The federal Treasury, DOL, and HHS (collectively, the “Agencies”) jointly issued a new set of FAQs to address various issues regarding the requirement for most employer-provided and other applicable group health plans to cover contraceptives without cost-sharing under the preventive care mandate of the Affordable Care Act (the “Contraceptive Coverage Mandate”). In particular, the FAQs are intended to (i) respond to reports that individuals continue to experience difficulty accessing contraceptive coverage without cost sharing; (ii) clarify application of the Contraceptive Coverage Mandate to fertility awareness-based methods and emergency contraceptives; and (iii) address the preemption of state law by the Contraceptive Coverage Mandate. Specific issues addressed in the FAQs include the following: The requirement for plans to cover items and services that are integral to the furnishing of a recommended preventive service, such as anesthesia necessary for a tubal ligation procedure; The requirement for a plan to cover, without cost-sharing, FDA-approved… Continue Reading
The IRS recently issued Rev. Proc. 2022-24, which sets the 2023 calendar year limits on (i) annual contributions that can be made to a health savings account (“HSA”) and (ii) annual deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums under a high deductible health plan (“HDHP”). The 2023 limits are as follows: Annual HSA contribution limits: $3,850 for self-only coverage ($200 increase from 2022) and $7,750 for family coverage ($450 increase from 2022); Minimum HDHP deductibles: $1,500 for self-only coverage ($100 increase from 2022) and $3,000 for family coverage ($200 increase from 2022); and HDHP out-of-pocket maximum limits: $7,500 for self-only coverage ($450 increase from 2022) and $15,000 for family coverage ($900 increase from 2022). Rev. Proc. 2022-24 is available here.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022 (“CAA”), enacted on March 15, 2022, extends the optional relief previously provided under the CARES Act regarding the ability of a high deductible health plan (“HDHP”) to cover telehealth services without application of the deductible. Under the CARES Act relief, which applied to plan years beginning on or before December 31, 2021, a participant in an HDHP that adopted the relief could obtain pre-deductible telehealth services without compromising his or her ability to make contributions, or have contributions made, to a health savings account. See our prior blog post about the CARES Act relief here. The extension of the telehealth relief under the CAA is not retroactive to January 1, 2022, but instead is effective only for months beginning after March 31, 2022, and before January 1, 2023, thus creating a gap in the relief for calendar year plans (and certain non-calendar year plans)… Continue Reading
A set of FAQs recently issued by HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provide additional guidance regarding the federal independent dispute resolution process (“Federal IDR Process”) that was established under the “No Surprises Act” (the “Act”), enacted as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. The purpose of the Federal IDR Process is to resolve certain types of payment disputes between group health plans or health insurance issuers (each, a “Plan”) and out-of-network health care providers, facilities, and providers of air ambulance services (collectively, “OON Providers”). These disputes concern the out-of-network rates that Plans will pay for emergency, air ambulance, and certain other services subject to the Act that are furnished to plan participants by OON Providers. The Federal IDR Process generally applies to Plans effective for plan (or policy) years beginning on or after January 1, 2022, and to OON Providers beginning on January 1, 2022. Among… Continue Reading
As discussed in our prior blog post here, employer-provided group health plans, and insurers and other issuers, are required to cover the cost of over-the-counter, at-home COVID-19 tests (“OTC Tests”) authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”). The DOL, HHS, and the Treasury Department (collectively, the “Departments”) previously issued guidance establishing a safe harbor that, if satisfied, allows plans and issuers to limit the reimbursement of OTC Tests to $12 per test (or the actual cost of the OTC Test, if lower). The Departments recently issued additional guidance in the form of FAQs clarifying how plans and issuers may comply with the safe harbor OTC Test coverage requirements. The FAQs clarify that whether a plan or issuer satisfies the safe harbor by providing adequate access to OTC Tests through its direct coverage program will depend on the particular facts and circumstances, but will generally require that OTC Tests are… Continue Reading
Beginning November 1, 2021, a new Oklahoma state insurance law requires health insurers providing pharmacy benefits and pharmacy benefit managers (“PBMs”) to count any amount paid on behalf of a participant towards that participant’s out-of-pocket maximum, deductible, copayment, coinsurance, or other cost-sharing arrangement. The law appears to be intended to apply only to pharmacy benefits. Counting such third-party payments, such as a prescription drug manufacturer’s coupon, towards a participant’s deductible could cause the participant to be ineligible for a health savings account (“HSA”). The Oklahoma Insurance Department has stated it is seeking clarification from the Oklahoma legislature regarding the conflict between the state statute and the federal rules governing HSA eligibility. Employers may want to contact their health insurers and PBMs (i) to determine whether any third-party payments are being applied toward the deductible under an HSA-eligible health plan and (ii) to communicate any relevant information to participants who may be affected. This new law… Continue Reading
DOL Issues Temporary Enforcement Policy and Clarifications regarding Required Group Health Plan Disclosures under the CAA
In a recent Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2021-03 (the “FAB”), the DOL announced its temporary enforcement policy (the “Enforcement Policy”), as well as certain clarifications, regarding the new required group health plan service provider disclosures under Section 408(b)(2)(B) of ERISA (the “Disclosure Requirement”). The Disclosure Requirement, which was implemented by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (the “CAA”), requires certain persons or entities that provide brokerage or consulting services to group health plans (each, a “Service Provider”) to disclose specified information to a responsible plan fiduciary about the direct and indirect compensation the Service Provider expects to receive in connection with its services to the plan. Links to our prior blog posts about the Disclosure Requirement are available here and here. With respect to the Enforcement Policy, the FAB provides that, pending further guidance, the DOL will not treat a Service Provider as having failed to make required disclosures to… Continue Reading
As Plan Administrator, the Employer is Liable – Not the Service Provider (i.e., What Kind of Indemnification Are You Getting?)
The plan administrator of an employee benefit plan (employee welfare or retirement) has the general fiduciary responsibility under ERISA to ensure the operational and documentary compliance of the plan. Under ERISA, the sponsoring employer is the plan administrator unless another person or entity is named in the plan. This generally means the employer retains ultimate responsibility and liability for legal compliance even though the employer may rely heavily on the plan’s third-party service providers. One way to mitigate this liability is to obtain indemnification from a service provider for the service provider’s errors, for which the employer (as plan administrator) would still be legally liable. The default language in third-party service provider contracts often provides indemnification only for the service provider’s “gross negligence”, but not its “ordinary negligence”, thus leaving the employer responsible for correcting (and paying for) errors caused by the service provider that do not amount to “gross negligence” or “intentional… Continue Reading
As we previously reported here, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (?Ç£ARPA?Ç¥) provides a 100% COBRA premium subsidy to any qualified beneficiary who is entitled to COBRA coverage due to an involuntary termination of employment or reduction in hours of employment. Employers will receive a tax credit for the cost of COBRA premiums for April 1 to September 30, 2021. The IRS recently issued FAQs addressing many issues related to the subsidy, including: (i) subsidy eligibility, (ii) what qualifies as a reduction in hours or an involuntary termination of employment, (iii) the type of coverage eligible for the subsidy, (iv) when the subsidy period begins and ends, (v) the extended election period, (vi) coordination with the extended deadlines due to the COVID national emergency (?Ç£Outbreak Period Extensions?Ç¥), (vii) payments to insurers, (viii) application to state continuation coverage, and (ix) calculation and claiming of the subsidy tax credit. One of… Continue Reading
The IRS recently issued Rev. Proc. 2021-25, which sets the 2022 calendar year limits on (i) annual contributions that can be made to a health savings account (?Ç£HSA?Ç¥) and (ii) annual deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums under a high deductible health plan (?Ç£HDHP?Ç¥). The 2022 limits are as follows: Annual HSA contribution limits: $3,650 for self-only coverage ($50 increase from 2021) and $7,300 for family coverage ($100 increase from 2021); Minimum HDHP deductibles: $1,400 for self-only coverage (no change from 2021) and $2,800 for family coverage (no change from 2021); and HDHP out-of-pocket maximum limits: $7,050 for self-only coverage ($50 increase from 2021) and $14,100 for family coverage ($100 increase from 2021). Rev. Proc. 2021-25 is available here.