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January 9, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe
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Employee Benefits Jobs

ERISA Attorney
for Rodey, Dickason, Sloan, Akin & Robb, P.A. in NM

Conversion Specialist
for National Provider of Qualified Plans in ANY STATE

Account Manager, Retirement Plans
for Consulting Firm in NY

Compliance Advisor IRC20367
for NRECA in DC

Plan Administrator
for Verisight, Inc. in IL

Actuarial Analyst
for Verisight, Inc. in IL

Regional Manager
for Diversified in

Daily Valuation Specialist
for Qualified Plan Administrators, Inc. in GA

Project Manager
for Verisight, Inc. in CA

Conversions Specialist
for The Newport Group in NC

Actuarial Analyst
for Milliman in TX

ERISA Compliance / Plan Document Specialist
for Milliman in TX

Consulting Actuary
for Milliman in TX

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Webcasts and Conferences

Updated Guidance on Play or Pay: Health Care Reform’s Shared Responsibility Provision
Nationwide on January 24, 2013 presented by Thomson Reuters / EBIA

401(k) Investment Lineup Summit
in California on April 16, 2013 presented by Pensions & Investments

401(k) Investment Lineup Summit
in Texas on April 18, 2013 presented by Pensions & Investments

401(k) Investment Lineup Summit
in Illinois on April 23, 2013 presented by Pensions & Investments

401(k) Investment Lineup Summit
in New York on April 25, 2013 presented by Pensions & Investments

Pensions & Investments East Coast Defined Contribution Conference
in Florida on March 10, 2013 presented by Pensions & Investments

2013 San Francisco Mid-Sized Retirement & Healthcare Plan Management Conference
in California on March 17, 2013 presented by University Conference Services

2013 Atlanta Mid-Sized Retirement & Healthcare Plan Management Conference
in Georgia on April 28, 2013 presented by University Conference Services

View All Webcasts and Conferences

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


[Guidance Overview]

Impact of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 on Transit Passes and Other Employer-Provided Fringe Benefit Plans
"ATRA extends through the end of 2013 the transit parity rule that makes the combined monthly limit for qualified transit pass and vanpooling benefits equal to the considerably higher monthly limit for qualified parking benefits. In 2012 the combined limit for transit pass and vanpooling benefits was only $125 per month, while the 2012 limit for qualified parking benefits was $240. As a result of the legislation, the combined transit pass/vanpooling limit for 2012 rises to $240. Note, however, the 2013 limit has not yet been announced." (McDermott Will & Emery)


New & Innovative. A Conference Developed Just for You!

Sponsored by Health & Benefits Leadership Conference

Hear what's working for major employers: AmEx, Big Lots, Carlson, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Comcast, H-E-B, Ingersoll Rand, Intel, Leviton, Microsoft, Vanguard & Walgreens. April 22-24. Aria, Las Vegas. Register today for the best rate. BenefitsConf.com

[Guidance Overview]

Health Care Reform Timeline: Key Due Dates for Employers
Detailed chronological list of implementation deadlines, 2010 through 2016. (Mercer)

[Guidance Overview]

HHS Issues Guidance on Essential Health Benefits and Actuarial Value (PDF)
"Since cost-sharing for ACA purposes includes copayments, in addition to deductibles and coinsurance, the out-of-pocket limitation has significant implications for self-insured and large group health plans as the most common design does not credit copayments to the out-of-pocket limits. This would require plans to redesign the coverage provisions to comply with ACA." (Buck Consultants)

[Guidance Overview]

Implementing New Private Health Insurance Market Rules (PDF)
"[T]his brief looks at three proposed federal regulations ... that detail how the ACA's rules will operate in the following areas: private insurance market reforms, essential health benefits and actuarial value, and wellness programs offered or required by employers under group health plans. These regulations deal with aspects of the ACA intended to promote broader risk pooling, prohibit discrimination based on health status, enhance insurance market efficiency and affordability, promote wellness, and improve consumer protections. The brief explains the key provisions in each regulation and notes where there are outstanding issues as stakeholders comment on the rules. It also examines areas where the regulations seek to balance tradeoffs, and how these choices may impact consumers." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Various Employer Strategies Help Workers Improve their Health and Wellness
"Most workers know what it takes to get and stay healthy, but they do not have accurate perceptions of their health and their health care programs, according to a new survey ... However some employer strategies -- such as the use of account-based plans and specific health and wellness programs -- appear to be effective in motivating employees to take action to better understand and improve their health.... Not only are employees disconnected when it comes to their personal health, but they are equally misinformed when it comes to understanding what the employer pays for their health care. According to a recent ... analysis, total health care costs per employee were $10,522 in 2012, and employers' share of that cost was $8,318. However, when asked how much of the bill their employer pays, The Consumer Health Mindset survey shows consumers significantly underestimate the portion paid by their employers, guessing approximately half of the cost." (Aon Hewitt)


Nat'l Health Benefits Conf & Expo (HBCE) Jan.29-30, 2013 -- Clearwater Beach, FL

Sponsored by Health Benefits Conference & Expo (HBCE)

Speakers wrote the books on wellness, onsite clinics, disease management, obesity and health reform. Hear from public employers, universities, Boeing, FirstEnergy, JetBlue, Mayo Clinic, many more. Low cost, high quality! HBCE.com Ph: 941-484-1430 info@HBCE.com

Sacramento City Manager Details Unfunded Retiree Healthcare Liability
"Most worrisome ... is $440 million in retiree medical benefits that the city has no plan to fund besides annual payments of $11 million from the already battered general fund budget, which funds core city services such as police protection, park maintenance and fire personnel. The total unfunded liability stemming from medical benefits has grown by $60 million in the past five years." (Sacramento Bee)

Medicare and Medicaid: Savings Opportunities from Health Care Modernization (PDF)
"Taking into account overlapping effects, [the authors] estimate a strategic combination of these initiatives could yield $542 billion in federal savings over the 2013 to 2022 period, helping to reduce Medicare and federal Medicaid spending by about 4.4 percent.... While much of the recent debate on Medicare and Medicaid savings has centered on either cutting consumers' benefits or providers' payments, the options [assessed in this working paper] favor a different approach: better care coordination and support for beneficiaries so as to unleash greater value from the health care system. These estimates, while inherently uncertain, help to illustrate the size of the potential modernization dividend." (UnitedHealth Group)

Roadmap to Health Care Reform Pay or Play Penalties
"Despite helpful transitional rules, employers have some distance to cover in 2013 in order to be ready for 2014.... Determining whether your business is subject to penalties, when your business has incurred a penalty, and the amount of the penalty is a multi-step process. A flowchart is available[.]" (Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP)

Yes, Anthem Blue Cross Can Justify a 17% Rate Hike
"Those big rate increases have raised one big question: Could such big price hikes possibly be justified? The answer turns out to be yes: Anthem has successfully convinced the federal government that three of its double-digit rate increases are reasonable.... Anthem's rate filings give a helpful window into why it increased rates -- and why the federal government thinks that, in some cases, big increases are justified." (The Washington Post; free registration required)

Health Care Spending Remains a Fearsome Foe
"Are we finally controlling health spending? ... For years, spiraling health costs -- mainly for Medicare and Medicaid, which serve the elderly and the poor -- have consumed a growing share of the federal budget. Meanwhile, rapid increases in premiums for employer-provided insurance have squeezed take-home pay. So it's good news that, for the third straight year, health spending rose modestly in 2011. To some analysts, this signals a new era of cost-containment. Well, maybe -- and maybe not." (The Washington Post; free registration required)

IRS Says Adjunct Faculty Hours Must Be Calculated With 'Reasonable' Method, Potentially Affecting Healthcare Coverage
"The guidelines from the IRS could be critical to ensuring whether part-time college instructors receive health care benefits as new Affordable Care Act laws take effect. The IRS noted in the Federal Register that 'educational organizations generally do not track the full hours of service of adjunct faculty, but instead compensate adjunct faculty on the basis of credit hours taught.' In short, most colleges are only paying part-time instructors for time spent in a classroom, and nothing for time spent grading or preparing." (The Huffington Post)

San Francisco's 'Pay or Play' Mandate Resulted in Greater Health Coverage by Local Private Employers and Public Care Program
"In 2008 San Francisco implemented a pay-or-play employer mandate that required firms operating in the city to provide health insurance coverage for employees or contribute to the city's 'public option' health access program.... [This study] found that in the first two years after implementation, more employers offered insurance and provided employee health benefit coverage relative to employers outside San Francisco not subject to the mandate. Sixty-seven percent reported in 2009 that they had expanded benefits since 2007.... Overall, 64 percent of firms responding to the survey supported the employer mandate." (HealthAffairs)

Supreme Court Declines to Review Claim for Individual Relief Arising from Alleged ERISA Fiduciary Breach
"The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review an appeals court decision that Section 502(a)(2) of [ERISA] does not permit a life insurance beneficiary to recover unpaid benefits as a remedy for a plan administrator's alleged fiduciary breaches. The beneficiary sought to recover life insurance benefits from the employee life insurance coverage her spouse elected while he was employed by Federal Express Corp. FedEx denied the beneficiary's claim because the insured had failed to convert his group life insurance coverage into an individual life insurance policy after FedEx terminated him." [Walker v. Federal Express Corp.,No. 12-465 (U.S., Jan. 7, 2013] (Bloomberg BNA)

Doctors and Dentists Woo Patients With Money-Saving Deals Online
"While most health-related deals on sites like Groupon and Living Social are for cosmetic procedures like Botox, providers also offer everyday medical, vision and dental services. Health and medical deals make up about 5 to 10 percent of the online coupon industry ... Even for those enrolled in a private insurance plan, the cost of using an online deal or a retail clinic may be less than seeing an in-network physician." (Kaiser Health News)


Is Private Health Insurance More Costly Than Public Health Insurance?
"People who think this is a legitimate issue invariably are making errors in economics or committing errors of logic or misunderstanding institutional details ... To help everyone think through this, [here are] five principles. 1: There is almost nothing the government can do that the private sector cannot do as well or better.... 2: The few things government can uniquely do can be done without public insurance.... 3: Most public insurance in this country is actually administered by private insurance companies.... 4: Most people with public insurance are in private sector health plans.... 5: It is only in the private sector that one finds anyone who has an incentive to lower costs without rationing care." (John Goodman's Health Policy Blog)


Painful Obamacare Realities
"Obamacare is coming[.] It's going to be more painful than many experts predicted. Besides the negative impact on quality of care, there will also be significant cost increases leading to reduced access to health insurance and patient care.... Health plans can refuse to offer insurance to employers.... Employers that offer insurance can be penalized.... Obamacare exchange breaks down workplace loyalties. ... Higher Costs Due to MLR." (Citizens' Council for Health Freedom)


CMS Has Confirmed a Future of Higher Health Care Costs and Spending Under Obamacare
"The release of a report by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) detailing national health care expenditures confirms that nearly three years since ObamaCare became the law of the land, President Obama's often-repeated promise to reduce the cost of health care remains unfulfilled. Perhaps what is most disturbing, is that the lesser-read analysis accompanying the annual report details what many hope will go unnoticed, but that America cannot afford to ignore. Namely, the report reveals that future health care spending will increase significantly more than if the law had never been passed and enacted in the first place." (House Ways and Means Committee)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Official Guidance]

Text of Third Amendment by Chicago Stock Exchange to Proposed Rules to Establish Listing Standards for Compensation Committees (PDF)
"This Amendment No. 3 to SR-CHX-2012-13 (the 'filing') partially amends the filing submitted as Amendment No. 2 on October 10, 2012. Amendment No. 3 corrects technical errors throughout the proposed rule language. Moreover, substantive amendments were also made ... Proposed Rule 19(d)(4) was amended to give compensation committees the authority to retain 'legal counsel' generally and not merely "independent" legal counsel. In addition, proposed Rule 19(d)(4) was amended to include a proposed subparagraph ... that enunciates the scope of the independence assessment that a compensation committee is required to conduct prior to retaining a compensation consultant. Proposed Rule 19(d)(5)(B)(vii) and proposed paragraph .03(7) of the Interpretations and Policies of Rule 19 were deleted. Finally, paragraph .05(6) of the Interpretations and Policies of Rule 19 was amended to outline a simplified transition schedule for issuers to comply with the provisions of the proposed rule change." (Chicago Stock Exchange)

JCEB Q&As Offer Nonbinding DOL Responses on Late Contributions, Electronic Delivery of SPDs and Participant Investment Discretion
"[In answer to a question about whether sending a flash drive or other electronic medium containing SPDs and other plan documents to participants via first class mail would satisfy ERISA disclosure requirements,] the DOL reasoned that although participants and beneficiaries might actually receive the flash drive or CD in the mail, DOL would not consider the information to have been furnished if participants and beneficiaries are unable to read or access it. The DOL stated that it is not reasonable to assume that participants will be able to access and read the CD or flash drive merely because they are formatted "in a commonly accessible fashion", especially where the plan administrator has not determined whether participants and beneficiaries have the necessary technology and ability to do so." (Practical Law Company)


Health Care and Pursuit of Profit Make Poor Mix
"How much should we rely on the private sector to satisfy broad social needs? From health to pensions to education, the United States relies on private enterprise more than pretty much every other advanced, industrial nation to provide essential social services. The government ... provides a tax break to encourage employers to cover workers under 65. Businesses devote almost 6 percent of the nation's economic output to pay for health insurance for their employees. This amounts to nine times similar private spending on health benefits across the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, on average." (The New York Times; free registration required)

Press Releases

Social Security Announces New Online Services Available with a my Social Security Account
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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