Category: Compliance Corner

Vizance Insight Series: Employee Benefit Plan Issues and Compliance – What Employers Need to Know

In recent years we have seen new laws, rules and regulations that have significantly impacted almost every aspect of employee benefits – from the benefits an employer can offer to how those benefits are offered and the programs administered. In the ever-changing world of employee benefits knowing the current and applicable rules and maintaining compliance can be a daunting task for employers.  We want to help.  Join us for our fall webinar series when Beth Ward, Vizance’s Compliance Attorney, will address several common issues affecting employee benefit plans.  Beth will discuss the legal issues and practical concerns surrounding the issues and discuss strategies to help employers be compliant.

COBRA Webinar Scheduled for July 18th

The complex requirements of COBRA leave many employers anxious and concerned about their liability and possible penalties from the IRS and Department of Labor. Join us for a webinar on Tuesday, July 18th at 1:30 pm when Beth Ward, Vizance’s Compliance Attorney, will address your COBRA concerns, helping you to become compliant. In this webinar we will discuss: >  Triggering rules for COBRA >  Notices that must be provided >   Penalties for noncompliance >   Difference between Federal COBRA rules and State Continuation   RSVP to Joanna Baisch at (262) 563 5457 or  

Are You Prepared for a DOL Audit?

Although the future of the Affordable Care Act may be uncertain, the Department of Labor has not reduced its enforcement efforts. Rather, the DOL has increased the number of audits and has stated that it will continue to focus its resources on compliance. Beth Ward, Vizance's Compliance Attorney, recently presented a seminar regarding this topic. Beth has actively assisted numerous employers with DOL and IRS audits, along with pre-audit corrective actions. Future webinars and seminars will again cover this topic. If you're interested in attending, please email us at

HHS Extends Transitional Relief for Small Groups

On February 23, 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) announced that insurers in the small group market will be permitted to renew health insurance policies that would they otherwise have had to cancel due to noncompliance with the Affordable Care Act (the “ACA”). By way of background, the ACA includes market reforms that created new coverage standards for health insurance policies such as: premium rating rules, guaranteed availability and renewability, and the requirement to provide essential health benefits.  Under the ACA the market reforms were to be effective for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2014. However, prior to the effective date President Obama implemented a transitional relief policy that, if permitted by the states, would allow insurers offering coverage in the individual and small group markets the option of renewing current policies for current enrollees without adopting all of the ACA market reforms. The transitional relief policy was extended several times, but was set to expire in 2017. The HHS guidance again extends the transitional relief policy. Under the HSS guidance, states can permit insurers that have continually renewed health insurance coverage for small groups since 2014 under the transitional relief policy to again renew such coverage for a policy year beginning on or before October 1, 2018. However, any policy renewed under the transitional relief cannot extend beyond December 31, 2018. Also, state

New DOL Overtime Rules Effective December 1, 2016

On May 18, 2016, changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) increase the salary an employee must earn to qualify to be exempt. Employees that are currently not eligible for overtime but make less than $47,475 per year will be eligible for overtime pay beginning December 1, 2016. Exempt employees are not eligible for overtime. In order for an employee to be exempt, they must meet all three of the following criteria: Salary Basis Test: Employee is paid a predetermined and fixed salary that is not subject to reduction due to variations in the quality or quantity of work. Salary Level Test: Employee’s salary must meet a minimum specified amount to qualify for the exemption. This salary threshold provides employers with an objective and efficient way to determine whether an employee qualifies for a white collar exemption. Duties Test: Employee’s job duties must primarily involve executive, administrative, or professional duties, as defined by law. The new FLSA regulations modify the Salary Level Test to mean no less than $47,475 per year. An employer may include ten percent of non-discretionary incentive bonuses tied to productivity and profitability. The bonus must be paid at least quarterly in order to be factored into the Salary Level Test. Because an employee must meet all three criteria to be exempt, an employee that makes less than $47,475 per year as of December 1, 2016 will no longer be exempt. What should employers do now? Employers shoul

What Does the PACE Act Mean to Me?

We’ve become so accustomed to delays or changes surrounding implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), it would not surprise us if the passage of the PACE Act went unnoticed. Of course you received several emails telling you that President Obama signed the Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees Act (PACE), but what does it really mean to you? If you are an employer with approximately 50 to 99 full-time employees (including full-time equivalents), the PACE Act is probably good news for you. Prior to the ACA, most states defined small employers as those with less than 50 employees. In the group health insurance market, small employers were subject to different rules, including how their policies were underwritten. The ACA intended to redefine “small employer” to mean all employers with less than 100 employees. Beginning January 2016, employers with 50 to 100 employees would for the first time be considered a “small employer” and subject to the ACA’s rules governing small employers. Application of the ACA’s rules governing small employers to employers with 50 to 100 employees would have imposed strict community rating rules that would likely result in substantial premium increases and would require coverage for “essential health benefits” which may also contribute to higher premiums. Because the PACE Act was passed, employers with 50 to 100 employees can breathe a sigh of relief. What remains the same: Employers with less than 50

Wellness Plans: Look Both Ways Before Crossing the Road

Renee Kuhs, Compliance Attorney, Vizance, Inc. Look both ways before crossing the road. Does this advice sound familiar? Is it something your mother said to you every time you left the house? Is it advice you have passed along to your children? These words of caution are well suited for employers that have or are seeking to implement a Wellness Plan. The EEOC recently filed lawsuits against three employers alleging their Wellness Plans violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. Two of these employers are located in Wisconsin; one employer is in Minnesota. Employers are often surprised to learn that the Wellness Plan they have had in place for years violates federal law. Over the last seven years, I’ve worked with numerous employers to correct compliance problems with their Wellness Plan. Employers often rely upon an insurance carrier, insurance broker, or wellness consultant to help them implement their Wellness Plan. While these parties all bring expertise to the process, one important component is consistently missing – compliance with laws governing the employer. The three lawsuits that have been brought by the EEOC were filed against the employer. Neither the insurance broker nor the wellness consultant has been made a party to the lawsuits. How will looking both ways before an employer crosses the road avoid litigation? Wellness Plans have typically been developed by focusing solely on the rules contained within the Health Insurance Portabilit

Same-Sex Marriages & Domestic Partnerships in Wisconsin

By Renee Kuhs, Compliance Attorney, Vizance, Inc. Effective October 6, 2014, Wisconsin recognizes same-sex marriages. Wisconsin residents in a same-sex relationship may file for a marriage license in Wisconsin. Same-sex marriages that took place in another state will now also be recognized in Wisconsin. Employers should consider how this change will impact their employment practices and health insurance plans. FMLA In 2009, Wisconsin’s FMLA was modified to provide rights to individuals that were in a domestic partnership. In light of the recognition of same-sex marriages in Wisconsin, individuals in a same-sex marriage will also be entitled to the rights provided to legal spouses under Wisconsin’s FMLA. Rights available under federal FMLA have been afforded to same-sex spouses if the marriage was recognized under the laws of the state where the individual resides. With the change in Wisconsin’s law on same-sex marriages, same-sex spouses are also entitled to protection under the federal FMLA effective immediately. Health Insurance Coverage Employers that offer a fully-insured health plan to its employees will be required to comply with Wisconsin insurance laws. The Office of the Commissioner of Insurance regulates fully-insured health plans in Wisconsin. To date they have not released official guidance in response to this change in law. However, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) prohibits insurance carriers from discriminating based upon sexual orientation. Beg