Category Archives: Health Care

Understanding the Differences between HSAs and HRAs

Source: Frank Giancola, Employee Benefit Plan Review, Vol. 68 no. 5, November 2013
(subscription required)

In recent years, employers have been permitted by law to offer benefit plans that allow employees to be reimbursed for health care expenses from an account funded by tax advantaged contributions from the employer and employee. The two most common are Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs). HRAs are often offered along with health care plans with high deductibles, whereas HSAs are required by law to be offerend with them. … HSAs and HRAs are likely to be confused because both reimburse employees for medical expanses, are tax advantaged, and have similar acronyms. The following table highlights their features and prevalence so that HR professionals know the basic differences between the two and can better understand how they are used with high-deductible health care plans. …

EEOC’s Disabilities Guidance Updates Coincide with the APA’s Manual of Mental Disorders Update and the AMA’s Recognition of Obesity as a Disability – What Does This All Mean?

Source: Frank C. Morris, Jr. and Susan Gross Sholinsky, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 39 no. 3, Winter 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The authors of this article discuss recent changes to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s guidance on cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, and intellectual disabilities, explain the American Psychiatric Association’s update pertaining to mental disorders, and describe the American Medical Association’s recognition of obesity as a disability.

Employer Wellness Programs Financial Incentives Are Permitted Under the Law?

Source: Catherine Livingston and Rick Bergstrom, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 39 no. 3, Winter 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Employers who want to incorporate financial incentives into their wellness programs need to navigate a variety of federal and state laws barring discrimination that are implicated by wellness programs. Regulations recently issued by the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and the Treasury have clarified how some of these restrictions operate following enactment of the Affordable Care Act, but they leave unanswered significant questions regarding the application of other laws, such as the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. The authors of this article address these questions.

Expert Q&A on Employee Benefits After the US Supreme Court’s DOMA Ruling

Source: Howard D. Bye-Torre, Practical Law The Journal, Vol. 5 no. 8, October 2013
(subscription required)

An expert Q&A with Howard Bye-Torre of Stoel Rives LLP on the implications of the US Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor and subsequent guidance for employers who sponsor retirement and health plans for their employees and family members.

Navigators and In-Person Assisters: Resource Center

Source: Families USA, 2013

The new marketplaces are now open for consumers to begin applying for health insurance. This support center provides information about state enrollment assistance programs and resources to help provide consumers with the information they need to get enrolled. Consumers can use the “Find Local Help” tool to find out how to get enrollment assistance in their state. Apply to become a Champion for Coverage, if your organization is interested in joining more than 900 organizations nationwide to help Americans without affordable insurance learn how to get coverage through the marketplace. …

Medicaid Alternative Benefit Plans: What States Should Consider When Designing Coverage for the Expansion Population and the Role for Advocates

Source: Dee Mahan, Amy Traver, Families USA, Issue Brief, November 2013

Alternative Benefit Plans offer states a great deal of flexibility, as well as an opportunity to provide people in the expansion population with comprehensive coverage that meets their health care needs. This brief looks at the issues that states should consider as they design a benefit plan for people who will be newly eligible
for Medicaid. It also outlines opportunities where consumer advocates can engage in the process, both during the initial benefit design
and when making improvements to the plan….

Workplace Wellness Programs Study – Final Report

Source: Soeren Mattke, Hangsheng Liu, John Caloyeras, Christina Y. Huang, Kristin R. Van Busum, Dmitry Khodyakov, Victoria Shier, RAND, Research Reports, RR-254, 2013

From the abstract:
The report investigates the characteristics of workplace wellness programs, their prevalence, their impact on employee health and medical cost, facilitators of their success, and the role of incentives in such programs. The authors employ four data collection and analysis streams: a review of the scientific and trade literature, a national survey of employers, a longitudinal analysis of medical claims and wellness program data from a sample of employers, and five case studies of existing wellness programs in a diverse set of employers to gauge the effectiveness of wellness programs and employees’ and employers’ experiences.
See also:
The Skinny on Workplace Wellness Programs
Source: Soeren Mattke, Hangsheng Liu, John Caloyeras, Christina Y. Huang, Kristin R. Van Busum, Dmitry Khodyakov, Victoria Shier, RAND, Research Briefs, RB-9717, 2013