FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (5/1/14)--Final rules for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have been issued, and credit unions need to make sure they are compliant, advised two experts at the CUNA HR/TD Council Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Tuesday.
During the session on health care reform, Annette Bechtold, senior vice president of regulatory affairs, Digital Benefit Advisors (DBA), and Brad Pricer, senior manager of product management, CUNA Mutual Group, made their message clear: "The time is now to act and get your health and welfare benefit plans in order."
Bechtold said in the process of issuing final rules, the government has in some cases made it more complicated by adding transition elements.
"The ACA is still a changing law and will likely continue to be so," Bechtold told the audience. She cited the April 1, 2014, repeal of the annual deductible limit for small health plans for 2014. The limit was originally to be $2,000 for self-only coverage and $4,000 for family coverage.
The duo noted some final rule details that credit unions should be aware of:
Pricer said the Department of Labor (DOL) is continuing to audit ACA compliance. Compliance is important not only for ACA but for other programs such as the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which provides for health and welfare plans.
"If a credit union plan is audited, the DOL won't just be looking at the credit union's ACA compliance, but all compliance aspects of their health and welfare benefit plans," Pricer said. "For example, does the credit union have proper Summary Plan Descriptions distributed to plan participants? Are any required IRS Form 5500s being filed?"
These aren't requirements of the ACA, but they could potentially trigger fines if the credit union is non-compliant, he added. Pricer said he still is unaware of any credit unions that have actually been audited for ACA compliance. However, Bechtold added her company has seen employers in other industries audited.
"At this point, audits are likely the result of complaints from employees, not random. However, after additional reporting requirements go into effect in 2016, random audits are likely to increase," she said.
Pricer discussed health care exchanges, also known as marketplaces, by providing an overview of the public exchanges offered through the ACA and the potential offerings from private exchanges.
If an appropriate private exchange is available in a credit union's area, it could allow the credit union to change how it funds health insurance for employees. "Essentially the credit union could switch to a defined contribution approach from a traditional defined benefit approach to plan funding," Pricer said. "This shift in funding strategies could help credit unions save money and better estimate the cost of providing health insurance year-over-year."