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March 7, 2012 Get Retirement News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe  |  Past Issues  |  Search

Employee Benefits Jobs

Defined Benefits Requirements Analyst
for Milliman in TX

DB Systems Analyst
for Milliman in TX

Distribution Coordinator
for Pension Group, Inc. in CA

Client Service Manager
for The Newport Group in FL, NC, WI

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Webcasts and Conferences

"Practical Guide to Plan Fee Disclosures, A 3-part Web Seminar - Encore"
Nationwide on April 3, 2012 presented by SunGard Relius

"Regulatory Madness: The 408b-2 'Sweet 16' Questions and Answers" Web Seminar
Nationwide on March 27, 2012 presented by SunGard Relius

A Guide for Employers: New Service Provider and Participant Fee Disclosure Rules Webinar
Nationwide on March 13, 2012 presented by Ogletree Deakins

Avoid the Common Mistakes Affecting Plan Loans Webcast
Nationwide on March 22, 2012 presented by ASC (Actuarial Systems Corporation)

Getting It Right - Know Your Fiduciary Responsibilities Webcast Series Part I and Part II
Nationwide on March 27, 2012 presented by U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

Time to Get Ready: Final Rules for Summary of Benefits and Coverage
Nationwide on March 22, 2012 presented by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans


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[Guidance Overview]
Does Employer Violate FMLA When Employee Answers E-Mail or Telephone Calls While on Leave?
"An employee who recently returned from FMLA leave claims that a portion of his leave of absence should not count against his FMLA entitlement because he responded to a number of work-related e-mails and telephone calls while he was out. Can [the employer] still count this time as FMLA leave?" (FMLA Insights)


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[Guidance Overview]
Health Care Plan Summary of Benefits and Coverage Distribution Deadline Quickly Approaching for Employers
"[E]mployers [should] take the following steps: Review the template documents and instructions provided in the links to get an understanding of what information their plans or issuers must provide. Determine what benefits packages need to have their own SBC prepared. Determine what role insurers will play in preparing and distributing the SBC. For self-insured plans, third party administrators may be able to assist in preparing the SBC, but the final regulations do not require an administrator to do so." (Porter Wright)

[Guidance Overview]
Overview of Final Guidance on Summary of Benefits and Coverage (PDF)
"The good news for employers is this latest guidance allows more leeway in the construction and distribution of the SBC. However, the government has indicated that some elements will likely change in the future. For example, some content requirements will have to be updated in order to accommodate the 2014 changes mandated by health care reform." (McGraw Wentworth)

[Guidance Overview]
Final Rules for Summary of Benefits and Coverage for Health Plans (PDF)
"This Legal Alert highlights key SBC requirements that have been modified by the new guidance, including a welcome delay in the effective date, and it focuses on the rules for employer-sponsored group health plans, though the rules also apply to individual health insurance contracts." (Sutherland)

[Guidance Overview]
Health Care Reform Update (PDF)
Review of recent developments in Health Care Reform legislation: implementation actions, federal and state regulatory and legislative initiatives, hearings scheduled, and other news. (ML Strategies, LLC )

Long-Term Care Coverage for Employees Continues to Decline as More Insurers Exit Market
"The HighRoads survey found that more than 90% of the employers who offer LTC do so as an additional benefit to their employees. The remainder is equally divided between offering LTC as part of their overall health care strategy and being required by union contracts to offer this benefit." (HighRoads)

Policy Solutions for Preventing Unplanned Pregnancy
This article reviews the effects of mass media campaigns discouraging unprotected se.x, teen pregnancy prevention programs, and expansions in publicly funded family planning services, and then presents new research showing that each dollar spent on these policies would produce taxpayer savings of between two and six dollars. (Brookings)

New Research Finds Chasm Between What Wellness Offerings an Organization Provides and What Workers Actually Want
"The latest Principal Financial Well-Being Index ... shows the top four wellness benefits employees would like to see offered are fitness-center discounts ... on-site preventive screenings ... access to wellness experts such as nutritionists ... and on-site fitness facilities[.] Employers' top four wellness offerings, conversely, were online wellness information ... educational tools or resources ... fitness-center discounts ... and printed wellness information[.]" (Human Resource Executive Online)

Trends in Retail Prices of Prescription Drugs Widely Used by Medicare Beneficiaries, 2005 to 2009 (PDF)
"[C]umulative change in retail prices was almost double the rate of inflation between 2005 through 2009. For a consumer who takes a prescription drug on a chronic basis, this translates into an increase in the annual cost of therapy of more than $1,000 over the same time period." (AARP Public Policy Institute)

The Dangers of an Underfunded HSA
"High-deductible health plans [make] insured people responsible for the relatively low cost of daily health care occurrences, while protecting them from catastrophic claims. The employee wins through lower premiums and the tax advantages of ... a health savings account, while the health insurance industry is betting consumerism will help to stem the escalation of medical inflation. The luster of a high-deductible health plan quickly diminishes, however, if employees are not able to fund their deductible when a claim is incurred. They'll quickly forget their premium savings and focus instead on a perceived lack of coverage." (BenefitsPro)

Where Do HRAs Stand after PPACA?
"Under PPACA, group health plans are prohibited from imposing annual dollar limits on 'essential health benefits' starting in 2014 ... By their very nature, HRAs limit the amount of benefits that may be provided to a participant's current account balance. The table [in the article] summarizes where the various types of HRAs stand after PPACA[.]" (Faegre Baker Daniels)

Verifying Health Care Eligibility
"Employers are permitted to — and frequently do — require proof of marriage before providing healthcare benefits to dependents or spouses. But, in this era of increasing legalization of g.ay marriage and civil unions, the proof employers require must be the same for all married couples." (Human Resource Executive Online)

Employer Investments in Improving Employee Health (PDF)
"The third annual survey finds the prevalence and dollar value of incentives continues to increase. In addition, employers are investigating other methods for encouraging employees to participate in programs and improve their health." (National Business Group on Health / Fidelity Benefits Consulting)

Measuring the Strength of the Individual Mandate (PDF)
"This paper focuses on the individual mandate's penalties in relation to the expected out-of-pocket premium for bronze-level coverage in the individual market." (Milliman)

Last-Minute FSA Moves
"Contributed funds are 'use it or lose it' — workers forfeit any balance remaining at year's end — but roughly 75% of employers take advantage of IRS rulings that allow for a grace period of up to 2-1/2 months." (SmartMoney)

Knotty Challenges in Health Care Costs
"'If we solve our health care spending, practically all of our fiscal problems go away,' said Victor Fuchs, emeritus professor of economics and health research and policy at Stanford University. And if we don't? 'Then almost anything else we do will not solve our fiscal problems.'" (The New York Times; free registration required)

New York State Requires Insurers to Cover Brand-Name Contraceptives
New York state has warned health insurers they may lose state contracts if women on Medicaid are denied their choice of higher-cost, brand-name contraceptives unless cheaper, generic methods 'fail first." (The New York Times / AP; free registration required)

[Opinion]
Will Health Reform Provide Coverage for Eating Disorders?
"[D]isparities in coverage for eating disorders across state laws and insurance plans emphasize the need for the federal government to adopt a national benchmark plan for [Employee Health Benefits] that includes comprehensive mental health." (Think Progress)

[Opinion]
New MEWA Reporting Requirements: An Unlikely Solution to MEWA Fraud
"The DOL seems to think that the new requirements, penalties and criminal sanctions for false reports will have an effect on promotion of fraudulent MEWA's.... The perpetrators of fraudulent MEWA's already violate numerous state and federal laws. Adding new filing requirements will burden compliant MEWA's for very little gain in the prevention of fraudulent benefit arrangements." (Health Plan Law)

[Opinion]
Deconstructing the Case for a Health Insurance Mandate (PDF)
"After reading an article that advocates making people buy health insurance, you may feel deep down that forcing people to buy this product against their will is wrong. But many find it difficult to counter the arguments point by point.... What may be perceived as the final rhetorical victory is often achieved by blurring the distinction between charity and theft, the difference between charitable care and the care funded by robbery of the taxpayers." (Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons)

Press Releases



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