The statute provides that: "[t]he term 'employee benefit plan' or 'plan' means an employee welfare benefit plan
or an employee pension benefit plan or a plan which is both an employee welfare benefit plan
and an employee pension benefit plan." Id.
clause was contained within the employee welfare benefit plan
Coverage of employee welfare benefit plans
, i.e., employer-sponsored programs providing life, health, and disability insurance policies to employees, was added to the basic law as an afterthought, with little or no consideration of the long-term effect of ERISA on the rights of insured employees to have their claims handled fairly and in good faith by their insurance companies; it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Congress's notion of a MEWA is broader than its concept of an "employee welfare benefit plan
The ERISA definition of employee welfare benefit plans
specifically includes employer-paid day care centers, scholarship funds, and prepaid legal services. These benefits, consequently, cannot be regulated by the States.
An employee welfare benefit plan
that is a multiple employer welfare arrangement and is fully insured (or is a multiple employer welfare arrangement subject to certain exemptions) may be subject to state laws regulating insurance to the extent that a state law provides (1) standards requiring the maintenance of specified levels of reserves and specified levels of contributions, which any plan, or any trust established under such a plan must meet in order to be considered, under the state law, able to pay benefits in full when due; and (2) provisions to enforce these standards.
Specifically, it will not find that employer contributions to HSAs give rise to an ERISA-covered plan when the establishment of the HSAs is completely voluntary on the employees' part and the employer does not (1) limit eligible individuals' ability to move their funds to another HSA; (2) impose conditions on use of HSA funds; (3) influence the investment decisions for funds contributed to an HSA; (4) represent that the HSAs are an employee welfare benefit plan
established or maintained by the employer; or (5) receive compensation in connection with an HSA.
The court found that although the split-dollar life insurance plan was "funded" under ERISA, it was exempt from the reporting and disclosure requirements as an employee welfare benefit plan
maintained primarily by the employer for purposes of providing benefits to a select group of management and for which benefits are provided exclusively through insurance policies, the premiums for which are paid directly from the employer's general assets.
Any person who embezzles, steals, or unlawfully and willfully abstracts or converts to his own use or to the use of another, any money, funds, securities, premiums, credits, property, or other assets of an employee welfare benefit plan
or employee pension benefit plan, or of any connected fund, may be fined, or imprisoned for up to five years, or both.
Represent the HSAs as an employee welfare benefit plan
established or maintained by the employer; or
The example in the Tax Clinic item, "Annual Filing Requirements for Employee Fringe Benefit Plans," TTA, May 1990, at 288, indicated that a funded employee welfare benefit plan
, such as a funded uninsured medical plan, covering fewer than 100 participants (as of the beginning of the plan year), must file form 5500, Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan, together with an independent qualified public accountant's opinion.