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November 14, 2012          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Client Service Representative
for Associated Pension Consultants in CA

VP, Sales - Stable Value
for New York Life Retirement Plan Services in ANY STATE

Defined Contribution Retirement Plan Administrator
for Blue & Co., LLC in IN

DB/DC Administrator
for Duncan Financial Group, LLC in PA

Associate Vice President & Regional Sales Consultant
for National Associates, a subsidiary of United Retirement Plan Consultants in OR

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Webcasts and Conferences

“Best Practices for Retirement Industry Professionals” Webinar
Nationwide on December 4, 2012 presented by Transamerica Retirement Services


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Employers Held Health Benefit Cost Growth to 4.1% in 2012
"Decisive action by employers in 2012 -- in particular, moving more employees into low-cost consumer-directed health plans and beefing up health management programs -- was rewarded with the lowest average annual cost increase since 1997.... [G]rowth in the average total health benefit cost per employee slowed from 6.1% last year to just 4.1% in 2012. Cost averaged $10,558 per employee in 2012. Large employers -- those with 500 or more employees -- experienced both a higher increase (5.4%) and higher average cost." (Mercer)


[Advert.]

Wellness Programs and Value-Based Health Care Third Edition

Sponsored by IFEBP (International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

From the International Foundation, this detailed survey report examines popular wellness programs in the United States and Canada. Ways of identifying health risks, promoting physical activity, and providing health-related education are included!


Budget Negotiators Get Options for $385B in Health Care Savings, Mostly Through Higher Premiums and Cutbacks to Providers
"Hoping to head off wider health care cuts in upcoming budget talks, a think tank close to the White House is unveiling a plan for how to save $385 billion, mostly from Medicare. Medicaid and the new health care law are largely spared from cuts in the blueprint ... by the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress. Instead, it targets Medicare service providers, from the pharmaceutical industry to hospitals and nursing homes. And higher-income Medicare recipients would face increased monthly premiums for outpatient and prescription coverage." (The Washington Post; free registration required)

Center for American Progress Issues Proposal to Generate $385 Billion Reduction in Federal Health Spending Over 10 Years
"The Senior Protection Plan proves that it is possible to produce substantial savings, as scored by the Congressional Budget Office, without harming beneficiaries. All told, the plan would produce federal savings in excess of $385 billion over 10 years. In addition to the plan's savings, its tax policies related to health care would generate up to $100 billion over 10 years. But most importantly, the plan includes an array of reforms that would bend the cost curve over the long term." (Center for American Progress)

New Weight Loss Technologies Help Companies Curb Health Care Costs
"According to Matthew Levy, an Oakland, Calif.-based management consultant with more than a decade of experience in the health industry, increasingly corporations will subsidize or outright pay for these technologies, the way they did earlier with gym memberships. 'Health-care costs arising from obesity issues are staggering. Many large companies self-insure so these dollars drop straight to the bottom line. Corporate wellness [technology]...can yield significant savings,' he said." (The Wall Street Journal Health Blog)

An Employer's Game Plan for 2013 and 2014 ACA Compliance
"If your group health care plan is maintained on a calendar-year basis, you are either in the midst of finalizing open enrollment materials for 2013 or in the midst of open enrollment.... [O]pen enrollment materials must reflect certain 2013 compliance items noted [in this article]." (Thorp, Reed & Armstrong)

Employers Must Provide Notice to Participants of State Health Insurance Exchange by March 1, 2013
"The health care reform laws amended the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to require employers to provide their employees with a written notice about the State Health Exchanges and to explain some of the benefits and consequences to employees if they choose to purchase a qualified health plan through the State Exchange instead of electing coverage under an employer-sponsored health plan.... The FLSA defines 'employer' very broadly.... Unless you have reason to believe you are exempt from the FLSA, you should assume that you must provide your employees with the Notice." (McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP)

ML Strategies Health Care Reform Update, November 12, 2012 (PDF)
Weekly update on developments in federal and state health care reform legislation and regulations. Includes summaries of recent announcements and regulatory activity by HHS, CCIIO, IRS and CMS. (Mintz Levin)

Claimant's Attorney's Protest Letter Did Not Constitute Administrative Appeal for Exhaustion Purposes
"[M]ere written protests to the signing of a subrogation agreement do not constitute an administrative appeal for exhaustion purposes. In order to exhaust administrative remedies, and thereby preserve a claim for litigation, the claimant should make it clear that he or she is appealing the prior denial of benefits and at least attempt to address the merits of the claim denial. Protestations as to the fairness of an express subrogation requirement will not carry the day." [Florida Health Sciences Center, Inc. v. Total Plastics, Inc. (11th Cir., Nov. 6, 2012)] (Benefits Bryan Cave)

Most Small Businesses Do Not Understand Requirements of Health Reform Law
"Based on their size (fewer than 50 employees), only two of the businesses surveyed would be required by the ACA to offer health insurance coverage to employees in 2014. However, one-third (34 percent) incorrectly believed that they were required to buy insurance for employees in 2014, while 35 percent were not sure. Nearly 70 percent either incorrectly believed or were not sure whether they would be required to pay a tax for not providing health insurance in 2014. Only 31 percent of respondents correctly said that the reform law does not require them to a pay tax if they do not offer insurance." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)

Out-of-Pocket Health Costs Keep Rising for Employees
"In 2012, 72 percent of covered workers face a general annual deductible, up from 52 percent of workers in 2006, according to a deeper look at data from the Kaiser/HRET Employer Health Benefits Survey. Among workers who have an annual deductible, the average deductible for single coverage, across all types of plans, is $1,097 this year, up from $584 in 2006." (The New York Times)

Value-Based Purchasing Spearheads Health and Wellness
"Self-insured health plans that want to adopt value-based benefits have at least three major tasks at hand: (1) finding and purchasing from the high-performing provider in the area; (2) designing a benefit that will steer employees to those high-performing providers; and (3) emphasizing effective preventive care, so chronic ailments don't become acute and costly." (Thompson SmartHR Manager)

Implications of Health Insurance Exchange Implementation
"[T]he American healthcare system will see a significant expansion of the power of individuals (rather than employers) to make health plan purchase decisions, in both state and federal exchanges. This approach promises to have far-reaching impact on the way coverage is marketed and administered, as well as an effect on healthcare analytics as administrative challenges are confronted." (Healthcare Town Hall)

Rate Review Protects Consumers from Unjustified Health Insurance Premium Increases
"Fifty percent of the rate review determinations made so far have resulted in either a lower increase than originally proposed or no increase at all. On average, rate increases implemented were 2.8% lower than the proposed increase. To date, rate review has saved consumers in the individual and small group markets an estimated $1 billion, and resulted in lower premium increases for nearly 800,000 people." (ExtendHealth)

Health Plan Design Drives Regional Health Care Cost Differences
"[O]f all health plans in the Northeast, 33.6 percent have no single deductible, compared with just 8.4 percent and 4.1 percent in the Southeast and Central regions, respectively. In addition, 76.9 percent of all plans in the Northeast provide 100 percent in-network coinsurance. That's compared with a low of 27.8 percent in the Central region and an average of 31.6 percent among the remaining regions." (United Benefit Advisors)

Hospitals That Spend More on Patients Have Lower Mortality Rates
"In the last two years, the results in several published papers suggest that higher, and more costly, hospital treatment intensities produce lower mortality rates. These results are in stark opposition to claims that because there is no observable relationship between variations in end-of-life hospital spending and mortality, a large fraction of high intensity care is wasteful. They also cast doubt on related claims that 20 to 30 percent of U.S. medical spending does no good." (John Goodman's Health Policy Blog)

UN Says Access to Contraception a Human Right, Would Cut Health Care Costs
"The United Nations says access to contraception is a universal human right that could dramatically improve the lives of women and children in poor countries.... The global body also says increasing funding for family planning by a further $4.1 billion could save $11.3 billion annually in health bills for mothers and newborns in poor countries." (The Washington Post; free registration required)

[Opinion]

Have We Encountered the Last Well Child?
"Over the past 20 years, we have shifted the curve to include more children in certain diagnostic categories. Why? Because more diagnoses equal more money. More for hospitals and physicians who diagnose and treat, more for insurance companies who can charge higher premiums based on covering a sicker population, and more for pharmaceutical companies who make the drugs we increasingly use to treat. We are spending more money per child to perform diagnostic tests and treat health ills due to chronic conditions that could have been prevented in the first place." (Athena Health)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

Many Adults Caring for Elderly Parents Say They'll Tap Retirement Savings to Help Their Parents Financially (PDF)
"Many Americans are behind when it comes to saving for retirement, and caregivers are no exception.... The majority of caregivers in this survey (84%) were over the age of 45.... [T]wo-in-five caregivers (43%) felt their parents had not saved enough money for retirement. The majority (65%) felt they were in the same boat as their parents and were not saving enough for their own retirement. And nearly one-third (31%) felt they would have to dip into their own retirement savings to help their parents retire." (eHealth)

Circuits/IRS Split When It Comes to FICA Taxation of Severance Pay
"Despite a Circuit conflict, the IRS continues to assert that all severance payments are wages subject to FICA taxation, unless they meet the narrowly-tailored definition of 'supplemental unemployment benefits' under existing IRS guidance. Such benefits are defined as payments on account of an employee's involuntary separation from employment that results directly from a reduction in force, the discontinuance of a plant or other similar conditions. In addition, the IRS requires that such severance payments not be made as a lump sum and specifically be designed to supplement state unemployment benefits that the individual is eligible to receive." (Bloomberg BNA)

Reinhart Employee Benefits Update, November 2012 (PDF)
Articles include: Select Compliance Deadlines and Reminders; IRS Issues Changes to Retirement Plans' 2013 Dollar Limits; PBGC Announces 2013 Premium Changes; 2013 Limits for Archer MSA HDHPs; and Second Circuit Court of Appeals Rules DOMA Unconstitutional. (Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c.)

Employment and Benefits Issues in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy
"In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, employers with employees and operations on the East Coast face a myriad of questions regarding how to handle weather-related closures of their facilities, business disruptions, and evacuation and displacement of numerous workers and their families from their homes. Generous employers are also considering ways to assist those affected by the storm. The effect of a storm closure on employment requirements varies for different types of employees and also varies by state." (Proskauer Rose LLP)

Approval of Washington State's Marriage Equality Act and Its Impact on Employee Benefits
"Employers should now assess the impact of the [Washington State] Marriage Equality Act on their employee benefit plans and procedures (which should already have been reviewed and revised to ensure compliance with the 'everything but marriage' law). This advisory revisits the employee benefits compliance issues that arose from 'everything but marriage' and addresses additional benefits issues arising from the Marriage Equality Act." (Davis Wright Tremaine LLP)



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