also be a good source for introducing the concept of COBRA to staff who are new to HR or health benefits positions.

  • COBRA Compliance Toolkit     #155703

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HUMAN RESOURCES UPDATES

A wide range of topics are covered in the articles presented below.  The HR Toolkit on Recruiting is a 30-page booklet.

  • HR Toolkit: Recruiting (30 pages)     #155835
  • HR Insights: Candidate Salary Requests     #155912
  • Compliance Overview: Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)     #155003
  • Infographic: DOL Violations Case Study     #154895
  • HR Insights: 5 Child Care Initiatives to Enhance Your Workplace     #155509
  • Voluntary Benefits Scorecard     #155915
  • Compliance Bulletin: Federal Court Strikes Down 2016 Overtime Rule     #155228
  • HR Brief: October 2017     #146374
    • DOL Overtime Rule Defeated for Good
    • Avoiding Disaster Relief Scams

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RESPONDING TO RECENT NATURAL DISASTERS

The successive hits from hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria have left many businesses with questions about how they can best assist their employees whose personal lives and jobs were impacted by these disasters.  Guidance from the Department of Labor, as well as advice from experts in HR and safety and security are provided below.

  • Dept. of Labor: FAQs for Participants and Beneficiaries Following Hurricane Harvey     #155045
  • Compliance Overview: Employee Leave-sharing and Donation Programs     #146900
  • Live Well, Work Well – Health Care Concerns Following a Hurricane or Flood      #155007
  • Live Well, Work Well – Donating to Disasters and Avoiding Scams     #155017
  • HR Brief: Avoiding Disaster Relief Scams     #146374

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OCTOBER 14th DEADLINE FOR HEALTH PLAN SPONSORS

Plan sponsors are required to distribute notice of the status of their sponsored health plan coverage to individuals who are eligible for Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D).  Our bulletin includes links to the model notices from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  Remember that your obligation extends not only to employees and retirees, but also to COBRAs, spouses, and dependents. Also keep in mind that Medicare eligibility can be based on factors other than age.

  • Compliance Bulletin: Medicare Part D Notices are Due by October 14, 2017     #110448

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2017 REPORTING FORMS

The Internal Revenue Service has released draft forms for your compliance with IRC sections 6055 and 6056.  Final forms and their instructions will be released in advance of the date such completed forms need to be submitted early next year.

  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: Draft Forms for 2017 ACA Reporting Released      #154078

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ON-SITE HEALTH CLINICS

This 5-page article describes the often-overlooked conflict between access to an employer’s health clinic and eligibility for a health savings account.

  • Compliance Overview: On-site Health Clinics – Impact on HSA Eligibility      #154800

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OPEN ENROLLMENT AIDS

The following may assist you in advising your employees of your open enrollment process and in understanding some basic health benefit terminology.

  • Poster: Open Enrollment Benefits      #154619
  • Infographic: Coinsurance      #154618
  • Infographic: Hospital Indemnity Coverage      #154362

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HEALTH AND WELLNESS ASSISTANCE

An increasing number of workers are struggling to balance their duties as family caregivers with their obligations as employees.  The first two articles below provide ideas for how your organization can assist them and thereby retain conscientious, responsible employees.

The remaining short articles can be helpful additions to your employee newsletter.

  • Benefits Insights: Caregiver Benefits      #154603
  • Know Your Benefits: Balancing Caregiving and Your Career      #154597
  • Live Well, Work Well Newsletter – September 2017:      #146276
    • Do You Know the Signs of Opioid Addiction?
    • 3 Tips to Help Make the First Day of School Less Stressful
    • National Preparedness Month

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HUMAN RESOURCES UPDATES

We offer a variety of articles for HR pros this month.  Please take note of the topics addressed in the ‘Compliance Bulletins’ as well as the reminders on Form I-9s to be sure that your organization is mindful of federal Labor and IRS regulatory revisions. Also, the two Toolkits (‘Employee Engagement’ and ‘Interns and Entry-level Employees’) provide detailed information to help address those particular employment concerns.

  • Compliance Bulletin: DOL Reinstates Wage and Hour Opinion Letters      #154209
  • Compliance Bulletin: DOL Considers Issuing New Overtime Rule      #154379
  • Compliance Bulletin: Federal Court Rules State Medical Marijuana Law Protects Off-Duty Use   #154586
  • Form Letter: Affidavit of Termination of Domestic Partnership      #154815
  • HR Brief: September 2017      #146373
    • Updated Form I-9 Required Beginning September 18th
    • Harder than Ever to Fill Jobs in U.S.
  • Benefits Buzz, September 2017:      #146345
    • Updated Form I-9 Required Beginning September 18th
  • HR Toolkit: Employee Engagement (16 pages)      #153809
  • HR Toolkit: Interns and Entry-level Employees (28 pages)      #154696

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STATE EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATES

This month’s update topics range from minimum wages to Medicaid to workers compensation.

  • Compliance Overview: 2017 Minimum Wage Rates by State      #154887
  • Alaska Workers Compensation – Employer Responsibilities      #154609
  • Kansas Workers Compensation – Employer Responsibilities      #154607
  • Massachusetts Implements Employer Penalties for Employees Receiving Medicaid      #154728

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This month’s publications include tools of particular use to Human Resource managers.  As always, please let us know if you need assistance in customizing or utilizing any of the tools provided.

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ANNUAL ENROLLMENT

If you are finalizing your annual enrollment materials, this 9-page guide gives you a way to be sure that you haven’t forgotten to address any important compliance issues.

  • Compliance Overview: 2018 Open Enrollment Checklist     #146404

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UPDATED I-9 FORMS MUST BE USED STARTING IN SEPTEMBER

Be sure that you rely only on the new and revised I-9 Form starting on September 18.  This will be effective through August 2019.

  • Compliance Bulletin: New Form I-9 Released for Use in September     #153834

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WARNINGS ON OPIOID USE

The misuse of opioid drugs has skyrocketed in the past few years.  These posters encourage employees to seek help with addiction problems.

  • Infographic: Opioid Epidemic Fact Sheet     #153775
  • Infographic: Effects of Opioid Addiction     #153778

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ACA REPLACEMENT

Until there is a final vote on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, it’s wise to prepare, but not to devote too much time to ‘what-ifs.’  This 16-page overview will advise you of the major points of the bill that passed in the House (the American Health Care Act) and the one proposed by the Republicans in the Senate (the Better Care Reconciliation Act). The latest news on the Senate rejection of the move to repeal the ACA via the Health Care Freedom Act (HCFA), or ‘skinny’ version, is also included.

  • ACA Overview: Comparison of the AHCA and the BCRA     #153516
  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: Senate Rejects Efforts to Repeal the ACA     #146408

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COMPLIANCE OVERVIEW ON DEPENDENT CARE ASSISTANCE

This 12-page guide covers the rules on eligibility, contributions, reimbursements and other legal considerations.  It also contains links to the appropriate IRS regulations and necessary reporting forms.

  • Compliance Overview: Dependent Care Assistance Programs     #152964

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REGULATORY COMPLIANCE ASSISTANCE

These articles note some plan sponsor responsibilities related to mental health parity disclosures, preparation for cyber attacks, and the new fiduciary rule on health savings accounts.

  • Compliance Bulletin: New Draft Model Form for Mental Health Parity Requests     #152980
  • Compliance Bulletin: HHS Issues Cyber Attack Response Checklist    #153023
  • Compliance Bulletin: New Fiduciary Rule Takes Effect for HSAs     #141582
  • Benefits Bulletin: 3rd Quarter 2017     #146321
    • Health Care Reform: Timeline of Events
    • SHOP Exchanges to End Online Enrollment
  • Benefits Buzz, August 2017:     #146343
    • HIPAA Cyber Attack Response Checklist
    • New Fiduciary Rules

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TOOLS FOR HUMAN RESOURCES PROS

This month’s offerings include a valuable 150-page sample Employee Handbook, a clearly organized manual for communicating your organization’s benefits and personnel policies to your employees.  Although the Handbook must be tailored to your specific programs, it is more detailed than just a template.  Customizing the Handbook will lead you through a review of your organization’s policies and procedures, focusing your attention on compliance and communication considerations which might be overlooked otherwise.  The ‘Employee Handbook Quiz’ can be distributed along with the Handbook; using the ‘Key’, evaluating returned Quizzes allows you to gauge employee understanding of its contents.

In addition to the pieces noted here, be sure to review the state-specific tools on employee retention in the following section, ‘State Employment Law Updates’.

  • Employee Handbook: A Manual of Employee Benefits and Personnel Policies [Sample; 150 pages]     #4659
    • Employee Handbook Quiz     #153443
    • Employee Handbook Quiz Key     #153444
  • Department of Labor Sample Affirmative Action Program     #152747
  • HR Insights: Snapchat ‘Snap Map’ Safety     #153339
  • Benefits Bulletin: 3rd Quarter 2017     #146321
    • Possible Change to Overtime Rules
  • HR Brief:     #146372
    • The Importance of Becoming a Better Listener
    • What Does ‘Competitive Pay’ Really Mean?
  • HR Insights: Employee Retention     #153780
  • Know Your Benefits: Employee Benefits Discussion Preferences Letter     #153769

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STATE EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATES

This month we feature help on employee retention with an Excel tool for each state (and DC).  Each state file is comprised of 11 tabs giving introductory and explanatory information, as well as scorecards and other measures of retention risk, turnover rates, and performance.  Proper use of this tool should assist you in developing strategies to reduce turnover and its related costs. There are also articles on the spread of paid leaves in Washington state and the Massachusetts court ruling on medical marijuana that may foreshadow changes in other jurisdictions.

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WELLNESS

Just a few short pieces this month that you may use in your own wellness or other employee newsletter.

  • Live Well, Work Well – August 2017:     #146275
    • Hepatitis C Rates Triple
    • Prevent Heat Illness
    • Have a Responsible Summer/Drive Safe
  • Workplace Wellness: Scorecard     #153779

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FEDERAL REGULATION OF HEALTH PLANS

Touchstone will keep you advised as to developments in federal government actions on employer-provided health care, insurance mandates, and the marketplace. As we await further developments on proposed changes, this bulletin will provide a better sense of what the Senators are now working from.

  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: Senate Releases Draft ACA Replacement Bill     #146408

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HEALTH AND WELLNESS ASSISTANCE

No matter what changes will be made in your organization’s health plan over the coming months, it is important to support employees in their efforts live a healthier life.  The following provide ideas on topics ranging from stress relievers and diet tips to reminders of the cost benefits of urgent care facilities and the use of a flexible spending account.

  • InfoGraphic: 7 Ways to Reduce Workplace Stress     #152204
  • InfoGraphic: Cost Comparison: ER vs. Urgent Care     #151926
  • Know Your Benefits: The Importance of Establishing a Relationship with Your Doctor     #152306
  • Know Your Benefits: Advantages of an FSA     #152176
  • Eat Well, Live Well: Recipe Book (33 pages)     #151556
  • Live Well, Work Well: Botulism     #152322
  • Live Well, Work Well Newsletter – July 2017:     #146274
    • Do You Know Seizure First Aid?
    • Simple Summer Activities Your Kids are Sure to Love
    • Grilling Safety Reminders for Your Summer BBQ

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COMPLIANCE OVERVIEWS

There are only a few articles related to benefit plan compliance this month.  We hope that Congress will soon make it more clear on how to proceed with your plans!

  • ACA Overview: What if the Employer Mandate is Repealed?     #151707
  • Compliance Bulletin: Supreme Court Rules Church-Affiliated Plans are Exempt from ERISA #152287

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HUMAN RESOURCES UPDATES

This month brings a few updates for HR pros on recent changes in the Department of Labor’s  overtime rule, as well as it’s guidance on complying with certain regulations.

  • Compliance Bulletin: DOL Withdraws Joint Employment Guidance     #152179
  • Compliance Bulletin: DOL Withdraws Worker Classification Guidance     #152234
  • HR Insights: Youth Workers     #152522
  • Employee Work from Home Guide     #152572
  • HR Brief:     #146371
    • What You Need to Know: House Passes Changes to Overtime Rules
    • Do You Keep Your Employee Handbook Up to Date?
  • Benefits Buzz, July 2016:   #146342
    • What Happens if the ACA Employer Mandate is Repealed?
    • House Passes Changes to DOL Overtime Rule

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STATE EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATES

Three new Excel spreadsheets for comparing Medicare costs (Iowa, Nebraska and North Carolina) as well as a full update on Louisiana Workers Compensation law.

  • Iowa Medicare Cost Comparison Tool     #151909
  • Louisiana Workers Compensation:
    • Claims Process     #151728
    • Employee Benefits     #151727
    • Employee Eligibility     #151730
    • Employer Penalties     #151729
    • Employer Responsibilities     #151726
  • Nebraska Medicare Cost Comparison Tool     #151913
  • North Carolina Medicare Cost Comparison Tool     #151603

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COMPLIANCE GUIDANCE ON INDIVIDUAL HEALTH ACCOUNTS

As plan sponsors plan for their next enrollment period, more and more are relying on individual health account offerings to ease the burden of rising costs and the uncertainty regarding health coverage regulations. The 6-page article on HRAs may be especially helpful for small employers who have been considering whether this would be an appropriate addition to their benefits package.

  • Compliance Bulletin: IRS Announces HSA / HDHP Limits for 2018     #146400
  • Compliance Overview: Qualified Small Employers HRAs     #146792

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ACA COMPLIANCE UPDATES

While federal regulation of health care coverage continues to evolve, we’ll keep you advised of the latest developments, whether regarding the Affordable Care Act or any final decisions on its replacement.

  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: Affordability Percentages Will Decrease for 2018   #151187
  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: Audit Reveals Pay or Play Enforcement Issues     #150820
  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: House Republicans Pass Amended AHCA     #148865
  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: Online Enrollment to End in Shop Exchanges     #151259
  • Benefits Buzz, June 2017:     #146341
    • AHCA Passes House
    • Pre-Existing Conditions under ACA

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ARTICLES FOR EMPLOYEES

These items are written for general employee audiences. They intend to help the average employee better appreciate their benefits by explaining some basic concepts.

  • Know Your Benefits: Reference-based Pricing     #150951
  • Know Your Benefits: Specialty Drug Benefits Overview     #150863

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HUMAN RESOURCES AND WELLNESS UPDATES

Here are several items that might be of interest to staff who handle HR and wellness functions. The 10-page Compliance Overview on LOAs provides a good source for reviewing your policies in light of complex compliance issues;  it can also provide a quick background for supervisors who need to understand the seriousness of following LOA policies. Some of the other articles can serve as inserts for employee newsletters.

  • Compliance Overview: Employee Leaves of Absence – General Compliance Rules   #151031
  • Compliance Bulletin: House Passes Changes to Overtime Rules    #151363
  • HR Brief: June 2017     #146370
    • Only one-third of Employees are Engaged at Work
    • Prevent a PR Crisis from Turning Into a PR Disaster
  • Live Well, Work Well – June 2017:     #146273
    • Shop for Seasonal Produce This Summer
    • Tick and Tick-borne Disease Season is Here
    • National Fireworks Safety Month: June 1 to July 4 

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STATE EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATES

This month’s offerings on local laws include recordkeeping requirements in Indiana and Missouri. In addition, we provide spreadsheets to help walk your employees through the costs of Medicare-covered procedures for 5 states.  These multi-tab Excel spreadsheets give CMS information on average covered charges and average Medicare payments for inpatient and outpatient services by procedure, provider, and location.

  • Employer Recordkeeping Requirements – Indiana    #151125
  • Employer Recordkeeping Requirements – Missouri     #150678
  • Medicare Cost Comparison Tool – California     #151184
  • Medicare Cost Comparison Tool – New York     #151183
  • Medicare Cost Comparison Tool – Pennsylvania     #151275
  • Medicare Cost Comparison Tool – Texas     #151185
  • Medicare Cost Comparison Tool – Wisconsin     #151181

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BENEFIT SURVEYS AND BENCHMARKING STUDIES

Here are several just-released surveys and studies to help you consider how your organization’s benefits line-up with the competition and best-practices. These provide substantial information that can support your decisions for moving forward with plan adjustments for the upcoming year.

  • 2017 Survey Results: Employee Benefits (45 pages)     #149910
  • 15th Annual MetLife Study of Employee Benefits Trends (76 pages)       #150256
  • 2016 21st Annual Willis Towers Watson Best Practices in Health Care Employer Survey (36 pages)     #150654
  • Annual Report on Self-Insured Group Health Plans: Report to Congress from the Department of Labor (17 pages)     #149899

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IS YOUR ORGANIZATION AT RISK FOR NON-COMPLIANCE?

These simple scorecards can be used to judge how your organization is complying with certain critical regulatory requirements and keeping health care costs under control.

  • Organization Health Care Costs Scorecard     #150538
  • HIPAA Compliance Scorecard     #150542
  • DOL Audit Scorecard     #150314

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HEALTH AND WELLNESS ASSISTANCE

This month’s articles include a 5-page review of the tax implications of wellness program rewards. Also offered is a 3-page checklist of questions that you should ask of vendors being considered for providing wellness services — including current vendors who expect to renew their contracts with you.

  • Workplace Wellness Vendor Questionnaire     #150543
  • Compliance Overview: Taxability of Wellness Plan Rewards     #150547
  • Live Well, Work Well – May 2017:     #146272
    • Spring Allergy Alleviation
    • A Breath of Fresh Air
    • Age Well in the Workplace
    • Critical Health Checks for Workers Over 50

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COMPLIANCE BULLETINS

While uncertainty remains in how the federal government will continue to impact employer-sponsored health plans, you should stay alert to recent guidance.

  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: Future of Certain ACA Taxes and Fees     #146407
  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: Market Stabilization Rule Finalized     #148819
  • Compliance Bulletin: Court Rules Title VII Prohibits Sexual Orientation Discrimination     #150347
  • Benefits Buzz, May 2017: ACA Replacement Bill Withdrawn, Now What?     #146340

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MISCELLANEOUS BENEFITS NOTES

These articles cover a variety of benefit management topics.

  • Benefits Insights: Referenced Based Pricing     #150042
  • Benefits Insights: Hospital Indemnity Coverage     #150552
  • Know Your Benefits: Hospital Indemnity Coverage     #150553
  • Benefits Buzz, May 2017:Cost-saving Strategy – Generic Drugs     #146340
  • Infographic: 5 Reasons Why Your HDHP Will Fail     #150545
  • HealthLeaders Media FactFile: Hospital Performance     #150208

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HUMAN RESOURCES UPDATES

The popular HR Toolkit series adds 2 items this month, covering social media and company culture.

  • HR Toolkit: Company Culture (12 pages)     #150422
  • HR Toolkit: Social Media Toolkit (56 pages)     #150425
  • HR Brief: May 2017:     #146369
    • EEOC to Maintain Its Bipartisan Enforcement Plan
    • Trump’s Secretary of Labor Nominee Questioned on Overtime Rule

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STATE EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATES

Two articles were added in the past month, both consider New York state laws related to cybersecurity.

  • New York Cybersecurity Law – Cybersecurity Program Rules     #150324
  • New York Cybersecurity Law – Covered Entity Responsibilities     #150325

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HELP EMPLOYEES BECOME BETTER HEALTH CARE CONSUMERS

You’ve put a lot of effort into putting together good health care coverage for your employees, while trying to keep plan costs under control. That hard work may not be fully appreciated, and may even be undermined, if employees and their family members are not educated on how to be wise consumers of health care services.

These articles and tools can help you to improve their understanding of costs and choices. In addition, if employees return completed questionnaires (Health Plan Survey for Employees: Health Care Literacy Scorecard and Employee Health Care Assessment), you’d have valuable data to help determine what further actions can be taken by benefits management to design and promote more effective health benefits.

  • Benefits Bulletin: 2nd Quarter 2017     #146320
    • Health Care Literacy Pays Off
  • Employee Health Care Assessment [Excel file]     #149136
  • Health Care Employee Resource Guide     #149144
  • Health Plan Survey for Employees: Health Care Literacy Scorecard     #149149
  • HR Brief: April 2017     #146368
    • Saving with Health Care Literacy
  • HSA Employee Resource Tool [Excel file – 11 tabs]     #149135
  • Infographic: 5 Ways to Cut Your Health Care Costs     #149150
  • Infographic: Why are Health Care Costs Rising?     #149151
  • Know Your Benefits: Questions to Ask your Doctor     #149132

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EMPLOYER RESOURCES FOR EVALUATING YOUR HEALTH PLANS

These tools will help you to determine the effectiveness of your health plan and what changes might be most appropriate for your organization. Compare your plan characteristics with those of the nearly 60,000 employer plans noted in the 20-page 2016 Health Plan Design Benchmark Summary of Zywave data.

The Health Care Literacy Report – Data from the Health Plan Survey for Employees is a tool for analyzing the collected data from the Health Plan Survey for Employees: Health Care Literacy Scorecard completed out by your employees.

Benefits Toolkit: Lowering Drug Costs also emphasizes the necessity of employee consumerism, providing lots of information on how best to lower costs. Much of this material, as well as the content of other articles below, could be useful in an employee newsletter.

The Excel-based Employer Plan Self-Assessment – High Deductible Health Plan Report will walk you through the advantages that a HDHP might provide over your current plan offering.

  • 2016 Health Plan Design Benchmark Summary     #149721
  • Benefits Toolkit: Lowering Drug Costs     #149148
  • Employee Health Care Assessment [Excel file]     #149136
  • Employer Plan Self-Assessment – High Deductible Health Plan Report [Excel file – 3 tabs]     #149142
  • HealthLeaders Media FactFile: Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment Trends      #149496
  • Health Plan Survey for Employees: Health Care Literacy Scorecard     #149149
  • Health Care Literacy Report – Data from the Health Plan Survey for Employees [Excel file – 2 tabs]     #149146

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HSA ELIGIBILITY IMPACT BY TELEMEDICINE

This 4-page article provides warning of the recognition of telemedicine benefits on an employee’s Health Savings Account eligibility. Because the Internal Revenue Service has not specifically addressed this issue, plan sponsors need to be aware of the risks involved.

  • Compliance Overview: Telemedicine – Impact on HSA Eligibility     #149644

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ACA REPLACEMENT

You hear so much news about repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act and the American Health Care Act, but as of this newsletter being posted, no vote on a replacement has been taken. We’ll keep you advised!

  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: ACA Replacement Bill Withdrawn     #148865
  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: HHS Promotes ACA Section 1332 Waivers     #149852
  • Benefits Bulletin: 2nd Quarter 2017     #146320
    • ACA Replacement Bill Announced
    • IRS Change Affecting Individual Mandate
  • Benefits Buzz, April 2017:     #146339
    • House Republicans Release Legislation to Repeal and Replace the ACA
    • American Health Care Act: What Won’t Change  

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COBRA RULES FOR THOSE COVERED BY MEDICARE

As the baby-boomers chose to stay in the workforce, this 6-page article will serve as a good reminder of the twists in handling COBRA for those who are entitled to Medicare. It also covers other instances of Medicare eligibility (end-stage renal disease, ALS and other disabilities), which can likewise complicate COBRA administration.

  • Compliance Overview: COBRA Rules for Medicare Beneficiaries     #149637

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WELLNESS ASSISTANCE

Only a few short articles on wellness for this month.

  • Live Well, Work Well – April 2017:     #146270
    • Monitor your Rice Intake to Minimize Arsenic Consumption
    • Phlegm: A Key Player in Fighting Off Illness
    • Are You Getting Enough Calcium?

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FIDUCIARY RESPONSIBILITIES

This 15-page booklet from the Department of Labor comes at a time when enforcement activities related to fiduciary obligations is increasing. As you review your health plan in preparation for changes, keep in mind the cautions noted in this publication.

  • U.S. Dept. of Labor: Understanding Your Fiduciary Responsibilities under a Group Health Plan     #149751

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BENEFITS AND HUMAN RESOURCES UPDATES

The Compliance Overview: Federal Employment Laws by Employer Size is a useful 5-page review of federal benefits laws and other employment-related regulations. The HR Brief for April emphasizes the importance of educating employees on both retirement and health care benefit issues. The remaining articles below might be appreciated by those whose responsibilities extend beyond employee benefits.

  • Compliance Overview: Federal Employment Laws by Employer Size     #149616
  • Financial Wellness     #149387
  • HR Insights: Wage and Hour Self-audits: Red and Green Circles     #149319
  • HR Brief: April 2017     #146368
    • Retirement Uncertainty and Where to Turn
    • Saving with Health Care Literacy
  • Compliance Bulletin: DHS Issues Electronic Device Ban for Certain U.S. Inbound Flights    #149726

 

benefits_header

WHAT IS HAPPENING TO THE ACA?

Speculation as to what will happen to the delivery of healthcare after the repeal of the ACA is understandably upsetting to employees, especially those who suffer from ongoing health concerns. Benefit and HR professionals are also anxious to get reliable guidance for planning ahead.  Consider reliable sources of information and avoid the what-ifs and rumors.

The following articles provide an overview of the House GOP proposed replacement plan, a market stabilization rule proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services, and notes on the possible impact of IRS changes. These are good analyses of what seems to be taking shape in the federal government, but remember that they are evaluating proposed changes and possible impacts.

  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: House Republicans Release ACA Replacement Plan     #148865
  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: Market Stabilization Proposed Rule Issued     #148819
  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: IRS Change May Affect the Individual Mandate     #148720

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NON-ACA COMPLIANT HEALTH PLANS

Certain small group health plans and individual plans that do not comply with the ACA can remain in place, as long as they meet the requirements set by the Department of Health and Human Services in its transitional policy. Although this transition extension ends in 2018, the likely repeal of the ACA may make the issue of eventual compliance moot.

  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: HHS Extends Transition Policy for Non-ACA Compliant Health Plans     #101049

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HEALTH AND WELLNESS ASSISTANCE

This month’s articles touch on diverse topics, including some considerations for offering new benefits, and the ubiquitous predictions on how the ACA would be replaced. These are helpful for employee newsletter topics and similar communications.

If you are a small employer, you may want to investigate the benefits of introducing a qualified small employer health reimbursement arrangement, an option introduced only a couple of months ago through the 21st Century Cures Act.  See our January 2017 newsletter for more details and give us a call if you’d like to learn more.  We’ve provided a sample introduction letter for notifying employees of a new QSEHRA below.

  • Live Well, Work Well – March 2017:    #146269
    • Prepare for Tax Season
    • Workplace Stress Levels Dropping
    • Spring Break Travel Tips
  • Benefits Buzz, March 2017:     #146338
    • ACA and Employer Health Plans under President Trump
    • Block Grants: What You Need to Know
  • Benefits Insights: Autism Treatment Benefits     #148214
  • HealthLeaders Media FactFile: 30-Day Readmission Rates       #148426
  • Sample Employee Notice for QSEHRAs     #147995

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COMPLIANCE NOTES

The first of these two bulletins explains the IRS’ recent memorandum on the treatment of benefit payments from fixed indemnity health plans (coverage which pays a set dollar amount for specific services). The IRS reasoning also applies to similarly structured wellness programs.

The second bulletin notes the steps taken by the Trump administration to reduce federal agency regulations.

  • Compliance Bulletin: IRS Addresses Taxation of Fixed Indemnity Benefits     #148800
  • Compliance Bulletin: Trump Administration Aims to Reduce Regulatory Burden   #148322

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HUMAN RESOURCES UPDATES

Below are a few short pieces on topics of interest to HR professionals.

  • HR Brief: March 2017     #146367
    • Company Culture Might be More Important than You Think
    • DOL Overtime Rule Update
  • HR Insights: 5 Important Issues to Monitor in 2017     #148512
  • HR Insights: Top 10 Workplace Discrimination Claims     #135778

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STATE EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATES

Kentucky workers compensation and DC’s new paid leave law are topics in this month’s local employment law articles.

  • Kentucky Workers Compensation – Employer Responsibilities     #148407
  • Kentucky Workers Compensation – Employer Penalties     #148408
  • Kentucky Workers Compensation – Employee Eligibility     #148409
  • Kentucky Workers Compensation – Employee Benefits     #148410
  • Kentucky Workers Compensation – Claims Process     #148411
  • District of Columbia Approves Paid Leave Law     #148915

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benefits_header

THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION AND ACA COMPLIANCE

The new administration has quickly started to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and related regulations. As requirements for health plans are being revised, it is important for benefit managers and HR professionals to stay informed and prepared.  Count on Touchstone for reliable information and assistance with appropriate changes to your health and wellness programs.

  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: Trump Signs Executive Order on the ACA     #147861
  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: Congress Clears Path for ACA Repeal     #145326

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HEALTH REIMBURSEMENT ACCOUNTS FOR SMALL EMPLOYERS

As we noted in our January newsletter, the 21st Century Cures Act now allows small employers to set up HRAs independent of a group health plan.  The sponsoring employer has some flexibility in how these stand-alone HRAs are designed and administered.  Call us at Touchstone if we can help you to consider whether this would be a good fit for your company benefit program.

  • Benefits Buzz, February 2017:   #146334
    • New Stand-alone HRA Option Available for Eligible Small Employers
  • HRA Reimbursement Request Form   #147642

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WELLNESS ASSISTANCE

Our library has added many new articles and substantial supporting resources to cover National Health Observances for each month of 2017. Several of these can be distributed, used as inserts to an employee newsletter or used as direct handouts while others can help you plan activities throughout the year to promote health and wellness initiatives.

  • 2017 Live Well Planner (81 pages)     #147629
  • 2017 National Health Observances Monthly Calendar    #147304
  • 2017 National Health Observances     #147303

This 25-page guide includes a brief description of each month’s observances, as well as links for further resources. It is comprised of the following pieces, which are also available separately:

  • 2017 National Health Observances At-a-Glance      #147308
  • National Health Observances: January 2017      #147309
  • National Health Observances: February 2017     #147310
  • National Health Observances: March 2017   #147311
  • National Health Observances: April 2017      #147312
  • National Health Observances: May 2017       #147314
  • National Health Observances: June 2017     #147316
  • National Health Observances: July 2017     #147317
  • National Health Observances: August 2017     #147318
  • National Health Observances: September 2017     #147319
  • National Health Observances: October 2017      #147320
  • National Health Observances: November 2017     #147321
  • National Health Observances: December 2017     #147322
  • Live Well, Work Well Newsletter – February 2017:     #146267
    • Protect your Child from E-Cigarettes
    • February: American Heart Month
    • 3 Tips for Hosting a Safe Super Bowl Party
  • Live Well, Work Well: Children’s Health: Furniture Safety     #147741

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MARCH 1st DEADLINE FOR MEDICARE PART D DISCLOSURES

Sponsors of group health plans have 60 days from the start of the plan year to file online disclosures to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. So, calendar year plans must file by March 1st.  This article will help you prepare your submission.

  • Compliance Bulletin: Medicare Part D Disclosures due by March 1, 2017 for Calendar Year Plans     #117285

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SUMMARY OF BENEFITS AND COVERAGE

The ACA has required provision of a Summary of Benefits and Coverage that meets particular requirements. If those regulations continue to apply, the template and accompanying 20-page guide will help you to prepare to compose an acceptable SBC for your covered health plan for open enrollment periods that begin on or after April 1, 2017.

  • Template for Summary of Benefits and Coverage      #147396
  • Summary of Benefits and Coverage: Instruction Guide for Group Coverage      #147398

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MISCELLANEOUS HEALTH PLAN COMPLIANCE GUIDANCE

Here are a few new articles covering a range of health plan topics. The Uniform Glossary of Health Coverage and Medical Terms can be especially helpful for benefits and HR staff, as well as employees who are confused by some of the terminology they encounter in health plan policies and summary plan descriptions.

  • Benefits Insights: Summary of the 2016 Employer Health Benefits Annual Survey     #147661
  • Uniform Glossary of Health Coverage and Medical Terms     #147399
  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: Federal Court Blocks ACA Section 1557 Non-Discrimination Rules     #139530

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HUMAN RESOURCES UPDATES

Our new additions focus on compensation and payroll, as well as a note on leave-sharing programs.

  • Compliance Bulletin: 2017 Minimum Wage Rate Increases     #147420
  • HR Insights: Wage Compression     #147287
  • HR Brief: February 2017     #146366
    • Stay Protected from Phone Tax Scams – 5 Red Flags to Avoid
    • Employee Leave-Sharing and Donation Programs

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STATE EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATES

Clarifications on laws covering sick time in Arizona and overtime in New York:

  • Arizona: Voters Approve Earned Paid Sick Time – FINAL    #147391
  • New York: State Dept. of Labor Updates Overtime Salary Qualifications     #147254

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