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Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

November 15, 2010

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[Guidance Overview]
Agencies Continue to Clarify Rules on Health Insurance Coverage for Children
Excerpt: "This issue of Health Care Reform Insights concludes with a list of action steps for health plan sponsors."
(The Segal Group, Inc.)

[Guidance Overview]
Further Guidance on Process for Obtaining Waivers of Annual Limit Requirement; Special Medical Loss Ratio Methodology to Be Provided for Mini-Med Plans
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment According to [HHS's Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight] website, waivers have been granted to 111 arrangements, as of November 1st, covering almost 1.2 mil.lion individuals."
(Employee Benefits Institute of America)

Critical Illness Insurance Has Never Been More Relevant, Says White Paper (PDF)
14 pages. Excerpt: "Employers and their broker partners have a tremendous opportunity to articulate a simple message about where critical illness insurance fits into the employee benefits equation, how it can help employees secure their financial well being and why it should be considered a priority."
(Metropolitan Life Insurance Company)

Barclays to Cover G.ay Employee Health Benefits Tax
Excerpt: "The financial services company said Friday it will begin reimbursing its employees based in the U.S. who opt to cover their same-s.ex domestic partners under the company's medical, dental or vision plans for the tax they must pay on the value of those benefits."

Medical Loss Ratios: Requirement that Health Insurers Spend Specific Share of Premiums They Collect on Health Care for Policyholders
Excerpt: "At issue now is how to enforce the mandated medical loss ratios by determining what constitutes health care services."
(Health Affairs)

Nobel Economists Ask to Help U.S. in Health Care Suit
Excerpt: "A group of 35 economists, including three Nobel laureates, asked a U.S. judge for permission to file a brief backing the Obama administration's bid to end a lawsuit challenging its health care overhaul."
(Bloomberg via Business Insurance)

Mobile Phones Become Tools of Health Promotion
Excerpt: "The idea of monitoring patients and promoting healthy behavior through mobile phones and other portable devices has emerged as a potential method to reduce the costs of health care while improving quality."
(The Washington Post; free registration required)

Employers Ready to Raise the Stakes for Health Improvement Incentives
Excerpt: "Your employer wants you to stop smoking and lose some weight. And the boss is willing to sweeten the pot if you succeed."
(Los Angeles Times)

Four Ways the Election Results Matter for Health Care Overhaul
Excerpt: "The Alliance for Health Reform and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation sponsored a briefing on that very topic with Norm Ornstein, of the conservative American Enterprise Institute; John Rother, EVP of policy, strategy and international affairs for the AARP and Dean Rosen, the former chief health-care adviser to Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist."
(The Wall Street Journal)

Flu Shots Can Pay Off Big for Employers
Excerpt: "Research presented Tuesday at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Assn., found that for each employee vaccinated an employer can save $63 to $95 per person."
(Los Angeles Times)

Why Employers Aren't Rooting for Health Care Reform to Die
Excerpt: "To understand what American employers thought about health care reform, [the reporter] spoke with Andrew Webber, President and CEO of the National Business Coalition on Health, a national, not-for-profit organization that represents public and private sector employers. Here is an edited transcript of [the] wide-ranging conversation."
(The Atlantic Monthly Group)

Thirteen Things Employers Need to Know About Health Reform
Excerpt: "This new regime is exceedingly complex, with various provisions becoming effective on different dates. Employers should develop a comprehensive strategy to ensure they meet the obligations imposed by this reform as they become due while continuing to ensure their group health plans meet their organization's goals without unnecessary and undue cost."
(Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC)

Health Reform: Reluctant States Could Invite a Federal Takeover
Excerpt: "For all their bluster about rolling back health reform, congressional Republicans won't be able to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or drastically underfund it without risking a government shutdown."
(Time Inc.)

Insurers Consider Shake-Ups to Business Models Under Health Law
Excerpt: "Become tech-savvy. Bulk up. Venture abroad. Those appear to be among the most appealing alternatives for U.S. health insurers with their core U.S. markets in upheaval following passage of the healthcare overhaul, speakers at the Reuters Health Summit said this week."
(Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation)

U.S. Supreme Court Will Not Review Decision Dismissing Challenge to Individual Mandate and Other Health Care Reform Provisions
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: In contrast to this trial court's ruling, three other trial courts (in Virginia, Michigan, and Florida) have ruled that health reform challengers had standing to sue because the individual mandate created a sufficiently imminent likelihood of financial injury, even though not effective until 2014."
(Employee Benefits Institute of America)

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Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]
Executive Health Insurance: A Casualty of Health Care Reform
Excerpt: "[O]ne particular requirement with the potential to significantly affect some of the terms of health insurance previously provided to executive employees is effective for plan years beginning on or after September 23, 2010 (i.e., January 1, 2011 for a calendar year plan). The new requirement applies to insured health plans (but not to grandfathered insured health plans 1) and prohibits discrimination in favor of highly compensated individuals either as to eligibility to participate in the plan or as to benefits provided by the plan."
(Cooley LLP)

[Guidance Overview]
EEOC's Final Regulations on GINA's Employment Nondiscrimination Provisions Clarify Open Issues
Excerpt: "[T]he regulations elaborate on a wide range of issues for employers, including the exceptions for the receipt of genetic information in connection with the FMLA and other leaves of absence, for purposes of monitoring toxic substances in the workplace, and from publicly available sources."
(Employee Benefits Institute of America)

Pigs Fly as Washington Faces Up to Deficit
Excerpt: "Last week in Washington, beneath a flock of pigs flying south in a majestic V formation, the co- chairmen of President Barack Obama's deficit commission released a plan that actually could solve the nation's pending fiscal crisis."
(Bloomberg L.P.)

Senator Baucus to Introduce Bill to Repeal 1099 Reporting
Excerpt: "Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., said Friday that he will introduce legislation to repeal a requirement that employers furnish 1099 statements if they do more than $600 in business with a corporate vendor."
(Business Insurance)

The Debt Commission's Free Ride for Boomers
Excerpt: "The U.S. debt reduction commission's initial proposal gives those free-spending Baby Boomers a virtual pass on financial sacrifice, writes columnist Chris Farrell[.]"
(Bloomberg Businessweek)

Press Releases

PBGC Helped Preserve Pensions For 360,000 In FY 2010
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC)

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