Are PCOR Fees Plan Expenses?

Are PCOR Fees Plan Expenses?

QUESTION: Our company sponsors a calendar-year self-insured major medical plan subject to ERISA. Are we permitted to treat Patient-Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR) fees as plan expenses?

ANSWER: The DOL has indicated that PCOR fees generally are not permissible plan expenses under ERISA since they are imposed on the plan sponsor and not the plan. As background, PCOR fees, which are used to fund research on patient-centered outcomes, are payable annually by sponsors of self-insured plans (and insurers, but we focus here on plan sponsors) through plan years ending before October 1, 2029. By statute, the fee for a self-insured plan is to be paid by the “plan sponsor,” which in most cases means the employer or employee organization that established or maintains the plan.

This means that plan assets (e.g., trust assets or participant contributions) should not be used to pay PCOR fees since ERISA’s prohibited transaction rules prohibit plan assets from being used to offset employer obligations. However, multiemployer plan assets may be used to pay PCOR fees since the plan sponsor liable for a multiemployer plan’s fee is generally an independent joint board of trustees with no source of funding other than plan assets.

Source: Thomson Reuters

What do all these employee benefit acronyms stand for?

What do all these employee benefit acronyms stand for?

Everyone in the employee benefits field uses acronyms like COBRA, FSA, and CDHC. What do these and other employee benefit acronyms stand for? 

Here’s an explanatory list of common employee benefit acronyms used:

ACA – Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act 

AHP – Association Health Plan 

ASG – Affiliated Service Group 

ASO – Administrative-Services-Only 

ATIN – Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number 

BA – Business Associate 

CDHC – Consumer-Driven Health Care 

CE – Covered Entity 

COB – Coordination of Benefits 

COBRA – Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act 

COLA – Cost-of-Living Adjustment 

CONUS – Continental United States 

DCAP – Dependent Care Assistance Program 

DOL – Department of Labor 

EIN – Employer Identification Number 

EAP – Employee Assistance Plan 

EBHRA – Expected Benefit HRA 

EBSA – Employee Benefits Security Administration 

EEOC – Equal Employment Opportunity Commission 

EFAST2 – ERISA Filing Acceptance System II 

EOB – Explanation of Benefits 

EOI – Evidence of Insurability 

ePHI – Electronic Protected Health Information 

ERISA – Employee Retirement Income Security Act 

FICA – Federal Insurance Contributions Act 

FLSA – Federal Labor Standards Act 

FMLA – Family and Medical Leave Act 

FSA – Flexible Spending Amount 

FUTA – Federal Employment Tax Act 

GHP – Group Health Plan 

HCE – Highly Compensated Employee

HCP – Highly Compensated Participants 

HDHC – High Deductible Health Coverage 

HDHP – High Deductible Health Plan 

Health FSA – Health Flexible Spending Arrangement 

HHS – Department of Health and Human Services 

HIPPA – Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act 

HMO – Health Maintenance Organization 

HRA – Health Reimbursement Arrangement 

HSA – Health Savings Account 

ICHRA – Individual Coverage HRA 

IIAS – Inventory Information Approval System 

MCC – Merchant Category Code 

PBM – Pharmacy Benefit Manager 

PCOR Fees – Fees for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research 

PEO – Professional Employer Organization 

POP – Premium-Only Plan 

PPO Plan – Preferred Provider Organization Plan 

QB – Qualified Beneficiary 

QE – Qualifying Event 

QMCSO – Qualified Medical Child Support Order 

QSEHRA – Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangement 

R&C – Reasonable and Customary 

RRE – Responsible Reporting Identity 

SBC – Summary of Benefits and Coverage 

SMM – Summary of Material Modification 

SPD – Summary Plan Description 

TPA – Third Party Administrator 

UCR Rate – Usual, Customary, and Reasonable Rate 

VEBA – Voluntary Employees’ Beneficiary Association 

What do all these employee benefit acronyms stand for?

Proposed regulations aim to expand contraceptive access and eliminate moral exemption for coverage mandate

The Internal Revenue Service, Department of Labor, and U.S. Health and Human Services Department have issued proposed regulations that would provide an additional method for individuals to obtain no-cost contraceptive services if their health plan or insurer does not provide such services due to a religious exemption. Under final regulations issued in 2018, qualifying religious employers and other entities with sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions are exempt from the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage mandate, which generally requires coverage of contraceptive services without cost-sharing. Exempt entities may voluntarily engage in an accommodation process that allows plan participants to receive contraceptive services directly from a TPA or insurer without the employer’s involvement. In an FAQ issued in 2021, the agencies announced they were considering changes to the 2018 regulations “in light of recent litigation”. Here are highlights of the proposal: 

  • Individual Contraceptive Arrangement: Leaving in place the existing religious exemptions and accommodations, the agencies have proposed to add a new “individual contraceptive arrangement” through which individuals enrolled in plans or coverage sponsored or arranged by entities with religious objections could access no-cost contraceptive services without the involvement of their employer, group health plan, plan sponsor, or insurer. A provider or facility that furnishes contraceptive services in accordance with the individual contraceptive arrangement would be reimbursed through an arrangement with an Exchange insurer, which would request an Exchange user fee adjustment to cover the costs. 
  • Moral Exemption Rescinded: The proposed regulations would revoke the 2018 regulations’ moral exemption and accommodation. The agencies explain that “there have not been a large number of entities that have expressed a desire for an exemption based on a non-religious moral objection” and that there is no legal obligation (including under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act) to provide such an exemption. 

Source: Thomson Reuters 

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Are HSA Contribution Programs Ever Subject to ERISA?

Are HSA Contribution Programs Ever Subject to ERISA?

QUESTION: We are planning to add an HDHP and to make company contributions to employees’ HSAs. We have been told ...

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