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August 2, 2012 Get Retirement News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe  |  Past Issues  |  Search

Employee Benefits Jobs

Defined Benefit Project Manager
for Milliman in TX

401(k) Sales Account Executive
for Caldwell Trust Company in FL

Relationship Manager
for T. Rowe Price in MD

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Webcasts and Conferences

The Health Care Reform Decision: The Impact on Multiemployer Plans
Nationwide on August 9, 2012 presented by International Foundation (of Employee Benefit Plans, or IFEBP)

Health Care Reform Virtual Conference
Nationwide on August 16, 2012 presented by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

COBRA Workshop
in Oregon on August 20, 2012 presented by U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

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Experts Release 11-Point Plan To Reduce Health Spending
"The proposals include state spending targets; competitive bidding for medical devices, laboratory tests and other Medicare services; and a dramatic move away from the traditional way doctors and hospitals are paid. They were the consensus of a group of 23 mainly centrist and left-leaning economists, academics and former Obama administration officials, including Peter Orszag, former director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Ezekiel Emanuel, who served as health policy adviser to the OMB. Emanuel was the chief author of the report, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine." (Kaiser Health News)

Learn about Health Care Reform Requirements & Earn 2 CE Credits   [Advert.]

Sponsored by ftwilliam.com

Join us for a summary of Health Care Reform Requirements - particularly how these requirements apply to account-based health care plans such as HRAs and Cafeteria plans and much more. Click here for a full description of the webinar and to register.

CBO: Obamacare Will Spend More, Tax More, and Reduce the Deficit Less Than We Previously Thought
"[The Congressional Budget Office] believes that Obamacare will spend more money, raise more tax revenue, and reduce the deficit less than the agency thought in 2010. And things could get worse. Be warned: this article contains a lot of numbers. If your eyes glaze over reading numbers ... focus on the charts. The charts tell the story of how the CBO's estimates have changed over time." (Forbes)

Understanding the Post Office's Benefits Mess
"Going forward, the Postal Service should be expected to cover the normal cost of retiree health care, paying a little bit more than it is right now, but far less than what Congress has obligated it to pay. That will take care of the cost of retiree health benefits that are earned in the future. But what should we do about the $46 bil.lion in accrued but unfunded benefits? All the plausible options involve taxpayers covering that bill." (Bloomberg)

NY Governor Plan Makes Health Insur.ance Affordable For College Students
"State Insur.ance Law does not permit a New York institution to self-fund a student health plan without a license to do business as an insur.ance company. As a result, an institution must purchase a policy from an insurer, or incur the costs of becoming a licensed insur.ance company.... [The pilot program] permits self-funding of health plans by universities with strong endowments because they have the ability to provide financial security to such health plans." (InsuranceNewsNet)

A Systemic Approach to Containing Health Care Spending
"National health spending is projected to continue to grow faster than the economy, increasing from 18% to about 25% of the gross domestic product (GDP) by 2037. Federal health spending is projected to increase from 25% to approximately 40% of total federal spending by 2037.... Solutions will need to reduce costs not only for public payers but also for private payers.... The [eleven solutions presented in this article] could be implemented separately or, more effectively, integrated as a package." (New England Journal of Medicine)

The Rising Cost of Commuting: Developing a Transportation Benefits Plan   [Advert.]

Sponsored by Lorman and BenefitsLink.com

Learn how to help your employees pay for their rising commuting expenses, with tax-free dollars. Join us to discuss solutions to the rising costs of commuting. Discounted pricing for BenefitsLink readers.

Small Firms See Pain in Health Law
"Restaurants and retailers face some of the toughest changes now that the Supreme Court has kept the overhaul in place. These industries historically are among the least likely to provide insur.ance to workers. Many franchisees of big chains hover around the threshold at which they will be required to start insuring workers or pay the penalty. With high turnover and a large percentage of part-time and seasonal workers, restaurant and retail operators must juggle several variables in figuring out whether they will cross the threshold." (The Wall Street Journal)

Health Insurers' Anti-Fraud Bid Seeks to Ease Profit-Limit Rule
"Health insur.ance executives who met at the White House [last week] to mark their contributions to fighting fraud told the Obama administration that the cost of those efforts shouldn't be counted toward profit limits that were imposed under the 2010 U.S. health-care overhaul.... Activities to fight fraud, such as investigating suspicious billing claims or checking doctors' address changes to make sure they are legitimate, have become a greater focus of regulators seeking to rein in unnecessary costs." (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

Vermont Tops Nation in Health Insur.ance Rebates
"More than 4,600 Vermonters are due an average $807 rebate on their health insur.ance premiums ... The Vermont average rebate is greater than any other state. In all, 4,636 Vermont policy holders—all covered by CIGNA—are due more than $2.3 mil.lion in rebates under the Affordable Care Act.... Most people get health insur.ance through their employers, so most of the rebates are being sent to companies. They may distribute the money to workers or use the funds to keep down future premium costs." (Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.))

California's Subsidized Health Insur.ance 'Marketplace' Takes Shape
"Imagine comparing insur.ance policies through an easily navigated online store. That's the promise of the California Health Benefit Exchange, set to open in 2014 as a key element of the national health reform law. Several mil.lion people and thousands of small businesses will be able to weigh competing plans, buy the one best for them and see if they qualify for subsidies to offset premium costs. Exchange managers will negotiate the terms of those policies with insurers, bringing benefits to individual insur.ance buyers that only big businesses get today.... But critics wonder if it will be more like the often-overburdened Department of Motor Vehicles than a consumer superstore." (Contra Costa Times)

Health Savings Accounts Grow to More Than $14 Bil.lion in June
"The total number of HSA accounts rose to almost 7.1 mil.lion with assets totaling $14.1 bil.lion, a year over year increase of over 12% for accounts and a nearly 21% increase in assets for the period from June 30th, 2011 to June 30th, 2012. Average account balances in the first half of 2012 grew to $1,996 from $1,807 at the end of 2011, a 10% increase.... HSA account-holders have retained 30% of their contributions so far in 2012 up from 24% during calendar 2011.... HSA investment assets reached an estimated $1.3 bil.lion in June, a 35% increase since the end of 2011 and 51% increase from June 30th, 2011." (Devenir)

Employers, There's a Right Way to Distribute MLR Rebates
"When rebates go to employers, the incentives favor applying the rebates to current subscribers' premium payments rather than passing rebates on to previous-year contributors in a check, [a consultant] says. [He] recommends distributing the rebates by reducing active employees' premiums in future paychecks, and not splitting the amount into little rebate checks for all subscribers. The rebates turn out to be on average small, and cutting a check may be more expensive than the rebate. Mailing checks to prior-year contributors could be more than the employer needs to do." (Thompson SmartHR Manager)

Twelve Steps Every Employer with a Health Plan Should Do Now to Manage 2012-14 Health Plan Risks and Liabilities
"While most employer and union health plan sponsors, fiduciaries and administrators are bracing to cope with 'pay or play' and other mandates of the Affordable Care Act in 2014, many employer and other health plan sponsors are failing to take steps necessary now to manage already accruing exposures and costs arising from mandates applicable to their health plans under the Affordable Care Act and other federal regulations and to prepare to meet upcoming responsibilities." (Solutions Law Press)

Evangelical Christian College Mounts Challenge to Birth Control Mandate
"Lawyers for a religious college in Illinois asked a federal judge in Washington on Wednesday to spare it from having to provide insur.ance for birth control and abortion for its employees. Wheaton College, an Evangelical Christian college that takes its name from its home city, has filed a constitutional challenge to the new federal health care law's mandate that employers include coverage of those services in health benefit plans. That requirement took effect on Wednesday, and the college asked for a temporary order against having to obey it." (SCOTUSblog)


How California Has Failed to Prepare for its Accumulating Retiree Health Care Obligations
"Retiree health care is the largest component of these Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEBs). As the Baby Boomer generation has begun to retire, we have seen an upswing in the number of retirees accompanied by both longer predicted life spans for those retirees and an overall increase in health costs. In short, more people are earning benefits for longer periods of time at higher costs. Together, these factors will make it increasingly difficult for California to pay for these benefits in the future. Unlike pensions, which the State pre-funds by setting aside money for benefits when they are earned, retiree health care benefits are currently paid out of the State's operational budget, forgoing potential savings from investment profits." (California Common Sense)


Pensions, Sure, But Let's Not Forget Health Care Costs When Assessing the Health of State and Local Governments
"With pension reform having a top place in the discussion of fiscal reforms that the state government must make to bring about balanced budgets, the cost of health care for public employees is often lost in the discussion. It shouldn't be. Health care is another cost for both state and local government that is growing faster than other parts of the budget." (Fox & Hounds)


Why the IRS Exceeded Its Authority by Issuing Rule to Expand Tax Credits Under the PPACA
"[I]n late May the IRS finalized a rule that will issue tax credits—and therefore will trigger cost-sharing subsidies and employer-mandate penalties—through federal Exchanges, contrary to the plain language of the statute. It is [the authors'] contention that this rule is illegal." (HealthAffairs Blog)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Official Guidance]

Text of Final IRS Regs: Deductions for Entertainment Use of Business Aircraft (PDF)
The proposed version of the regulations were published in 2007, followed by a hearing in October 2007. The comments received by the IRS and the revisions to the proposed regs are discussed in the preamble. The final regulations apply to taxable years beginning after August 1, 2012. (Internal Revenue Service)

[Official Guidance]

Text of Proposed IRS Regs on Reimbursed Entertainment Expenses (PDF)
"This document contains proposed regulations explaining the exception to the deduction limitations on certain expenditures paid or incurred under reimbursement or other expense allowance arrangements. These proposed regulations affect taxpayers that pay or receive advances, allowances, or reimbursements under reimbursement or other expense allowance arrangements. These proposed regulations clarify the rules for these arrangements." (Internal Revenue Service)

[Guidance Overview]

IRS Issues Final Regs on Entertainment Use of Company Aircraft
"The immediacy of the effective date of the final regulations serves as the first clue that the Service has rejected most of the taxpayer comments received on the 2007 proposed regulations and Notice 2005-45. The final regulations reaffirm the Service's commitment to classifying aircraft expenses based on each passenger's reason for being on a flight, as opposed to applying a primary flight purpose test for identifying disallowed entertainment expenses." (Miller & Chevalier Chartered)

Say-on-Pay Voting Eases Opposition to Board Nominees, According to 2012 Proxy Voting Data
"In director elections, the spike in opposition votes detected in the aftermath of the financial crisis represented the sentiment of the investment community regarding executive compensation.... The more recent trend reversal in opposition votes shows that, while say-on-pay voting practices may still need fine-tuning, they are producing the desired effect of favoring corporate-investor engagement on a matter that is critical to shareholder value creation." (The Conference Board)

Many Teachers Lack Confidence in Their Retirement Outlook; Rising Health Care Costs Possible Culprit
"Overall, just 19 percent of full-time public sector workers are very confident in their retirement income prospects, according to the survey results.... Other findings include: 49 percent of teachers believe that they will need to replace 70 percent or more of their pre-retirement income each year in retirement so that they can live comfortably. Among K-12 teachers, the average preferred retirement age is 59 years and the average expected retirement age is 63 years." (National Council on Teacher Retirement)

Eight Flex Trends That Will Affect Your Company
"[The 2012 National Study of Employers from the Families and Work Institute and the Society for Human Resource Management] shows companies are more likely today than seven years ago to allow employees to choose their start and stop times, work from home or other alternative locations and take time off during the workday to tend to personal business as long as they make up the hours later. Here are eight trends identified by the study. 1. Flextime and telework are the new normal ... 2. Part-time work and extended career breaks have lost favor ... 3. FMLA compliance is hit-or-miss ... 4. Less-expensive child-care assistance is on the rise ... 5. Elder-care leave and assistance is catching up ... 6. More employees are turning to EAPs ... 7. More employers value volunteerism ... [and] 8. Employers are adopting new metrics." (Business Management Daily; free registration required)

Compensation Costs Up in June
"Wages and salaries for private industry workers increased 1.8 percent from June 2011 to June 2012. The increase for the 12-month period ending June 2011 was 1.7 percent. The increase in the cost of benefits was 1.9 percent for the 12-month period ending June 2012, down from the June 2011 increase of 4.0 percent. Compensation costs for state and local government workers increased 1.6 percent for the 12-month period ending June 2012, essentially unchanged from the June 2011 increase of 1.7 percent." (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Employee Ownership Update for August 1, 2012
NCEO Executive Director Loren Rodgers discusses a new report that ESOP companies generate more jobs; a new ESOP capital gains tax deduction in Iowa; the JOBS Act's exclusion of shares from compensation plans from the shareholder threshold for being treated as a public company; employee ownership in South Africa; a Forbes writer's comments on ESOPs; and IRS continuing education credit at NCEO events. (National Center for Employee Ownership)

Press Releases

US Department of Laborís ERISA Advisory Council to Hold Public Meeting Aug. 28-30
(U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA))

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David Rhett Baker, J.D., Editor and Publisher
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