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EMPLOYEE BENEFIT PLANS : Group Health Plans

Update on Health Care Reform

As everyone is aware, major changes in our nation's health care system are on the horizon. Regina Lowe, the Ware Agency's Benefits Specialist, cites the need for companies to take special note of the following changes for 2010.

For Employers:

  1. Employers are required to report the value of health care benefits on employees' W2 tax statements. Regina recommends that larger firms allow plenty of lead time to accommodate accounting system adjustments.
  2. A national risk pool has been created, as well as a tax credit for small businesses with less than 25 full time employees and average wages of less than $50,000 who provide qualified health coverage. Retroactive to January 1, 2010, small business employers could receive a maximum credit of up to 50% of premiums for up to 2 years if the employer contributes at least 50% of the total premium cost. The full amount of the credit will be available to employers with 10 or fewer employees and average annual wages of less than $25,000, and will phase out when those thresholds are exceeded.
  3. Beginning January 1, 2011, flexible spending accounts will no longer cover reimbursement for over the counter medications. Human Resource administrators may want to send an employee notification as re-enrollment periods approach.

For Individuals:

  1. Effective September 23, 2010, dependents aged 26 and under may be eligible to be added back to parent's coverage if the dependent a) is in school, b) is employed part time, or c) does not have access to other employer-sponsored plans. Dependents can be single, married or unmarried children. Some companies are allowing dependents to be added back after the 9/23/2010 date while others are requiring the group to wait until the open enrollment period. In other words, some carriers (including Anthem and Optima) will not add an eligible dependent back until the group renews in their open enrollment period. However, there are other companies (including United Healthcare) who are allowing dependents to be added back as of the September 23, 2010 date and not requiring that the group wait until open enrollment.

Contact Regina Lowe for more information.