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04/21/11

  05:29:14 pm, by MedBen5   , 266 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Health Plan Management

Relax... It's Just The Dentist!

If you’ve been around long enough, then you know that dental care nowadays is a more pleasant prospect than it was way back when. But that doesn’t mean there still aren’t plenty of people who still panic at the thought of “the chair".

Medical News Today reports that British Dental Health Foundation research found that more people fear a visit to the dentist than snakes, spiders or flying – only heights rank higher on the personal trepidation scale. And an Adult Dental Health Survey study last month revealed that half of adults report having moderate to extreme dental anxiety.

If you count yourself among the nervous, the American Dental Association offers these suggestions:

  • Explain to your dentist and the rest of the staff in the office that you’re anxious about going to the dentist, and express your specific concerns.
  • Schedule your dentist appointment for a time when you won’t feel pressured or rushed, such as a Saturday morning.
  • Bring along a personal radio, MP3 player or CD player to drown out the sound of the drill.
  • While you’re in the chair, try to relax by visualizing yourself in a happy, relaxing and comfortable place, such as the beach.

One more important thing to keep in mind: Having regular dental checkups – which, believe us, are pretty harmless – reduce the risk of encountering drills and anaesthetic in the future. The MedBen Dental plan encourages prevention through scheduled exams, and offers members the freedom to use the dentist of their choice. To learn more, call MedBen Vice President of Sales and Marketing Brian Fargus at 888-627-8683.

  04:22:44 pm, by MedBen5   , 273 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

FTC Takes Weight-loss "News" Sites To Court

Let’s be honest: When you feel like you’ve tried just about everything to shed pounds and still haven’t succeeded, those online ads touting easy weight loss products can, at the very least, peak your interest. And when the ads are framed as genuine news articles, even a saavy Internet surfer may think they’re legit.

Not so, says the Federal Trade Commission. French news agency AFP (via Yahoo! Health) reports that regulators have petitioned federal courts to crack down 10 different organizations accused of using phony news websites to promote acai berry weight-loss products. Often, these groups use the logos of real news organizations to give their deception an air of legitimacy, boasting their products are “as seen on” CNN, USA Today and Consumer Reports.

The FTC provided a sample piece of chicanery as “Exhibit A", which you can see here. If you skim to the bottom, you can scan the multiple paragraphs of small print, including language about a “discount price” and “membership fee” totalling in excess of $200.

“Almost everything about these sites is fake,” David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. “The weight loss results, the so-called investigations, the reporters, the consumer testimonials, and the attempt to portray an objective, journalistic endeavor.”

Most people have learned to see past these gimmicks, but it bears repeating – if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. In the case of weight loss, proper diet and exercise is the only sensible way to get in shape and stay healthy. And if you need help in achieving your weight goals, schedule an appointment with your family doctor.

04/20/11

  04:32:43 pm, by MedBen5   , 249 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Healthy Behaviors At The Heart Of Medical Cost Savings

A recent USA Today article examines the idea of promoting healthy behavior as a means to control health care costs. One-quarter of Americans can trace their health problems to smoking, overeating, not getting enough exercise and other personal habits. And many people with chronic conditions, like heart disease and diabetes, neglect to manage their health properly, which can result in high hospital bills down the road.

In the wake of a House vote last week to repeal a public health fund provision from the Affordable Care Act, health care industry experts are emphasizing that health care costs will continue to grow without a concerted nationwide effort to improve personal behaviors.

“This is not cheap stuff, doing this kind of intervention,” said Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health. “But we all know just how ineffective this is without support.” He added that in the long run such preventive programs will save money, especially when compared to the substantial treatment costs for uncontrolled conditions.

Likewise, personal behavior is the key cost savings component to the MedBen Worksite Wellness program. Our disease- and prevention-based approach encourages healthier lifestyles for every plan member and increases their awareness of personal health. We also provide individualized disease monitoring and nurse coaching for those suffering from chronic conditions.

MedBen Worksite Wellness strives to improve individual health while reducing long-term medical care costs. To get additional information, we invite you to call MedBen Vice President of Sales and Marketing Brian Fargus at 888-627-8683.

  11:24:41 am, by MedBen5   , 174 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription

FDA Announces Program To Stem Prescription Drug Abuse

The White House is stepping up its efforts to prevent accidental overdoses of painkiller drugs, Reuters reports. The Food and Drug Administration has sent letters to drugmakers that manufacture opiods – synthetic versions of opium, used to treat moderate and severe pain – requesting that they create educational materials doctors and prescribers can use to counsel patients about proper usage and potential risks.

Drugs required to follow the new guidelines include include Duragesic, Avinza, Embeda, Kadian and Opana ER, as well as various genric opiods. The drugmakers have 120 days to propose a doctor training and patient couseling program to the FDA, which in turn must provide feedback within 120 days. The program is expected to go into effect by early 2012.

Prescription drug abuse is second only to motor vehicle mishaps in causes of accidental deaths, based on 2007 findings. Painkiller misuse by Americans 12 and up rose from 29 million in 2002 to 33 million in 2007, the FDA estimates. And Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says opioid overdoses kill far more people than cocaine, heroin and other illegal drugs.

  10:36:13 am, by MedBen5   , 244 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Calcium Supplements May Jeopardize Heart Health, Study Finds

It figures. Just days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that more than half of Americans use dietary supplements, one of the most popular is under fire.

HealthDay (via Yahoo! Health) reports that a new study that women who take calcium supplements put themselves at greater risk for heart disease. “Our own recommendation is to critically review the use of calcium supplements, since the data in this paper suggests that they do more harm than good,” said study senior author Dr. Ian Reid of the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

The CDC found that 61% of women over 60 used calcium supplements from 2003 to 2006 to reduce the odds of developing osteoporosis.

An earlier Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) project, funded by the U.S. government, found no negative link between calcium and heart health. The current researchers noted, however, that more than half of the women in that study were already taking their own calcium supplements in addition to those prescribed for the trial, potentially distorting their findings. When the researchers looked only at the women who had not taken personal calcium supplements, they found a13-22% increased risk of cardiovascular problems compared to women in the WHI study who only took a placebo.

“The cautious way forward seems to be to encourage people to obtain their calcium from the diet, rather than from supplements, since food calcium has not been shown to carry this increased risk of heart disease,” Reid added.

04/19/11

  03:27:06 pm, by MedBen5   , 262 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Study: HDHP Usage Not Affected By Low Income, Chronic Conditions

People with low incomes or chronic conditions insured under high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) seek medical care at a similar rate as other people enrolled in such plans, according to a new RAND Corporation study. The nonprofit research organization examined the first-year experiences of more than 360,000 families nationwide enrolled in an employer-sponsored HDHP from 2003 to 2007.

The largest research done to date on the effects of HDHPs, the RAND study contradicts some earlier small studies that found medically vulnerable individuals utlized their health plans less than those with higher incomes or fewer health problems.

“One important issue is whether high-deductible health plans will leave low-income and chronically ill patients with inadequate access to health care,” said Amelia Haviland, lead author of the study and a statistician at RAND. “We did not find greater cut backs for medically vulnerable families. The evidence suggests that non-vulnerable families, low-income families and high-risk families are equally affected under high-deductible plans.”

The study also found that HDHPs paired with a health savings account (HSA) provide greater savings than HDHPs with no accounts or plans with smaller deductibles.

MedBen administers HDHPs for self-funded employers and has available fully insured and split-funded HDHP options for employers located in Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia and Michigan. With the self-funded approach, we work with you and your benefits consultant to determine the best plan design for your HDHP. Better yet, we can integrate your HDHP with any health accounts for seamless coordination.

To learn more about the advantages of HDHPs, please contact MedBen Vice President of Sales and Marketing Brian Fargus at 888-627-8683.

  02:40:52 pm, by MedBen5   , 230 words,  
Categories: Wellness

BMI Alone Doesn't Reveal The Whole Wellness Picture

In anticipation of what is sure to be a dire report from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the nation’s weight crisis later this year, the Los Angeles Times is questioning the measuring tool the agency will use to make its conclusions – the body mass index, or BMI.

For almost 200 years, the BMI has been used as a yardstick for determining an individual’s fitness. And if your own yardstick is at or over 30, you’re considered obese. But as with many things in life, personal health isn’t quite so cut and dry. A muscular person may have a high BMI, and a person who is naturally thin but otherwise unfit may have a low one. That is why a number of experts caution that BMI alone hardly provides an accurate wellness picture.

As the article notes, simple waist measurement has shown to be a better predictor of such conditions as Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and early mortality. A waist circumference greater than 40″ for a man and 35″ for a woman is typically more telling than the arbitrary rule that a BMI of 30 equals big trouble.

For the population at large – no pun intended – the BMI provides a useful, if distorted, means of tracking health habits over the decades. But on an individual basis, there are more effective measurements available, including regular checkups and dialogues with your family doctor.

04/18/11

  04:20:45 pm, by MedBen5   , 265 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Claims Savings, Healh Care Reform Among MBU Topics

AWAC President Dr. Luke Burchard

Lawrenceburg, Indiana hosted the first MedBen University (MBU) of 2011, on April 13. Co-sponsored by Pinnacle Advisory Group, the seminar covered two timely topics, employer cost savings and federal reform, with the goal of helping attendees to make informed health care spending decisions.

Luke Burchard, MD, President of AWAC (Advanced Warning and Containment), discussed emerging trends in medical practice and billing patterns. Recent news stories concerning the use of expensive medical devices and procedures, well outside the standard of care, highlight the need for employers to take action, Burchard noted. He also explained how AWAC’s innovations in cost containment technology are helping employers save money on health insurance claims beyond standard plan designs and network discounts.

Caroline Fraker, MedBen Vice President of Compliance and Chief Privacy Officer, followed Dr. Burchard with a recap of the first twelve months of health care reform following the passage of the Affordable Care Act, plus a preview of what employers can expect in the coming months. Her presentation touched on new plan mandates, consumer-driven health plan requirements, and wellness program changes, among other subjects.

In today’s economic climate, it is increasingly important for employer health plans to ensure that medical claim dollars are spent wisely. MedBen is currently planning additional MBU sessions throughout the year, and we will announce them on this blog – so please stop by frequently!

MedBen also offers industry-specific seminars. Earlier this month, we hosted our annual Hospital Roundtable, and on April 28, we will conduct a Government Roundtable at our home office. For more information about this upcoming event, please contact Sally Wood at (800) 423-3151, Ext. 502.

  12:55:51 pm, by MedBen5   , 233 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Supreme Court Takes No Action On Health Reform Law

The State of Virginia has asked the Supreme Court to speed up a ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, but the judicial body has taken no action on the request, Reuters reports (via Yahoo! News).

If the Supreme Court were to rule now on the federal health care reform law, it would mark a rare instance in which the standard appeals process was bypassed. Legal analysts expect that the justicles will allow the process to proceed as normal, in which case it is unlikely that they will consider the question of the ACA’s constitutionality until the 2011-12 term that starts in October.

Three federal judges around the nation, including Western District of Virginia Judge Norman Moon, have upheld the law. Two judges, including Eastern District of Virginia Judge Henry Hudson, have declared the individual mandate provision unconstitutional. Judge Roger Vinson, Northern District of Florida, went an additional step, striking down the ACA in its entirety.

We encourage you to check Kaiser Health News for the latest health law court developments.

UPDATE 4/25/11: According to The Associated Press, The Supreme Court “denied Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s petition to expedite Virginia’s case against President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. As a result, the lawsuit will continue on its current path to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is scheduled to hear the case on May 10 in Richmond.”

  12:14:27 pm, by MedBen5   , 267 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Butterflies, Burpees or Squats: Which Exercise Is Best?

Is squatting better than walking? Does interval training beat a burpee? The New York Times asked a number of doctors, “What’s the single best exercise?” and got just as many answers.

The butterfly stroke burns about as much calories as any single activity, but Greg Whyte, a professor of sport and exercise science and former swimming Olympian, considers it the worst exercise out there: it’s “miserable, isolating, painful,” he says. Not to mention, you need a coach and a pool to do it properly, so for most people, it’s a non-starter.

One physiologist praises the burpee – a basic calisthenic in which you drop to the ground, kick your feet out behind you, pull your feet back in and leap up as high as you can. But an all-burpee workout is bound to get old quick. Walking certainly has many advocates, but its physiological benefits are limited, and seasoned exercisers generally desire greater challenges.

A professor of kinesiology says squats provide the best workout, because they work muscles in the buttocks, back and legs. Another champions high-intensity interval training – short bursts of exercise bookended by more relaxed activity. With so many options, how does one choose?

Bottom line, the best exercise is – natch – the exercise that works best for you. Typically, it’s a combination of varied cardio and resistance activities that provide a good overall workout while respecting your body’s abilities and limitations. Before starting a workout program, it’s a smart idea to talk to your primary care physician. (Read this Medical News Today article about the benefits of discussing exercise with your doc).

04/15/11

  12:26:16 pm, by MedBen5   , 167 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

President Repeals 1099 Provision From Health Reform Law

The first major cut from the Affordable Care Act is in the books. President Obama has signed a bill repealing the 1099 tax-reporting provision from the health care reform law, Bloomberg reports.

Business groups vehemently pushed for the removal of the provision, which would required business to report transactions for the purchase of goods and services totalling $600 or more. While included in the ACA to combat tax evasion by businesses that underreport income, the groups successfully argued that that the additional paperwork burden didn’t justify the minimal benefit.

Along with the repeal of 1099, the President approved a funding measure that will cover the cost of the $21.9 billion the provision would have purportedly raised. Low- and middle-income Americans who receive health tax credits, but who later realize an income higher than previously expected, will now be required to return the overage. However, this solution is not popular with the President and some Democrats in Congress – so it’s likely that we haven’t heard the final word on the subject.

  11:30:31 am, by MedBen5   , 222 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Apples Are A Smart Heart Option

We’ve all heard that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but there’s always gonna be skeptics out there who want to see some proof. Fortunately, a new study offers some pretty convincing evidence that the fruit lives up to the hype.

WebMD reports that researchers at The Florida State University tracked 160 woman who ate daily servings of dried apples or prunes. When the women in the apple group received a blood test a year later, their overall cholesterol dropped by an average of 14% – and their “bad” cholesterol fell an average of 23%. Further, the apple women lost an average of three pounds during the study period. The prune group also showed positive results, though not to the extent of the apple eaters.

Dianne A. Hyson, PhD, RD, a nutritionist not involved in the apple/prune research, recently reviewed 80 apple-related studies, and found that in addition to being good for the heart, apples can help regulate blood sugar and control appetite, reduce cancer risk, and protect the lungs.

Experts theorize that the pectin in apples blocks cholesterol absorption in the stomach, while the antioxidants in their peels guards against cellular damage from free radicals. And it doesn’t matter what color of apple you prefer – red, green, golden, they’re all good (though you’ll probably want to avoid the brown. mushy ones).

04/14/11

  01:07:06 pm, by MedBen5   , 238 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Reform News: House Votes Down Public Health Fund

A House vote and and dwindling public support top our health care reform news today:

  • The Hill website reports that the House has voted 236-183 to eliminate the $18 billion Prevention and Public Health Fund provision from the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Voting fell mainly along party lines, with only four Democrats supporting it.

    Republicans called the provision – which, according to the ACA, will “provide for expanded and sustained national investment in prevention and public health programs” – a “slush fund” that the Department of Health and Human Services can spend without Congressional oversight. Opposing Democrats argued that the bill would reduce access to preventive health care and eventually result in higher health care costs.

    As with previous Republican-led House reform efforts, it is likely the Democratic-led Senate will reject the measure, and if not, President Obama has vowed to repeal it.

  • Support for federal health reform has reached its lowest level since before its passage, according to the Associated Press.

    The AP-GfK poll showed that only 35% of Americans now support the ACA, while 45% oppose it and another 17% are neutral. The previous low of 34% was reached in September 2009, about six months before the bill’s passage into law.

    Budget consideration are apparently fueling the downward trend, as concerns about federal deficits spurred by higher health costs mount. Senior support – an important bellweather of health care reform’s popularity – fell below 30% for the first time in an AP-GfK poll.

  11:15:42 am, by MedBen5   , 193 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

More Americans Using Dietary Supplements, CDC Study Finds

As eating habits nationwide continue to gravitate toward less healthy options, more Americans are looking to dietary supplements as a means of getting necessary nutrients, WebMD reports.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has tracked dietary supplement usage off and on during the past two-plus decades, and found that from 2003 to 2006, 53% of U.S. adults took one or more supplements. That represents about a 10% increase from 1988-94, the last period studied. More women than men take supplements, with women over 60 reporting the highest usage.

One-A-Day, Centrum and other daily multivitamins are the most commonly taken supplements, used by 40% of men and women from 2003 to 2006. Calcium supplements are especially popular with women over 60 – usage leaped from 28% in 1988-94 to 61% in 2003-06, a growth that coinsides with a higher awareness of calcium’s ability to reduce osteoporosis risk.

Tod Cooperman, MD, the president of ConsumerLab.com, notes that increased supplement usage are also a reflection of recent economic conditions. “More people are self-treating with vitamins and other supplements, so the numbers are higher,” he says.

You can read a National Center for Health Statistics Data Brief on the study at the CDC website.

04/13/11

  04:01:45 pm, by MedBen5   , 163 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

New Reform Initiative Seeks To Reduce Medical Errors

President Obama has announced a new campaign – no, not THAT campaign. This one’s a broad initiative aimed at cutting hospital-acquired infections and other preventable conditions by 40% over the next three years, the Los Angeles Times reports.

A provision of the Affordable Care Act, the campaign involves private insurers, business leaders, hospitals and patient advocates in a partnership to find ways to reduce medical errors. In addition to minimizing infections contracted during hospital stays, it also will look for ways to cut hospital readmissions by 20% through better post-stay care.

About one-third of hospital patients suffer an “adverse effect” – sometimes fatal – during or after a stay, according to a study published in the journal Health Affairs. These include being given the wrong medication, getting an infection or receiving an improper medical procedure.

In the coming months, grants totalling $1 billion will be offered for the development of programs targeting patients following their hospital discharge, and for testing various methods of reducing medical errors.

  01:30:49 pm, by MedBen5   , 273 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Studies Reveal Parents And Kids Lack Healthful Habits

Kids and their parents are under the researcher’s microscope these days, and two new studies find that both are lacking in the areas of diet and exercise.

USA Today reports that although nearly 90% of parents believe that they’re promoting healthy lifestyles to their childen, the evidence points in a different direction. A YMCA study reveals that 62% of surveyed parents with children ages 5 to 10 say their kids eat junk food 1-4 days a week, while only 14% say their kids eat 5 or more servings of fruit and vegetables a day.

Videogames, social networking and other distractions are apparently also keeping children from enjoying the outdoors. Only 16% of parents surveyed say their kids get at least one hour of vigorous physical activity daily; 74% report that their kids need more exercise.

Of course, part of encouraging kids to eat better and stay active is to be good role models – and a University of Minnesota study (as reported by HealthDay via MedicineNet.com) suggests that young parents can do a better job in that department. Exploring the link of dietary intake, physical activity and body mass index of men and women in their mid-20s, the researchers found that both moms and dads exercised less frequently that their non-parenting peers. Young mothers also consumed more fat and sugar than non-mothers, the study found.

Obviously, young parents don’t have as much time as non-parents to exercise, and moms may be more inclined to cook foods with higher fat content for their kids. But tough though it may be at times, setting a healthy example early on can pay major dividends for our sons and daughters down the road.

04/12/11

  11:18:38 pm, by MedBen5   , 254 words,  
Categories: Wellness

The Hazards Of Health Risk Assessments

Health risk assessments, dangerous? An Employee Benefits News feature argues that the popular personal wellness analysis can actually serve as a deterrent to improving one’s health.

Writer Andrew Sykes observes that most people who fill out an HRA don’t give an honest reporting of their personal health, instead opting to race through it as quickly as possible. And they answers they do give tend to present a rosier picture of their health habits than a medical check-up would give.

Moreover, HRAs typically focus on risk factors (i.e., obesity, high cholesterol) while doing comparatively little to promote positive health habits (exercise and eating better). A handful of people can use an HRA as a springboard to a healthier lifestyle, but the vast majority, Sykes says, soon revert to old habits after the initial motivation dissipates.

While we won’t go so far as to say that HRAs are unsafe, experience has shown us that other methods offer much more useful information. The MedBen Worksite Wellness program emphasizes physician office testing that keeps the primary care provider involved and eliminates the logistical headaches and potential redundancy of HRAs and on-site screenings. Candidates for Specialty Care are selected via an electronic claims data analysis, which thoroughly reviews a plan member’s claims history to provide a higher degree of accuracy when determining which individuals may suffer from, or carry a greater risk of, a chronic condition.

Foe additional information about MedBen Worksite Wellness, please call MedBen Vice President of Sales and Marketing Brian Fargus at 888-627-8683.

  10:09:03 pm, by MedBen5   , 163 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Americans Happy With Personal Health Care, Unhappy With "The System"

Many Americans don’t have a very high opinion of the health care system – but ask them about their own experiences with the medical community, and their attitude improves considerably. That’s the results of a new poll from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.

NPR reports that 55% of 1,034 adults surveyed believe that the U.S. health care system rates no higher than a C or D grade, while 11% give it a flat-out F. Conversely, the same people were far more satisfied with the quality of care they’ve personally received – 31% grade it an A, and 34% say it’s a B.

The poll also learned that, when choosing a hospital, 57% respondents would trust the opinion of a friend, while 38% would base their decision on the hospital’s record of quality. As for picking a surgeon, opinions were pretty evenly matched – 48% say family and friends, and 47% want to review doctor data first.

Complete poll results are available at Harvard’s website.

04/11/11

  04:50:32 pm, by MedBen5   , 237 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Keep Your Back From Going Out Of Whack

“Lift with your knees, not with your back – that’s how you avoid lower back pain.” Definitely good advice, but there’s more to back pain than posture considerations.

As WebMD notes, genes may actually play a role. It’s entirely possible that you can do a lot of heavy lifting in your job and never experience back pain, while another person who rarely lifts anything heavier than a coffee cup suffers greatly.

More likely, general wear and tear on the discs that cushion the vertebrae in your spine leads to degenerative disc disease. Or, an individual disc can tear or become injured. And such conditions as arthritis and osteoporosis may contribute to low back pain.

Just about everyone gets that familiar flare-up in their lower back from time to time. But there are ways to reduce the discomfort as well as improve the odds of a recurrence in the future:

  • Smoking can lead to backaches, so get help to kick the habit.
  • Do exercises to strengthen the muscles that support your back – especially the abdominals, hips, back, and pelvic area.
  • Fight the urge to crawl into bed whenever your lower back acts up. Backs generally heal faster when the body is in motion.
  • See your doctor and get treated for low back pain early on.
  • And of course… when lifting something, lift with your knees, not with your back. (MedicineNet.com has a few additional posture-related suggestions.)

04/08/11

  01:55:05 pm, by MedBen5   , 227 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

IRS Releases Interim Guidelines For Health Insurance W-2 Reporting

The Internal Revenue Service recently released interim employer guidelines for informational reporting of employer-sponsored health plans. Beginning in calendar year 2013 (tax year 2012), the Affordable Care Act will require certain employers to report the cost of health insurance coverage on their employees’ W-2 forms. For tax year 2011, employers may voluntarily provide this information, but will not be penalized for failing to do so.

The IRS has repeatedly stressed that this information will not be used for purposes of taxation – it serves only to inform employees about the cost of their health coverage.

The formal notice as well as an FAQ regarding the interim guidelines are both available at the IRS website. Note that the agency is providing “transition relief” to certain classes of employers who will not be subject to the reporting requirement unless notified otherwise. These include:

  1. employers filing fewer than 250 Forms W-2 for the previous calendar year;
  2. multiemployer plans;
  3. Health Reimbursement Arrangements;
  4. dental and vision plans that are not integrated into another group health plan;
  5. self-insured plans of employers not subject to COBRA continuation coverage or similar requirements; and
  6. employers furnishing Forms W-2 to employees who terminate before the end of a calendar year and request a Form W-2 before the end of that year.

MedBen clients with questions about the interim guidelines are welcome to call Vice President of Compliance Caroline Fraker at (800) 851-0907.

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