Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Holidays FEHBlog Readers

The Affordable Care Act regulators released a boatload of FAQs yesterday concerning that law, the 2008 Mental Health Parity Act, and nondiscrimination based on health and wellness programs. The FAQs most relevant to the FEHB Program are the following

Automatic Enrollment in Health Plans

Q2: The Affordable Care Act amended the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by adding a new section 18A, requiring employers with more than 200 full-time employees to automatically enroll new full-time employees in the employer’s health benefits plans and continue enrollment of current employees. What Agency is responsible for guidance under this new FLSA provision?

The Secretary of Labor has delegated responsibility for FLSA section 18A rulemaking, and for regulations under new section 18B of the FLSA, Notice to Employees of Coverage Options, to the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) within the Department of Labor. EBSA and the Department of the Treasury will coordinate to develop the rules that will apply in determining full-time employee status for purposes of the amendments to the FLSA and the rulemaking by the Treasury Department under the Internal Revenue Code to develop the rules that will apply in determining full-time employee status for purposes of the amendments made by the Affordable Care Act to the Internal Revenue Code.

Q3: When do employers have to comply with the new automatic enrollment requirements in section 18A of the FLSA?

Section 18A provides that employer compliance with the automatic enrollment provisions of that section shall be carried out “[i]n accordance with regulations promulgated by the Secretary [of Labor].” Accordingly, it is the view of the Department of Labor that, until such regulations are issued, employers are not required to comply with section 18A. The Department of Labor expects to work with stakeholders to ensure that it has the necessary information and data it needs to develop regulations in this area that take into account the practices employers currently use for auto-enrollment and to solicit the views and practices of a broad range of stakeholders, including employers, workers, and their families. The Department of Labor intends to complete this rulemaking by 2014.

Dependent Coverage of Children to Age 26
Q5: My group health plan normally charges a copayment for physician visits that do not constitute preventive services. The plan charges this copayment to individuals age 19 and over, including employees, spouses, and dependent children, but waives it for those under age 19. Is this permissible?

Yes. The Departments’ regulations implementing PHS Act section 2714 provide that the terms of a group health plan or health insurance coverage providing dependent coverage of children cannot vary based on age (except for children who are age 26 or older). While this generally prohibits distinctions based upon age in dependent coverage of children, it does not prohibit distinctions based upon age that apply to all coverage under the plan, including coverage for employees and spouses as well as dependent children. In this case, the copayments charged to dependent children are the same as those charged to employees and spouses. Accordingly, the Departments will not consider the arrangement described in this question (including waiver, for individuals under age 19, of the generally applicable copayment) to violate PHS Act section 2714 or its implementing regulations.

No comments: