By January, employers are required to have “culturally and linguistically appropriate language” used in key documents and notices regarding healthcare plans in any county where more than 10 percent of the population speaks a language other than English. In Washington, Spanish is identified for Adams, Douglas, Franklin, Grant and Yakima counties.
January 1st, employee deferrals into healthcare flexible spending accounts are capped at $2,500 and Medicare withholding rates increase for employees earning $200,000 or more annually. This anticipated increase will likely result in bonus payouts late in 2012 rather than in 2013.
Mark Mabbott, USI Northwest benefits consultant, comments on trends he expects in 2013:
“Wellness programs will become more popular with employers, as provisions of reform allow employers to pay a lesser amount of the coverage for those who do not participate in company sponsored wellness programs. Expect to see more high deductible and HSA plans being offered as the primary options of coverage through employers.”
January 1, 2014, the employer “play or pay” provision requires employers with the equivalent of 50 or more full-time employees to have fully compliant healthcare plans in place. Unionized employers will need to begin bargaining in 2013 if the health plan contained in their contract is not “play or pay” compliant.
Mark Robbins, client advocate in the employee benefit practice at Portland-based Willis, reports that his company has developed a “healthcare reform cost calculator to take the guess work out of the sweeping healthcare reform legislation” – something surely all businesses can benefit from.
Corbett Gordon is senior counsel at the Portland office of Fisher & Phillips LLP. She is an experienced labor negotiator representing clients in collective bargaining, contract enforcement and in labor arbitrations. She can be reached at 503.205.8046.