Articles

IRS Issues Proposed Rules on ACA Research Fees for Health Plans

The IRS has issued proposed rules addressing the comparative effectiveness research fees imposed by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on health insurance carriers and plan sponsors of self-insured health plans. The IRS is taking comments on the proposed rules for 90 days and is expected to issue final regulations shortly thereafter.

Background

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Record Retention for Health and Welfare Benefit Plans

Like the proverbial "stitch in time", the efficient filing of benefit plan records inevitably saves time, resources, and anguish otherwise spent searching for documents needed at a later date. Moreover, the law penalizes the failure to maintain certain records. This Issue Brief outlines key recordkeeping requirements for health and welfare plans under federal law, with a focus on plans subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). A recommended retention list is provided at the end. Retirement plan records are not addressed, and state laws may impose additional requirements.

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The State of the Surety Industry and You

For the most part, with a few notable exceptions, sureties have had a good run over the last few years. It is somewhat counterintuitive that surety results would be so positive during this very challenging economic period, but that can be understood chiefly by two things: surety results historically lag the general economy by 18 months or more and surety underwriters have been relatively disciplined.

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Taking Advantage of the Biggest Gift the IRS Ever Gave

On December 17th, 2010 the President signed into law the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Jobs Creation Act of 2010 which contained dramatic, yet temporary, changes to the federal transfer tax system (estate, gift and generation skipping taxes).

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Giving Key Employees a Reason to Stay

While there are many different ways a business can get started, one of the more common answers we hear goes something like this – “I was working for XYZ Company as a Vice President of something important, but there weren’t enough opportunities for growth. I had some ideas, came into some money and decided to break out on my own.” This is a double whammy for business owners – they’ve not only lost a key member of their team, but they now have an additional competitor to worry about.

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DOL and the Treasury Release FAQ Regarding Implementation of SBC Provisions

The Departments of Labor (DOL), Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Treasury (the Departments) have released Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding implementation of the summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The FAQ contains answers to 24 questions received by the Departments regarding implementation of the SBC rules.

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State Exchange Final Regulations Released

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released its final rule on state health insurance exchanges March 12th. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires states to be able to demonstrate that they can operate an exchange by January 1, 2013. Under the final rule, HHS may grant conditional approval to states that have made progress toward the implementation of an exchange by January 2013.

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State of the Insurance Marketplace

Considerations for Keeping Your Costs Down
Wind direction is changing! Property Casualty (P&C) insurance rates are beginning to trend upward. This trend, known as a ‘firming marketplace,’ began in the fourth quarter of 2011, and it is expected to gain momentum in 2012. After seven years of a downward trend in rates, and diminishing returns for insurance companies, the industry has begun to take steps to improve its financial performance.

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Health Plan Automatic Enrollment Rules Delayed

The Department of Labor (DOL) has issued Technical Release No. 2012-01 which, among other things, has further delayed the implementation of the automatic enrollment requirements contained in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). According to the release, the health plan automatic enrollment requirement will not be effective before 2014.

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Identity Theft: What you can do to keep your information private

“Every 79 seconds, a thief steals someone’s identity, opens accounts in the victim’s name and goes on a buying spree.”
– CBSnews.com

“Experts report that a victim can spend anywhere from six months to two years recovering from identify theft.”
– CNNfn.com

“More than 27 million Americans have been victims of identity theft in the last five years…To deal with problems, consumers reported nearly $5 billion in out-of-pocket expenses.
– The New York Times

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Homeowner’s Insurance Goes Green

Green is everywhere these days, from our cleaning products to the local car wash operation. The residential construction industry, with a renewed focus on energy efficiency and eco-friendly materials, is one of the leaders in green innovation. In response, several insurance companies now offer green options for homeowner’s insurance. Green coverages are designed to replace a home that is built to specific green certification levels or to upgrade a home to green status at the time of loss.

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Final Summary of Benefits and Coverage Regulations Released

The IRS, Department of Labor, and Health and Human Services (the agencies) have released final regulations regarding the Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) requirements contained in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The agencies had previously released proposed regulations in August 2011, which were scheduled to go into effect in March 2012. However, the agencies subsequently delayed the effective date until after the final regulations were released.

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