Benefits Buzz

Each month, enjoy a one-page easy-to-read newsletter that is focused on hot benefit and HR topics.

The files below may be opened in the freely available Acrobat Reader.

  • March 2017 (pdf)
    This issue looks ahead at what the ACA might look like under President Trump, discusses the challenges to becoming health care literate and explains block grants and their importance.
  • February 2017 (pdf)
    This issue provides an overview of the 21st Century Cures Act (Act), explains the highlights of the Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2018 and discusses the latest developments with the Republican lawmakers' proposed budget resolution that would repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
  • January 2017 (pdf)
    This issue discusses the latest developments with the overtime rule delay, highlights the delayed ACA reporting deadlines and provides a brief overview of President-elect Donald Trump's plan for his first 100 days in office.
  • December 2016 (pdf)
    This issue discusses the increased premium costs of the 2017 Marketplace, introduces the new flexible spending account (FSA) limits for 2017 and provides a brief overview of the 2016 election and its potential impact on compliance issues.
  • November 2016 (pdf)
    This issue discusses the EEOC's finalized rules for employer-sponsored wellness programs, the 2016 Kaiser Family Foundation Employer Health Benefits Survey results and the DOL grants awarded to six states as part of the Disability Employment Initiative.
  • October 2016 (pdf)
    This issue discusses the approaching ACA reporting deadlines, the Marketplace's "simple choice health plans" available for the 2017 enrollment period and the FLSA employer accommodation requirements for nursing mothers.
  • September 2016 (pdf)
    This issue discusses the proposed changes to both the Form 5500 and the federal overtime rule, as well as how the DOL’s new fiduciary rule impacts HSAs.
  • August 2016 (pdf)
    This issue discusses the Brexit, a new Republican health care plan and the creation of a new task force to focus on mental health and substance abuse disorders.
  • July 2016 (pdf)
    This issue discusses bathroom access rights for transgender employees, new DOL overtime payment rules and final rules that describe how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) apply to employer-sponsored wellness programs.
  • June 2016 (pdf)
    This issue discusses the Affordable Care Act’s affordability contribution percentage increases for 2017, updated HIPAA self-audit tools and Exchange notifications.
  • May 2016 (pdf)
    This issue gives updates on the HIPAA audit program and the Zubik v. Burwell contraceptive coverage case, and takes a look at the possibility of tax incentives for employers who help their employees pay back student debt.
  • April 2016 (pdf)
    This issue discusses Affordable Care Act (ACA) litigation that may affect employers, ACA rule changes for 2017 and the growing utilization of private exchanges.
  • March 2016 (pdf)
    This issue covers recent court rulings about the FMLA, ACA rules for employer-provided coverage and Republican efforts to repeal the ACA.
  • February 2016 (pdf)
    This issue covers the delay of the Affordable Care Act reporting deadlines, proposed out-of-pocket maximums for 2017 and the exception for individual tax returns and Forms 1095-C and 1095-B.
  • January 2016 (pdf)
    This issue covers The Senate's Repeal of parts of the Affordable Care Act, a government investigation into rising drug costs, and final regulations published for ACA market reform requirements.
  • December 2015 (pdf)
    This issue covers the repeal of the ACA's automatic enrollment requirement, 2016 FSA contributions and the Supreme Court hearing on contraceptive coverage for religious groups.
  • November 2015 (pdf)
    This issue covers the repeal of the ACA small group market rule, preparations for the Cadillac Tax and information on telemedicine programs.
  • October 2015 (pdf)
    This issue covers the finalized guidelines for electronic reporting under Internal Revenue Code Sections 6055 and 6056, student loan repayment assistance benefits and separate Section 6055 reporting requirements for HRAs.
  • September 2015 (pdf)
    This issue covers the final rule on religious exemptions to contraceptive coverage, the recently released FAQs on the PCORI fee and the 2015 draft instructions for reporting under Code Sections 6055 and 6056.
  • August 2015 (pdf)
    This issue covers the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on ACA subsidies, final rules on SBC requirements and the draft versions of the 2015 Section 6055 and 6056 forms.
  • July 2015 (pdf)
    This issue provides information on embedded out-of-pocket limits, the latest update on the Cadillac tax and a new Q&A on Section 6056.
  • June 2015 (pdf)
    This issue gives an overview of the agencies' plan to issue final rules for the SBC requirements, how plan offerings are differing by group size and the IRS' update for 2016 HSA limits.
  • May 2015 (pdf)
    This issue covers the HHS final rule affecting the ACA for 2016, the increase in telemedicine popularity and the impact of the ACA on part-time employee hours.
  • April 2015 (pdf)
    This issue features the new guidance for employer payments of individual premiums and the IRS release of ACA reporting forms and instructions.
  • March 2015 (pdf)
    This issue provides information about the individual mandate penalty cap, wellness program popularity and the Supreme Court's ruling on retiree benefits.
  • February 2015 (pdf)
    This issue gives an overview of proposed regulatory changes to the summary of benefits and coverage, final regulations for the “myRA” and DOL audit warning signs.
  • January 2015 (pdf)
    This issue gives an overview of the proposed benefit and payment parameters for 2016, the new ACA affordability percentages for 2016 and the ending of the requirement to provide HIPAA Certificates.
  • December 2014 (pdf)
    This issue gives an overview of new prohibitions pertaining to employer reimbursement of individual premiums, the indefinite delay of the Health Plan Identifier requirement and new annual contribution limits for health Flexible Spending Accounts.
  • November 2014 (pdf)
    This issue gives an overview of the final rule that expands the definition of excepted benefits, the IRS proposed approach for pay-or-play measurement period changes and the Marketplace open enrollment dates.
  • October 2014 (pdf)
    This issue provides information about employee communication during open enrollment, the release of draft instructions for employer reporting of health coverage and new rules on contraception for religious employers.
  • September 2014 (pdf)
    This issue gives an overview of the IRS draft forms for health coverage reporting, the ACA's revised affordability percentages and the conflicting federal court rulings regarding Exchange subsidies.
  • August 2014 (pdf)
    This issue provides an overview of the Supreme Court ruling on the ACA's contraceptive mandate, a proposed rule change to the FMLA regarding same-sex spouses and a new final rule on ACA waiting and orientation periods.
  • July 2014 (pdf)
    This issue provides an overview of the penalties for pre-tax contributions to employee individual health premiums, the new employer SHOP tools and the recently released FAQs addressing dependent coverage rules.
  • June 2014 (pdf)
    This issue gives an overview of the newly clarified COBRA and Exchange rules. It also lists 2015 contribution limits for health savings accounts, and provides updated model notices for COBRA and CHIPRA.
  • May 2014 (pdf)
    This issue gives an overview of the repealed deductible limits for health plans in the small group market, IRS clarification on FSA carryover and HSA eligibility, and the U.S. Supreme Court case on a religious exemption for the ACA's contraceptive coverage mandate.
  • April 2014 (pdf)
    This issue covers the employer mandate delay for medium-sized employers, 2015 health plan cost-sharing limits and finalized reporting rules for employers and issuers.
  • March 2014 (pdf)
    This issue provides an overview of the final employer shared responsibility rules, the new myRA savings option and a lawsuit challenging Affordable Care Act subsidies.
  • February 2014 (pdf)
    This issue gives an overview of the proposed expansion of "excepted benefits," new rules and deadline extension information for HIPAA certification and benefit plan guidance regarding same-sex spouses.
  • January 2014 (pdf)
    This issue gives an overview of reinsurance program proposed changes, FF-SHOP online enrollment delays and the new transition policy for insurance policies for 2014.
  • December 2013 (pdf)
    This issue discusses relief from individual mandate penalties, changes to health FSA rules and clarification of transition relief for cafeteria plans.
  • November 2013 (pdf)
    This issue discusses new ACA guidance on HRAs, FSAs and Cafeteria Plans; new model Notices of Privacy Practices and changes to the small employer credit.
  • October 2013 (pdf)
    This issue discusses how the IRS is going to recognize all legal same-sex marriages, answers employer questions about large employer reporting requirements and touches on the final rules of the individual mandate.
  • September 2013 (pdf)
    This issue includes an update on the impact of DOMA in regards to the FMLA, information about the Model Exchange Notice deadline and a fact about individual mandate transitional relief.
  • August 2013 (pdf)
    This issue discusses the employer mandate delay, the Supreme Court's decision on the Defense of Marriage Act and the release of the individual mandate final rule.
  • July 2013 (pdf)
    This issue discusses the HCR final rule on workplace wellness programs, the release of the new Employer Coverage Tool and the updated Form 720 PCORI fees.
  • June 2013 (pdf)
    This issue discusses proposed Health Care Reform regulations, including provisions on minimum values, HSA and HRA contributions and how wellness program incentives are counted, safe harbor plan designs and the 2014 HSA/HDHP limits.
  • May 2013 (pdf)
    This issue discusses HIPAA certificates required for 2014, HHS plans to delay SHOP exchanges and HHS exhange application and coverage form drafts.
  • April 2013 (pdf)
    This issue explains the new proposed individual mandate rules and state plans for health insurance exchanges. In addition, it provides basic information on the Minimum Value Calculator recently released by the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • March 2013 (pdf)
    This issue gives an overview of the final rule that was issued on HIPAA privacy and security protections, explains that the exchange notice requirements have been delayed and mentions the new proposal regarding additional exemptions to the contraceptive coverage requirement for religious employers.
  • February 2013 (pdf)
    This issue explains the Affordable Care Act's new proposal, touching on relief for fiscal year plans as well as updated "pay or play" rules and penalties. In addition, it provides the basics of how the affordability of employer-provided coverage is determined.
  • January 2013 (pdf)
    This issue gives an overview of health care reform's proposed rules on workplace wellness programs and  proposed reinsurance fees. It also mentions the government's intent not to impose new deductible and out-of-pocket limit caps on self-insured or large group health plans.
  • December 2012 (pdf)
    This issue provides tips for a smooth open enrollment season, discusses the decreasing availability of health care for early retirees and touches on what to expect from health care reform now that the election is over.
  • November 2012 (pdf)
    This issue answers employer questions about wellness program compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), discusses the projected increases in health care premiums in 2013 and offers a reminder and facts about National Lung Cancer Awareness Month.
  • October 2012 (pdf)
    This issue offers an overview of new temporary guidance on the 90-day maximum waiting period mandated by the Affordable Care Act, discusses enrollee satisfaction with consumer-driven health plans and explains the new law in Illinois related to gathering information about job candidates through social networking sites.
  • September 2012 (pdf)
    This issue offers an overview of upcoming health care reform deadlines, highlights a new study that links lower copays to more emergency room visits and explains the significance of World Heart Day.
  • August 2012 (pdf)
    This edition answers employer FAQs about the U.S. Supreme Court’s health care reform decision, discusses social media policies and offers a reminder about the importance of immunizations.
  • July 2012 (pdf)
    This edition discusses educating employees on varying health care costs, the benefits of flexible scheduling and the new guidance on contribution limits for health FSAs.
  • June 2012 (pdf)
    This edition discusses a recently settled HIPAA case, the newly released 2013 HSA limits and fireworks safety for the Forth of July.
  • May 2012 (pdf)
    This edition discusses Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, workplace bullying, and the health care law's Supreme Court hearing.
  • April 2012 (pdf)
    This edition discusses Alcohol Awareness Month, essential health benefits, and a survey about worker pay and benefits.
  • March 2012 (pdf)
    This edition discusses how to prepare for a potential HIPAA audit, social media for business and employee appreciation day.
  • February 2012 (pdf)
    This edition discusses unconventional but valuable employee perks, new EEOC regulations impacting age discrimination and a survey regarding when people expect to retire.
  • January 2012 (pdf)
    This edition discusses health care reform developments in 2011, rising EEOC discrimination lawsuits and a DOL enforcement initiative for unlawful pay practices.
  • December 2011 (pdf)
    This edition includes 2011 benefits trends, flu season preparation for businesses and the Supreme Court's recent decision to review the health care reform law.
  • November 2011 (pdf)
    This edition discusses declining health care cost increases, survey results regarding benefits education and the suspension of the CLASS program by HHS.
  • October 2011 (pdf)
    This edition covers the expiration of the COBRA premium subsidy, planned IRS guidance on health care reform "pay or play" requirements and a survey investigating the value of workplace flexibility.
  • September 2011 (pdf)
    This edition discusses active vs. passive benefits enrollment, new women's preventive care guidelines and a recent U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision regarding the constitutionality of health care reform.
  • August 2011 (pdf)
    Learn common employee handbook legal mistakes to avoid, how to promote stress management among your employees and about two notices proposed by HHS regarding state health insurance exchanges.
  • July 2011 (pdf)
    This edition discusses how employers can avoid losing top talent, ways to promote physical activity among employees and a recent CMS announcement regarding the renewal of health plan annual limit waivers.
  • June 2011 (pdf)
    This edition discusses new 2012 HSA contribution limits, a deadline for updating plan documents regarding new OTC drug rules and updated Medicare Part D model disclosure notices recently released by CMS.
  • May 2011 (pdf)
    This edition discusses falling employee morale, a recent court decision with wellness plan implications and an unpopular health care reform provision that was repealed.
  • April 2011 (pdf)
    This edition discusses employer strategies to combat rising healthcare costs, National Employee Benefits Day and a recent study about the cost–saving potential of wellness programs.
  • March 2011 (pdf)
    This edition discusses the IRS's recent announcement regarding breast pumps and medical spending accounts, potential changes to health care reform by Congress and a rise in government audits for illegal hiring practices
  • February 2011 (pdf)
    This edition includes tips for employers regarding independent contractors, a 2011 tax break that could help your employees save more for retirement and a delay in the new nondiscrimination rules established by health care reform.
  • January 2011 (pdf)
    The edition discusses health care reform compliance issues for 2010 and 2011, a new DOL regulatory agenda that businesses will need to comply with and the recent ruling by a Virginia court that a provision of health care reform is unconstitutional.