A Primer on the Structure, Taxation and Regulation of Group Voluntary Benefits
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Be sure to give voluntary benefit programs the attention they require and understand how they are organized, taxed and regulated.The term voluntary benefits includes and generally refers to a broad range of products, including life, disability, critical-illness and accident insurance, and hospital and fixed indemnity insurance, as well as pet coverage, ID theft protection, legal services and financial counseling, among others. A subset of these - accident, critical illness, and hospital indemnity coverage - are being increasingly made available by U.S. employers of all sizes and in all sectors. These programs may be (and often are) offered on an employee-pay-all basis or they may be partially or (less often) fully subsidized by employers. These benefits are attractive because employees can obtain coverage at group rates, which are generally less expensive than individual market products. The purpose of this topic is to describe the design of commercially available group voluntary products and to explain how they are taxed and regulated. Voluntary benefit programs, particularly those providing accident, critical Illness, and hospital indemnity coverage, have become commonplace as employers seek to deliver added, cost-effective value to employees. While these benefit programs are relatively low-dollar and seemingly simple, they are nevertheless heavily regulated - both federally (under ERISA, the Internal Revenue Code and the ACA) and by the states (under state insurance law). This topic is aimed at financial officers, compensation and benefits managers, and their respective advisors. It explains how voluntary benefit programs are organized, taxed and regulated. It also delves into the particulars of product design to enable purchasers to make informed purchasing decisions. The information is designed to ensure that voluntary benefit programs are not treated as a mere afterthought, but rather are given the attention that they require and deserve.
AuthorsAlden J. Bianchi, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C., Kirk Watkins, Trion Group, a Marsh & McLennan Agency, LLC
What Are Voluntary Benefits and How Do They Work?
A Brief Course in Excepted Benefits
The Application of ERISA Title I: Participant Communications and Protections
Tax Treatment: Income and Payroll Taxes; Cafeteria Plans
The ACA, HIPAA and COBRA, Etc.
Coordination With HSAs (Disregarded Coverage and Permitted Insurance
Deconstructing Commercial Voluntary Benefits Products
New Kid on the Block: Excepted Benefit HRAs