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Cross-Plan Offsetting and ERISA Compliance: Avoiding Participant Claims, Ramifications of Recent Court Decisions


May 30, 2019
Recorded Online

This CLE webinar will provide ERISA counsel and plan administrators guidance on the legal risks of cross-plan offsetting. The panel will discuss recent court decisions, fiduciary obligations of plan sponsors, oversight of third-party administrators (TPAs) engaging in cross-plan offsetting, limiting liability in negotiating and drafting administrative services agreements, and best practices in avoiding and managing participant claims.

The Eighth Circuit's ruling in Peterson v. UnitedHealth Group Inc. brings light to the pitfalls of cross-plan offsetting by insurers and TPAs. The recent ruling forces employers and insurers to take steps to ensure that the practices of TPAs are aligned with ERISA, plan documents and administrative services agreements.

Cross-plan offsetting occurs when a TPA of a health plan overpays a provider and resolves such overpayment by refusing to pay or reduces the amount to be paid to that provider for a future claim. In Peterson, the court ruled that nothing in the plan documents allowed the defendant to engage in cross-plan offsetting despite the defendant's argument that nothing prohibited them from doing so. Also, the court suggested that cross-plan offsetting may violate ERISA's "exclusive benefit" rule requiring that plan assets of one plan be used for the "exclusive benefit" of the individuals covered by that plan.

The ruling in Peterson v. UnitedHealth Group Inc. has opened the door to a number of potential participant claims and employer liability. ERISA counsel and advisers must take steps to limit the ramifications of cross-plan offsetting and other TPA practices.

Listen as our panel provides a critical analysis of the Eighth Circuit's ruling in Peterson v. UnitedHealth Group Inc., fiduciary duties of plan sponsors, the legal ramifications of cross-plan offsetting, reducing risks in administrative services agreements, and best practices in limiting and managing participant claims.


  • Legal risks of cross-plan offsetting to employers and insurers
  • The recent decision in Peterson v. UnitedHealth Group Inc.: a critical look at cross-plan offsetting practices
  • Fiduciary duties of plan sponsors and oversight of TPAs engaging in cross-plan offsetting
  • Addressing cross-plan offsetting in administrative service agreements and tips in avoiding claims

The panel will discuss these and other key issues:

  • What is cross-plan offsetting and how is it used by TPAs and insurers?
  • Application of ERISA and potential liability of plan sponsors
  • What is the impact of the Eighth Circuit's ruling in Peterson v. UnitedHealth Group Inc?
  • How can employers address cross-plan offsetting and minimize liability in administrative service agreements?
  • What are the best practices to avoid participant claims stemming from cross-plan offsetting?


  • Rebecca W. Foreman, Attorney, Arent Fox
  • J. Christian Nemeth, Partner, McDemott Will & Emery

More Information, How to Register

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