5 benefit plan action items to address before the end of 2017

Published
  • December 10 2017, 9:04pm EST
These health and welfare plan action items should be addressed by advisers and plan administrators for the end of 2017 and start of the 2018 plan year. Please note that for non-calendar year plans, the specific timing requirements described may vary.

Please note that additional changes to health and welfare plans may be necessary as a result of ongoing changes to applicable law.

All points listed were compiled by Chris Beinecke, employee benefits attorney at Haynes and Boone, LLP.

Overview

These health and welfare plan action items should be addressed by advisers and plan administrators for the end of 2017 and start of the 2018 plan year. Please note that for non-calendar year plans, the specific timing requirements described may vary.

Please note that additional changes to health and welfare plans may be necessary as a result of ongoing changes to applicable law.

All points listed were compiled by Chris Beinecke, employee benefits attorney at Haynes and Boone, LLP.

Review employer shared responsibility provisions under the Affordable Care Act

Determine applicable large employer/applicable large employer member status for 2018.

Determine whether any changes will be made to the measurement process for 2018 such as a change in method, changes to period duration if the look-back measurement method is used or other variations among permissible employee categories under the employer shared responsibility provisions. Update employer measurement policy as needed.

Ensure minimum essential coverage will be offered to at least 95% of ACA full-time employees for each month during 2018 to avoid potential Internal Revenue Code Section 4980H(a) penalty, projected to be $2,320 per ACA full-time employee; 30 full-time employees may be excluded from the penalty calculation.

Complete Forms 1095-C and distribute to applicable employees by Jan. 31, 2018. Provide Form 1095-C to other individuals if Form 1095-C is used in lieu of available alternative Form 1095-B. For cause extensions are available for forms distributed to individuals.

Forms Series 1094/1095 must be filed with the IRS by April 2, 2018 for electronic filers (Feb. 28, 2018 if filed by paper). Both automatic and for cause extensions are available for the IRS filings.

Content Continues Below

Address issues potentially affecting plan design and/or written plan materials

Reflect any changes in eligibility as a result of compliance with the ACA’s employer shared responsibility provisions and employee measurement. The affordability safe harbor percentage has been reduced to 9.56% for 2018.

Under the ACA, large-group insured and self-insured plans that have annual or lifetime dollar limits on benefits must define “essential health benefits” in a manner consistent with one of the three largest Federal Employees Health Benefit Program options or a state benchmark plan. Employers may wish to review the 2017 state benchmark plans to help determine their best option(s) for 2018.

Non-grandfathered group health plans must incorporate additional preventive services including screening services for depression and tuberculosis, breastfeeding support, and statin medication. Additional Preventive Services Recommendations will apply to non-calendar year plans during 2018, as recommendations are generally effective for plan years beginning one year after the month that the recommendation is issued. Employers interested in claiming a full or partial exemption or accommodation from providing women’s contraceptive services through a plan on religious or moral grounds should review the available guidance.

Plan administrators should review their wellness programs and revise as necessary to comply with applicable law, including the wellness rules under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. A federal court ordered the EEOC to review its ADA and GINA wellness rules, but the court did not suspend the rules which currently remain in effect.

The U.S. Dept. of Labor continues to focus on parity issues related to non-quantitative treatment limitations under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. Plan administrators should continue to review whether the group health plan’s administrative procedures for receiving mental health/substance abuse benefits and services comply with the MHPAEA.

New disability claims and appeals regulations are scheduled to take effect for claims beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2018, although the Department of Labor has proposed a delay until April 1, 2018.

Plan administrators must determine whether to amend the employee healthcare FSA contribution limit to $2,650 for 2018. The annual HSA contribution limits for self-only and family coverage also increase to $3,450 and $6,900, respectively. The HSA catch-up contribution limit remains at $1,000.

Plan administrators must ensure that non-grandfathered medical plan coverage satisfies the ACA’s out-of-pocket maximum limit requirements for 2018 ($7,350 self-only/$14,700 family). Plan administrators must ensure that high deductible health plan coverage satisfies the out-of-pocket maximum limit requirements for 2018 ($6,650 self-only/$13,300 family).

Other amendments or revisions should be made as necessary to reflect changes in plan design, eligibility, and/or administration.

Complete and distribute Forms W-2 by Jan. 31, 2018

Ensure Forms W-2 correctly reflect appropriate cost of group health coverage for ACA purposes in Box 12 using Code DD.

Ensure Forms W-2 correctly reflect HSA contributions in Box 12 using Code W, if any.

Content Continues Below

Distribute Summary Annual Report(s)

The due date to distribute SARs for a calendar year plan without a Form 5500 extension is Sept. 30

The due date to distribute SARs for a calendar year plan with a Form 5500 extension is Dec. 15

Review Summary of Benefits and Coverage

A revised Summary of Benefits and Coverage applies beginning with the first open enrollment period beginning on or after April 1, 2017. In addition to certain changes to the questions answered within the SBC and a more streamlined format, the new template uses revised cost assumptions and adds a coverage example for a simple fracture in addition to the existing examples for childbirth and managing Type 2 diabetes.