Online Health Exchange for Small Businesses Delayed

Online Health Exchange for Small Businesses Delayed Until November 2014

An HHS official confirmed today that the online health exchange for small businesses is being delayed until late 2014. The Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP Exchange, was developed to give small businesses a simpler and more efficient way to buy insurance coverage for their workers – and small businesses will still have the option to purchase coverage through the new marketplace but will not be able to do so online. Until November 2014, employers with fewer than 50 workers will need to work through a broker or agent to buy health plans for their employees.

With this new delay, small businesses will likely see little change in the way they purchase health insurance until 2015. They will, however, need to use the SHOP exchange if they want to access a health law tax credit available to employers with fewer than 25 employees. That tax credit first became available in 2010 regardless of where a company purchased coverage. Beginning in 2014, companies will need to buy through the marketplace to continue receiving that financial assistance, worth as much as 50 percent of their workers’ premiums.

This federal delay effects the 36 states where the federal government is running the health insurance exchange. It does not change the small business options in the 14 states and the District of Columbia that are running their own exchanges.

Quick Reference for IRS-Issued Notice Concerning FSAs

What has changed?
On October 31, 2013, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Notice 2013-71 providing that a cafeteria plan may allow up to $500 of a participant’s balance at the end of the plan year to be carried over into the next plan year and used for eligible medical expenses incurred during that next plan year.

Is the change mandatory?
The change announced in Notice 2013-71 is optional. Cafeteria plans are not required to permit this carryover.

What are the implications if my organization does decide to permit the $500 carry over?
This change does not affect the maximum amount that may be contributed by a participant to an FSA for a plan year and does not reduce the participant’s maximum FSA contribution for the next plan year. Therefore, a participant who carries over $500 from Year 1 to Year 2 and contributes $2,500 to his or her FSA for Year 2 could receive reimbursements for up to $3,000 of eligible medical expense during Year 2 from his or her FSA.

What does my organization need to do in order to make this change?
A plan may not offer a participant the option to carry over an unused amount and allow a grace period. In order for a participant to be able to carry over unused amounts, any grace periods must be removed from the existing plan and the plan must then be amended to permit a carryover.

Grace Periods:
Plan sponsors who currently offer a grace period will need to decide whether the grace period or the carryover option is a more desirable plan design. If the carry over option is more desirable, then the grace period provision must be removed prior to permitting carryovers.

Amendments to Existing Plans:
Plans are not required to adopt either the carryover option or a grace period option. However, if your organization wants to permit carryovers, the grace period must be removed (if present) from the existing plan and then the amendment allowing a participant to carry over up to $500 of unused amounts must be adopted on or before the last day of the plan year from which unused amounts are to be carried over. So, your plan needs to be formally amended by December 31, 2014, if the carryover option is being adopted for 2014 for a calendar year plan – or any time before the last day of the plan year that begins in 2014 to permit carryover of amounts from a plan year beginning in 2013.

CEO Paul J Burt to Serve as Panelist at Restore Illinois Summit

Paul J. Burt and Congressman Randy Hultgren to Participate in Session Evaluating PPACA

November 1, 2013 (Buffalo Grove, Illinois) – Paul J. Burt, CEO of WestLake Financial Group, Inc., along with Congressman Randy Hultgren of the 14th district of Illinois will participate in a session evaluating the implications of PPACA at the first annual Restore Illinois Summit. The summit, hosted by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, will include sessions across a myriad of topics – including social media, technology, and healthcare reform. The summit will take place at the Donald E. Stephens Rosemont Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois, on Saturday, November 2.

Paul J. Burt, an expert in technology and benefits administration, founded WestLake Financial Group, Inc. in 1991. A pioneer in the field of human resources outsourcing and benefits administration, Burt redefined the delivery of benefit information to employees through WestLake’s cutting edge technology and value-added services. Burt’s insightful leadership and ideas have propelled WestLake Financial Group to the top tier of benefit technology, consulting, fthird party administration and brokerage services for mid to large organizations nationwide. In 2004, Burt was inducted into the Chicago Area Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame, in recognition for his entrepreneurial achievements and lasting impact on Chicago’s business landscape.  Burt is the corporate chair of the 2014 American Heart Association’s Chicago Heart Ball.

WestLake Financial Group, Inc.

Recognized as a leader in benefits administration for over 24 years, WestLake Financial Group, Inc. delivers leading edge solutions and programs to human resources professionals. A pioneer in internet-based benefits solutions, WestLake Financial Group has saved clients between 20% to 40% of their combined HR administrative time. Through the introduction of Dependent Eligibility Verification Audits, Spousal Disincentive Administration, Tobacco User Disincentive Administration, and other innovative programs, WestLake Financial Group assists clients in reducing costs while maintaining superior quality. For more information on WestLake’s full spectrum of benefit administration services, visit westlakefinancialgroup.com.