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July 15, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Retirement Plan Service Specialist - Part-time
for Christian Retirement Ministries in CO

Project Manager - Benefits Administration
for Publix Super Markets, Inc. in FL

Sales Consultant, Actuarial Services
for Benefit Plans Administrative Services, Inc. (BPAS) in NY

Compliance Manager
for Transamerica in OH

Project Manager New Business Installation
for Transamerica in OH

Benefits Compliance Manager
for A Great Company Near San Antonio in TX

Deputy Director of Operations
for ACCG - GEBCorp in GA

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Webcasts and Conferences

Preparing for ACA Financial and Reporting Mandates and New 2013 HIPAA Rules -- Webcast
July 16, 2013 WEBCAST
(Mercer)

Preparing for 2014 Open Enrollment Focusing on New ACA Requirements -- Webcast
July 30, 2013 WEBCAST
(Mercer)

2013 Retirement Planning Fair - Sacramento
August 23, 2013 in CA
(CalPERS (California Public Employees' Retirement System))

2013 Retirement Planning Fair - Long Beach
September 13, 2013 in CA
(CalPERS (California Public Employees' Retirement System))

Why Employee Wellness Programs Fail (And What You Can Do About It) -- Webcast
July 22, 2013 WEBCAST
(Corporate Research Group)

Premera Blue Cross Case Study: Successfully Measuring Employee Engagement in Wellness Programs -- Webcast
July 29, 2013 WEBCAST
(Corporate Research Group)

Smoking Cessation: The Importance of Integrated Behavioral Interventions -- Webcast
August 6, 2013 WEBCAST
(Corporate Research Group)

Priority Health Case Study: Five Steps to a Proven Successful Worksite Wellness Program -- Webcast
August 20, 2013 WEBCAST
(Corporate Research Group)

IRA Institute Spring Session
September 10, 2013 in IL
(Retirement Industry Trust Association (RITA))

Multi-Employer Pension Plans: Continued Participation or Withdrawal? -- Webcast
August 20, 2013 WEBCAST
(Strafford Publications)

View All Webcasts and Conferences


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[Guidance Overview]

The Final ACA Navigator Regulations: State Law Preemption Issues Remain
"The preface repeats earlier statements that state laws that require navigators to be agents and brokers or obtain errors and omissions insurance would be preempted. HHS refuses to state, however, whether other requirements, like surety bond requirements, would prevent the application of the ACA without further analysis of specific requirements. Later the preface says specifically that states may require additional minimum eligibility requirements, background checks, and training and certification requirements, as long as those provisions do not prevent the application of the ACA. A major question that will need to be addressed is to what degree states can restrict the ability of navigators to fulfill their statutory responsibilities." (Timothy Jost in Health Affairs)

Two Cases Show Why All Employers Should Know About GINA
"Recent activity by the EEOC has led many employers to assess their knowledge of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) or more importantly, their lack of knowledge regarding GINA.... As part of the press releases on both of these matters, the EEOC reiterated that one of the six national priorities identified by the EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan is for the agency to address emerging and developing issues in equal employment law, which includes genetic discrimination. With these two recent filings it is suggested that all employers take the time to reexamine the process by which you obtain medical information from employees and prospective employees to make sure that you do not run afoul of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act." (William Gallagher Associates)

What Are You Hearing about Healthcare Implementation?
"Aetna and UnitedHealth Care pulling out of California is only the tip of the iceberg. Tens of thousands of individual policyholders all over the country are getting cancellation notices this summer, effective December 31st.... There has been a significant drop off (on the order of 10% or more) in new business purchases of health insurance.... In states that have been aggressively setting up their own exchanges, there has been a great deal of back-and-forth communication between the exchange managers and the insurance companies to make sure everything works right. But in the 33 states where the federal government will be running things, there has been no communication at all." (John Goodman's Health Policy Blog)

HHS Reporting That Shortcomings in Its Computer Programs Will Prevent Insurers from Charging Certain Smokers ACA-Authorized Higher Premiums
"[I]nsurers won't be able to impose as big a gap as they're allowed between premiums for younger and older smokers. That means insurers will either have to charge older smokers less than planned or charge young smokers more. Since HHS admitted it could take at least one year to rectify the problem, insurers should consider alternative plans. HHS suggested insurers limit penalties across all age groups by, for example, implementing a 20 percent penalty for both young and old smokers." (FierceHealthPayer)

Medicare Chief: Things Are on Track in Carrying Out the Health Care Law
"We're now at what I call the final touches in testing. We will be ready.... We're in the process of working with insurers, loading data, checking that data for completeness, accuracy. That data will become public. People will actually be able to look at rates across the federally facilitated exchanges around Labor Day ... So even before they sign up, they can actually look and see, if I'm a single person or if I'm a person with two dependents, what kind of rates, what kinds of plans, are going to be available in my hometown." (The Dallas Morning News)


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Insurers Test Drive New Health Plans
"To figure out who's going to show up for the new marketplaces and what they want, companies have plunged into research. They have been setting up simulated exchanges for consumers to test-drive.... Simulations ... have found that consumers often choose plans fairly quickly, without always looking in-depth at the benefit details. People with more health problems wanted richer coverage so they wouldn't have to pay much to go to the hospital or doctor's office." (The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required)

The Father of Microlending Takes on U.S. Health Costs
"[T]he program is designed to become self-sustaining. The borrowers will pay for some of the services from the start. Over time, their payments will cover more of the costs.... Even the wealthiest nations, [says Nobel Peace Prize-winning economist Muhammad Yunus], are starting to realize that their 'free' health systems are still too expensive to pay for. Healthcare insiders will be incredulous. How in the world will the priciest healthcare system serve people living below poverty without relying mainly on charity?" (The Health Care Blog)

Obamacare Struggles to Meet Make-or-Break Deadline
"The White House, and federal agencies including the [HHS] and the [IRS], must ensure that working marketplaces open for enrollment in all 50 states in less than 80 days, and are responding to mounting pressure by concentrating on three essential areas that will determine whether the most critical phase of Obamacare succeeds or fails.... But the risk of failure in the form of major delays is palpable, given the administration's limited staff and financial resources, as well as the stubborn political opposition of Republicans, who have denied new money for the effort in Congress and prevented dozens of states from cooperating with initiatives that offer subsidized health coverage to millions of lower income uninsured people." (Reuters)

Employees May Need Employer Help with 'Consumer-Driven' Decisions (PDF)
"[W]hile there were fewer office visits and prescriptions filled by employees covered by a [Consumer-Driven Health Plan], cancer screening also declined in the first year of the CDHP introduction -- and emergency room usage eventually increased. The report suggests that employers should consider providing periodic, ongoing communications to enrollees regarding services that are exempted from the deductible, as well as monitoring the use of recommended preventive services in order to address nonuse that is not attributable to factors such as changes in eligibility." (EBRI)

It's Raining Cats and Dogs: Pet Insurance One of Hottest Employee Benefits in U.S.
"The nation's oldest and largest pet insurer ... offers policies at one in three Fortune 500 companies, as well as 3,400 other companies and associations across the nation, said company president Scott Liles. Other organizations, such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, also offer insurance through employers, but the number of people who sign up remains small." (The Washington Post)

[Opinion]

Fourth Circuit's Liberty Ruling Deals a Hidden Blow to Obamacare
"The Obama administration has moved to dismiss Pruitt and Halbig on a number of grounds. First, it argues that those penalties are a tax, and the Anti-Injunction Act (AIA) prevents taxpayers from challenging the imposition of a tax before it is assessed. Second, the administration argues that the injuries claimed by the employer-plaintiffs are too speculative to establish standing. Third, shortly after announcing it would effectively repeal the employer penalties until 2015, the administration wrote the Liberty, Pruitt, and Halbig courts to argue that the delay should (at the very least) delay the courts' consideration of those cases. In Liberty, the Fourth Circuit rejected all of those claims." (Cato Institute)

[Opinion]

The Affordable Care Act and the Death of Personal Responsibility
"[T]he ACA's philosophical foundation ignores the power that individuals have to impact their personal health trajectory, and it compels Americans to accept lifelong roles as patients in a system that many of them not only don't want any part of but that they distrust and don't understand. It is exactly the opposite result that something called 'health' reform should have produced." (The Health Care Blog)

[Opinion]

Obamacare Exchange Contractor Target of Major Fraud Investigation in Britain
"This billion-dollar contract represents a glaring contradiction in terms -- a company under investigation for inaccurate, and potentially fraudulent, bills in Britain being asked to verify the accuracy of Americans' applications for federal exchange subsidies." (The Heritage Foundation)

[Opinion]

Obamacare Gets Easier to Implement All the Time -- As Long as You Don't Care About Losing Major Functions
"One of two things must be true: the Administration knew this was necessary long ago, but concealed it from the public and the Congress in order to limit the time they had to react; or the Administration is so incredibly inept that it has only just now realized that it wasn't going to be able to handle any of the complicated bits. Either way, why would we assume that anything else they say about the systems -- like, 'It'll be ready next year' -- is true? Indeed, why should we assume that this is the last such revelation?" (Megan McArdle)

[Opinion]

Employer Mandate Was Never Going to Work
"The employer mandate may have been bad policy ... but there was a reason it was included in the final version of the law.... [It's not] an exaggeration to say that without it, we wouldn't have had a health care law. Unfortunately, the employer mandate seems to be technically ... rather challenging. And manual verification is not going to fly; the political cost of that sort of hassle and wait would be enormous. The financial cost wouldn't be so little either. No wonder they've given up on it, for the nonce." (Megan McArdle)

[Opinion]

What Is Best Health Care Coverage for Part-Time Workers?
"Under the [ACA], the government is going to provide part-time employees subsidies inversely related to income, supposedly allowing these people to buy more comprehensive coverage through the exchanges. Employers can walk away, and these employees will get a better deal from the government. Although it may be a better deal, it's still not such a hot prospect." (Physicians for a National Health Program)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]

Q&As from Treasury and IRS Meeting with ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits, May 2013 (PDF)
16 pages. Topics include: Cost of Living Adjustments for High Deductible Health Plans; Collateral for Plan Loan; Benefit Election Following Reemployment; Correction for Exclusion from Plan; Determination Letter Applications: Amendments Adopted After Plan Restatement, Inability to Submit Missing Executed Plan Documents, and Off-Cycle Determination Letters; Correction of Overpayments with or without Spouse as Joint Annuitant; Merger of Plan with Roth Contributions; Various questions about 409A and 457 Plans; Section 162(m) Performance Pay; Change in ESOP Loan Duration; and Actuarial Adjustment of Cash Balance Benefit. (Joint Committee on Employee Benefits, American Bar Association)

[Guidance Overview]

Same-Sex Marriage Requires Changes to Employee Benefit Plans
"After Windsor, ambiguity remains about whether or not any welfare plan must offer coverage to same-sex spouses. However, insured plans in states that recognize such marriages will likely automatically provide for that coverage. Self-insured plans may not be required to do so under current law but may want to in order to preserve uniform treatment across states and to avoid potential liability for treating same-sex and opposite sex spouses differently." [The linked article includes a list of affected employee benefit plans and employer action steps.] (Latham & Watkins)

[Guidance Overview]

Supreme Court DOMA Decision Creates Compliance Conundrum for Employers (PDF)
14 pages. Excerpt: "As the number of states recognizing same-sex marriage grows, employers who take an inclusive approach to providing plan benefits may decide to roll back coverage for domestic partners ... If an employer has been grossing up employees to compensate them for the denial of federal tax preferences, they may wish to re-evaluate whether to continue the practice and for what groups of employees.... Using multiple definitions of spouse, in addition to complicating the administration of employer plans and uniform application of various employment policies, may inadvertently create employee relations issues. For that reason, employers may want to consider a uniform definition of spouse for as many plans and policies as possible." (Buck Consultants)

[Guidance Overview]

Implementing the DOMA Ruling: What Should Employers Be Doing Now?
"Determine how you will identify same sex spouses.... Decide how you will handle same sex spouses in your plans during this period before official guidance is issued.... Confirm your third-party administrators/providers are updating policies and preparing to provide required notices to same-sex spouses ... Decide whether to provide COBRA notices to same-sex spouses of participants (and their covered children) who are currently in the COBRA election period.... Ensure your payroll systems are updated ... Amend your retirement, cafeteria and wrap plan documents[.]" (McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP)

Putting Off Retirement May Help Stave Off Alzheimer's
"As Americans increasingly delay retirement, a new French study indicates this scenario may have a silver lining: a lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Researchers analyzing health and insurance records of more than 429,000 self-employed workers found a 3 percent reduction in dementia risk for each extra year at the age of retirement. Workers evaluated had been retired for an average of more than 12 years, and 2.65 percent of the group had dementia." (U.S.News & World Report)

Supreme Court DOMA Decision Grants Valuable Social Security, Medicare Benefits to Same-Sex Couples
"Social Security and Medicare benefits -- two cornerstones of retirement planning long enjoyed by most married Americans -- will be a bonanza for couples in the 13 states that recognize gay marriage. Gay and lesbian couples will be eligible for valuable spousal and survivor benefits that could be worth tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of dollars to each household.... For those living in states that accept only same-sex civil unions, the federal benefits will not be so generous. The Obama administration will not extend federal-worker benefits to domestic partners who are not legally married." (The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required)

Cypen & Cypen Newsletter, July 11, 2013
Article titles include: S&P 1500 Pension Plans Funding Levels Rise to Highest Point Since 2008; States Adjusted Pension Liability Medians; The Case for Passive Investing; Disability Applicant's Subjective Complaints Should Have Been Considered; GASB Releases Guide to Implementation of Statement 67 on Financial Reporting for Pension Plans; New York City Mandates Paid Sick Leave for Employees Working in the City; and Meanwhile, Florida Heads in the Opposite Direction. (Cypen & Cypen)

Press Releases

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