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Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

April 16, 2010

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[Guidance Overview]
Health Care Reform Impacts Grandfathered Employer-Sponsored Group Health Plans (PDF)
5 pages. Excerpt: "The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (together, the 'Reform Legislation') impact the design and administration of employer-sponsored group health plans. This bulletin describes how the Reform Legislation impacts employer-sponsored group health plans that were in effect on March 23, 2010 ('grandfathered health plans'). Additional requirements of the Reform Legislation that apply to employer-sponsored group health plans other than grandfathered health plans are not covered in this bulletin."
(Thompson Hine LLP)

[Guidance Overview]
The National Health Care Reform Law's Key Provisions for Multiemployer Plans (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "This Bulletin contains a brief summary of the PPACA's key provisions as amended by the HCERA (for ease of reference, both are referred to as the 'Act' or the 'law'), divided into five sections: Provisions Effective in 2010/2011 for Existing Group Health Plans; Provisions First Effective After 2011 for Existing Group Health Plans; Provisions of Interest to Retiree Health Plan Sponsors; Short-Term Health Reforms; Long-Term Health Reforms. The Bulletin includes two sidebars: 'Health Insurance Reforms Not Applicable to Existing Group Health Plans' and 'Miscellaneous Tax Changes.'"
(The Segal Group, Inc.)

Senate OKs Short-Term Extension of COBRA Subsidy
Excerpt: "The Senate approved legislation Thursday that would extend federal COBRA health insurance premium subsidies to employees laid off from April 1 through May 31. The previous short-term extension of the 15-month, 65% federal premium subsidy for involuntarily terminated employees expired March 31."
(Business Insurance)

Study of CDHP Participants Shows Cost Savings and Greater Engagement
Excerpt: "Aetna members enrolled in a health savings account had more than 15% lower primary care physician use for non-routine visits, and more than 10 percent lower overall medical costs than members in a PPO plan, according to the insurer's latest annual study of its CDHPs."
(Employee Benefit Adviser; free registration required)

New Health Law Means Changes in Flexible Spending Plans
Excerpt: "[S]tarting in 2013 the annual limit that any employee may contribute to these plans will go down, to $2,500, half the current maximum. The policy rationale for that change is simple. As the health law ushers in more comprehensive, affordable coverage, Kelly Traw, a principal at Mercer's Washington Resource Group, said the assumption was that employees would have less need for flexible spending accounts. And the revenue the government may get by limiting this tax break is meant to help finance the nation's health care overhaul."
(The New York Times; free registration required)

An Employer's Guide to Health Care Reform
Excerpt: "This Management Alert serves as a guide for employers, highlighting some of the changes made by the legislation. The effective dates of these changes follow each provision in bracketed text. This Management Alert will also lay out the compliance timeline facing employers and will address some of the frequently asked questions we have fielded."
(Seyfarth Shaw LLP)

Panel Says Most Health Insurers Need to Boost Medical Outlays
Excerpt: "Most of the big publicly traded insurance companies spend less on medical care than the new health law will require of them, says a report issued today by the Senate Commerce Committee. The committee, chaired by West Virginia's John D. Rockefeller IV, has spent almost a year digesting data on each insurer's medical-loss ratio, a metric closely watch by state regulators and Wall Street of how much health plans spend on benefits versus administrative expenses and profits."
(The Wall Street Journal)

Emerging Health Trends 2010: Survey Results
Excerpt: "Hewitt's The Road Ahead -- Emerging Health Trends 2010 survey highlights the strategic direction employers plan to take in the immediate future, as well as emerging long-term trends. The survey covers: strategy and planning; cost trends; and design features of employer-provided health care and other benefits. [Registration required to download a copy of the findings.]"
(Hewitt Associates)

Summary of Potential Employer Penalties under Health Reform Law (PDF)
7 pages. Excerpt: "This report provides a description and illustrations of the penalties, when applicable beginning in 2014, to employers under the new health insurance reform law -- specifically, in §1513 and §10106 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, P.L. 111-148), as amended by §1003 of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-152)."
(Congressional Research Service via National Conference of State Legislatures)

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: Overview and Information Resources (PDF)
13 pages. Excerpt: "The final health reform law is more than 2,400 pages in length and this alert is meant to serve as a top-line overview of the major provisions that were part of the final bill. At the end of the alert there is a list of additional resources including links to key governmental agencies and nonpartisan policy organizations that provide a greater level of detail on various specific elements of the new law."
(Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP)

Health Insurers Shifting Costs Ahead of Law, According to Report
Excerpt: "Some of the largest U.S. health insurers are changing their accounting practices to book administration costs as medical costs in an attempt to circumvent new industry reforms, according to a U.S. Senate panel's report released Thursday. Under the health care law passed in March, insurers must adjust their spending habits to meet new requirements. For example, large group plans must spend at least 85 cents of every premium dollar paid to them on actual medical care as opposed to administrative costs, while individual and small group plans must spend 80 cents."
(Reuters via Business Insurance)

[Opinion]
Medical Loss Ratios As Opportunity for Political Theater
Excerpt: "The goal of many health care reformers is actually to get to a single payer system. President Obama has espoused this point of view and the 'public option' was one track to get there. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ('PPACA') will get there as well, but in two steps rather than one. The first step will be to force private sector options into untenable economic arrangements while all the while decrying the profit motive as the critical problem as premiums increase. This will make for great political theater and the actors are already taking positions on stage."
(Roy Harmon via Health Plan Law)

[Opinion]
18 New ObamaCare Taxes
Calculations by the Heritage Foundation.
(Heritage Foundation via Citizens' Council on Health Care)




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Executive Compensation; Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview]
Employee Benefits Update, April 2010 (PDF)
The seven-page newsletter presents select compliance deadlines and reminders; retirement plan developments; and, health and welfare plan developments, with comments from Reinhart.
(Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c.)


Webcasts and Conferences

COBRA and COBRA ARRA Compliance Workshop
in California on April 19, 2010
presented by U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

COBRA and COBRA ARRA Compliance Workshop
in Alaska on May 18, 2010
presented by U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

Leveraging Health: Current Impact of Value Based Design
Nationwide on May 26, 2010
presented by MCOL

The Reality of Health Care Reform: Implications for Stakeholders
Nationwide on May 11, 2010
presented by MCOL

Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program Workshop
in California on April 19, 2010
presented by U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)


Press Releases

National Pension Tour Begins May 3rd 2010
Executive Benefits Design Group


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