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Form 5500 Filing Deadline for Many Health Plans is July 31

Certain Group Health Plans Required to File

Group health plan administrators are reminded that Form 5500 must be filed with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) by the last day of the seventh month after the plan year ends. For calendar-year plans, that due date falls on July 31.

Who Must File Form 5500

In general, all group health plans covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) are required to file Form 5500. However, group health plans (whether fully insured, unfunded [meaning its benefits are paid as needed directly from the general assets of the plan sponsor], or a combination of the two) that covered fewer than 100 participants as of the beginning of the plan year are exempt from the Form 5500 filing requirement. For more on the Form 5500 requirement, click here.

How to File Form 5500

Forms 5500 must be filed electronically with the DOL using either the IFILE web-based filing system or an approved vendor’s software.

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Small Businesses May Be Able to Keep Existing Health Coverage Through 2019

Policies Renewed Under Extended Transitional Policy Must End by December 31, 2019

A previously extended transitional policy which allows health insurance issuers, at their option, to continue group coverage that would otherwise be terminated or canceled has been further extended to policy years beginning on or before October 1, 2019, provided that all policies end by December 31, 2019. Health insurance issuers that renew coverage under the extended policy are required to provide standard notices to affected small businesses for each policy year.

Policies subject to the transitional relief will not be considered to be out of compliance with key Affordable Care Act provisions, including:

  • The requirement to cover a core package of items and services known as essential health benefits;
  • The requirement that any variations in premiums be limited with regard to a particular plan or coverage to age, tobacco use, family size, and geography;
  • The requirements regarding guaranteed availability and renewability of coverage; and
  • The requirements relating to coverage for individuals participating in approved clinical trials.
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Attracting Quality Candidates to Your Company

You need skilled, dedicated employees to build your business. How do you attract the human capital that will position your business for growth and success?

In many ways, it’s about presenting your business so that candidates will get excited and enthusiastic at the prospect of working for your company. Of course, offering competitive compensation and benefits is always important, but there is much more to the art of positioning your company as the best choice for your top candidates. The following are additional factors that will enhance your company’s attractiveness:

Compensation/Benefits Package

  • Competitive salary
  • Bonus/incentive compensation
  • Healthcare and life insurance benefits
  • Tax-saving retirement plans, i.e. 401(k)
  • Other types of benefits such as childcare assistance and gym membership

Note: When making decisions regarding compensation, it is important to consider whether the employee will be exempt or non-exempt under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Non-exempt employees are entitled to certain protections (including minimum wage and overtime pay) under the FLSA.

Position-Related Benefits

  • Flexible work arrangements
  • Telecommuting
  • Location and position match to candidate’s individual needs

Support and Training

  • Career-enhancing courses
  • Certifications
  • Career growth and potential

Company Brand

  • Positive, well-known company brand
  • Industry-recognized, successful company

Company Environment

  • Friendly, organized workplace environment
  • Company culture
  • Values and environment

Interview Process

  • Straightforward, friendly, professional interview process

Competitive Analysis

  • Evaluate your competition in the area and strategically plan to offer a package of benefits that will enable you to attract the best talent

Employee Recruiting Success

The key to successful recruiting of new employees is the development of a systematic process for developing job descriptions, generating a pool of candidates, and selecting the right candidate. The following are the major steps involved:

  • Develop a job analysis to identify skills, knowledge, and abilities for each position.
  • Create your job description and selection criteria based on the most current information available and modify when necessary.
  • Develop your recruitment plan in terms of promoting the job opening and generating a pool of candidates.
  • Develop a process for interviewing candidates.
  • Create a process for selecting the best candidates.

Tips for Recruitment Success

  • Before recruiting, consider the possibility of how to accomplish the work without adding staff. Areas to consider include: improve efficiency and divide or allocate additional responsibilities to existing staff.
  • Organize a planning meeting with the hiring manager or relevant staff to determine needs, timeline, and any other recruitment issues.
  • Decide whether your budget will allow for the hiring of a new employee to fill the position.
  • Develop job criteria to help you in the selection process; try to stay within 6-8 criteria.
  • Consider structuring an interview, i.e., develop a set group of questions and determine the best answers with specific scoring before the interview process begins.
  • Base your evaluation of candidates more on skills and job knowledge rather than personality. Many times, skills are the critical factors that consistently predict job success.
  • Be sure to avoid any discriminatory inquiries or statements during the interviewing/recruitment process.
employees going over their healthcare options

New Executive Order Calls for Expanding Health Care Options in 3 Major Areas

ACA Requirements Remain In Effect Pending Further Guidance or Legislation

President Trump has signed an executive order calling upon federal agencies to consider expanding health care options in 3 major areas to potentially increase competition and lower costs. Until further guidance is issued or legislation is signed, however, all current ACA requirements remain in effect, including penalties for noncompliance.

The following are key highlights of the order:

  • Association Health Plans (AHPs): The executive order directs the U.S. Department of Labor to consider expanding access to AHPs, which could potentially allow employers to form groups across state lines.
  • Short-Term, Limited Duration Insurance (STLDI): The executive order directs federal agencies to consider ways of expanding coverage through low-cost STLDI, which is not subject to certain ACA rules.
  • Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs): HRAs are tax-advantaged, employer-established arrangements that allow eligible employees to be reimbursed for qualified medical expenses. The executive order directs federal agencies to consider changes to the rules regulating HRAs to increase their usability, expand employers’ ability to offer them to employees, and allow them to be used in conjunction with nongroup coverage.

For more information on this executive order, click here.

Note: In general, executive orders must be implemented in a manner consistent with applicable law, including the Administrative Procedure Act, which requires extended review of and public comment on any federal rules which may be proposed as a result of an executive order. Going forward, we will promptly report changes made to any ACA requirements.

Should you offer Dental Benefits to your Employees?

It is relatively inexpensive to include dental benefits in an employer’s benefits plan, and it may help the employer attract and retain highly skilled employees.

Because dental hygiene is associated with overall health, employees with dental plans are often healthier. Employees without dental benefits may postpone or forgo dentist visits in order to save money, and as a result, they can end up with more severe health problems. This may cost an employer more in the long run than if dental benefits were offered.

Various types of dental plans are available. An employer should select one that fits its budget and meets the needs of its employees. Besides traditional dental insurance plans such as managed care and fee-for-service, consumer-driven dental plans—such as dental flexible spending accounts—are becoming more popular.

Employers who are concerned about the cost of offering dental benefits may consider sharing the cost with employees through deductibles, coinsurance and by setting maximum amounts that the company will pay per individual in a specific time period. When designing a dental insurance plan, aim for a plan that is cost-effective and valuable to the company and its employees.

The decision to offer dental benefits is a business decision. Employers should consider their cultures and values as an organization and whether such benefits can help attract and retain valued employees. While dental benefits are an added expense, offering these benefits may save the employer money over time.

FAQs on the ACA and COBRA

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Did the ACA extend the COBRA premium reduction (subsidy)?

No. The ACA did not extend the eligibility time period for the COBRA premium reduction. Eligibility for the subsidy ended on May 31, 2010; however, those individuals who became eligible on or before May 31, 2010, could still receive the full 15 months as long as they remained otherwise eligible.

2. Did the ACA extend the time period individuals can have COBRA beyond 18 months?

No. The ACA did not extend the maximum time periods of continuation coverage provided by COBRA. COBRA establishes required periods of coverage for continuation health benefits. A plan, however, may provide longer periods of coverage beyond those required by COBRA. COBRA beneficiaries generally are eligible for group coverage during a maximum of 18 months for qualifying events due to employment termination or reduction of hours of work.

Certain qualifying events, or a second qualifying event during the initial period of coverage, may allow a beneficiary to receive a maximum of 36 months of coverage.

Individuals who become disabled can extend the 18 month period of continuation coverage for a qualifying event that is a termination of employment or reduction of hours. To qualify for additional months of COBRA continuation coverage, the qualified beneficiary must:

  • Have a ruling from the Social Security Administration that he or she became disabled within the first 60 days of COBRA continuation coverage (or before); and
  • Send the plan a copy of the Social Security ruling letter within 60 days of receipt, but prior to expiration of the 18-month period of coverage.

If these requirements are met, the entire family qualifies for an additional 11 months of COBRA coverage.

3. Did the ACA eliminate COBRA?

No. The ACA did not eliminate COBRA or change the COBRA rules.

4. How does the ACA affect an individual’s coverage under a group health plan?

The ACA makes many changes to employee health benefit plans. Some of the changes took effect for the first plan year that began on or after six months after enactment (Sept. 23, 2010)—so, for calendar year plans, Jan. 1, 2011. Many of the ACA’s key reforms (for example, the prohibition on pre-existing condition exclusions for all enrollees) took effect for plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2014.

Source: Department of Labor

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