BENEFITS | HR | COMPLIANCE
Generally, Employers know about basic COBRA administration requirements for Medical coverage. However, there is often oversight of less common plans subject to COBRA, causing Employers to fall into costly lawsuits, or be subject to hefty government penalties. One such plan is the “EAP” or Employee Assistance Program.
By understanding what an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) is, as well as how it should be handled in terms of COBRA administration, will help keep your company sponsored benefits on track.
What’s an EAP?
While Employee Assistance Programs vary from plan to plan, many provide support for serious issues employees may face such as mental health programs, health and caregiving, counseling, family services, and even financial services.
Why self-service options are here to stay, and why companies need them now more than ever.
It is no secret that the entire world was changed by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, and thereafter. Consequently, a new wave of modern work from home arrangements was born. Companies launched creative “backup plans” for continuing business during shut-downs and Stay-At-Home Orders. The world of employee benefits was no exception, as benefits professionals could no longer count on face-to-face interactions allowing the “in-person” benefits enrollment approach. Enter “self-service enrollment”. In this article we will cover why self-service enrollment has become a staple in the present employee benefits sector, and why it’s here to stay in the future of the ever-changing employee benefits landscape.
(Public Health Emergency Remains in Effect)
President Biden officially declared the end of the COVID-19 National Emergency on April 10, 2023. This came as a surprise to many, as his previous statement indicated the end of the National Emergency would occur May 11th, 2023. In this article, we discuss how Employers and Agents can prepare for the end of the COBRA/continuation coverage "outbreak period"...
The U.S. Department of Labor, HHS, and IRS have jointly released the following FAQ update on COBRA information to address the looming questions about President Biden's anticipated end to the National Emergency effective May 11, 2023. These FAQs will help Employers and health benefits professionals address important aspects of administration as changes to COBRA benefit timeframes and special enrollment timeframes are altered in coming months.
Extension of Certain Timeframes for Employee Benefit Plans subject to ERISA and the Code, Participants, and Beneficiaries Affected by the COVID-19 Outbreak
Many employers are aware of their obligations to provide new employees with certain notices, but often times even the seemingly straight-forward HR tasks become convoluted or overlooked. When it comes to COBRA compliance, the General Notice, which is also commonly referred to as the Initial Rights Notice, plays an important role in protecting both employers, and employees rights to continuation.
However, this simple yet informational notice is often mishandled, or completely forgotten which can lead to costly lawsuits, hefty fines, and overall stress for an HR team. In this article we look at a few simple ways CobraHelp can ensure that an adequate Initial Rights Notice is provided to employees and common pitfalls to avoid.
According to experts in employee health and wellness, people feel like they’re working harder, and accomplishing less since the COVID19 pandemic. Something for modern day workforce employers and employees to consider is that productivity is habit-based, and new habits are perhaps needed now more than ever in order to combat that looming sense of overwhelm.
Compliance Considerations for Employers When Offering Post-Employment Benefit Severance
With layoffs on the rise in a rapidly shifting economic landscape, many Employers discuss severance packages which often include health insurance subsidies. Subsidized health insurance premiums for COBRA continuation, or “Cobra-like” coverage, may seem straightforward, but require careful planning and must operate in compliance with Federal and State laws. In this article, we glance at some “hot tips” for the most commonly asked questions relating to COBRA premium subsidies.
Subsidizing COBRA Premiums As Part of Severance Package
While it is not required by law, employers may offer former employees subsidized premiums, covering all or a percentage of the monthly COBRA or continuation coverage premium rate. Subsidized premiums may be offered for specified time-periods, such as one month all the way up to the full eligibility time-period of a COBRA continuation qualified beneficiary (usually 18 months).
See Update from 04/13/2023
In 2021, the IRS and DOL released guidance about the National State of Emergency, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, on employer-qualified beneficiaries. Part of the emergency relief was the requirement for plans subject to ERISA or the Internal Revenue Code to disregard the “Outbreak Period” for typical COBRA employer beneficiaries' time-frames such as:
Keeping Up with COBRA in 2022
Is your HR Department, brokerage firm, or small business burned out on ARP COBRA extension compliance? Exhausted from the constant ARP (American Rescue Plan) compliance conundrum? In this post, we’ve broken down the ARP’s extensions of COBRA timelines to help simplify COBRA compliance in 2022.
With the recent release of IRS Notice 2021-31, Employers and benefits professionals are finally receiving more direct guidance on the complexities of the ARP COBRA Premium Subsidy of 2021.
Notice 2021-31 includes an overview of the premium subsidy, as well as 86 new Frequently Asked Questions and Answers on this trending benefits topic of the year.
The premium assistance COBRA subsidy of 2021 comes with a multitude of employer responsibility from notifications, to benefits changes, to subsidized COBRA premiums. Further, the subsidy for covered employers, brings new payroll tax reporting responsibilities, in order for employers to receive the Federal tax credit on COBRA continuation coverage premiums that are being subsidized for the six month period ending September 30, 2021.
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