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Health care


IRS contacting small businesses about health care tax credit

The IRS is mailing postcards to more than 4 million small businesses and tax-exempt organizations to make them aware of the benefits of the new small business health care tax credit.

How the health care bill will impact individuals, businesses

The new health reform bill was signed by President Obama Tuesday. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the health care overhaul will cost $940 billion over 10 years, and will cover 32 million uninsured individuals.

COBRA premium subsidy temporarily extended again

On March 2, 2010, President Obama signed the Temporary Extension Act of 2010 (the “TEA”) extending the COBRA premium subsidy eligibility period for an additional month, through March 31, 2010.

Congress extends COBRA subsidy

The COBRA subsidy, which was initially a provision of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), was extended in the Department of Defense Appropriations bill, which was signed by President Obama on December 21.

Weigh tax-favored health plans for clients

As the debate over health care reform continues, there’s no reason why your clients can’t take matters into their own hands.

Brouhaha erupts over PwC private health insurance report

PwC has found itself at the center of a controversy over its estimates of cost increases in insurance premiums if heath care reform becomes law.

Overweight workers face bias in hiring

Bias toward overweight workers is especially strong in hiring, according to recent studies.

Tax options in health care reform debate

Funding health care reform, which will probably carry a $1 trillion price tag, will involve both cost saving measures and tax increases.

Congress may require small businesses to play or pay for health insurance for employees

At this point in the health care reform debate, both the House and the Senate have put forth proposals for a "play or pay" mandate for employers to provide health insurance...

DOL clarifies stimulus bill’s COBRA rules and issues model notices

The Department of Labor (DOL) has published model notices of temporary premium reductions in COBRA payments mandated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) (the stimulus bill), that employers are required to send to employees whose loss of coverage occurred between September 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009. Eligible individuals should receive a notice by April 18 informing them of this opportunity. The stimulus package reduces the premium for COBRA coverage for eligible individuals to 35 percent of the full COBRA premiums for up to nine months.

IRS releases information to help employers claim COBRA coverage credit

The Internal Revenue Service has released detailed information that will help employers claim credit for the COBRA medical premiums they pay for their former employees.The IRS unveiled new information on the IRS Web site that includes an extensive set of questions and answers for employers.

Long term care insurance purchases on the rise

Some 400,000 individuals purchased long-term care insurance protection in 2008 according to a just-released report. The overwhelming majority (84%) of individual buyers in 2008 were younger than age 65 and three-fourths (76%) selected a more affordable approach to this protection by opting for coverage for a specific number of years.The annual study conducted by the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, the industry's professional trade organization, analyzed data on 215,000 buyers of individual long-term care insurance protection.

America's retirees working to protect health care benefits they earned

Retirees and baby boomers throughout the nation are wondering with great trepidation, what would happen to them if their health care coverage were simply taken away? Many fear that the current economic crisis in America will speed up that process. It has already occurred with retirees of some of America's largest corporations, and municipalities are threatening to follow suit. According to Paul Miller, executive director of the national retiree advocacy group, ProtectSeniors.Org, the situation is as dire as the bailout was for the auto industry, Wall Street, and America's major banks.
Workplace Fitness

Employers find wellness programs can cut overall health care costs

As employers nationwide struggle with rising health care costs, many have implemented a variety of cost saving initiatives. A recent health care survey found the majority of public sector employers are working to control costs by implementing disease management and wellness programs, instead of introducing consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs).Over half of the public employers who responded to the survey indicate they have implemented a disease management (69%) or a wellness program (65%). A much smaller percentage, only 17%, have a consumer-driven health plan in place.

Family and Medical Leave Act rules change for 2009

Liberty Mutual has created a Web site to provide a single source of information for employee benefit brokers and employers struggling to understand and comply with recent significant rule changes governing federal and state family medical leave.The Liberty Mutual Web site provides key information on two new regulations that dramatically change how employers manage family medical leave. The first is the Family and Medical Leave Act Final Rule, which became effective on January 16, 2009.

SMBs losing confidence in Social Security, seek more control of retirement plans

When it comes to Social Security, two-thirds of small business owners in this country want the opportunity to manage their own accounts, according to a new survey conducted by Harris Interactive and commissioned by ING DIRECT's ShareBuilder 401k.The new survey, completed by more than 500 small business owners across the U.S., reveals that: 

Presidential candidates present positions on key health care issues

The Kaiser Family Foundation has added two new resources on its Web site detailing presidential candidates Sen. John McCain's and Sen.

Treasury releases guidance helping soldiers keep health FSAs funds

The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service have issued Notice 2008-82, which protects reservists from losing funds in their health Flexible Spending Arrangement (health FSA) accounts after being called to active duty. The Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2008, enacted June 17, 2008, provided a special rule allowing "qualified reservist distributions" (QRDs) of unused amounts in a health FSA to reservists called to active duty.

Universal health care program approved in San Francisco

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week ruled that San Francisco's universal health care program, Healthy San Francisco, can continue because it does not violate federal regulation of employee benefit plans, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The ruling overturned a lower court decision that the Healthy San Francisco plan placed requirements on employers in violation of federal law.Healthy San Francisco was approved in 2006 to provide access to health care services at city clinics and public hospitals for the city's uninsured residents.

Medical benefits top retirement as costliest employee benefit

Medically related benefits accounted for the largest share of employer benefit costs at 12.1 percent and retirement benefits followed by 10.4 percent, according to the 2007 Employee Benefits Study recently released by the United States Chamber of Commerce. Payments for vacation, holidays, and other paid time off resulted in 9.8 percent of employer benefit costs. "Research shows that many employees consider benefits as important as salary," said Randel Johnson, Chamber's vice president for Labor, Immigration & Employee Benefits.


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