Home » Business Division » Employee Benefits » News and Events
News and Events
Benefits Buzz – August 2018 - August 2018
Association Health Plans Expansion
Department of Labor (DOL) recently released a final rule that gives small
businesses more freedom to join as a single group to purchase health insurance
in the large group market or to self-insure. These arrangements are called
association health plans (AHPs).
forming AHPs, small employers can avoid certain Affordable Care Act (ACA)
reforms that apply to the small group market. According to the DOL, this will
provide small employers with more affordable health insurance options.
in exchange for lower premiums, AHPs may cover fewer benefits. Most AHPs will
not be subject to the ACA’s essential health benefits reform, which requires
that small group plans cover a core set of items and services, like mental
health care and newborn care.
Small employers may want to
consider banding together to form an AHP as a more affordable health insurance
option. Employers should carefully review the AHP’s benefit design to make sure
it is appropriate for their workforce. Because AHPs are regulated at the
federal and state level, the availability of these plans will also depend on a
state’s regulatory approach.
The final rule allows employers to form an AHP together
that is a single ERISA plan if either of the following requirements is satisfied:
- The employers are in
the same trade, industry, line of business or profession; or
employers have a principal place of business within a region that does not
exceed boundaries of the same state or the same metropolitan area.
announced it will be purchasing the online pharmacy PillPack. The deal is
expected to close before the end of the year.
PillPack, an online pharmacy startup that earned more than $100 million in
revenue last year, Amazon is now able to enter the prescription market.
large mergers, like CVS-Aetna, indicate that industry giants are already trying
to lower health care costs. Amazon’s latest acquisition will likely pressure
the industry to continue that trend.
tuned for more developments as new details emerge in the coming months.
Critical HIPAA Compliance Gaps Exposed by HHS
Over the last couple
of years, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) conducted “desk
audits” of 166 covered entities and 41 business associates.
These audits focused on select HIPAA privacy, security and
breach notification requirements. HHS has not released its official findings
from the audits yet, but it has identified serious compliance gaps in the
- Security risk analysis
- Security risk management
- Right of access to protected health
that sponsor group health plans should periodically review their compliance
with HIPAA rules, including whether their security analysis and risk management
for electronic PHI is up to date. Employers should also watch for more guidance
from HHS on these compliance requirements.