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HHS Increases Civil Penalties for HIPAA Violations

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently published a final rule increasing the civil monetary penalties for violations of laws enforced by HHS, including the HIPAA privacy and security rules. HHS is required to adjust these penalties for inflation each year to improve their effectiveness and maintain their deterrent effect. The new penalty amounts are effective for penalties assessed on or after Jan. 17, 2020. 2020 HIPAA Civil Penalties HHS may assess civil penalties when it discovers a HIPAA violation. The penalty amount depends on the facts involved. For violations where the covered entity does not know about the violation (and...

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Cadillac Tax and Other Key ACA Taxes Repealed

The federal spending bill signed into law at the end of 2019 repealed three taxes and fees under the Affordable Care Act (ACA): The Cadillac tax The medical devices excise tax The health insurance providers fee The Cadillac Tax The Cadillac tax is a 40% excise tax on high-cost group health coverage. Its effective date was previously delayed several times. This tax is now fully repealed, beginning with the 2020 tax year. The Medical Devices Excise Tax The medical devices tax is a 2.3% excise tax on the sales price of certain medical devices. This tax is fully repealed beginning in 2020. Health Insurance Providers...

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PCORI Fees Extended for 10 Years

The same spending bill that repealed the Cadillac tax, the medical devices excise tax and the health insurance providers fee reinstated the annual Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) fees for the 2020-2029 fiscal years. As a result, specified health insurance policies and applicable self-insured health plans must continue to pay these fees through 2029. What Are the PCORI Fees? The PCORI fees were created to help patients, clinicians, payers and the public make informed health decisions by advancing comparative effectiveness research. Fees paid by health insurance issuers and sponsors of self-insured health plans fund the institute’s research, in part. Who Must Pay the PCORI...

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Section 6056 Employer Reporting Guide

Section 6056 reporting is the required reporting to the IRS of information relating to offers of health insurance coverage by employers that sponsor group health plans. A statement disclosing information about the offer of coverage must also be furnished to full-time employees. This guide is intended to provide information for employers on the Internal Revenue Code (Code) Section 6056 reporting requirements. Topics covered in this guide include: Applicable large employers (ALEs) that are responsible for reporting under Section 6056 The forms that are used to accomplish the Section 6056 reporting The information an ALE must provide to its full-time employees and...

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Background Information Regarding Section 6056

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) created reporting requirements under Code Sections 6055 and 6056. Under these rules, certain employers must provide information to the IRS about the health plan coverage they offer (or do not offer) or provide to their employees. Each reporting entity must annually file all of the following with the IRS: A separate statement (Form 1095-B or Form 1095-C) for each individual who is provided with minimum essential coverage (for providers reporting under Section 6055), or for each full-time employee (for ALEs reporting under Section 6056); and A transmittal form (Form 1094-B or Form 1094-C) for all...

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Wellness 101 – What is a Company Wellness Program?

A wellness program is an organized program intended to assist employees and family members in making voluntary behavior changes that reduce their health risks and enhance their individual productivity. Wellness programs vary widely in design and may offer opportunities or incentives for improving health and wellness, such as increasing fitness, losing weight, managing chronic health conditions or quitting smoking. Why Offer a Wellness Program? Investing in a wellness program may save money over time by reducing health care costs. Plan sponsors will have to determine whether the value expected to be derived from offering a wellness program is worth the cost. Depending...

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Workplace Wellness: Healthy Food Options

Most full-time employees eat at least one or two meals at work each workday. Not only are a significant number of meals eaten in the workplace, but work is also where employees are most susceptible to distracted or stress-related eating. As an employer, you can help your employees make healthy meal and snack choices. Good nutrition is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, and healthier employees can mean increased productivity, fewer sick days and fewer on-the-job accidents. Health care costs associated with poor diets account for roughly $200 billion each year in lost productivity and medical expenses. Serving unhealthy food...

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Workplace Wellness: Stress Management

Initiatives for Stress Management Stress is a leading contributor to many health problems, and the workplace can often be a major source of stress. Lowering stress can lower the risk of medical conditions and can help employees feel better on a day-to-day basis. You can implement various activities to help reduce employee stress, which can improve health and morale—and productivity. Managing Workplace Stress As an employer, you can take several steps to ensure that the workplace is not contributing unduly to employees’ stress levels. Make sure that workloads are appropriate. Have managers meet regularly with employees to facilitate communication. Address negative and illegal...

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Health Savings Accounts: Features Your Employees Will Thank You For

For the majority of future retirees, medical expenses pose significant risk to any retirement plan, and they are only projected to rise. Medical cost estimates for couples throughout their full retirement, assuming both partners are 65, has increased $15,000 from 2016 to 2017, bringing total projections to $275,000, after Medicare coverage. Even for professionals with 401k balance projections at their target retirement age over $1 million dollars, this figure is daunting. At the same time, employers seek cost-effective strategies to enhance their benefits offerings.  While the ever-coveted employer 401k match may seem like the most direct way for employers to help...

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HHS Increases Civil Penalties for HIPAA Violations

Privacy and Security Rule Violations Impacted by Rule On Jan. 17, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a final rule increasing the civil monetary penalties for violations of the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules. HHS is required to adjust these penalties for inflation each year. Effective Jan. 17, 2020, the following civil penalty amounts apply to violations of HIPAA’s Privacy and Security Rules: For each violation where the covered entity does not know about the violation (and by exercising reasonable diligence, would not have known about the violation) the penalty amount is between $119 and $59,522. If the...

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