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HR teams are in the calm before the twin storms of ACA reporting deadlines and annual enrollment season. 


With all that extra “free time,” now is when HR/benefits teams can focus on benefits maintenance items, like plan document review and the current docket of proposed extensions and mandates. Fun, right? Except kind of not—unless you’re a compliance nerd like me and my frequent “Brews with Bruce” guest Ben Conley. 

Ben, whom long-time “brewers” know is a partner at Seyfarth Shaw and expert on employee benefits and executive compensation, recently joined me on BWB to talk through the details of the drudgery in creating a spring-cleaning checklist for HR teams.  

Specifically, spring cleaning is the perfect way to set your calendar to check off all the things you need to do regarding health plan and benefits compliance … but kept putting off during AE and the start of the new plan year.  

Here’s a quick recap of the “rooms” that Ben and I identified as most in need of your attention during this 2022 spring-cleaning season: 

Keep an eye on the current ACA proposed regulations.  

The proposed regulations were introduced to fix the “family glitch” introduced when the IRS originally drafted the ACA regulations to define affordable care. The current language states that employers are only required to subsidize an employee’s coverage, not their spouse, child, or other dependent. However, an employee’s family is still deemed as having “affordable coverage” per the current regulation language. This issue effects an estimated 200,000 people today.  

What HR teams need to know: 

  • The proposed regulations will affect 1095 forms and data if passed through. 
  • Employers may need to report that their coverage is unaffordable for family members, but employers won’t be penalized for this. 
  • This is currently in the comment period; if passed as-is, these changes would go into effect in 2023.  

Human resource teams should get ahead on non-discrimination testing. 

This is a necessary evil, but it ensures your plan isn’t skewed in favor of the highly compensated. By doing your testing sooner rather than later, benefits teams can buy themselves added time to make necessary adjustments sooner rather than later.  

Make sure your health plan documents are up to date. 

We’ve seen a lot of COVID-19 relief options and mandates come through this past year. In some cases, employers have had time to get plan documentation updated, but spring is a great time of year to make sure nothing has slipped through the cracks.  

What employer benefit plan teams need to double check in their plan documents:

  • No Surprises Act 
  • Mental Health Parity Act 
  • Expanded definitions of what constitutes a “medical product” for FSA/HSA 
  • FSA carryover amount expansion 
  • Limitations for filing claims 
  • Choice of law provisions and legal-wrap plan documentation 
  • ERISA severance plan 

Employers can also use this document review time to ensure benefits communication strategies are aligned with the changes, especially around COBRA notices and FSA reminders. 

COVID-19 relief reminders 

The state of emergency was extended again to continue to accommodate the ongoing pandemic. HR teams will want to ensure that they’re staying abreast of these extensions, and the gaps. And of course, communicating to employees—specifically, about: 

  • FSA reminders, including claim filing deadlines and extended carryover amounts. 
  • The telehealth relief extension that went back into effect on April 1 (but mind the gap—this extension wasn’t backdated to accommodate January through March for 2022). 

Watch our latest “Brews with Bruce” episode, featuring frequent guest and friend of the show Ben Conley.  


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