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Thursday, October 8, 2020

Covid-19 Related Health Insurance Update

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced on October 2, 2020 that it has extended the period of the national public health emergency related to Covid-19 for a third time.  So, health insurance plans* may now extend the end date of any Covid-19 specific plan related cost sharing waivers and benefits to dates of service up to January 20, 2021.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Post-Retirement Healthcare Budgeting

A question I firmly believe is not asked and answered enough these days is – “how much should I budget for healthcare post-retirement (age 65), assuming I leave my employer (or other) plan and elect Medicare”?  This includes expenses related to medical/dental/vision, care and insurance premiums, and assumes Medicare (and its various parts/pieces) is in place to protect against catastrophic type loss.  Well, the answer might surprise a few folks, and is definitely something to consider if retirement is on the horizon!

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Friday, July 24, 2020

Telehealth Use On the Rise!

Telehealth*, which is sometimes referred to as Tele-medicine, Virtual-Health, Tele-Doc, etc., has grown to become a reliable source of healthcare, particularly during the current Covid-19 pandemic.  The virtually immediate, 24/7/365 access to healthcare is appealing to a variety of stakeholders, chief among them those that live in remote or rural areas.  A recent source found the use of telehealth increased an impressive 4,347%, or from .17% of claim types to 7.52%, during the period from 3/2019 to 3/2020.    

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Thursday, June 4, 2020

PCORI Fee Update

Although a number of Affordable Care Act (ACA) taxes/fees were repealed by the 2019 SECURE Act (see – https://smstevensandassociates.com/aca-taxes-repealed/) , the PCORI fee (also known as the Comparative Effectiveness Research Fee (CERF)) was not, and was in fact extended for an additional 10 years.  So in addition to plan years ending prior to October 1, 2019, the PCORI fee will now apply to plan years ending in 2020-2029.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Employee Benefits Deadline Extensions

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Departments of Health/Human Services, Labor and Treasury (DHS, DOL & DOT), along with the IRS have issued (April 29, 2019)  guidance that extends many of the deadline dates associated with various employee benefits related time frames.  

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Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Coronavirus Pandemic Impact On Health Spending Accounts

In light of the Coronavirus pandemic, Congress, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM),  and the IRS have made key changes affecting the use of tax-free funds that reside in tax preferred spending accounts:

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Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Health Ins. Options During Coronavirus Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted and changed the health insurance landscape for many people.  Here’s a review of the various options available to people, depending on their specific situation and eligibility:

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Monday, March 30, 2020

CARES Act Impact on Health Insurance

On March 27, 2020,  the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) became law.  The CARES Act amends certain provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”).  CARES also temporarily eliminates deductibles for certain services in HSA Qualified High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs), and temporarily expands the list of qualified expenses reimbursable through HSAs, HRAs, and FSAs.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

On March 18, 2020 the President signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which takes effect April 2, 2020.  The FFCRA includes several provisions that impact employers with less than 500 employees, with allowable exemptions for affected employers with fewer than 50 employees.  This blog post addresses the three (3) main aspects of the FFCRA: 1. Mandated waiver of health insurance related cost sharing for COVID-19 testing; 2. New paid leave entitlements;  and 3. Employer tax credits.  

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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Coronavirus Health Insurance Benefits

Leaders of the major health insurance companies in the U.S. agreed to expand insurance benefits related to Corornavirus/COVID-19, in a historical meeting held at the White House yesterday (March 10, 2020).  Present at the meeting were executives from: Aetna
Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) Association (representing the 36 BCBS plans throughout the nation, including Anthem)
Cigna
Humana
UnitedHealth Group (aka United Healthcare)