"COVID-19"/
Uncategorized

COVID-19 Relief Bill Extends Unemployment Benefits, PPP and More

The $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill, passed by Congress and signed into law on Dec. 27, includes a number of provisions that affect employers and their workers in terms of paid sick leave and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Act provisions.

The legislation also boosts unemployment benefits to out-of-work Americans, as well as reopening and expanding the Paycheck Protection Program that was introduced in March as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Paid sick leave and family medical leave

The new law has not extended the obligation for employers to provide emergency paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave beyond Dec. 31, 2020, instead making it voluntary after that date.

From Jan. 1, employers can continue receiving tax credits if they provide emergency paid sick leave (EPSL) and emergency family medical leave (EFML) to employees for COVID-19-related purposes through March 31. Here are the caveats:

  • Tax credits will be available for leave granted to employees who did not already exhaust 80 hours of EPSL and 12 weeks of EFML. For example, if a worker who was entitled to 80 hours of EPSL last year used 50 of those hours, they’d have 30 hours left to use between Jan. 1 and March 31 this year.
  • Employers must protect the jobs of any employee that is granted EPSL and EFML.

Other provisions

The legislation extends some CARES Act unemployment programs:

Unemployment benefits ― The new law extends the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program supplement from December 26, 2020 to March 14. However, instead of receiving $600 a week under the original program, benefits will be $300 per week.

Gig worker unemployment benefits ― The law also extends the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which covers independent contractors and gig workers who would usually not be eligible for unemployment insurance payments.

This program (originally created by the CARES Act) is also extended to March 14, and then a three-week phase-out period begins and will run until April 5. The law increases the number of weeks independent contractors are eligible for these benefits to 50 from the original 39. 

Extra weeks for those whose benefits ran out ― The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, which provides additional weeks of unemployment insurance benefits to individuals who use up all of their state unemployment benefits, will be extended until March 14.

The law also increases the number of benefit weeks to 24, from 13 under the original version of the program. After March 14, this program will be phased out over three weeks until April 5.

More money ― Taxpayers with annual incomes below $75,000 will receive a $600 check, plus another $600 per dependent child. Payments are phased out for people with incomes in excess of $75,000.

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) part II ― The law also sets aside $284 billion for forgivable loans to struggling businesses as part of a second PPP. Companies that receive funds will have to use the money on payroll and other specific expenses if they want the loan to be forgiven.

Depending on the loan, employers will have either eight or 24 weeks after receiving the loan to spend it on approved expenses.

But PPP part 2 does have some additional prerequisites that differ from the original. It lowers the employee threshold for businesses to 300 employees or fewer (down from 500). Additionally, the maximum loan is now $2 million, compared to $10 million under the original PPP.

Qualifying expenses are also different in this version, which means any business thinking about applying needs to read all the fine print.

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Uncategorized

New Law Bans Surprise Billing

Part of the COVID-19 relief package that Congress passed in late December includes a notable provision that bans surprise medical bills when out-of-network doctors work on insureds at in-network hospitals.

This so-called “balance billing” occurs when an out-of-network provider is involved in a patient’s care at a hospital that accepts their insurance, often without the patient knowing about it. Patients can end up facing unexpected bills in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Specifically, the law bars out-of-network providers and air ambulance firms from billing patients for more than they would be charged by in-network providers (ground ambulance services are not covered under the law).

Additionally, health plans are barred from requiring patients to pay more for care they unknowingly receive from out-of-network providers at in-network facilities.

According to the Kaiser Foundation, 18% of emergency visits lead to at least one out-of-network charge for people covered by large group plans, as do 16% of in-network inpatient admissions.

Here are the main points of the legislation:

  • The law requires that patients be billed on their plan’s in-network rate for emergency medical care at an out-of-network facility, or if they are treated by an out-of-network clinician at an in-network hospital.
  • It protects patients admitted to an in-network hospital for a planned procedure when an out-of-network doctor works on the patient. Most often this happens when a doctor is called to provide assistance in the operating room, or if the anesthesiologist on duty is out of network.
  • Doctors and health plans are allowed to bill for out-of-network treatment in the above situations if the patient is informed of the estimated costs at least 72 before they receive care.
  • Whatever the patient pays for the above out-of-network services must be counted toward their in-network annual deductibles.

Billing disputes

For the health insurers and providers to agree on the cost of care, the new law sets up an arbitration process to settle payment disputes for out-of-network claims. The plan sponsor and the covered employee are not part of this dispute resolution process.

The law gives the insurer and provider 30 days to settle a dispute and if they can’t come to an agreement during that time, they can go to a binding arbitration process that the law creates. This “Independent Dispute Resolution” (IDR) will be administered by independent entities.

During IDR, both the insurance company and the provider submit what they want to pay to the dispute resolution arbiter, who will decide a fair amount based on what other providers charge for similar services.

The arbiter will not be allowed to consider rates paid by Medicare and Medicaid, which tend to be lower than what commercial insurers pay for services and what hospitals normally charge. 

The decisions are binding. after which the insurer has 90 days to pay the bill.

The new law takes effect in January 2021.

One more thing…

Besides banning surprise billing, the law also bars gag clauses. Many contracts between health insurers and providers include provisions that bar enrollees, plan sponsors or referring providers from seeing cost and quality data on providers. These provisions will now be prohibited.

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New Rules Require Health Plans to Cover COVID-19 Vaccines, More

The Trump administration has issued new interim final rules that set out accelerated coverage requirements for COVID-19 preventative services and covering out-of-network testing for the coronavirus.

There are two parts to the interim final rules:  

  • One requires that COVID-19 preventative services – including vaccines – be covered without any cost-sharing on the part of plan enrollees.
  • The second creates a reimbursement formula for insurers to pay for COVID-19 testing conducted on their enrollees by out-of-network providers.

The new rules, which implement important parts of the CARES Act, were rolled out by the Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services departments.

If you are a plan sponsor, you need to know how this affects your group health plan so you can help your staff understand how testing and preventative COVID-19 services are covered.

COVID-19 preventative services

The CARES Act requires that COVID-19-related preventative services be covered within 15 business days after a doctor recommends that a patient needs them.

COVID-19 preventative services must be covered without any out-of-pocket costs on behalf of health plan enrollees, whether they receive those services inside or outside their plan’s provider network. The reason for this is that as vaccines start rolling out, not all providers may have access in the beginning.

The rules are required to ensure that people who need vaccines can access them without any hardship to help put an end to the pandemic.

Under the rules, insurers must pay out-of-network providers a “reasonable amount,” which would be determined by the prevailing market rates that providers are charging health plans for the service. That may be the Medicare rate, the regulations note.

The rules cover more preventative services than just vaccines. They must also cover services that are “integral” to delivering preventative services, such as administrative costs.

Finally, if a preventative service, including a COVID-19 vaccine, is not billed separately from an office visit, and the primary purpose of the office visit is to deliver the recommended service or vaccine, the plan or insurer may not charge cost-sharing for the office visit.

COVID-19 tests by out-of-network providers

The new rules also set out the parameters for how health plans will pay out-of-network providers for COVID-19 diagnostic tests they perform on the latter’s enrollees.

On testing, the CARES Act requires that:

  • Health care providers post on their websites the cash price or any lower negotiated price for COVID-19 diagnostic testing. The “cash price” is the charge that applies to a walk-in patient who pays cash for the service.
  • Health insurers pay out-of-network providers of COVID-19 diagnostic tests the price posted on the provider’s website during the public health emergency.

The takeaway

If you sponsor a group health plan, you should communicate the new rules to your participating employees so that they are aware of the no out-of-pocket rules for COVID-19 preventative services. 

You should also keep up with the news about when vaccines will be rolled out in your area, so you can encourage your staff to get vaccinated.

The new rules will sunset at the end of the public health emergency. Currently, that’s slated for Jan. 21, 2021, but will likely be extended as it is unlikely a vaccine can be rolled out en masse by that time.

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Uncategorized

Uncertainty Weighs on Group Plan Cost Expectations

U.S. employers are expecting their group health insurance costs to climb 4.4% in 2021, despite the ravages of pandemic and a likely uptick in health care usage next year, according to a new survey.

The expected rate increases are on par with much of the last few years, when insurance premium inflation has hovered between 3% and 4%. Despite the expected increase, employers do not plan to cut back on benefits for their employees, according to the Mercer “National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans 2020.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has injected a large dose of uncertainty into the marketplace. Overall, health care expenditures have plummeted since the pandemic started, which at first seems counterintuitive. But many hospitals postponed elective and non-emergency surgeries and procedures, while fewer individuals were seeking care either out of fear of going in for it or because they could not get appointments.

For example, the first three months after the pandemic had gotten a foothold in the U.S., according to the Willis Towers Watson “2020 Health Care Financial Benchmarks Survey,” monthly paid claims per employee dropped as follows:

  • April: 21%
  • May: 29%
  • June: 14%

“So far, the additional medical costs associated with the testing and treatment of COVID-19 have been more than offset by significant reductions in utilization across many service categories,” the insurance industry research firm recently wrote in its report.

Additionally, the Mercer report predicts that a significant portion of the deferred care will never be realized. And, for those people who have deferred care, when they eventually decide to come for the care will also depend on the course of the pandemic, hospital capacity and whether people feel safe to go in for the treatment.

“Different assumptions about cost for COVID-related care, including a possible vaccine, and whether people will continue to avoid care or catch up on delayed care, are driving wide variations in cost projections for next year,” Tracy Watts, a senior consultant with Mercer, said.

Employer reactions

Despite the expected cost increases, Mercer found that few employers plan to make any changes to their benefits this year, as they seek to keep things stable for their staff. The survey found that:

  • 57% will make no changes at all to reduce cost in their 2021 medical plans (up from 47% in the prior year’s survey).
  • 18% will take cost-saving measures that shift more health care expenses to their employees, including raising deductibles and copays.

Employers are also adding benefits, some of them prompted by the pandemic and shifts in how health care is accessed. For example:

  • 27% are adding or improving their telemedicine services (telemedicine for episodic care, artificial-intelligence-based symptoms triage, ‘text a doctor’ apps and virtual office visits with a patient’s own primary care doctor).
  • 22% are adding or improving their voluntary benefits (critical illness insurance or a hospital indemnity plan).20% are boosting their mental health services coverage.
  • 12% are offering targeted health services, like for diabetes and other chronic conditions.
  • 9% are offering more support for complex cases.
  • 4% are offering services to limit surprise billing.

The takeaway

Mercer noted the following trends going into 2021:

Keeping the status quo – A majority of employers surveyed are avoiding making any changes to their health plans, including increasing employee cost-sharing, even if premiums increase. Instead they are focused on providing a stable source of health insurance for their staff and supporting their workers as they deal with stress and effects of the pandemic.

Digital migration – More employers are offering digital health resources like telemedicine, tele-health apps and virtual office visits, for their convenience, safety, efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Costs uncertain – Due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, cost projections are uncertain at best. The avoidance of medical care could translate into a higher utilization in 2021 and hospitals may start charging more to recoup lost revenues from 2020. Or people may have forgone a lot of that care forever. It’s too early to tell.

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Uncategorized

How to Distribute Group Health Plan Rebates to Your Staff

Group health plan insurers are paying out $689 million in rebates to plan sponsors this year, as required by the Affordable Care Act’s “medical loss ratio” provision.

The provision requires insurance companies that cover individuals and small businesses to spend at least 80% of their premium income on health care claims and quality improvement, leaving the remaining 20% for administration, marketing and profit.

The MLR threshold is higher for large group insured plans, which must spend at least 85% of premium dollars on health care and quality improvement.

Employers who sponsor health small and large group health plans around the country in the last few months have received notices of rebates from their insurers. For those who have received one for the first time, there’s always a question of what they should do with the surprise funds. 

MLR rebates are based on a three-year average, meaning that 2020 rebates are calculated using insurers’ financial data in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

You received a rebate…now what?

Health insurers may pay MLR rebates either in the form of a premium credit (for employers that are still using the insurer) or as a lump-sum payment. More than 90% of group plan rebates come as a lump-sum payment.

Once an employer receives this money, it is their responsibility to distribute the rebate to plan beneficiaries appropriately within 90 days, or risk triggering ERISA trust issues. 

How the employer distributes the check will depend on how much their employees contribute to the plan, if at all. Here are the basic rules for employers handling their MLR rebate checks:

  • If you paid 100% of the premiums, the rebate is not a plan asset and you can retain the entire rebate amount and use it as you wish.
  • If the premiums were paid partly by you and partly by the participants, the percentage of the rebate equal to the percentage of the cost paid by participants must be distributed to the employees.

If you have to distribute funds to the plan participants, the Department of Labor provides a few options (if the plan document or policy does not already prescribe how they should be distributed):

  • The funds can be used to reduce your portion of the annual premium for the subsequent policy year for all staff who were covered by all of your group health plans.
  • The funds can be used to reduce your portion of the annual premium for the subsequent policy year for only those workers covered by the group health policy on which the rebate was based.
  • You can provide a cash refund to subscribers who were covered by the group health policy on which the rebate is based.

How it works (example)

  • Total premiums paid to an insurance company for a plan with 100 covered employees during 2019 = $2,000,000.
  • Total participant contributions during 2019 = $500,000 (25% of total plan premiums for the year).
  • The employer receives a $30,000 rebate from the carrier in 2020.
  • A total of $7,500 is considered plan assets and must be distributed to the employees (25% of the $30,000).

Tax treatment of cash refunds

If your employees paid for their share of the health premium with pre-tax earnings, the refund would also have to be taxed. But if they paid for their premiums post-tax, they would not be required to pay taxes on the refund (unless they deducted the premiums on their income tax returns). 

You must distribute rebates to your staff within 90 days of receiving them.

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Uncategorized

Helping Your Older Workers Transition to Medicare

As health insurance costs rise and our workforce ages, fewer employers are providing retiree health insurance benefits to their older workers, and are instead asking them to sign up for Medicare.

It’s a delicate situation as some older workers may resent being pushed to Medicare, especially if they’ve worked for their employer a long time. But employers obviously want to keep their staff happy and not risk losing them just because they are asking them to move to Medicare.

The share of people aged 65 to 74 in the workforce has been steadily rising for years. It’s projected to reach 30% in 2026, up from 27% in 2016 and 17% in 1996, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And among those 75 and older, the share projected to be working in 2026 is 10.8%, up from 8.4% in 2016 and 4.6% in 1996.

While some employers opt to keep their Medicare-eligible workers on their group health plans, the majority do not. With the Kaiser Family Foundation estimating that only 29% of employers are keeping their Medicare-eligible employees on their company health plans, how can they support transitioning from their employer health plans to Medicare plus supplemental coverage?

If you have employees who will soon be eligible for Medicare and you want to transition them, you can help them and be there for them as a trusted source of information. Here’s what you can do to help workers who are nearing retirement to enroll:

Consider group Medicare Advantage coverage – There are a number of Medicare Advantage insurers that offer group Medicare coverage, which will help provide a transition from regular group health insurance. The nice thing about Medicare Advantage group health coverage is that often the premiums are quite low compared to regular health plans.

We can help you get set up with a Medicare Advantage group carrier that can take the administrative burden off you. We can send plan materials and other resources directly to your Medicare group members.

You can also choose to have Medicare group members billed directly for their premiums, or you as their employer can be billed.

Some carriers will let you customize your group Medicare Advantage plan with different deductibles, coinsurance and copayment amounts.

Help with the ‘donut hole’ – All Medicare plans have a coverage gap (known as the “donut hole”) for medicines. The coverage gap begins after an enrollee and their drug plan (or Medicare Advantage plan) have spent a certain amount for covered drugs. While they are in the coverage gap, which starts after they and their plan have spent $4,130 on pharmaceuticals in a given year, they will pay 25% of the cost of most drugs.

Seniors can’t get a plan on their own that offers help through the coverage gap. Retirees can only skip the coverage gap through an employer-sponsored plan. That’s where you come in.

By offering your retirees a prescription drug plan with coverage through the gap, you’ll help ease the financial burden that the coverage gap can present.

Make it user-friendly -For years your employees have been used to the top-shelf open enrollment system you have had in place for your workforce, with support like a hotline and access to plan information, such as lists of provider networks and formularies, as well as many different mediums for accessing enrollment information (like e-mail and mobile phone apps).

A recent study found that nearly 70% of workers who are 60 years or older find plan comparison tools and plan guidance tools valuable as they make health care decisions. Since this is what they are used to, you can provide the integrated, consumer-oriented experiences to help facilitate their enrollment in a Medicare Advantage plan.

Educate them about supplemental coverage – Medicare enrollees have access to an average of 28 Medicare Advantage plans, which means they will have a wider array of plans to choose from than they may be used to under their employer’s group plan.

They will also likely be bombarded with offers from various plans by mail and e-mail. It’s often confusing for many people to sift through the plans and find the one that’s best for their life and health circumstances. Many Medicare beneficiaries will seek out an advisor to help them choose the right plan.

In this case, a thoughtful employer would contract with an advisor to help their senior employees choose the best plan for them.

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Uncategorized

Final Rule Paves Way for Drug Imports to Reduce Patient Costs

The Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration have issued a final rule and guidance that paves the way for states to allow pharmacists and wholesalers to import prescription drugs in order to reduce costs for patients. 

The final rule implements a provision of federal law that allows FDA-authorized programs to import prescription drugs from Canada under specific conditions, according to a report by Kaiser Health News. Prices are cheaper in Canada because the government there caps how much drug makers can charge for medicines, while the free market reigns supreme in the United States.

Even though insulin is not included among the drugs covered by the rule, the Trump administration also issued a request for proposals seeking plans from private companies on how insulin could be safely brought in from other countries and made available to consumers at a lower cost than products sold in the U.S.

Why now?

Congress has allowed drug importation since 2003, but only if the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services certified it is safe. That had never happened until this year, when Secretary Alex Azar approved an application by Florida, according to a letter he wrote to congressional leaders. 

For decades, Americans have been buying drugs from Canada for personal use – either by driving over the border, ordering medication online or using storefronts that connect them to foreign pharmacies, according to Kaiser Health News. Though the practice is illegal, the FDA has generally permitted purchases for individual use.

About 4 million Americans import medicines for personal use each year, and about 20 million say they or someone in their household has done so because prices are much lower in other countries, according to surveys.

How it would work

The administration envisions a system in which a Canadian-licensed wholesaler buys from a manufacturer of drugs approved for sale in Canada and exports them to a U.S. pharmacy, wholesaler or importer that has contracted with the state in which they operate.

To be eligible for importation, a drug would need to be approved by Canada’s Health Canada’s Health Products and Food Branch and needs to meet the conditions in an FDA-approved new drug application.

Essentially, eligible prescription drugs are those that could be sold legally on either the Canadian market or the American market with appropriate labeling. 

Under the final HHS and FDA rule, state importation programs will have the flexibility to decide which drugs to import and in what quantities. 

The rule also requires drug manufacturers to provide importers with documentation guaranteeing the medications are the same drugs as those already sold in the U.S. 

Parts of this report were reprinted from Kaiser Health News.

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Uncategorized

Getting a Head Start on Open Enrollment

With open enrollment right around the corner, it’s time to review the health plan options available to you for the next year and prepare your workplace for signing up for the 2021 policy year.

The big decision for employers is finding a plan that fits not only their budget but also the budgets of their employees. And this is particularly important for “applicable large employers” under the Affordable Care Act, who must also ensure that the least expensive of their plans must not cost more than 9.83% of any of their health-plan-eligible employees’ household incomes.

This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, benefits advisors recommend that employers get an earlier than usual start on preparing for their upcoming open enrollments. The following are just a few issues you need to consider for this year’s open enrollment:

Determine how many employees will receive coverage – It’s to your advantage to try to get as many of your employees to enroll in your health plan as possible, particularly if you are a small employer. The more lives in your plan, the more the risk is spread for the insurer, which can translate into lower policy premiums for all of your workers.

Keep things simple – Try not to make open enrollment complicated. Your employees have enough on their minds during the pandemic. Your literature and meetings should provide easy-to-follow instructions that tell your workers:

  • What they need to do to enroll or re-enroll.
  • How they can choose the right health plan for themselves and their family, and
  • When the deadline is.

Get an early start and provide employees with health plan information prior to open enrollment, so as to give them enough time to review and compare their insurance options.

Informing your employees – If you are planning to meet with your staff in person, you’ll need to plan for social distancing as well as offering employees that cannot or do not feel safe the option to join the meeting via video conferencing.

If you plan to have your staff enroll and choose plans electronically, you need to make provisions for the ones who may not have access to a good internet connection or the technology to do so.

Periodically remind your employees to submit their applications or make changes before the end of the open enrollment period. Have a mechanism in place for identifying and approaching laggards as the deadline approaches.

The COVID factor – Your employees will want to know if testing and treatment of COVID-19 will be covered, as well as any vaccine that may eventually become available. Federal legislation enacted in March required all private insurance plans to cover costs associated with COVID-19 tests. A number of insurers announced that they would also waive all cost-sharing for in-network medical visits related to COVID-19, as well as for telehealth visits.

Since there are no laws that require private insurance plans to waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatment, you will have to explore your plan options to see which ones may offer treatment without cost-sharing. Also check to see if the plans you have access to will waive out-of-pocket fees for a coronavirus vaccine should one become available.

Coverage questions for your employees – Encourage your employees to ask questions during your meetings, and ask them to consider re-evaluating their coverage in light of:

  • Change in dependents – Will employees be adding or removing any dependents, such as children or a spouse, from their health plans? Will you the employer contribute to qualified dependent coverage and if so, how much?  
  • Health issues – Does any employee have evolving health issues that will require more medical services than they have used in the past. They should also check to make sure their plan network includes their personal physician, as well as covering the medicines they may be taking regularly.
  • Affordability – How much are they willing to pay for coverage and what kind of deducible would be in their price range? What is the premium cost-sharing (how much the employee pays for their share of the premium)?

The takeaway

During the pandemic, you’ll need to get a head start on open enrollment by getting information on your offerings to your staff as early as possible. Be prepared to answer questions about coverage, particularly as it pertains to COVID-19.

You can work with us to make sure you have everything in place for a successful open enrollment.

Uncategorized

How to Distribute Group Health Plan Rebates to your Staff

Group health plan insurers are paying out $689 million in rebates to plan sponsors this year, as required by the Affordable Care Act’s “medical loss ratio” provision.

The provision requires insurance companies that cover individuals and small businesses to spend at least 80% of their premium income on health care claims and quality improvement, leaving the remaining 20% for administration, marketing and profit.

The MLR threshold is higher for large group insured plans, which must spend at least 85% of premium dollars on health care and quality improvement.

Employers who sponsor health small and large group health plans around the country in the last few months have received notices of rebates from their insurers. For those who have received one for the first time, there’s always a question of what they should do with the surprise funds. 

MLR rebates are based on a three-year average, meaning that 2020 rebates are calculated using insurers’ financial data in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

You received a rebate…now what?

Health insurers may pay MLR rebates either in the form of a premium credit (for employers that are still using the insurer) or as a lump-sum payment. More than 90% of group plan rebates come as a lump-sum payment.

Once an employer receives this money, it is their responsibility to distribute the rebate to plan beneficiaries appropriately within 90 days, or risk triggering ERISA trust issues. 

How the employer distributes the check will depend on how much their employees contribute to the plan, if at all. Here are the basic rules for employers handling their MLR rebate checks:

  • If you paid 100% of the premiums, the rebate is not a plan asset and you can retain the entire rebate amount and use it as you wish.
  • If the premiums were paid partly by you and partly by the participants, the percentage of the rebate equal to the percentage of the cost paid by participants must be distributed to the employees.

If you have to distribute funds to the plan participants, the Department of Labor provides a few options (if the plan document or policy does not already prescribe how they should be distributed):

  • The funds can be used to reduce your portion of the annual premium for the subsequent policy year for all staff who were covered by all of your group health plans.
  • The funds can be used to reduce your portion of the annual premium for the subsequent policy year for only those workers covered by the group health policy on which the rebate was based.
  • You can provide a cash refund to subscribers who were covered by the group health policy on which the rebate is based.

How it works (example)

  • Total premiums paid to an insurance company for a plan with 100 covered employees during 2019 = $2,000,000.
  • Total participant contributions during 2019 = $500,000 (25% of total plan premiums for the year).
  • The employer receives a $30,000 rebate from the carrier in 2020.
  • A total of $7,500 is considered plan assets and must be distributed to the employees (25% of the $30,000).

Tax treatment of cash refunds

If your employees paid for their share of the health premium with pre-tax earnings, the refund would also have to be taxed. But if they paid for their premiums post-tax, they would not be required to pay taxes on the refund (unless they deducted the premiums on their income tax returns). 

You must distribute rebates to your staff within 90 days of receiving them.

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