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September 25, 2012 Get Retirement News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe  |  Past Issues  |  Search

Employee Benefits Jobs

New Plan Implementation Specialist
for American Pension Services, LLC in FL

DB Calculation Analyst
for New York Life Retirement Plan Services in MA

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Webcasts and Conferences

Current Challenges to Self-Funding: How to Be Prepared
Nationwide on October 10, 2012 presented by Thompson Publishing Group

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Was Employee's Psychological Exam an Unreasonable Requirement?
"Whatever the motive for doing so, employers and HR leaders are largely prohibited from making requests of employees that may—even inadvertently—reveal an employee's pre-existing mental condition or impairment. The exception, however, is if the organization can prove that the exam is job-related and consistent with business necessity." (Human Resource Executive Online)


Earn One of Four Certificates -- October 15-20, Washington, D.C.

Sponsored by IFEBP (International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

Earn a certificate in Retirement Plans, Health Care Plans, Benefit Plan Administration, or Public Sector Benefits Administration. Register today.

Health Plans Are Likely to Increase Premiums and Raise Charges for Dependents
"Health-care premiums are expected to rise 5.3 percent in 2013, to an average of $11,507 per employee ... Over the next three to five years, companies expect to subsidize employee-only coverage at 75 percent and dependent coverage at 69 percent ... To date, many employers have focused on simply encouraging employees to participate in such wellness activities as filling out a health risk questionnaire and getting their cholesterol checked. Now, some are asking to see results." (The Washington Post; free registration required)

Health Insurance Costs Grew Slowly for Two Years But Now They're Speeding Up
"Spending for private health insurance surged by 4.6 percent in 2011, according to a report from the Health Care Cost Institute. That growth rate is faster than the rest of the economy and higher than the previous year, which had 3.8 percent growth. Average spending on a private insurance patient rose to $4,547 in 2011, compared with $4,349 in 2010. That statistic suggests that a recent downturn in health-care spending may have been a temporary product of the recession rather than a more permanent change, as some health-care economists have hoped." (The Washington Post; free registration required)

Health Plans Are Left to Ponder Possible Costs of Meeting EHBs
"[E]ven as states like California set the pace on the selection of a benchmark plan, the health insurance sector in the states don't have much of a clue on how much all of it will cost. Actuarial reviews await after the benefits plan is selected, and then the reality will set in for many." (AISHealth.com; free registration required)

Bill Freeing Advisers from MLR Passes House Panel
"Benefit adviser representatives were encouraged by recognition of their role in employee benefits delivery as exclusion of commissions from medical loss ratio calculations moved forward last week.... Passage of the Access to Professional Health Insurance Advisors Act, by a 26-14 vote in the House Energy and Commerce Committee ... protects broker revenue from the MLR provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act." (Employee Benefit News)

Is Consumer-Directed Coverage a Healthy Choice?
"According to [a recent] survey ... [low-premium, high-deductible] plans were offered by 58% of employers in 2011, up from 41% in 2010. Separately, 19% of large employers [in a second survey] said consumer-directed plans would be the only option they offered for 2013.... For healthy people who are able to manage their expenses, consumer-directed plans can result in real savings. But those with chronic diseases or with a serious risk of injury face the prospect of much higher out-of-pocket costs." (MarketWatch.com)

Survey Reveals Growing Priority of Digital Delivery of Employee Health Plan Communications
"Currently, 80% of employers report using some form of electronic distribution, with online portals the most popular method. Specifically, with Summary Plan Descriptions (SPDs), 37% plan to shift to predominantly electronic distribution.... To meet the aggressive timeframe [for distribution of the Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC)], many employers will use a combined approach of online and hardcopy distribution. 20% will distribute SBCs exclusively online, while 16% will distribute only hardcopy SBCs." (HighRoads)

Health Care Price Rise Poses Challenge for U.S. Overhaul
"Medical prices accelerated faster than some projections last year and the number of uninsured is rising, according to data that show the U.S. goal of expanding health care is veering onto a more difficult road.... The data pose a challenge for the Obama administration as it carries out the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which promises to expand coverage to 30 million Americans starting in 2014 and trim health costs. The CDC reported that 47.3 million people lacked insurance, and the health institute said hospitals and doctors raised prices at a clip that outstripped demand." (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

Double-Digit Premium Hikes Seen in 7 of 10 Top Medicare Prescription Drug Plans
"Seniors enrolled in seven of the 10 most popular Medicare prescription drug plans will be hit with double-digit premium hikes next year if they don't shop for a better deal, says a private firm that analyzes the highly competitive market.... The report found premium increases for all top 10 prescription drug plans, known as PDPs. However, the most popular plan—AARP MedicareRx Preferred—is only going up 57 cents per month nationally, to $40.42 from the current $39.85." (The Washington Post; free registration required)

The Crisis of the Uninsured Is Far from Over
"About 14.7 million uninsured residents live in households with incomes of $25,000 to $50,000 per year. They earn too little to easily afford expensive family plans costing more than $12,000 per year. However, most in this group will not qualify for Medicaid after the ACA is implemented. Some may decide to forgo signing up for subsidized coverage in the exchange knowing there is no penalty for waiting until the unlikely event they need costly care." (National Center for Policy Analysis)

Stockton Unveils Kaiser Plan for Retirees
"The city has unveiled a Kaiser Foundation option for its retired employees, anticipated since informing them in June that they have to pay for their own health insurance. The older city retirees who choose Kaiser will experience a significant cost saving, depending on how many people they cover. But the savings for those younger than 65 is less dramatic at 6 percent.... it is anticipated that pricing for the Kaiser plans will maintain greater premium stability ... The city is subsidizing medical costs until July 1, when the retirees will have to pay all of their health insurance costs. This is expected to save Stockton's general fund $7 million this year alone." (Recordnet.com)

Employees Will Need to Be Educated About Benefits Eligibility
"Regardless of the particular measurement period employers select to determine which of its part-time, temporary and seasonal workers may be benefits-eligible under health care reform, they will need a robust time and attendance system to perform the calculations, benefits experts say. Communications also will be important in educating employees about their benefits eligibility[.]" (Modern Healthcare Online; free registration required)

Firms With Many Part-Time Workers Weight Response To ACA Coverage Requirement
"As companies with large populations of part-time employees determine how they will proceed in response to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirement to provide health insurance benefits to employees working at least 30 hours per week, they should consider the effect of their employment decisions not just on human resources costs but also on worker productivity and business results." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)

Health Plan Open Season Brings Rising Premiums and More Expensive Dependent Coverage
"As employees review their plan options and benefit changes for next year, here are a few changes they can expect: Moderate Premium Increases... Higher Charges To Cover Dependents... More Consumer-Driven Health Plans... Wellness Programs Get More Muscle... Easy-To-Understand Health Plan Overviews" (Kaiser Health News)

Workers Flounder with Health Care Decisions
"Americans rank choosing health care benefits as the second most difficult life decision, behind only saving for retirement. Aetna's survey shows those who stress over health benefits decisions cite confusing and complicated information (88%), conflicted data (84%) and difficulty knowing which plan is right for them (83%)." (Employee Benefit Adviser)

2012 Health Confidence Survey: Americans Remain Confident About Health Care, Concerned About Costs
"Asked to rate the health care system, Americans offer a diverse perspective: 28 percent consider it to be 'good,' 28 percent say 'fair,' and 26 percent rate it 'poor,' while 12 percent rate it very good and 5 percent say it is 'excellent.' However, the 2012 Health Confidence Survey finds that the percentage of Americans rating the health care system as poor doubled between 1998 and 2004 (rising from 15 percent to 30 percent). In contrast with the ratings for the health care system overall, Americans' rating of their own health plans continues to be generally favorable -- more than half of those with health insurance are extremely or very satisfied with their current plans, and a third are somewhat satisfied." (EBRI)

New Health Plan Summary Required as Early as September 23—Are You Ready?
"The effective date for group health plans to comply with the new requirement to provide a Summary of Benefits and Coverage and Uniform Glossary of Terms ... to all eligible employees and their eligible dependents may be as early as your upcoming open enrollment period in Fall 2012.... Even if you avoid the requirements for the upcoming open enrollment period, you may still need to have a Summary ready for distribution by the first day of your first plan year beginning on or after September 23rd (for calendar year plans, this is January 1, 2013)." (McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP)

Deloitte Health Care Reform Memo, September 24, 2012
"Per the Budget Control Act of 2011, $1.2 trillion in additional spending cuts, including $109 billion in 2013, will be cut from federal spending starting January 1, 2013. In some cases, the spending cut is a reduction in the previous rate of growth for a particular area of spending, in others, it's elimination of a program, or sharp reductions in spending. Based on a variety of sources, here are the cuts to Affordable Care Act (ACA)-related programs likely to be included in the sequester unless stopped by Congress:" (Deloitte)

Health Care Law Ensures Consumers Get Clear, Consistent Information About Health Coverage
"Because of the health care law, millions of Americans will have access to standardized, easy-to-understand information about health plan benefits and coverage. Insurance companies and employers are now required to provide consumers in the private health insurance market with a brief summary of what a health insurance policy or employer plan covers, called a Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC). Additionally, consumers will have access to a Uniform Glossary that defines insurance and medical terms in standard, consumer-friendly terms. These tools will also assist employers in finding the best coverage for their business and employees." (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services)

NCQA Ranks Private Health Insurance Products, 2012-13
"Private and Medicaid plans will be a crucial part of the expansion of health insurance coverage that's coming in 2014 with the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act.... The quality data the NCQA collects will become even more important as 25 million Americans gain private insurance coverage and millions more join Medicaid HMOs.... Customize your search to compare plans' scores and their performance in consumer satisfaction, treatment coverage for common conditions, providing preventive services, and other measures." (ConsumerReports.org)

AARP Makes $2.8 Billion Off of Obamacare
"The AARP is ... one of the largest private health insurers in America. In 2011, the AARP generated $458 million in royalty fees from so-called 'Medigap' plans, nearly twice the $266 million the lobby receives in membership dues. Medigap plans also help seniors eliminate the co-pays and deductibles that are designed to restrain wasteful Medicare spending. ObamaCare's cuts to Medicare Advantage will drive many seniors out of that program, and into traditional government-run Medicare, which will increase the number of people who need Medigap insurance." (John Goodman's Health Policy Blog)

Actuarial Value, EHBs Will Shape Products, But Plans May See Some Design Flexibility
"The ability for consumers to make side-by-side comparisons of health insurance products—based on their actuarial value—is at the heart of the reform law's insurance exchange concept. But with guaranteed issue coverage, no pre-existing condition exclusions and no ability to use health status to set rates, benefit design will be one of the few tools left for insurers to differentiate their products. However, it's unclear how much flexibility carriers will have within state insurance exchanges." (AISHealth.com; free registration required)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

Creating an Unlimited Paid-Time-Off Policy
"Paid-time-off along with paid vacation and sick leave are on many HR executives' radars lately. As companies try to produce more with fewer employees, reducing paid absences appears to be a viable option to increase man-hours.... But, there is another option, which more employers are considering: unlimited PTO." (Human Resource Executive Online)

Press Releases

IRS Advisory Committee Solicits Your Suggestions and Comments on EPCRS Program
IRS Advisory Committee on Tax-Exempt and Government Entities

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