As Donald Trump takes the oath of office to become the 45th president, questions remain about what will replace the Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, the number of consumer-directed health plans and self-insured plans could continue to rise as the new plan is put into place. Speaker Paul Ryan’s own proposal to replace ACA is aimed at providing the insured individual with greater control over his or her healthcare. One cornerstone of this is an increase to HSAs.
With today’s release of the December inflation figures by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the inflation-adjusted amounts for HSAs for 2018 are coming into view. With only three months of data remaining to be collected, I can now project the HSA amounts for next year with virtual certainty. I am projecting that every HSA-related number will change for 2018 (except for the $1,000 catch-up contribution).
Provider Communication Rules Scrutinized in DOL Fiduciary FAQ
The Department of Labor released a second “Fiduciary Rule FAQ” document, adding another 20 or so pages to the thousands already published outlining the broad and narrow facets of the new conflict of interest standards to be applied under ERISA. The FAQ document focuses on both the new fiduciary rule and its related prohibited transaction exemptions slated to begin to take effect in just about 12 weeks.
Although a pattern seems to be emerging, consistent with typical judicial deference, there are other cases challenging the Labor Department's fiduciary rule pending. Appeals will undoubtedly follow, regardless of how the remaining courts come out, and we are not likely to have all of these resolved by the April 2017 effective date. However, the big question here is whether any court decisions upholding the rule will be nullified by actions of the new administration.
Brokers' New Tool to Get Benefits to Small Businesses
Benefits brokers who want to address the needs of small-business owners have a new option, courtesy of the Small Business Healthcare Relief Act which passed in the waning hours of the 114th Congress in December as a rider to the 21st Century Cures Act. The bill allows employers under the 50-life threshold of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate to offer standalone health reimbursement accounts.