A leaked draft of Proposed Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) regulations indicates that certain non-US citizens may be disadvantaged in extending or adjusting their immigration status if they obtain health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace (“Marketplace”) set up under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) or Medicaid, or obtain benefits under the Children’s Health Insurance Program (“CHIP”) for their dependents (even US citizen dependents). From an employee benefits perspective, the proposed rules have three effects on employers:
- Employees may have questions about whether they can or should switch coverage from the Marketplace or CHIP to the employer’s health plan.
- Employers are required to give notices to employees on hiring about the availability of health insurance through the Marketplace, and annually about the availability of CHIP. Employers may want to consider adding information to these notices regarding the potential impact on immigration of accepting either of these benefits.
- Employers that wish to retain non-US citizen employees may wish to improve health benefits (particularly for dependents) to discourage use of the Marketplace or CHIP.
The change in regulations would have a number of effects on employers who hire non-US citizens, particularly in instances in which the employer is sponsoring them (such as for an H-1B visa or a green card) which are beyond the scope of this post. However, this post discusses the specific impact on employee benefits of the proposed regulations, and potential employer responses to them. Read more.
The recent flurry of activity around the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has many people confused about where it stands, and what the employer’s obligations are. The following summarizes the activity so far:
Legislative Repeal Activity
A popular meme suggests that the Senate voted to eliminate virtually all of the provisions of the ACA, including the ability to obtain insurance in spite of pre-existing conditions, the requirement to cover adult children up to the age of 26, etc. This is not the case.
Based on both campaign promises and Donald Trump’s plans for his first 100 days, a Trump presidency is likely to make major changes in employee benefits law. The most significant ones are likely to be:
- Major changes in the Affordable Care Act (although the timing and extent of such changes are unclear), combined with expansion of health savings accounts.
- Postponement or elimination of the recently issued Department of Labor fiduciary regulations.
- Loosening of executive compensation rules.
- Further cutbacks in IRS guidance and audit activity.
- Increased hostility to consideration of noneconomic factors in selecting retirement plan investments.
- Diminished enforcement of protections for LGBT employees.
- Increased activity at the state level, including establishment of state-sponsored retirement plans for private employers.
These issues, and others of less general concern, are discussed below. Read more.
In King v. Burwell, the Supreme Court today upheld a key provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”). What is the effect of this decision on employee benefit plans? Read more.
In the wake of negative publicity about individuals and small businesses losing their existing health insurance due to the Affordable Care Act, the Department of Health & Human Services, in consultation with the Treasury Department and the Department of Labor, has provided transitional relief. The transitional relief applies only if certain conditions are met, as follows:
A new Milliman report indicates that the average health care cost for a family of four is $22,030. This compares with average annual mortgage payments of $12,732. Indeed, it is close to the average amount spent to send a child to a public college or university ($22,261).
On average, the employer currently pays about $12,886 of the cost of health care in the form of employer subsidy. The Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) does not change this reliance on employer subsidies as the main funding mechanism for health care. So, what measures are being taken to encourage employers to continue or expand health care subsidies? Read more
One of the least noticed provisions of the The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), sometimes referred to as Obamacare, is a transitional reinsurance fee applicable to 2014 through 2016. The Department of Human Services issued regulations implementing this provision on March 11, 2013. These regulations clarify that although governmental entities are exempt from tax and from most of ERISA, health plans that governmental employers maintain for their employees will be subject to the new fee.