The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released the maximum Health Savings Account (HSA) contribution amounts for 2012. Under IRS Revenue Procedure 2011-32, the maximum contribution will increase as follows:
- Single Coverage $3,050 $3,100
- Family Coverage $6,150 $6,250
Maximum out-of-pocket expense, including deductibles will also increase for 2012 as indicated blow:
- Single Coverage $5,950 $6,050
- Family Coverage $11,900 $12,100
HSA’s must be linked with a high-deductible health insurance plan. According to America’s Health Insurance Plans, about 10 million people were enrolled in this type of insurance plan, which was a 25% increase of 2009. Enrollment figures for 2011 are expected to be released soon.
The recently enacted Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as healthcare reform is a complicated piece of legislation with many parts.
One part, that hasn’t gotten a lot of press, is the Community Living Assistance Services and Support (CLASS) Act.
CLASS creates a national voluntary long term care insurance program. The program is set to begin in 2011. The Department of Health and Human Services still needs to develop guidelines, so we don’t know much about it. However, employers should begin to think about whether they’ll participate in the program and stay tuned as facts become available. The program is to be fully funded by employees and benefits will be available to employees after they have paid premiums for at least 60 months.
CLASS provides small supplementary benefits for in home care, and is not enough to pay for assisted living facilities or nursing homes.
The U.S. government gave thousands of unemployed workers an early Christmas gift when the Senate, in a rare session Saturday, December 19, approved a military spending bill that would extend federal COBRA health insurance premium subsidies for the unemployed.
H.R. 3326, which the House approved this week, cleared the Senate on an 88-10 vote. President Barack Obama signed the bill Monday, December 21. The bill would extend the nine-month, 65 percent premium federal subsidy by six months. The change would apply to those who are involuntarily terminated through February 28, 2010.
Under current law, employees who lose their jobs after December 31 are ineligible for the subsidy. The legislation also would provide another six months of subsidized coverage for beneficiaries whose nine-month COBRA premium subsidy has run out. In addition, the legislation would give beneficiaries whose subsidy expired and who didn’t pay the full premium the opportunity to receive retroactive coverage. For example, a beneficiary whose nine months of subsidized coverage ran out November 30 and who didn’t pay the unsubsidized premium for December could pay his or her 35 percent share in January and receive COBRA coverage for December.
The legislation would require employers to notify current and future COBRA beneficiaries of the new 15-month premium subsidy.
The fate of the legislation has been followed closely by terminated workers—eager to know whether the subsidy will be extended—as well as employers who need to tell beneficiaries the COBRA premium they should pay.
The legislation makes clear that employers can offset future COBRA premiums or issue refund checks for beneficiaries who overpaid their COBRA premium. That could happen if a beneficiary whose subsidy ran out in November paid the full premium rather than the 35 percent share in December.
Source: workforce.com, Jerry Geisel
p.s. Yes I know today is not Friday . . . because Christmas Day is on Friday I am posting this a bit early. Merry Christmas! PH
For each of the last 7 years, MetLife has conducted a huge employee benefits trends study, and data from 2008, including responses from over 1,500 benefits decision makers and 1,300 employees, have just been released. The global company, which provides insurance, employee benefits, and financial services, stressed wellness programs in its report on the study results.
Financial and physical health intertwined. Some of the statistics offered are surprising and disturbing:
- 59% of people who assess their medical health as fair or poor say they live paycheck to paycheck, compared to 34% of people in very good or excellent health.
- 70% of people who rate their health as fair or poor are very concerned about making ends meet, compared to 52% of people whose health is very good or excellent.
- 76% of people who see their health as fair or poor are very concerned about affording health care in retirement, compared to 57% of those in very good or excellent health.
Interestingly, however, the employees who assess their health as fair or poor have healthcare coverage through their employers at nearly the same rate as those who say their health is very good or excellent. So the connection between poor health and tight finances is in no way limited to people without healthcare insurance.
How well are wellness programs? Given that 94% of surveyed employers agree that wellness programs can be at least somewhat effective in reducing medical costs, MetLife researchers expressed some disappointment that the number of employers offering such programs is growing so slowly. Only one-third (33%) of respondents offered wellness programs in late 2008, up from about one-fourth (27%) in late 2005. And, even among organizations employing more than 500 people, the portion offering such programs is only 57%, up from 46% in 2005.
The MetLife study showed that nearly half of employees participate in programs offered by their employers. But here’s the payoff: They don’t do so primarily to earn incentives or avoid penalties but simply to maintain good health. The older they are, the more likely they value the health benefits, while incentives are more important to the youngest workers.
Source: HR.BLR.com (12/10/2009)
A sign of the troubled times is that most new HR related survey data tends to fall on the negative side. Here is the latest case in point and it is sobering news indeed for employees of small businesses who currently have the option of enrolling in an employer provided health benefit plan.
Nineteen percent of employers responding to a new Hewitt Associates survey are planning to stop offering health benefits over the next three to five years, nearly five times as many as the 4 percent that said they were planning an exit strategy last year.
For those employers planning to continue to provide health benefits, keeping employees healthy has become the primary workforce issue in 2009, up from the number 2 position in 2008, according to Lincolnshire, Illinois-based Hewitt’s survey, “The Road Ahead: Emerging Health Trends 2009.”