Whoever said employee benefits compliance can’t be fun was pretty much exactly right ... until now.
The bold and more than modestly deranged ERISA experts from Lockton Benefit Group’s Compliance Services division are throwing all caution to the wind and attempting to make plain the intricacies of employee benefits while laughing through it all.
Their motto: “If after all this effort we can elicit a single laugh, the fact that we skipped lunch to record this will more or less have been worth it.”
Not legal advice: Nothing in this podcast should be construed as legal advice (although it may be considered advice for better living). Lockton may not be considered your legal counsel, and communications with Lockton's Compliance Services group are not privileged under the attorney-client privilege.
Cousin Eddie on the COBRA doorstep: Do you really have to open the door?
In the larger scheme of corporate mergers and acquisitions, benefits issues are just nuisance issues ... until they're not. Buyers in stock and asset purchases are often stunned to learn that they may own COBRA liability related to the seller's former employees (and their dependents). And they might be required to open the doors of their group health plans to unwanted guests – the metaphorical Cousin Eddie – for up to 36 months.
In this, the final substantive episode of the final season of ERISA is a Friend of Mine, Ed and Scott unravel the beguiling mysteries of COBRA (and health FSA) coverage in the M&A. The episode explores:
Why and how does the stock vs. asset nature of a sale affect COBRA liabilities? If the parties to a corporate transaction contractually assign COBRA responsibility, what happens if the obligee drops the COBRA ball? How is sorting the COBRA obligations in an M&A like Scott trying to get all his kids out the door in the morning? How can buyers and sellers deal with health FSA coverage to make the corporate transaction painless for enrollees in the seller's FSA?
Healthcare plan cost reporting: What’s hidden behind the wall
When a home’s circuitry goes bust, sometimes you have to rip into the walls to reveal the source of the problem. So too, with medical insurance.
With the cost of medical care, and thus medical insurance, trending relentlessly higher, Congress decided it was time to bust into the walls to figure out why. Enter a new obligation on group plan sponsor: medical plan cost reporting.
In this episode of ERISA is a Friend of Mine, Scott and Ed take a look at this new reporting obligation and the dazzling array of data the feds want plan sponsors to disclose, starting as early as this December. Tune in to learn:
What does this new obligation require of employers? Who will employers need to lean on in order to make their disclosures? Why do Ed and Scott feel adrift on the sea of mediocrity? When is the first report due … and when must subsequent filings be made?
Medicare & COBRA: The most extreme of extreme sports
In the ERISA world, the collision of COBRA with Medicare is about as brutally taxing mentally as an ultramarathon is physically. Lucky for Ed and Scott, Courtenay Brummer from Lockton’s Mylo division joins the show to help us understand some of the convoluted nuances we encounter when COBRA and Medicare collide. In this episode, the trio work through: When does Medicare enrollment allow a plan to terminate COBRA? Why doesn’t Medicare enrollment, for an individual already buying COBRA coverage, operate as a second COBRA qualifying event? Where an employee enrolls in Medicare before employment termination or reduction in hours, why might their dependents be entitled to more than 18 months of COBRA? If Ed and Scott were really big-time ERISA lawyers, would they really need to draw a picture to explain all this? Why do individuals who wait until COBRA is exhausted before leaping to Medicare risk a lifetime late enrollment penalty? Mylo can help sort out not only Medicare enrollment timing issues, but also whether Part C is a better option than A, B and D, and when it makes sense to consider a Medigap plan. To contact our guest, Courtenay Brummer you can call her (913-981-3695) or reach out to her by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Why ERISA loves Betty Crocker: Nothing good happens without a recipe
If ERISA compliance were as easy as baking a cake, the establishment of a plan document would be an essential step in the recipe before it goes in the oven. Plan documents are critical to permit proper administration of the plan and, thusly, keep employers out of trouble. In this episode, Ed and Scott welcome back their colleague, and former Department of Labor national office attorney, Suzanne Bach, and address:
What is a plan document and why is it important? Can a plan “document” be comprised of multiple documents? Can a plan document double as a summary plan description? When it comes to asking stupid questions, should Ed or Scott really be the judge? What’s the difference between a healthcare plan, a cafeteria plan, and a wrap plan?
Lifestyle accounts for the not-so rich and famous: Nice perk, but watch your step
Lifestyle spending accounts, or LSAs, might be the new darling of employee benefit offerings, but this recent innovation is not without risk. Specifically, these employer-funded notional accounts, that can pay for everything from yoga classes to emergency car repairs, shouldn’t get too cozy with ERISA.
In this episode, Ed and Scott welcome the newest member of the Lockton Compliance Services team, Ruhe Wadud, to explain the ins and outs of LSAs and why ERISA is no friend of these new spending accounts.
Why didn’t Scott invite Ed to episode 5, and just who is Robin Leach? What are LSAs, and what are they typically used for? Why “let the buyer beware” is the savvy employer’s watch phrase when listening to LSA vendor pitches. How LSAs pose ERISA risks, and how to avoid them.
Broker and consultant disclosures: How much do you make?
At the end of last year, Congress passed a piece of legislation that addressed, among other things, new broker and consultant disclosure requirements that affect all contracts entered into or renewed Dec. 27, 2021 or after. While some disclosures already happen, the new obligations are focused on getting more detailed information in the hands of plan sponsors and fiduciaries.
In the latest episode, Ed leaves his beloved podcast baby in the safe (safe?) and loving (loving?) hands of Scott and his honorary cohost Rory Kane Akers. Together, Scott and Rory take transparency to a whole new level as they tackle broker and consultant compensation disclosures.
What plans are covered by these new requirements? Who counts as a “consultant” now expected to disclose this compensation information? (HINT: It’s not as clear cut as the broker distinction.) How do plan sponsors get this information? Do they have to request it? When should they expect the information to be delivered? How are the DOL and Santa similar? (Yes, you read that right.) What do brokers and consultants have to disclose? What is the difference between direct and indirect compensation? What’s the plan sponsor supposed to do with all this information? Where is Ed by the way? Is he okay? Seriously, if you’ve seen him, let us know.
Great content and entertainment!
Not sure how they make ERISA so entertaining, but they do! Highly recommend this podcast for anyone looking to brush up on what’s new and exciting in the ERISA world.
Dry topics served up extremely wet!
These guys are geniuses!
Good content, whimsical format! Great learning tool!