Training in Cleveland: Federal Benefits for Veterans

Join Cornerstone and the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Administrative Officer, Connie Duensing, for a training event in Cleveland to learn about the VA Healthcare System!

Register today to attend an overview of the VA Healthcare System to better serve your clients.

 

Topics will include:

  • Enrollment and eligibility
  • VA & other health insurance — ACA/Medicare
  • VA Health Benefits Programs

 

 

DATE: July 18, 2017

TIME: 10:00 am–12:00 pm

LOCATION: Cornerstone’s Cleveland Office

4500 Rockside Road, Suite 330 | Independence, OH 44131

RSVP today! Click here.

 

Are you interested in attending Cornerstone’s 2017 Senior Expo? Click here to register!

Three Republican Senators to Vote to Block Health Care Bill

Republican senators Susan Collins (ME), Rand Paul (KY), and Dean Heller (NV) have made the decision to vote against a key procedural step in Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s plan to repeal Obamacare.

After the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicted that the proposed healthcare bill would leave nearly 22 million people without health insurance in 2026, many Republican leaders have been questioning the advantages of pushing the bill forward. Collins said that the CBO analysis showed the bill “doesn’t fix” Obamacare’s problems.

With at least six Republican senators actively against the current plan, the bill does not seem to have the votes to pass this week.

RESOURCES

Three GOP senators oppose health bill, enough to block it

Senate Health Bill in Peril as C.B.O. Predicts 22 Million More Uninsured

Medical Mutual Suit Against FrontPath Health Coalition

Medical Mutual released a special broker update today, stating that they have filed a lawsuit against FrontPath Health Coalition, a competitor, which they believe has violated Ohio ethics laws. Medical Mutual believes that these violations have kept them from winning government business in Northwest, Ohio. Due to discovered evidence of conflict of interest, Medical Mutual is asking that Ohio ethics be enforced and that FrontPath’s contracts be deemed illegal.

RESOURCES

Medical Mutual Brings Suit against FrontPath Health Coalition 

The EEO-1 Reporting Requirements Are Changing

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is looking for race, gender, ethnicity, hour and wage disparities in the workplace. If they find them it could result in huge fines. In an effort to fight inequity in the workplace, the EEOC has updated the EEO-1 Reporting Requirements.

This year, the document has been expanded from two pages to eight pages and information will be collected from both the employer and the employee (In the past it was solely collected from the employer). Employers will report on wages using W2 information, while Employees will have to self-report their gender and ethnicity to make sure that information is as accurate as possible.

With an understanding that this new document might pose an influx of questions, the reporting deadline has now been moved from September 30, 2017 to March 31, 2018.

Humana Will Not Return to the Individual Market in 2018

Humana Inc. will not make a return to the individual market in 2018—but not because of possible healthcare reform. The company’s CEO, Bruce D. Broussard, is quoted as saying, “This is just not a business that we will be good at,” noting that the company specializes in managing Medicare Advantage healthcare for seniors and individuals with disabilities.

“No matter what they do in Washington, we are not going to go back in. And we’ve had a lot of people ask us from Washington D.C. if we would go back in and we’ve said no, it’s not there,” he said.

Broussard also noted that for Humana to return to the market, it would be doing so under the expectation that the Justice Department would use the same parameters that it did under the Obama administration.

RESOURCES

Humana out of individual market, with or without Obamacare repeal

GOP Proposed Healthcare Bill May Be Favorable for HSAs

A report by HSA Bank indicates that the American Health Care Act proposed by the GOP will have a favorable impact on Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and consumer-directed health care. According to a speaker session at the America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) Institute and Expo in Austin, Texas, the AHCA may broaden the availability of HSAs to more Americans. HSA Bank executives discussed a number of options for continued enhancements of the current HSA structure, including:

  1. Raises HSA contribution limits to the high-deductible health plan (HDHP) out-of-pocket maximum.
  2. Repeals the ACA contribution limit on flexible spending accounts (FSAs) (currently $2,600 for 2017)
  3. Allows spouses to make catch-up contributions to the same HSA
  4. Repeals the prescription requirement for over-the-counter medications as qualified medical expense distributions from HSAs, FSAs, and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs)
  5. Lowers the penalty for non-qualified HSA distributions made prior to age 65 from 20 percent to 10 percent
  6. Allows for qualified distributions to reimburse medical expenses incurred within 60 days of HDHP coverage but before HSA account is established

RESOURCES

6 favorable changes to HSAs under GOP health bill

HSA Bank Educates the Healthcare Industry on AHCA and the Potential Expansion of HSAs to More Americans

CMS Releases County by Country Analysis of Projected Insurer Participation in Health Insurance Exchanges

In an county-level map of 2018 projected Health Insurance Exchanges participation released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Ohio is among the three states with counties that have 0 carriers on the exchange. The map reveals that insurance options across the country that are on the Exchange are continuing to disappear.

“CMS is working with state departments of insurance and issuers to find ways to provide relief and help restore access to healthcare plans, but our actions are by no means a long-term solution to the problems we’re seeing with the Insurance Exchanges,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma in a press release.

CMS will continue to work with state departments of insurers and issuers to address counties with few or no carriers to provide Americans with access to coverage.

 

Questions? Concerns? Contact your Cornerstone representative today.

 

RESOURCES

County by County Analysis of Current Projected Insurer Participation in Health Insurance Exchanges

County-level map of 2018 projected Health Insurance Exchanges participation based on the known issuer participation public announcements through June 9, 2017

Looking Ahead: Anthem Reducing Individual Health Plan Offerings in 2018

A press release by Anthem confirms that in 2018, the company will no longer offer ACA compliant Individual health plans through the exchange and will reduce off-exchange plan offerings in Ohio. Health benefits for those members will end December 31, 2017. The only off-exchange plan that will still be offered will be Catastrophic health plan in Pike County only. Members will receive more detailed communications soon.

Members who receive their health insurance benefits through an employer, members on Grandfathered and Grandmothered Individual plans, and Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplemental plans will not be impacted by this decision. Likewise, Anthem’s plan offerings for dental, vision, and life benefits will not change.

Questions? Contact your Cornerstone representative today.

RESOURCES

Anthem is Reducing its Individual Health Plan Offerings for 2018

WEBINAR: CMS Informational 2017 Market Stabilization Final Rule

JoinResponsive design mockup for online webdesign. On table top with different office items the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for an informational webinar regarding the 2017 Market Stabilization Final Rule, which will cover the policies associated with the final rule including:

  • guaranteed availability
  • Open Enrollment Period (OEP)
  • Special Enrollment Periods (SEP)
  • levels of coverage
  • network adequacy
  • essential community providers.

 

DATE: Thursday, June 15, 2017

TIME: 12:00 pm–1:00 pm EST

RSVP: Click here to register.

2018 ACA Employer Shared Responsibility Affordability Percentage

The IRS recently announced the 2018 contribution percentages used to determine whether the coverage offered by an employer is affordable. Premium tax credit eligibility, and potential employer penalties, hinge on whether or not employer coverage is affordable.

For 2018, the premium tax credit affordability threshold will be 9.56 percent of household income. This percentage also applies to the employer shared responsibility safe harbors. This means that for 2018, employer-sponsored coverage will be deemed affordable if the required employee contribution for the lowest cost self-only coverage does not exceed 9.56 percent of the safe harbor amount. This is a decrease from the 2017 threshold of 9.69 percent.

For employers relying on the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) safe harbor, the following chart illustrates the impact this reduction has on the maximum permissible employee monthly contribution:

Calendar Year Prior Year FPL Affordability % Maximum Monthly Contribution
2018 $12,060 9.56 $96.08
2017 $11,880 9.69 $95.93
2016 $11,770 9.66 $94.75

But with all of the talk of “repeal and replace,” who cares? Brokers and employers who remain focused on strategy.

While the industry anxiously waits to see what changes may be in store for health care reform, the ACA remains the law of the land. For many, pay or play decisions regarding ACA compliance has long been about strategy. While the change is relatively small for 2018 from 2017, employers that have not revisited their contribution strategy for a couple years may be able to increase the required employee contribution and still use a safe harbor. Brokers must continue to be a resource for strategic planning during unpredictable times.

 

For more information, contact us today.