Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

January 4, 2017

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[Guidance Overview]

IRS Health Care Tax Tip 2017-01: 'If-X-Then-Y' Chart Explains How the ACA Affects Individual Taxpayers
"As you prepare to file your 2016 tax return, review this chart to see how the health care law affects you."
Internal Revenue Service [IRS]

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EEOC's ADA and GINA Wellness Regs Survive AARP's Challenge
"AARP raised two principal arguments as to both rules: first, that EEOC's interpretation of the term 'voluntary' to permit the use of 30 percent incentives is contrary to both the ADA and GINA; second, that EEOC did not adequately explain its reversal from its previous position that incentives were not permitted under either statute. Peeved because of AARP's delay in bringing suit and its request for expedited review, which meant the administrative record could not be prepared in time for the court to review it for the preliminary injunction, the court gave deference to the EEOC and concluded that AARP was not likely to succeed on the merits." [AARP v. EEOC, No. 16-2113 (D.D.C. Dec. 29, 2016)]
Wolters Kluwer

Drug Prices Expected to Rise 12 Percent in 2017, Faster Than Wages
"Prescription drug costs for Americans under 65 years old are projected to jump 11.6 percent in 2017, or at a quicker pace than the 11.3 percent price increase in 2016 ... Older Americans won't get much of a break: Their drug costs are projected to rise 9.9 percent next year, compared with 10.9 percent in 2016. By comparison, wages are expected to rise just 2.5 percent in 2017."
CBS MoneyWatch

Seven Tips for Adding Prescription Drug Coverage Limits
"Plan sponsors can ask participants to pay attention to drug prices and to ask their doctors to prescribe lower cost generics or over-the-counter drugs when possible. Participants can be asked to fill prescriptions at lower cost pharmacies or specific pharmacies. Sponsors may need to explain why they're excluding certain high-cost drugs from coverage or making them more expensive when a less-expensive alternative is available."
International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [IFEBP]

ACA Repeal Process Begins in Congress
"On January 3, 2017, Senator Mike Enzi, Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, introduced a concurrent budget resolution in the Senate ... This provision does not specifically refer to repeal of the [ACA], but that is clearly its goal. The concurrent resolution also establishes a 'reserve fund for health care legislation,' which is intended to pocket any savings from repeal for subsequent replacement legislation ... A budget resolution cannot be filibustered in the Senate and need only pass each house by a simple majority."
Health Affairs

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ACA Replacement: What to Expect
"Republicans have not reached a consensus on a detailed replacement law since ACA was enacted in 2010 and the difficulties are many. Some Republicans ... say that they would retain popular portions of ACA, such as a ban on preexisting condition exclusions, while eliminating the mandate for individuals to maintain health coverage.... The table [in this article] is based on plans offered by Republican leaders that may provide clues to future legislation."
Bloomberg BNA

Predictions for ACA Repeal-and-Replace Prospects
"Facing a filibuster, Republicans are likely to turn to the budget reconciliation process, in which a simple Senate majority is needed to pass measures related to federal revenues and spending, as long as those measures are budget-neutral ... [H]ealth benefit specialists shared possible scenarios to repeal and replace ACA at a December policy forum[.]"
Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM]

High Premiums in Nongroup Insurance Markets: Causes and Remedies
"[P]remiums are not high in all areas, and that many areas with large recent premium increases reflect needed corrections to very low premiums in the early years of reform. However, in sources with high premium levels, the causes differ, as should appropriate solutions."
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Obamacare a Losing Bet for Health Insurers, Three Years in a Row
"Health insurers lost money on Obamacare plans in 2016 for the third straight year. But they lost less than the $4.5 billion lost in 2015, and for 2017 they will get closer to break-even results ... Still, even though 2016 premiums rose an average of 25 percent for benchmark plans on which federal subsidies are based, most insurers will remain below their target profitability levels, and more premium increases can be expected for 2018[.]"
Bloomberg BNA

Benefits in General

Discover What Your Peers Are Discussing on Our Newly-Enhanced Message Boards
Use the free, newly enhanced BenefitsLink message boards to pose questions to your peers and pick up tips and information. We think you'll be pleased with a new All Activity page that displays topics that are new or that contain recently added messages. To start a topic or to post a message to an existing topic, you'll need to register now or use the Sign Up button if you haven't registered before. But, as always, you can view already-posted messages without registering first. Take a look!
BenefitsLink

Executive Compensation and Nonqualified Plans

Top Executives Get Performance Bonuses Despite 'Tepid Growth'
"More than one-third of the companies polled (36 percent) expect to pay annual bonuses that exceed 110 percent of target. Roughly the same number (35 percent) anticipate paying bonuses at 90 percent of target or below. The remainder (29 percent) expect to pay annual incentives close to target."
Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM]

Press Releases

LHD Retirement Advisors Certified for Fiduciary Excellence
Centre for Fiduciary Excellence [CEFEX]

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Lois Baker, J.D., President  loisbaker@benefitslink.com
David Rhett Baker, J.D., Editor and Publisher  davebaker@benefitslink.com
Holly Horton, Business Manager  hollyhorton@benefitslink.com

BenefitsLink Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9595. Copyright 2017 BenefitsLink.com, Inc. All materials contained in this newsletter are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of BenefitsLink.com, Inc., or in the case of third party materials, the owner of those materials. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notices from copies of the content.

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