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October 10, 2012          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Account Manager II/III Small Markets
for Lincoln Financial Group in ANY STATE, IN

Plan Administrator
for Nationwide in OH

Plan Analyst
for Retirement Planning Services, Inc. in CO

Installation Administrator-Los Angeles, CA
for Transamerica Retirement Services in CA

Daily Valuation Operator
for Fringe Benefits Design in MN

Director, Benefits
for ScanSource, Inc. in SC

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Webcasts and Conferences

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

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

Required Minimum Distributions
Nationwide on November 1, 2012 presented by McKay Hochman Co., Inc.

Health Benefits Coverage Under Federal Law Workshop
in Massachusetts on November 15, 2012 presented by U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

Live FutureOffice Network Smartcast - Best Practices in Termination
Nationwide on October 16, 2012 presented by Davidson Marketing Group -- FutureOffice Network

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Health Changes Spur Test of More Part-Time Workers
"The owner of Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants is putting more workers on part-time status in a test aimed at limiting costs from [the ACA].... Paul Keckley, executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Statistics, noted that follow-up legislation might be needed to ensure that companies do not shift more workers to part-time status to avoid providing coverage. 'There's not a company in those industries that aren't looking at this,' Keckley said." (The New York Times; free registration required)


Earn your CEBS (Certified Employee Benefit Specialist) Designation

Sponsored by IFEBP (International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

CEBS is the most respected benefits designation in the industry. Co-sponsored by the International Foundation and the Wharton School, the program is an essential step for those who want to advance in the employee benefits industry. Learn More.

Federal District Court Examines Interplay of COBRA and USERRA
"While COBRA and USERRA both provide employees on active military duty with the right to continued health coverage for certain periods of time, [this case] highlights that there are many significant differences between the two laws. For example, USERRA requires employers to reinstate health coverage upon the employee's return, while COBRA does not have this requirement." [Dorris v. TXD Services, LP, 2012 WL 3149106 (E.D. Ark. 2012)] (HighRoads)

ML Strategies Health Care Reform Update, October 8, 2012 (PDF)
Weekly update on developments in federal and state health care reform legislation and regulations. Includes summaries of recent announcements and regulatory activity by HHS, CCIIO, IRS and CMS. (Mintz Levin)

Fifth Circuit Affirms ERISA Does Not Preempt Third-Party Medical Provider's State Law Claim Against Insurance Company
"[T]he Fifth Circuit [recently] reinstated a 2011 decision in which it held that [ERISA] does not preempt a third-party medical provider's state law claim for reimbursement against an insurance company that allegedly negligently misrepresented that it would reimburse medical devices bought for plan participants ... The court's decision to limit the scope of ERISA preemption in this way has the potential to allow parties pursuing state law misrepresentation claims against ERISA entities to seek a wider array of remedies, because they will not be limited by the statutory remedies provided by ERISA." (Bloomberg BNA)

When ERISA May Not Apply: Key Points From a Hospital's Contract Suit Against an Insurance Company
"[A California District Court ruled that, because] the insurance company's obligation to the hospital is based on a contract and not based on ERISA, the obligation exists whether or not an ERISA plan does.... [Further,] because the hospital's contract claims could not be brought by patient-assignors, these were not claims for benefits under terms of ERISA plans." (McGuireWoods LLP)

Health Plan Open Enrollment Quiz: Deciding on Co-Pay Levels
"Which is cheaper? A) A health plan where you pay 10 percent of your doctor visits? B) A health plan where you pay 30 percent of your doctor visits? If you answered 'A,' believe it or not, you're probably wrong. But don't feel bad. Millions of Americans get this answer wrong every year[.]" (ABCNews)

When Health Insurance Costs Rise, Productivity Drops
"As health insurance premiums steadily increase, employers have increasingly shifted costs onto workers.... The whole idea is to save money, and reduce the employer's health spending burden. It might, however, come with a hidden cost: A new working paper ... find[s] that as co-payments go up, productivity drops -- most likely as a result of employees skipping out on care altogether." (The Washington Post; free registration required)

Do You Really Know What's In the Health Care Law?
"How will this health law affect the options we have and our experience when buying insurance and seeking care? Upon close examination, sadly the 'benefits' of the law don't seem all that beneficial, and the costs become undeniable." (The Huffington Post)

In New Health Insurance Exchanges, Human Element of Customer Service Is Up for Debate
"If you have health insurance through your employer, imagine what it would be like to choose a health plan without a human resources staffer to explain the choices. Would you know how to evaluate an array of different premiums, co-pays and deductibles? Health insurance exchanges ... are supposed to make it easy to compare health plans side-by-side, much like Expedia or Orbitz gives a list of flights by price and departure time. But choosing a health plan is far more complicated than arranging a flight to Des Moines." (Kaiser Health News)

Child-Only Coverage and the Affordable Care Act: Lessons for Policymakers
"The Affordable Care Act prohibited insurers from denying or limiting coverage for children under the age of 19 in 2010. In response, some insurers ceased to offer coverage to children in need of individual health insurance ... This issue brief examines new state legislative and regulatory action to promote the availability of child-only policies in response to this market disruption. The analysis finds that 22 states and the District of Columbia passed new legislation or issued a new regulation or subregulatory guidance." (The Commonwealth Fund)

Who Will Remain Uninsured After the ACA Is Fully Implemented?
"The implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is predicted to expand coverage to millions of Californians by 2019. This increase in coverage will primarily result from the expansion of Medi-Cal and the availability of subsidized coverage in the California Health Benefit Exchange[.] However, three to four million Californians could remain uninsured even after the law is fully implemented." (Physicians for a National Health Program)

A List of Annual Notice Requirements for Employer Group Health Plans
"Since most employers operate their health plans on a calendar year basis, this is a good time of year to review the annual participant notice requirements for employer group health plans [including the] Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA) ... Medicare Part D Notice of Creditable or Non-Creditable Coverage ... HIPAA Notice of Privacy Practices ... Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) ... Summary of Benefits and Coverage ... [and] Notice Regarding Grandfathered Plan Status." (Miller Johnson)

Voters Guide to the Issues: Medicare Premium Support (PDF)
"Under a defined contribution approach, depending on how the federal contribution is defined, government spending may be capped and beneficiaries could bear the risk of health spending growing faster than the cap. Advocates of premium support reforms argue that capping the government contribution could encourage insurers to develop and beneficiaries to choose more cost-effective health plans. Opponents of premium support have argued that rather than reducing overall Medicare spending, premium support may shift costs to beneficiaries and make coverage less affordable." (American Academy of Actuaries)


Automatic Enrollment Mandate for Health Plans Confuses Employers and Consultants
"Of all the provisions in the health reform law that have stirred widespread confusion, many of them relate to requirements on employers under the statute. And of all the employer requirements producing befuddlement, perhaps none has generated more than has the mandate for employers with more than 200 full-time workers to automatically enroll employees in a health benefits plan. The [DOL], which is responsible for compliance with the provision, already has recognized some of the difficulties by saying its guidance on automatic enrollment will not be ready for implementation in 2014." (AISHealth.com; free registration required)


Obamacare or Affordable Health? A Canadian Perspective
"As a Canadian living in the U.S. now for many years, [the author has] always found American attitudes toward healthcare perplexing. [Her] career has focused on healthcare systems in both countries, so [she finds] the phenomenon of American hostility to 'socialized medicine' even less understandable. [Has she] been everlastingly grateful to flee the purported queues in the land of [her] birth and avail myself of the high-tech healthcare available in the U.S.? Not so much." (The Seattle Times)


Caring for the Uninsured: What Role Do Emergency Rooms Play?
"[A] large and growing number of Americans seek care in non-primary care settings, with 28 percent of such visits attributed to ERs, according to data from 2001 to 2007. This indicates that ER physicians, who comprise only 4 percent of doctors, handle more than one-fourth of all acute care encounters and nearly all after-hours and weekend care. These physicians also provide more acute care to the uninsured than all other doctors combined." (RAND Corporation)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

Multinational Companies Want Increased Control of Global Benefits Programs
"88% of companies say that employee benefits are on the agenda for boards and senior management of their companies due to the costs and risks of benefit programmes. Around 70% of companies say that they are leveraging their global scale to reduce costs of benefits operations and are implementing stricter controls and corporate oversight in both mature and emerging markets. More than 90% of companies expect to have corporate benefits policies in place over the next three years. However, less than 60% of companies are certain that their local benefit plans will be aligned with corporate guidelines." (Aon Hewitt)

Sixth Circuit Holds that Severance Pay is Not Subject to FICA Taxes (PDF)
"Even though section 3402(o)(2) covers income tax withholding, not FICA taxes, the Sixth Circuit concluded that any statutory exemption from 'wages' like that provided for in these involuntary severance benefits must be deemed to extend to FICA taxes as well, unless the IRS provides a different rule by regulation." (Winston & Strawn LLP)

Absence Policies and Leave Administration Lack Rigor
"Even though lost productivity due to unplanned absence is a primary business concern, only one-third of midsized companies (50 to 999 employees) and two-thirds of large companies (1,000-plus employees) are evaluating the impact of absenteeism on productivity[.]" (Thompson SmartHR Manager)

Time Off for Voting: State-by-State
"The 2012 elections are just less than a month away. Many states allow employees to take time off, sometimes with pay, so that they can vote. The chart [at the link] provides a general overview of each state's law as to time off, pay, and what, if any, advance notice is required before taking time off to vote." (Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP)

One-Third of Public Sector HR Executives Report Making Changes to Retirement Plans Within Past Year (PDF)
"As of March 2011, 89 percent of local government workers had access to some form of retirement benefit, with 95 percent of those with access participating.... Eighty-six percent (86 percent) of local government employees had access to health care as of March 2011.... In 2009, 21 percent of local government human resource executives surveyed reported that their government had made changes to employee retirement benefits since the beginning of the recession; 53 percent reported having made changes to health care benefits. In 2012, 33 percent of local government human resource executives reported changes to retirement plans within the past year, and 59 percent reported making health care changes." (ICMA-RC and SLGE)

Press Releases

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