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Proposed Wellness Ruling Impacts Large Employers

05/02/13

  05:49:59 pm, by MedBen5   , 190 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Proposed Wellness Ruling Impacts Large Employers

In proposed federal rules announced earlier this week, the Internal Revenue Service announced that worksite wellness programs offered by employer-sponsored health care plans don’t count toward minimum coverage requirements, Reuters reports. Only programs designed to prevent smoking will qualify under the Affordable Care Act.

The health care reform law requires larger employers to meet minimum coverage standards established by the federal government. Those who fail to do so must pay an excise tax penalty, and any employees affected will receive a tax credit to buy health coverage through a state health insurance exchange beginning in 2014.

Tax lawyers who have reviewed the proposed rules called them a victory to labor unions and consumer groups. Business representatives had hoped the IRS would include wellness programs as part of health coverage.

“It is a setback for employers,” Greta Cowart, a partner at Haynes and Boone LLP, said of the IRS ruling. Employers now “lose part of the bang for the buck in terms of the penalty.”

The IRS rules are open to revisions before the law goes into effect, and the public has until July 2 to submit comments to the IRS for changes.

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