Vanner Perspectives

A Sheep in Black Wolf’s Clothing: A Cautionary Tale

The U.S. Department of Labor has taken a series of legal actions against a multiple employer welfare associations (MEWA) plan operated by Black Wolf Consulting. The actions were taken by the DOL against this plan (the AEU Holdings LLC Employee Benefits Plan) include freezing bank accounts, replacing the plan fiduciaries, and issuing an order to [...]

By | November 26th, 2017|Categories: Employee Benefits, Vanner Perspectives|Tags: , , , |

IRS Prepares to Levy 2015 ACA Penalties

The Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) remains on the books. And, in a significant new development, the IRS is poised to begin levying penalties on employers, under the ACA’s employer mandate, for 2015. These penalties may be significant and it we cannot anticipate any “relief” reaching back to 2015.

Tax Cut and Jobs Act: A Benefits Perspective

The proposed Tax Cut and Jobs Act (“TCJA”) has generated a number of big stories with big numbers, such as $1.5 trillion to lower individual tax rates and $1.5 trillion to lower corporate tax rates. But, also lurking in the 430-page draft, are many important “smaller” provisions that will affect the HR world.

By | November 3rd, 2017|Categories: Vanner Benefits, Vanner Perspectives|Tags: , , , , |

Healthcare Wars: Employers Caught in the Middle

As the political battles – and stalemate - over the Affordable Care Act continues, employers may find themselves with the worst of all worlds. The portions of the ACA that create the greatest burdens on employers, such as the mandates, taxes and administrative obligations under the ACA stay, in place. At the same time, uncertainty in the individual markets creates blowback that hurts employers in a number of ways.

By | October 4th, 2017|Categories: Vanner Perspectives|Tags: , , , , |

Do What You Say You Are Going to Do

Two recent cases illustrate the risks of allowing plan practices to diverge from plan documents. In one case, Acosta v. Macy’s, the Department of Labor has brought a lawsuit against Macy’s department store for (among other things) changing the payment methodology for calculating out-of-network claims without appropriately modifying the Macy’s plan document. In the other case, Erwood v. Life Ins. Company of North America, an administrator’s failure to follow documented plan procedures triggered a $750,000 judgment. Both of these cases highlight how easy it is to overlook the fundamental ERISA responsibility of ensuring that plan administration syncs up with the plan documentation. And, both of these cases highlight the risks posed by such failure.

By | September 18th, 2017|Categories: Vanner Perspectives|Tags: , , , |

The Down-streaming of Health Care

In addition to the opportunities for policymakers to actually reduce rather than merely shift health care costs noted in  Don’t Confuse Cost Shifting with Cost Savings  (such as bundled payments for certain episodes of care and value-based payments for prescription drugs), there is a larger trend that also promises to reduce health care costs. However, be forewarned – [...]

By | September 9th, 2017|Categories: Vanner Perspectives|Tags: , , , |

Large Numbers, Risk Pooling and Adverse Selection

As legislators continue to repeal and replace the ACA, they look for new ways to separate portions the insurance markets into different segments. Some efforts counter actuarial and insurance principles: segmenting the risk pool increases volatility and that creation of different risk pools based on health status and effect premiums

Don’t Confuse Cost Shifting with Cost Savings

As the debate in Washington rages on over the efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) there is a fundamental truth that is being ignored: there are no provisions of the current ACA replacement bills - either from the House (the American Health Care Act, or AHCA) or the Senate (the Better [...]

Medicare and Your Employer Health Coverage: Too Much of a Good Thing?

More Americans are working past 65 and continue to have employer-sponsored health insurance. However, the intersection of Medicare and employer coverage has a number of traps for the unwary and some of these traps come with real financial consequences. This makes it more important than ever that you (and your employer) understand the complex rules [...]

By | August 4th, 2017|Categories: Vanner Perspectives|Tags: , , , , |

Senate Releases Health Care Bill

On June 22, the Senate Republicans released the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 (“BCRA”), their version of a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The bill repeals some provisions of the ACA. However, in many instances the bill retains the ACA framework, but dramatically reshapes provisions of the ACA. Here are [...]