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May 30, 2012 Get Retirement News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe  |  Past Issues  |  Search

Employee Benefits Jobs

PAS Client Services Manager
for Milliman in CO

PAS Client Services Manager
for Milliman in TX

Administrator and Relationship Specialist
for Qualified Plan Administrators, Inc. in GA

Paralegal
for UNITE HERE HEALTH in IL

Associate Actuarial Manager - Stable Value Pricing
for Prudential in NJ

Plan Implementation Manager
for ASPire Financial Services in FL

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Pension & Benefits Resources; Timely, Topical, and at your Fingertips
Nationwide on June 6, 2012 presented by Thomson Reuters AccuDraft


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[Guidance Overview]
May 11 FAQs Provide Additional Guidance on SBCs
"Here are some of the topics which are addressed: FAQ 1: Expanding on the circumstances in which an SBC may be provided electronically (discussed in a previous FAQ), the DOL has added a new safe harbor for providing SBCs electronically to participants and beneficiaries in connection with their online enrollment or online renewal of coverage under the plan. FAQ 7: The DOL clarifies that it is permissible to 'combine' SBCs or SBC elements to provide a side-by-side comparison to facilitate comparisons of different benefit package options by individuals shopping for coverage." (Faegre & Benson LLP)


Trustees and Administrators Institutes June in San Francisco   [Advert.]

Sponsored by IFEBP (International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

A must-attend for multiemployer trustees and administrators! Three side-by-side institutes provide practical education on the latest developments and how-to techniques for effective fund leadership—all tailored to fit your role. Register Now.


Conservatives Campaign Against Health Insur.ance Exchanges
"Without state exchanges, the federal government will be unable to implement the 2010 health care law ... conservatives say. Exchanges are websites where consumers can compare costs and benefits of available insur.ance plans in the state, as well as buy insur.ance. Ten states have delayed acting on exchanges because of the groups' influence, according to [the American Legislative Exchange Council]." (USA TODAY)

Massachusetts Promises to Rein in Health Care Costs But Can It Deliver?
"The bill in question aims to reduce costs by overhauling how doctors, hospitals and other providers get paid. It would provide incentives to move toward 'global payments' -- flat fees for all the care delivered for a specific individual or group of individuals. The hope is to take away financial incentives to provide more care when less might be equally effective." (The Washington Post; free registration required)

Boomer Health: Obesity And Its Side Effects
"According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than one in three Americans is obese, and another third are overweight. But we all pay for this extra poundage -- in the guise of, among other things, higher costs for medications, health care and insur.ance, as well as reduced work productivity. Particularly worrisome is how ingrained the economic, environmental and public policy factors that have led to this state of affairs have become in our society." (InsuranceNewsNet)

Majority of Voters Across Party Lines Think Legal System Increases Cost of Health Care
"The survey also found that 66 percent of voters favor taking medical claims out of the current legal system and putting them into new health courts with expert judges." (InsuranceNewsNet)


A Medicare Exchange Could Be Your Answer.   [Advert.]

Sponsored by ExtendHealth

With the group model becoming increasingly unsustainable, how do you cut costs and still take care of your retirees? Discover the top 4 reasons organizations are exiting their Group Plan & moving to a Medicare Exchange.


Employer-Sponsored Healthcare: What Happens Now?
"Only eight percent of [surveyed] employers said they planned to discontinue coverage, and 42 percent said they planned to maintain the status quo. But two-thirds said healthcare costs were unsustainable at current rates of medical inflation--and more than half would find them unsustainable even if medical trend fell by five percentage point." (Oliver Wyman)

Drug Endo Gets Input in House Bill on Generics
"Brand-name companies argue that future drug development will suffer if they cannot profit from their investments, while generic companies argue that they can hold down medical costs. The new bill would help generics by imposing, for the first time, user fees on manufacturers of generic drugs to help pay for faster review of their products by the Food and Drug Administration." (The New York Times; free registration required)

Moving Forward with Wellness Incentives Under the Affordable Care Act: Lessons from Germany (PDF)
"In Germany, public insurers operate many [wellness] programs.... An evaluation of one large wellness program there found that it reduced costs.... In the United States, the Affordable Care Act raised the maximum allowed size of wellness incentives, which could lead to wide differences in insur.ance premiums between users and nonusers of programs, and may risk reintroducing a form of medical underwriting. The German experience confirms the cost-saving potential of programs, but also suggests that they should be evaluated rigorously to ensure they do not disadvantage those with health problems or low incomes." (The Commonwealth Fund)

Deloitte Health Care Reform Memo, May 29, 2012
Describes recent developments in various health plan and health insur.ance matters at the federal and state levels. This issue includes a discussion of the future of medical training, studies measuring whether insur.ance plans meet ACA coverage standards, and measuring the effectiveness of the Summary of Benefits and Coverage. (Deloitte Center for Health Solutions)

Estimated Revenue Effects of Bill to Improve Health Savings Accounts
Chart describing the estimated effects on revenue for years 2013-2022 of the improvements to Health Savings Accounts proposed by H.R. 5858. (Joint Committee on Taxation)

Description of the Provisions of H.R. 5858, a Bill to Improve Health Savings Accounts
"Under the proposal, deductible contributions to an HSA made by a taxpayer and salary reduction contributions under a cafeteria plan made by an employer to an HSA for the taxpayer qualify for the saver's credit. These HSA contributions are aggregated with qualified retirement savings contributions to determine the amount of credit to which a taxpayer is entitled.... [D]istributions from an HSA used for qualified medical expenses are disregarded in determining the amount by which qualified contributions are reduced for distributions." (Joint Committee on Taxation)

Description of H.R. 1004, the 'Medical FSA Improvement Act of 2011'
"Under the proposal, a flexible spending arrangement to reimburse medical expenses (either a Health FSA under a cafeteria plan or an HRA) is permitted to provide that any amount remaining at the end of the plan year (or grace period if applicable) that is not used to reimburse medical expenses incurred during the plan year (plus the plan's grace period, if any) may be distributed to the employee.... Providing for distribution of unused amounts under a flexible spending arrangement will not ... cause a cafeteria plan and Health FSA to violate the use-it-or-lose-it rule." (Joint Committee on Taxation)

Will Private Exchanges Become the New Travelocity?
"Since last year, private exchanges run by insurers have been cropping up around the country. Highmark and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City established exchanges last year. WellPoint, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Health Care Service Corporation bought a 78 percent stake in Bloom Health, an online marketplace offering health plan options to almost 50 companies. And in Iowa, where state lawmakers decided not to pursue a state-run exchange, legislators are urging insurers to establish their own private exchanges." (FierceHealthPayer)

One in 10 Veterans Lack Health Insur.ance
"The research, from the first-ever study to look at health coverage among veterans, finds that their uninsurance rate is just over half the level among the general population (17.9 percent).... Uninsured veterans tend to be younger than those with coverage and also less likely to have sustained an injury in combat. Uninsured veterans also tend to have higher rates of unemployment and lower levels of income and are less likely to be married -- all of which lower the odds of receiving private coverage." (The Washington Post)

Employers Can Weigh in on Smartcard Guidance
"Now that the 2006 guidance is finally in effect, advances in debit card and fare media technology may have had time to trump some of the assumptions on which the guidance was built.... The quandary the IRS now has is whether technology developed since 2006 has enabled other types of payment forms to qualify as transit vouchers under the tax Code.... At the heart of the issue is a tax Code requirement to substantiate purchases made under [qualified transportation fringe benefit plans]." (Thompson)

[Opinion]
FSA Limitation Should Stand
"Just one worker in seven has an FSA, and an even smaller fraction of workers is enrolled in other tax-favored accounts. High-income people benefit disproportionately from tax-advantaged accounts because they are in higher tax brackets, tend to consume more health care, and can afford to deposit larger amounts in their accounts. Purchases of over-the-counter medicines, such as aspirin and cough syrup, constitute routine personal expenses that do not generally deserve a tax subsidy." (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)

[Opinion]
A Health Care Compromise That Both Sides Could Live With
"[P]rogressives and conservatives both need to move beyond their familiar positions to find a new kind of deal.... [The] key first step of the deal (reform will require many steps) should do the following: Provide universal coverage for catastrophic health care costs that could truly wipe out a family, like suffering cancer or being in a car crash, but make the deductible so high -- perhaps $10,000 for an individual and $15,000 for a family -- it would protect against people taking financial advantage of the system." (The Health Care Blog)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

Dewey Bankrup.tcy Filing Raises Clawback Issues
"[The trustee in bankrup.tcy] said almost all of the firm's 250 partners have been involved in settlement discussions over clawback claims that [the trustee] pursued against the partners. He has settled with about 150 partners so far, and he said he is hoping to settle with roughly 90 others." (Fox Rothschild LLP)

Cypen & Cypen Newsletter for May 24, 2012
This monthly newsletter covers various developments in benefits-related matters. Topics this month include Indexing as an Investment Strategy and How To Help Your Employees Get Ready for Retirement. (Cypen & Cypen)

FMLA Leave: Who Decides -- Employer or Employee?
"[The] DOL specifically states that... 'the employee does not need to specifically assert his or her rights under FMLA, or even mention FMLA.' ... the employee need only provide 'sufficient information' to make the employer aware of the possible need for FMLA leave.... The employer's obligations under the FMLA are clear: once it has enough information to determine whether the leave is being taken for an FMLA-qualifying reason, the employer must notify the employee as to whether the leave will be designated and counted as FMLA leave. In other words, the employer has an obligation to designate leave as FMLA-qualifying as soon as the absence becomes an FMLA-qualifying event." (FMLA Insights)

Government Agency Auditors: Not the 'Dark Side' After All
"Benefit professionals often view the Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service as the 'dark side' of benefits, to be avoided at all costs. After all, they dole out penalties and conduct audits. [The author] recently spent two full days at a DOL-sponsored health benefits law compliance assistance workshop in Chicago ... Maybe it was meeting the representatives and understanding that they're real people with jobs and bosses just like the rest of us. Maybe it was the five-pound box of materials bestowed on attendees.... [The author is] now convinced that they are not the enemy. In fact, they are allies on a mission -- to remove barriers to compliance." (HighRoads)



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