Boon Buzz: Benefit News for Spring 2019

April showers bring May flowers, and the world of benefits is also in full bloom! Here’s your spring refresher on the latest regulations, data, and more! Read on to learn more:

1. DOL Increases Civil Penalty Amounts for 2019

In January 2019, the Department of Labor (DOL) increased the civil penalty amounts that may be imposed on employers. These increased amounts apply to civil penalties that are assessed after January 23, 2019.

These civil penalty amounts apply to employers that are under the following federal laws: The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).

2. BLS Data on Family Leave Available

Recently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released an economic report on civilian access to paid and unpaid family leave for 2018. In the report, leave to care for family members and maternity/paternity leave were included in the definition of family leave.

In March 2018, 16 percent of workers in the private sector and 17 percent of civilian workers had access to paid family leave. That percentage leaped to 25 percent in the public sector, among state and local government workers. Access to leave varied based on the size of the employer.

By and large, the majority of family leave access, in both the public and private sector, was unpaid.

3. HHS Proposes Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2020

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently published a proposed Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2020.

This proposal describes what the benefit and payment parameters would be applicable for the 2020 benefit year under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Standards included in the rule would relate to annual limitations on cost sharing, the individual mandate’s affordability exemption, and direct and special enrollment in exchanges. The goal of the HHS is to reduce eligibility errors and government misspending.

Among the proposed changes would be an increase to the out of pocket maximum and an increase to the ACA’s affordability exemption threshold. The proposed rule would also expand opportunities for individuals to directly enroll in Exchange coverage by enrolling through the websites of certain third parties.

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