Judith Wethall

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Judith Wethall focuses her practice on employee benefits, specifically health and welfare programs. She counsels employers, plan administrators, insurers and consultants on a wide range of ERISA compliance issues. Judith's clients include sole proprietors to Fortune 100 companies and cover a variety of industries including health care, technology, manufacturing, insurance and financial. Read Judith Wethall's full bio.

Are Out-of-Pocket Costs on Their Way Out? At-Home COVID-19 Testing and Expanded Preventative Healthcare for Women and Children


By , and on Jan 14, 2022
Posted In Employee Benefits, Employment, Health and Welfare Plans

In response to a directive from the White House, based on provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that eliminated cost sharing for COVID-19 diagnostic testing, three federal government departments—the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the US Department of Labor...

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IRS Announces 2022 Employee Benefit Plan Limits


By , and on Nov 10, 2021
Posted In Employee Benefits, Employment, Health and Welfare Plans, Retirement Plans

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently announced the cost-of-living adjustments to the applicable dollar limits for various employer-sponsored retirement and welfare plans for 2022. Most of the dollar limits currently in effect for 2021 will increase. View the adjustments here.

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Agencies Clarify How Employers Can Charge COVID-19 Vaccine Premium Incentives


By and on Nov 2, 2021
Posted In Employee Benefits, Employment, Health and Welfare Plans

On October 4, 2021, the US Departments of Labor, Treasury, and Health and Human Services issued guidance regarding the application of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) wellness rules to vaccine-related premium surcharges and discounts, clarifying that employers may charge vaccine premium incentives if they adhere to the requirements of activity-only health-contingent programs....

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IRS Provides Further Guidance on COBRA Election and Payment Deadlines


By and on Oct 27, 2021
Posted In Employee Benefits, Employment, Health and Welfare Plans

In Notice 2021-58, the Internal Revenue Service clarified that the one-year tolling relief periods for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) elections and initial premium payments run concurrently, not consecutively. This means that a qualified beneficiary generally will have only one year of total disregarded time for the election and initial payment periods. Read more...

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Employers on Hook for Mental Health Parity Despite New Target


By on Oct 20, 2021
Posted In Employee Benefits, Health and Welfare Plans

The US Department of Labor (DOL) is casting a skeptical eye on health insurance companies’ inconsistent coverage of mental health and substance use disorder benefits. The DOL recently commenced litigation against an insurer to require mental health and substance use disorder coverage be on par with regular physical care. In an article in Bloomberg Law,...

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Premium Surcharges for the Unvaccinated Are Lawful Within Limits


By on Oct 14, 2021
Posted In Employee Benefits, Health and Welfare Plans

Many plan administrators expressed bewilderment at the Biden administration’s recent guidance to limit vaccine incentive or surcharge programs for unvaccinated plan participants. According to this SHRM article, which features insight from McDermott Partner Judith Wethall, any premium surcharges must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act’s (HIPPA) nondiscrimination rules. HIPPA nondiscrimination rules allow...

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Just How Many Employers Will Mandate Vaccines?


By on Sep 22, 2021
Posted In Employment, Health and Welfare Plans

An August Willis Towers Watson poll found that 52% of 961 surveyed companies intend to implement at least one vaccine mandate by 2021’s fourth quarter. In a poll in May, 72% of respondents said they had no plans to require vaccines. To encourage vaccination, some employers—like Delta Air Lines—are introducing or considering company healthcare plan...

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Red Tape, Legal Risk Douse Fervor for Surcharges on Unvaccinated


By on Sep 16, 2021
Posted In Employee Benefits, Employment, Health and Welfare Plans

Companies curious about a major airline’s unvaccinated healthcare premium surcharge are discovering that it may be too complex to copy. The airline recently announced that unvaccinated employees enrolled in the company’s health plan would see a $200 monthly surcharge. In this Bloomberg Law article, McDermott Partner Judith Wethall said the compliance hurdles are “tricky and...

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Companies Eye Financial Penalties for Unvaccinated Workers


By on Sep 10, 2021
Posted In Employee Benefits, Employment, Health and Welfare Plans

As companies consider whether or not to introduce vaccine mandates for employees, there is interest among some employers to increase health care premiums or impose financial penalties on employees who refuse vaccination. One major airline, for example, recently announced that unvaccinated employees enrolled in the company’s health plan would see a $200 monthly surcharge. However,...

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Requirements Related to Surprise Billing: Policy Update


By , , and on Sep 9, 2021
Posted In Employee Benefits, Health and Welfare Plans

The US Departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury and Labor, and the Office of Personnel Management issued an Interim Final Rule with comment implementing portions of the No Surprises Act, legislation enacted in December 2020 that bars surprise billing beginning January 1, 2022. Under the law, payers and providers (including hospitals, facilities, individual practitioners...

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