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A Primer on the Structure, Taxation and Regulation of Group Voluntary Benefits


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.

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A Primer on the Structure, Taxation and Regulation of Group Voluntary Benefits


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A Primer on the Structure, Taxation and Regulation of Group Voluntary Benefits


Alden J. Bianchi

Alden J. Bianchi

Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.,

  • Member of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C., and chair of the firm’s employee benefits and executive compensation practice
  • Represented the Romney administration in connection with the 2006 Massachusetts health care reform law
  • Rated nationally and in Massachusetts by Chambers and Partners
  • Obtained a key U.S. Department of Labor advisory opinion fully insurance multiple employer welfare arrangements
  • Wrote Bloomberg BNA Health Care Reform Advisor, a comprehensive work on the impact of the ACA on employers and group health plans
  • Testified before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee in connection with their consideration of the ACA
  • Chair, Bloomberg Tax, Compensation Planning Advisory Board
Kirk Watkins

Kirk Watkins

Trion Group, a Marsh & McLennan Agency, LLC

  • Leads the captive insurance programs for Trion Group, a Marsh and McLennan Agency, LLC, based in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
  • He is responsible for coordinating all aspects of the captive insurance area including business development, client services, underwriting, reinsurance agreements, carrier relationships, marketing, communications and new product development
  • Specializes in reinsurance programs for employee benefits, electronic product warranty and medical stop-loss programs
  • He has successfully created reinsurance programs that provide low-risk, diversification and profitable third-party premium for both onshore and offshore captive insurance companies; his largest program to date serves 149,000 employees and will provide $25M in savings for the company and its employees, while providing over $2M in surplus to their captive
  • Prior to joining MMA, he was the president of e-Duction, Inc., an affiliate of First Data Inc. where he created a patented program that provided a 0% interest MasterCard to employees, which reduced 401(k) and payday lending; the program provided substantial savings, reduced financial stress for employees and enhanced benefits with increased efficiency for employees
  • Pennsylvania Property, Casualty, Accident, Health, Life, Annuities licenses; previously held Series 7, 66 and 63 licenses
  • Graduate, Pennsylvania State University; executive certificate in negotiations for senior executives, Harvard Business School
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A Primer on the Structure, Taxation and Regulation of Group Voluntary Benefits

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