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Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

December 14, 2010

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HHS's OCR Officials Provide Informal Views on HIPAA Audits, Business Associate Agreements, Breach Notification, and More
Excerpt: "The [Joint Committee on Employee Benefits] report offers some insight into [HHS's Office for Civil Rights]'s application and enforcement of HIPAA's privacy and security rules, although none of the answers provided by the OCR officials may be relied upon as official guidance."
(Employee Benefits Institute of America)

Federal Judge in Virginia Strikes Down Health Care Reform Coverage Mandate
Excerpt: "While federal government lawyers had argued before Hudson that the mandate is necessary for the bill's other provisions to work, the Commonwealth insisted requiring Americans to buy a product - in this case insurance coverage - had no basis in the Constitution."

Can Genetic Information Be Used to Adjust Health Insurance Premiums?
Excerpt: "No. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) prohibits a group health plan from adjusting group premium or contribution amounts for a group of similarly situated individuals based on the genetic information of members of the group."
(Wolters Kluwer)

The 2007-09 Recession and Health Insurance Coverage
Excerpt: "Throughout the past decade, even in good economic times, the number of Americans with employer-sponsored insurance has fallen, and the number of uninsured Americans has increased. This finding underscores the importance of planned coverage expansions under the Affordable Care Act."
(Health Affairs)

Realizing Health Reform's Potential: Adults Ages 50-64 and the Affordable Care Act of 2010
Excerpt: "Several early provisions that go into effect in 2010, including preexisting condition insurance plans, will provide transitional assistance for adults who have struggled to gain health insurance. The biggest improvements will come in 2014 through a significant expansion in eligibility for Medicaid and the creation of health insurance exchanges with subsidized private insurance for people with low and moderate incomes."
(The Commonwealth Fund)

New Study Finds Health Law Will Aid Those Close to Retirement Age
Excerpt: "Roughly 8.2 mil.lion of the 8.6 mil.lion uninsured between the ages of 50 to 64 will gain access to health coverage in 2014 under the health care overhaul, according to an analysis unveiled by the Commonwealth Fund . . . ."
(Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation)

Who Might Respond to Financial Incentives That Use Lower Cost Sharing to Change Health Care Services Use Behavior? (PDF)
Pages 13-18 of 20 pages. Excerpt: "This article examines whether health care consumers would be interested in, or might find useful, financial incentives that are aimed at changing an individual's health behavior. Understanding how individuals respond to financial incentives in their health coverage is crucial to the design of plans that are effective in steering them to high-quality, cost-effective providers. Data for this article are from the EBRI/MGA 2010 Health Confidence Survey."
(Employee Benefit Research Institute)

Accountable Care Organizations: Applying 20th Century Laws to 21st Century Ideas
Excerpt: "There is certainly plenty of information and speculation available about ACOs, one of the most talked-about ideas in years. Questions remain about the extent of the financial and legal parameters that will emerge. It would not be the first time that a great idea was handicapped by overly restrictive oversight."
(Pepper Hamilton LLP)

Difficulty Paying for Health Care Ranks Fourth on List of 'Serious Problems Experienced As a Result of Downturn'
Excerpt: "More than half of the American people report a 'serious' economic problem, such as difficulty getting a decent job, losing money in the markets, taking a cut in pay, or problems paying for health care, gas, rent or the mortgage."
(Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation)

Constitutional Challenges to Health Care Reform Gain Traction with Courts
Excerpt: "The primary issue in Virginia v. Sibelius and in similar challenges is whether the individual mandate is within Congress's authority under the Commerce Clause. The Act's opponents argue that, although even the most minimum conduct affecting interstate commerce has been held to be within this authority, some sort of positive 'activity' has always been required. Not buying insurance arguably involves no activity, and opponents contend that Congress has never before sought to impose regulations on people for doing nothing."
(Dorsey & Whitney LLP)

Health Savings Account Answer Book answers over 600 questions in a format that's quick and easy to use. It tells you virtually everything you have to know to profit from HSAs - from how they work, what they offer participants, and how they can benefit employers to helping you determine how well they will fit your company or clients. It answers key questions on all aspects of HSA establishment, administration, and compliance - including rules and penalties, medical coverage, contributions and deductions, distributions, rollovers and transfers, and more.
Sponsored by Aspen Publishers

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

Business Owner Market Study: Priorities vs. Plans (PDF)
14 pages. Excerpt: "The survey found that business owners' stated priorities often don't match the benefits they actually possess for the business or themselves, or those they offer to their employees."
(Principal Financial Services, Inc.)

Alternatives to Company Holiday Parties This Season
Excerpt: "[One organization] compiled a Top Ten list of budget-friendly activities that HR professionals can use to acknowledge staff productivity and promote employee satisfaction this holiday season. The list includes events such as providing free, in-house flu shots, organizing a food drive for a local charity and instituting something called 'holiday half-days.'"
(Human Resource Executive Online)

University of California Regents Seek to Cut Retirees' Pension Eligibility and Health Benefits
Excerpt: "Under the proposals, employees hired after July 2013 would see the minimum age for early retirement rise from 50 to 55 and the age to receive maximum benefits increase from 60 to 65. In addition, all employees would pay higher premiums for post-retirement health plans."
(Los Angeles Times)

Employee Tenure Trend Lines, 1983-2010 (PDF)
Pages 2-12 of 20 pages. Excerpt: "The tenure results presented in this report indicate that, historically, most workers have repeatedly changed jobs during their working careers, and all evidence suggests that they will continue to do so in the future. This has major implications for pensions (which do not reward short-tenure workers), lump-sum distributions from 401(k) plans (which can put workers' retirement savings at risk), and public policy[.]"
(Employee Benefit Research Institute)

The Moral Case for Unions — Protecting Working Families from Exploitation — Does Not Apply to Public Employment
Excerpt: "Federal employees receive an average of $123,049 annually in pay and benefits, twice the average of the private sector. And across the country, at every level of government, the pattern is the same: Unionized public employees are making more money, receiving more generous benefits, and enjoying greater job security than the working families forced to pay for it with ever-higher taxes, deficits and debt."
(Tim Pawlenty via The Wall Street Journal)

Webcasts and Conferences

In-Plan Roth Rollover Free Phone Forum
Nationwide on December 20, 2010
presented by Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

The CFDD's 2011 Advisor Conference
in Illinois on October 17, 2011
presented by Center for Due Diligence

Press Releases

Interest in Behavior-Changing Financial Incentives Declines in 2010
Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI)

Newly Posted Employee Benefits Jobs

Compliance Specialist - Retirement Plans
for General Board of Pension and Health Benefits
in IL

Senior Plan Analyst - Defined Contribution
for National Life Group

Retirement Plan Account Manager
for Johnson & Dugan
in CA

Director, Plan Conversions
for Sentinel Benefits and Financial Group
in MA

Enrolled Actuary
for ExpertPlan, Inc.
in NJ

Group Supervisor, Benefits & Employee Records
for Jet Propulsion Laboratory
in CA

Pension Administrator
for Mercer Advisors
in AZ

Voluntary Benefits Sales Specialist
for Northwestern Benefit Corporation of Georgia
in GA

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