Author Archives: Frederick Helm

Group Health Plans Required to Offer Special Enrollment

Medical: Special Enrollment Options

 

Certain Events Trigger 30 or 60-Day Special Enrollment Periods

Under HIPAA, certain events that happen to employees or their dependents trigger a right to “special enroll” in a group health plan. Special enrollment allows individuals who previously declined health coverage to enroll in coverage outside of a plan’s open enrollment period.

An employee and his or her dependents must be provided at least 30 days to request special enrollment in a group health plan because of:

  • Loss of eligibility for other coverage, such as coverage from a spouse’s employer;
  • Termination of employer contributions toward other health coverage; or
  • Certain life events, including marriage, birth, adoption, or placement for adoption.

An employee and his or her dependents must be provided at least 60 days to request special enrollment in a group health plan because of:

  • Loss of coverage under a state Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or Medicaid; or
  • Determination of eligibility for premium assistance under CHIP or Medicaid.

Group health plans must make all employees eligible to enroll in the employer’s group health plan aware of their special enrollment rights at or before the time an employee is initially offered the opportunity to enroll in the plan by distributing a Notice of Special Enrollment Rights. A downloadable model notice from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is available here (scroll to page 2 of the PDF—marked as page 138). Please note that the DOL’s model notice does not discuss the 60-day special enrollment period requirement mentioned above.

IRS Announces 2018 Standard Mileage Rates

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued the 2018 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, or medical purposes.

2018 Standard Mileage Rates
Beginning on January 1, 2018, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car, van, pickup, or panel truck will be:

  • 54.5 cents per mile for all business miles driven (up 1 cent from 2017)
  • 18 cents per mile driven for medical purposes (up 1 cent from 2017)
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations (unchanged from 2017)

Taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates.

IRS Notice 2018-03 contains additional information about mileage rates.

 

New Tax Law Effectively Repeals the Individual Mandate

Repeal Effective in 2019

President Trump has signed into law the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which, among other things, effectively repeals the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual mandate beginning in 2019.

Individual Mandate Repeal Effective in 2019
Under the ACA, individuals are currently required to have minimum essential health coverage, qualify for an exemption from the requirement, or pay a penalty tax. This ACA provision is known as the “individual mandate.” Effective in 2019, the individual mandate is effectively repealed, as the penalty tax for noncompliance with the mandate will be reduced to $0.

IRS Releases Statement on Withholding Under New Tax Law

Employers to Use 2017 Systems Pending New Guidance

The IRS is working to develop withholding guidance to implement the tax reform bill that was recently signed into law. According to a statement released by the agency, it expects to issue the new guidance in January, and employers and payroll service providers will be encouraged to implement the changes in February. In the meantime, these entities should continue to use the existing 2017 withholding tables and systems.

Click here to read the IRS statement in full.