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

Employee Benefits Jobs

Legal Counsel/Senior Legal Counsel
for Fidelity Investments in TX

Process Manager
for CUNA Mutual Group in WI

Pension Specialist
for CUNA Mutual Group in WI

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Webcasts and Conferences

Rehires, including HEART and USERRA
Nationwide on October 24, 2012 presented by McKay Hochman Co., Inc.

Terminating 401(k) and Other Defined Contribution Plans
Nationwide on October 17, 2012 presented by McKay Hochman Co., Inc.

Qualified Plan Essentials Plus Series
Nationwide on October 11, 2012 presented by McKay Hochman Co., Inc.

Ethics Case Studies
Nationwide on October 25, 2012 presented by McKay Hochman Co., Inc.

The Affordable Care Act: Important New Protections for You and Your Family Webcast
Nationwide on October 24, 2012 presented by U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

We also publish the BenefitsLink Retirement Plans Newsletter (free): Subscribe


Insurance Dependents Can Face Special Challenges on Privacy
"Under the [ACA], which allows adult children to stay on their parents' plans until they reach age 26, breaches of privacy ... may become a growing problem.... [It's] 'extremely common' for insurers to send EOBs to the policyholder rather than the patient." (Kaiser Health News)


Wellness Programs and Value-Based Health Care Third Edition

Sponsored by IFEBP (International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

From the International Foundation, this detailed survey report examines popular wellness programs in the United States and Canada. Ways of identifying health risks, promoting physical activity, and providing health-related education are included!

Overhaul Offers Multi-Billion Dollar Growth Opportunity for Health Insurers
"PwC estimated in a report released Tuesday that 12 million people will find coverage on these exchanges in 2014 and pay a total of $55 billion in premiums for coverage. It projects that those totals could rise to 29 million people and $205 billion in premiums by 2021. PwC says most of this money will be new[.]" (The Washington Post; free registration required)

IRS Discusses Areas Unaddressed So Far in Shared Responsibility Payment Guidance and Safe Harbors
"The first safe harbor in Notice 2012-58 expands to 12 months the look-back measurement period for employers to determine whether their ongoing employee is a full-time employee under Code Sec. 4980H.... 'What guidance has done is try to give employers a way of fairly establishing what employees are full-time [for purposes of the requirement to offer health care coverage],' said [Rachel Levy, attorney-advisor in the Treasury Office of Benefits Tax Counsel].... She added that the guidance had not, however, addressed employees who transfer between different jobs for the same employer. Nor had the IRS or Treasury finished their analysis of requested comments on high-turn- over employees, meaning employees hired to a full-time position where the employer knows a large percentage of its hires will leave within three months. Additionally, the IRS and Treasury are open to comments concerning employees hired to work for more than 30 hours a week, but for a period just over three months." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)

Workplace Wellness Programs Reducing Health Risks Significantly
"While almost all wellness program participants showed some improvement in health risk status, 34 percent of individuals participating in one-on-one health coaching moved from a high risk status to a lower risk category, Principal found. This shift significantly decreases their likelihood to develop diabetes, heart attack, or stroke. In addition, the study found that the percent of participants considered low-risk increased by more than 11 percent." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)


SWBA / IRS Employee Benefits Conference for Practitioners and Plan Sponsors

Sponsored by SWBA (SouthWest Benefits Association)

Staying up to date in the challenging world of employee benefits has never been more critical for benefits professionals and plan sponsors. Changes in regulations, technology, workforce and the economy continue to influence company benefits. Stay informed.

Doctor Visits Drop, Census Finds
"In 2010, people age 18 to 64 made an average of 3.9 visits to doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, down from 4.8 visits in 2001 ... [One] possible reason for the decline in doctor visits ... is that the share of uninsured working-age people has expanded over the past decade." (The New York Times; free registration required)

Deloitte Health Care Reform Memo, October 1, 2012
"Since 2008, the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions has surveyed consumers in the U.S. and other countries to assess their views about their own health and how they navigate their systems of care.... Amazingly, the composition of the U.S. consumer market has changed little across the half decade that endured the second longest economic downturn in our history and an unprecedented spotlight on the health care system via the Affordable Care Act (ACA)." (Deloitte)

Public Health Insurance Exchanges: Long on Options, Short on Time
"Public exchanges will create an irreversible shift in the insurance market that will ultimately change the way medical care is sold in the U.S.... Insurers will continue their battle to keep a balance of healthy and sick members to limit adverse selection. Providers and insurers will face clear challenges in serving a new customer base with a demographic profile and health needs that differ from today's insured population in meaningful ways." (PricewaterhouseCoopers; free registration required to download full report)

Health Care: Cost, Coverage and Solutions
An "Issue Brief" prepared by CBS News. Excerpt: "Health care is expensive and getting more so, squeezing private enterprise and driving up the deficit. Millions of Americans are uninsured which leads to bankruptcies and anxiety. [The challenge is how] to lower costs and expand coverage without a drop in quality." (CBS MoneyWatch)

Return of Premium Refunds to Plan Sponsor Was Not Permitted Employer Reversion
"After determining that the refunds and earnings were due to a 'mistake in fact,' the IRS ruled that the amounts could not be returned to the successor sponsor in accordance with the plan provisions and ERISA Section 403(c)(2)(A). The amounts stemmed from contributions made more than a year before the date of this letter ruling." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)

ACA and Retiree Health Benefits: Changes Are Coming
"According to a recent survey by Aon Hewitt, 6 in 10 employers have begun or are considering ways to change their retiree health strategy due to the ACA. Employers surveyed are currently focusing their attention on three ACA changes: (1) availability of individual coverage via health exchanges; (2) elimination of the tax-favored status of the retiree drug subsidy; and (3) the excise tax on high-cost health plans." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)

How Insurers Can Help in the Struggle to Control Health Care Costs
"Private insurance companies ... know about every contact a patient has with the health care system and can see how much is wasteful or redundant. By altering the way they pay doctors and hospitals, they can potentially push providers to reduce costs, improve quality and even transform the whole culture of American medicine.... Under a new kind of contract, [Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts] puts many of the state's largest hospitals and physician groups on fixed budgets and rewards or punishes them financially based on their performance in meeting the budget target." (The New York Times; free registration required)

Customer Satisfaction with Mail-Order Pharmacies Declines for Second Year
"Satisfaction among customers who use mail-order pharmacies to fill their prescriptions has fallen significantly below customer satisfaction with brick and mortar pharmacies, according to the recently released J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Pharmacy Study. Overall satisfaction with mail-order pharmacies averages 792 (on a 1,000-point scale) in 2012, down from 806 points in 2011. This compares with a satisfaction score of 814 for brick and mortar pharmacies this year, down from 818 in 2011." (J.D. Power and Associates)

Summary of Benefits and Coverage Rules Now in Effect
"Plan sponsors may be wondering whether and when it is permissible to distribute the SBC electronically to participants and beneficiaries. The agencies have issued guidance about when it is permissible to distribute the SBC electronically. Generally, the application of the electronic delivery rules depends on whether the recipient is enrolled in the plan and how the recipient enrolls in the plan." (Faegre Baker Daniels)

How Affordable Care Act May Effect Small Business Owners
"About one in four small business owners is uninsured, roughly the same as for non-elderly adults generally. Just 40% of small business owners get job-based insurance, either from their own job or through a family member. In contrast, almost six in ten non-elderly adults get their insurance through an employer. Small business owners rely heavily on the individual insurance market, with 30% of them buying 'other private insurance' (the vast majority of which is coverage purchased in the individual market). This suggests that the biggest effects the ACA will have on small business owners may not be changes in the rules for the small business insurance market, but rather the changes in the individual insurance market[.]" (Physicians for a National Health Program)

Exchange Implementation: To Partner or Not to Partner? (PDF)
"This brief lists questions to consider in order to determine whether a partnership exchange or a federally facilitated exchange without a partnership would be better for consumers and small businesses in a state that is unlikely to have a state-based exchange in 2014." (FamiliesUSA)

Judge Dismisses St. Louis Suit Challenging Health Care Law's Contraception Mandate
"'[The Religious Freedom Restoration Act] is a shield, not a sword,' the judge wrote. 'It protects individuals from substantial burdens on religious exercise that occur when the government coerces action one's religion forbids, or forbids action one's religion requires; it is not a means to force one's religious practices upon others. RFRA does not protect against the slight burden on religious exercise that arises when one's money circuitously flows to support the conduct of other free-exercise-wielding individuals who hold religious beliefs that differ from one's own.'" (STLtoday.com)


Surviving the PPACA Health Reform Tsunami
"From ERISA through HIPAA, the benefits industry—carriers and agencies alike—absorbed the changes, even found opportunity in them, and life continued much as it had since the 1960s. Until 2010 and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. There is an important difference between PPACA and what's come before.... Health reform is a massive earthquake that has demolished the industry's foundations and represents the most wrenching structural upheaval ever seen in our field." (Employee Benefit News)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]

NYSE and NASDAQ Propose Listing Standards for Compensation Committees and Compensation Advisers
"While certain aspects of the NASDAQ listing standards would be effective immediately upon SEC approval, the compensation committee independence provisions for both the NYSE and NASDAQ only would be effective in 2014 ... Both the NYSE and NASDAQ generally took advantage of the flexibility that the SEC provided in Rule 10C-1 to define independence for compensation committee purposes, although the two approaches are not identical." (Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati)

[Guidance Overview]

NYSE, NASDAQ Propose Rules Regarding Compensation Committee and Adviser Independence
"Following SEC approval, the proposed amendments to the NYSE Corporate Governance Standards become effective July 1, 2013; however, issuers will have until the earlier of their first annual meeting after January 15, 2014 or October 31, 2014 to comply with the new listing standards. The proposed amendments to NASDAQ Listing Rule 5605(d), relating to the compensation committee's authority to retain and fund compensation advisers and the responsibility to assess compensation adviser independence, become effective immediately upon SEC approval of those amendments." (Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP)

[Guidance Overview]

Compensation Committee Independence Rules Proposed by NYSE and NASDAQ
"The proposed rules do not significantly expand the minimum requirements in Section 10C of the Exchange Act and SEC Rule 10C-1.... One of the biggest changes is that NASDAQ will now require most issuers to have a separate compensation committee. In addition, there will be different implementation requirements and schedules for NYSE and NASDAQ issuers." (McGuire Woods LLP)

Treasury Department Explains Payroll Savings Plans on Comprehensive Employee-Oriented Web Site
The "Ready.Save.Grow." campaign includes a video that explains Payroll Savings and how to participate, and a step-by-step tip sheet on buying U.S. Savings Bonds and other Treasury securities through Payroll Savings. (U.S. Department of the Treasury)

2012 Q&As: EEOC Meeting with ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits, May 10, 2012 (PDF)
5 pages. Topics addressed include Enforcement Activity; Dependent Providing HRA Data; GINA Enforcement; ADA and Pregnancy; ADA Definition of Major Life Activity; Wellness Plans and Dependent Incentives; and Wellness Plans and Financial Incentives. (Joint Committee on Employee Benefits, American Bar Association)

Many Employers Not Taking Advantage of Technology Advances in Communicating Benefits to Employees
"[A recent survey] finds less than one-third of employers communicating with employees throughout the year about benefits program information, despite nearly 80 percent of respondents citing 'getting employees engaged year-round' as one of their biggest challenges. Economics and antiquated approaches are two of the biggest culprits behind breakdowns in benefits communication[.]" (Human Resource Executive Online)

Sixth Circuit Says No FICA Taxation on Involuntary Severance Pay—Billions of Dollars in Refund Claims At Stake
"In a somewhat surprising decision on September 7, 2012, the Sixth Circuit affirmed the Western District Court of Michigan's holding in U.S. v. Quality Stores Inc., 424 B.R. 237 (W.D. Mich. 2010), that severance payments made to employees pursuant to an involuntary reduction in force were not 'wages' for FICA tax purposes. U.S. v. Quality Stores Inc., No. 10-1563 (6th Cir. 2012). Given the recent economic downturn, several billion dollars' worth of FICA taxes could be at issue as a result of this decision." (Bloomberg BNA)


Candidates Should Fully Address Plans to Solve Medicare, Social Security Funding Issues (PDF)
"The non-partisan American Academy of Actuaries encourages candidates to specify how they will address the financial risks to Social Security and Medicare and is working to ensure that policymakers and the American electorate have the objective, actuarial information needed to best guide their decision-making processes. The American Academy of Actuaries has created voter guides on health care reform, Medicare and Social Security for the media and general public to provide objective information on major issues that will confront the next president." (American Academy of Actuaries)

Press Releases

PBGC to Pay Pension Benefits at Menninger Foundation
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC)

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