A Tip for Controlling Workers’ Compensation Costs


Off-site Transitional Duty Programs

A valuable tool for controlling workers’ compensation costs for an employer is the implementation of an effective transitional duty program. Without this piece, employers can struggle to manage workplace injuries, and workers’ compensation claims are more likely to spiral out of control. For this reason, many organizations have adopted transitional duty programs and created job task banks to allow for the accommodation of a variety of work restrictions.

But what if you don’t have work that falls within the prescribed work restrictions for an employee injured on the job? Many companies face unique challenges, such as limited transitional duty options, remote employees and language barriers. For situations like these, off-site transitional duty programs are a viable option, as they offer an injured employee meaningful work during their recovery period at off-site locations.

Many insurance carriers have a network of prequalified not-for-profit organizations and volunteer sites available to assist employers in offering meaningful work to injured employees when circumstances may not otherwise allow transitional duty within the workplace.

What are the benefits of off-site transitional duty?

  • Reduces or eliminates the number of lost workdays and helps the employee recover more quickly than if they would have been off of work.
  • Eliminates the financial disruption of the employee, as the employer pays their normal wages during the placement, resulting in no indemnity payment on the workers’ compensation claim.
  • Potentially lowers an employer’s experience modification factor by applying the experience rating adjustment on medical-only claims, resulting in a 70% reduction in the overall claim cost (for participating states).
  • Reduces legal risks, as studies have shown that employees actively engaged in return to work programs are much less likely to seek legal counsel.
  • Reduces deconditioning and assists employees in maintaining strength and endurance during their recovery period for a safer gradual return to regular job functions.
  • Provides possible tax incentives.

How To Implement

If, after meeting with supervisors and managers to identify adequate transitional tasks, there is a realization that there are limited options, consult with Morris & Reynolds Insurance. We can help you implement a comprehensive return to work program that will protect your bottom line, while still providing your employees with appropriate care.

We hope you found this article helpful and informative. Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any questions. We are always here to help.

OSHA Log Summaries due by February 1st , 2019

The deadline for posting the annual OSHA log Summary (the OSHA Form 300A) is February 1st, 2019. Below is a video reminding you to submit the form but more importantly inform your clients of it’s importance. Additionally the form must be posted in an area that is easily identified by employees, between February 1st and April 30th.

The below short video will help you comply with this OSHA requirement.

To view the video, click here.

We hope that you found this video helpful and informative, helping you stay on top of compliance.

Every 2019 Plan Limit You Need To Know About

IRS Announces Employee Benefit Plan Limits for 2019

OVERVIEW


Many employee benefits are subject to annual dollar limits that are periodically increased for inflation. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently announced cost-of-living adjustments to the annual dollar limits for various welfare and retirement plan limits for 2019. Although some of the limits will remain the same, many of the limits will increase for 2019.

The annual limits for the following commonly offered employee benefits will increase for 2019:

  1. High deductible health plans (HDHPs) and health savings accounts (HSAs);
  2.  Health flexible spending accounts (FSAs);
  3. Transportation fringe benefit plans; and
  4. 401(k) plans.

ACTION STEPS


Employers should update their benefit plan designs for the new limits and make sure that their plan administration will be consistent with the new limits in 2019. Employers may also want to communicate the new benefit plan limits to employees.


HSA Contribution Limit

Limit 2018 2019 Change
Self-only HDHP coverage $3,450 $3,500 Up $50
Family HDHP coverage $6,900 $7,000 Up $100
Catch-up contributions* $1,000 $1,000 No change

*Not adjusted for inflation

HDHP Limits
Limit 2018 2019 Change
Minimum deductible Self-only coverage $1,350 $1,350 No change
Family coverage $2,700 $2,700 No change
Maximum out-of-pocket Self-only coverage $6,650 $6,750 Up $100
Family coverage $13,300 $13,500 Up $200

FSA Benefits

FSA Limits
Limit 2018 2019 Change
Health FSA (limit on employees’ pre-tax contributions) $2,650 $2,700 Up $50
Dependent care FSA (tax exclusion)* $5,000 ($2,500 if married and filing taxes separately) $5,000 ($2,500 if married and filing taxes separately) No change

*Not adjusted for inflation


Transportation Fringe Benefits

Transportation Benefits
Limit (monthly limits) 2018 2019 Change
Transit pass and vanpooling (combined) $260 $265 Up $5
Parking $260 $265 Up $5

Adoption Assistance Benefits

Adoption Benefits
Limit 2018 2019 Change
Tax exclusion (employer-provided assistance) $13,840 $14,080 Up $240

Qualified Small Employer HRA (QSEHRA)

QSEHRA
Limit 2018 2019 Change
Payments and Reimbursements Employee-only coverage $5,050 $5,150 Up $100
Family coverage $10,250 $10,450 Up $200

401(k) Contributions

401(k) Contributions
Limit 2018 2019 Change
Employee elective deferrals $18,500 $19,000 Up $500
Catch-up contributions $6,000 $6,000 No change

 

 

 

 

 

Republicans End Attempts To Repeal And Replace ACA

OVERVIEW

Following the midterm elections, Republicans in the U.S. Senate have indicated that they will no longer attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The midterms created a power split in Congress, with Democrats retaking control of the U.S. House of Representatives and Republicans retaining control of the Senate.

Many Democrats campaigned on health care issues, including retaining the ACA’s popular protection for individuals with pre-existing conditions. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) has recognized that the Democrat-controlled House will not support any proposals to repeal and replace the ACA. Instead, lawmakers have indicated that they may work together, on a bipartisan basis, to make small changes to improve the ACA.

Action Steps


A Democrat-controlled House will shield the ACA from repeal for at least the next two years. As a result, the ACA will remain current law and employers must continue to comply with all applicable ACA provisions.

Attempts to Repeal and Replace the ACA


President Donald Trump promised to immediately work to repeal and replace the ACA when he took office. Although Republicans controlled both the House and Senate, they narrowly failed to pass bills to repeal the ACA in 2017.

The Republicans’ efforts to repeal and replace the ACA came to an end on July 28, 2017, when members of the Senate voted 49-51 to reject a “skinny” version of a bill to repeal and replace the ACA.

Despite these failed attempts to repeal the ACA, Congress did roll back specific provisions of the ACA, such as the individual mandate, which requires individuals to obtain health insurance to avoid paying a penalty. Also, President Trump and his administration have used the regulatory process to change specific ACA rules, such as:

  1. Expanding the availability of short-term, limited-duration insurance, which is not subject to the ACA’s market reforms;
  2. Making it easier for small employers to join together to purchase health insurance as an association health plan; and
  3. Proposing to expand the options for health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), such as allowing HRAs to be used to pay for individual health insurance coverage.

Next Steps


Because the midterm elections shifted the balance of power in Congress, the ACA will remain current law and employers must continue to comply with all applicable ACA provisions. Employers should continue to monitor ACA developments because it is likely that the Trump administration will continue issuing regulations that change how the ACA is implemented. It is also possible that lawmakers may work together, on a bipartisan basis, to change specific ACA provisions that are unpopular with voters or negatively impacting the insurance market.

PCORI Fees in 2018: What You Need To Know

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) imposes a fee on health insurance issuers and self-insured plan sponsors in order to fund comparative effectiveness research. These fees are widely known as Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) fees.

On Nov. 5, 2018, The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published Notice 2018-85, which increased the PCORI fee amount for plan years ending on or after Oct. 1, 2018, and before, Oct. 1, 2019 (this is, 2018 for calendar year plans), to $2.45 multiplied by the average number of lives covered under the plan.

The PCORI fees do not apply for plan years ending on or after Oct. 1,2019. Therefore, for calendar year plans, the 2018 plan year is the last plan year that these fees will be effective.


ACTION STEPS

PCORI fee are reported and paid annually using IRS form 720 (Quarterly Federal Excise Tax Return). These fees are due each year by July 31 of the year following the last day of the plan year. This means that, for plan years ending in 2018, the PCORI fees are due by July 31, 2019. Covered employers should have reported and paid PCORI fees for 2017 by July 31, 2018.


Overview of PCORI Fees

The PCORI fees apply for plan years ending on or after Oct. 1, 2012, but do not apply for plan years ending on or after Oct. 1, 2019. For calendar year plans, the fees will be effective for the 2012 through 2018 plan years. Therefore, the 2018 plan year is the last plan year that these fees will be effective, for calendar year plans.

Issuers and plan sponsors must pay PCORI fees annually on IRS Form 720 by July 31 of each year. The fee will generally cover plan years that end during the preceding calendar year. For the 2018 plan year, PCORI fees are due by July 31, 2019.


PCORI Fee Amounts

The PCORI fees are calculated by multiplying an applicable rate for each tax year by the average number of lives covered under the plan. The applicable rate for each tax year is as follows:

  1. $1 for plan years ending before Oct. 1, 2013 (that is, 2012 for calendar year plans); and
  2. $2 for plan years ending on or after Oct. 1, 2013, and before Oct. 1, 2014.
  • For plan years ending on or after Oct. 1, 2014, the IRS published the adjusted PCORI fee amount each year, which is calculated based on the percentage increase in the projected per capita amount of the national health expenditures published by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) each year.
  1. On Sept. 18, 2014, IRS Notice 2014-56 adjusted the PCORI fee amount to $2.08 times the average number of covered lives for plan years ending on or after Oct. 1, 2014, and before Oct. 1, 2015.
  2. On Oct. 9, 2015, IRS Notice 2015-60 adjusted the PCORI fee amount to $2.17 times the average number of covered lives for plan years ending on or after Oct. 1, 2015, and before Oct. 1, 2016.
  3. On Nov. 4, 2016, IRS Notice 2016-64 adjusted the PCORI fee amount to $2.26 times the average number of covered lives for plan years ending on or after Oct. 1, 2016, and before Oct. 1, 2017.
  4. On Oct. 9, 2017, IRS Notice 2017-61 adjusted the PCORI fee amount to $2.39 times the average number of covered lives for plan years ending on or after Oct. 1, 2017, and before Oct. 1, 2018.

Under Notice 2018-85, the adjusted PCORI fee amount for plan years ending on or after Oct. 1. 2018, and before Oct. 1, 2019, is $2.45 multiplied by the average number of lives covered under the plan. This amount was calculated based on the percentage increase in the projected per capita amount of the national health expenditures, published by HHS on Feb. 14, 2018 (Table 3).