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November 15, 2012          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Retirement Planning Consultant
for Diversified in IN

Nationwide Financial Operations Director
for Nationwide in OH

DB Actuarial Analyst
for Midwest Actuarial Consulting Firm in

Defined Contribution Employee Benefit Plan Administrator
for Pension Administrators, Inc. in IL

Retirement Plan Administrator
for Bates & Company, P.A. in FL

Pension Administrator
for Pension Administration Firm in CA

Compliance Analyst
for The Newport Group in FL, NC

Actuarial Analyst
for Milliman in TX

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Webcasts and Conferences

Reducing the Cost of Retiree Health—Strategies and Issues Under ERISA Webcast
Nationwide on December 5, 2012 presented by McDermott Will & Emery LLP

A Frank Discussion with the Director of Employee Plans Examinations Webcast
Nationwide on December 18, 2012 presented by American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA)


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Expected Health Care Costs During Retirement: $240,000
"Here's a breakdown of where their $240,000 goes: 32% goes to premiums for Medicare Parts B & D, which cover doctor visits and drugs, respectively; 23% goes to prescription drugs expenses not covered by Medicare Part D; and 45% goes toward Medicare cost-sharing provisions, including copayments, deductibles, other services not covered by Medicare, and any optional Medigap policies purchased." (MarketWatch.com)


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Treasury Department Upholds Availability of Health Care Tax Credit for Purchases Through Federally-Operated Exchanges
"'Treasury regulations implementing Sec. 36B of the code provide that individuals who enrolled in coverage through either a state-run or federally-facilitated exchange are eligible for premium tax credits,' [Treasury Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs Alastair M. Fitzpayne] wrote in a letter [to House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa]." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)

Developments of Interest to Health Plan Sponsors (PDF)
Topics include: Trend and CPI; ACA and Compliance News; 2013 Survey of Health Plan Cost Trends; and What Health Plan Employers Are Doing to Manage Costs: Selected Strategies. (Sibson Consulting)

Rules on Health Insurance Exchanges and Definition of Essential Health Benefits May Be Imminent
"The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is reviewing a proposed Health and Human Services rule that apparently will lay out the requirements for qualified health plans and the minimum standards for essential health benefits in insurance exchanges that the states will run.... Just because the rules are at OMB doesn't mean they are immediately forthcoming. Sometimes proposals flow fairly rapidly through OMB, and sometimes it takes weeks or even months. However, that seems unlikely in this instance, given that implementation of the health care law needs to move forward." (The Commonwealth Fund)

Health Care Cost Inflation Hits 15-Year Low
"Growth 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. Employers expect another relatively low increase of 5.0% for 2013. However, this increase reflects changes they plan to make to reduce cost; if they made no changes, cost would rise by an average of 7.4%." (Employee Benefit News)


[Advert.]

Form 5500 Reporting Update - December 4

Sponsored by Lorman and BenefitsLink.com

This live audio conference will help you understand when you need to file a Form 5500 and what you need to file, and will focus on some recent changes that may impact your filings. Discounted pricing for BenefitsLink readers.


The Affordability and Workability Challenges Ahead for the Health Insurance Marketplace (PDF)
"As implementation of the [ACA] continues, significant affordability and workability challenges will need to be addressed to ensure the health insurance marketplace works for consumers and employers. This includes streamlining processes for implementing the new reforms, eliminating duplicative and overlapping regulatory requirements, and addressing provisions in the law that will make health care coverage more expensive." (Insurance Regulatory Examiners Society)

Comparing Local and Regional Variation in Health Care Spending
"There was substantial local variation in health care (drug and nondrug) utilization and spending. Furthermore, many of the low-spending hospital service areas (HSAs) were located in high-spending hospital referral regions (HRRs), and many of the high-spending HSAs were in low-spending HRRs.... The effectiveness of payment reforms in reducing overutilization while maintaining access to high-quality care depends on the effectiveness of targeting.... HRR-based policies may be too crudely targeted to promote the best use of health care resources." (New England Journal of Medicine)

Patient Moves 10 Miles, Sees Health Premium Go Up 25%
"Joan Swope, 62, moved recently from Cathedral City, just down the road from Palm Springs, to nearby Palm Desert. She informed her insurer, Anthem Blue Cross, of the change of address. A few weeks later, Anthem responded with a notice stating that, because of the move, Swope's monthly premium on her individual policy will increase to $524 from $418. That's a more than 25% rate hike. For a move of less than 10 miles." (Physicians for a National Health Program)

Equity in the Context of Healthcare Reform
"A number of provisions in [the ACA] directly address the goal of reducing disparities in health and health care among minority populations. Increasing access to health coverage will have a significant effect.... Hispanics and Blacks ... tend to have lower rates of employer-sponsored coverage, making them more likely to benefit from health insurance exchanges, government-regulated marketplaces designed to enable more small businesses to offer employees health insurance." (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)

The Prevalence and Cost of Deductibles in Employer-Sponsored Health Plans
"In 2006, just over half (52%) of covered workers had a deductible for single coverage, compared with almost three-quarters (72%) in 2012.... Since 2006, the percentage of workers enrolled in plan types which are less likely to require a deductible, such as HMOs, has decreased (20% to 16%) and enrollment in High-Deductible Health Plans with Savings Options (HDHP/SOs) has increased (4% to 19%). We define high-deductible health plans with savings options as plans with a deductible of at least $1,000 and eligible for either a health reimbursement arrangement (HRAs) or Health Savings Account (HRAs)." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Facebook Pictures of Employee Socializing at Local Festival Drown FMLA Claim
"What must an employer establish when it terminates an employee for FMLA abuse? That it had an honest belief the employee was engaging in fraud.... An employer effectively advances this defense only when it conducts a complete and exhaustive investigation into the alleged facts." (FMLA Insights)

2012 Healthcare Satisfaction Benchmark Increases
"[T]he average satisfaction score for health insurance websites increased from 51 to 56 ... half of the sites that were measured both this year and last experienced score increases, but the other half had declined. The individual sites in this category showed a range of 33 to 79 in satisfaction scores and include websites for providers such as Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Kansas (and other states), Department of Defense TRICARE, and many other private and public health insurance websites.... As the lowest-scoring category in the benchmark, health insurance companies have the most to gain by improving communications with customers in the online environment[.]" (Harris Interactive)

[Opinion]

The Dilemma of Medicare Coverage of 'Reasonable and Necessary' Care and Why It's Important
"Medicare has always covered medical services that are 'reasonable and necessary.' As new approaches, drugs and medical technologies have been released, you'd think coverage would be based on an objective analysis of outcomes and cost effectiveness. You'd be wrong. Years of differing interpretations, patient advocacy, Congressional meddling, regulatory carve-outs and case law have generated a miasma of bureaucratic complexity that will guarantee the incomes of thousands of lawyers for years to come." (The Health Care Blog)

[Opinion]

How to Curb the High Cost of Cancer Care
"Oncology has become a focal point in the health care cost control debate because its claims are rising faster than other specialties. New drugs coming on the market, many of which only extend life for a month or two, now cost $100,000 a year or more. They have become a major driver of rising cancer care costs, especially when used in terminally-ill patients nearing the end of life." (TDWI Blog)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

Employee Benefits in the Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy (PDF)
Topics include: Ways to help affected employees; Relief from benefit plan filing deadlines; ERISA plan funding requirements; and Wish List for additional relief. (Buck Consultants)

CBO Report on Costs of Military Pay and Benefits in the Defense Budget
"Of [the Department of Defense's] $150 billion request for compensation in 2013, more than $90 billion would go to basic pay, food and housing allowances, bonuses, and various types of special pay. Another $16 billion would go to accrual payments that account for the future pensions of current service members who will retire from the military (generally after at least 20 years of service). In 2012, DOD paid 34 cents for each dollar of basic pay for active personnel and 24 cents for each dollar of basic pay for reserve personnel." (Congressional Budget Office)

Compensation, Retirement and Benefits Trends Report for 2012-13
"Looking ahead, employers plan to maintain compensation, health and welfare benefits and retirement levels. This stability marks an improvement from the drastic cuts made during the crisis and its immediate aftermath. Many employers are looking at the competitive landscape and shifting to pay-for-performance to drive compensation decisions. Further, companies are increasing their focus on employee retention by offering more retirement and benefit choices and differentiating compensation levels to motivate employees -- a sign that employers are committed to finding a balance between controlling costs and sustaining and nurturing the workforce." (Verisight and McGladrey, LLP)

Press Releases



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