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January 14, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Client Service Representative
for Associated Pension Consultants in CA

Account Coordinator - Retirement Services
for Plexus Financial Services in IL

Benefits Analyst
for Directors Guild of America - Producer Pension and Health Plans in CA

Supervisor Plan Regulatory Services
for OneAmerica Financial Partners, Inc. in IN

Pension Analyst
for Libman, Kadavy & Co., Inc. in OH

Benefits Specialist
for Beneco in AZ

Trading Specialist
for Beneco in AZ

Retirement Plan Specialist
for Ambrose Employer Group, LLC in CT

Defined Contribution Plan Administrator
for Retirement, LLC in OK

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[Official Guidance]

Text of OPM Interim Reg Extending Health Benefits to Certain Federal Emergency Workers
"In light of the need for agencies to attract and bring emergency workers on board quickly and in recognition of the hazardous conditions those employees often face, OPM has concluded that its current policy of categorically excluding intermittent employees from FEHBP coverage is no longer in the public interest and should be changed. Therefore, OPM is issuing this interim regulation to allow agencies to request FEHBP coverage for intermittent employees engaged in emergency response and recovery work as defined by the Stafford Act. In addition, if OPM grants any such requests, it is reserving the authority to limit FEHBP coverage for intermittent employees only to the periods during which they are in a pay status." (Office of Personnel Management)


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]

IRS Issues 2012 Versions of Publications 502 (Medical and Dental Expenses) and 503 (Child and Dependent Care Expenses)
"Publication 502 provides valuable guidance on what qualifies as a medical expense under Code section 213(d), and thus helps identify the expenses that may be reimbursed or paid by health FSAs, HSAs, or HRAs, or covered on a tax-favored basis under other group health plans (e.g., an employer-sponsored major medical plan). But referring to Publication 502 in connection with these tax-favored benefits must be done with caution, because it addresses only the expenses that are deductible -- it doesn't describe the different rules for reimbursing medical expenses under health FSAs, HSAs, or HRAs." (Thomson Reuters / EBIA)

Federal District Court Judge Rejects Mennonite Firm's Health Care Law Challenge
"The judge ruled that the company did not qualify for an exception as a religious employer, since it was a for-profit company making a secular product with no formal ties to a church or other religious group. He said he found no 'historical support for the proposition that a secular, for-profit corporation possesses the right to free exercise of religion,' and declined to make what he called 'the significant leap' that the plaintiffs were seeking 'without clear guidance from Congress or the Supreme Court.'" (San Francisco Chronicle)

Insurers' 2014 Hikes Already Taking Toll
"Many of the small-business and individual insurance policies are working the health reform law's 2014 fees into their 2013 bills, contributing to double-digit premium increases for some people. All those new consumer benefits packed into the health reform law -- birth control without a co-pay, free preventive care and limits on when insurers can turn down a customer -- had to be paid for somehow." (Politico)

State Medicaid Expansion Option Puts Large Employers at Greater Risk for ACA Penalties
"[B]ecause Congress did not foresee the possibility that some states would not expand their Medicaid coverage when they wrote the ACA ..., in states that do not expand Medicaid coverage, if an employer's health care coverage is 'unaffordable' for full-time employees whose incomes are between 100 percent and 138 percent of the federal poverty level, and if the employees obtain coverage through an ACA exchange, employers will face a $3,000 penalty for each such employee." (HR Policy Association)


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, BAE Systems, FirstEnergy, JetBlue, Mayo Clinic, many more. Low cost, high quality! HBCE.com Ph: 941-484-1430 info@HBCE.com

'Slow' Growth in Health Spending Still Greatly Outstrips Private Worker Pay
"Over the past four years, the average full-time private worker has seen average compensation grow by about $1,200 even as the amount of national health spending per [full-time equivalent] private worker rose by nearly $4,000.... Why focus solely on private sector workers rather than all workers? Because at the end of the day, the ability of the nation to afford its health care tab rests on the productive capacity of the private sector. Yes, public sector workers earn salaries and even use some of that income to bankroll their own health care. But for the most part, it is taxes paid by the private sector that support such workers." (Forbes)

Delaware and Arkansas Choose State-Federal Partnership for Insurance Exchanges
"States that have decided to partner with the federal government in running new insurance marketplaces in 2014 say they seek to maintain some autonomy while limiting state operational costs, but many details on governance, insurance regulation and the role of physicians need to be worked out." (American Medical Association)

RAND Walks Back Estimates of Savings from Advances in Health Information Technology
"RAND researchers are walking back a [2005] report ... estimating that the widespread adoption of healthcare information technology could trim more than $81 billion each year from the nation's healthcare tab through improved efficiencies. Instead, a new RAND analysis by a new team of researchers ... notes that seven years later, expectations about the safety and efficiency of HIT mostly have not been met, and annual healthcare spending has increased by $800 billion." (HealthLeaders Media)

Oregon and California Require Parity in Health Coverage for Transgender Employees
"Regulators in Oregon and California have quietly directed some health insurance companies to stop denying coverage for transgender patients because of their gender identity. The states aren't requiring coverage of specific medical treatments. But they told some private insurance companies they must pay for a transgender person's hormone therapy, breast reduction, cancer screening or any other procedure deemed medically necessary if they cover it for patients who aren't transgender." (The New York Times; free registration required)

CMS Delays Start of HIPAA Enforcement Actions for Two Electronic Transaction Operating Rules Until March
"The [CMS] Office of E-Health Standards and Services (OESS) will not begin enforcement actions against HIPAA covered entities that are not in compliance with the operating rules adopted for transactions related to eligibility for a health plan and health care claim status, as mandated by the [ACA], until March 31, 2013. The compliance date for using the operating rules remains Jan. 1, 2013." (Wolters Kluwer Law and Business)

Delusion by Overweight Workers Hikes Health Care Costs
"Among 2,800 employees at a wide range of companies with more than 1,000 workers, 87% said their health was at least good. Only 23% said they were overweight or obese. Yet almost three times that many (66%) reported height and weight suggesting a body mass index (BMI) that would classify them as overweight or obese according to standard definitions." (CFO)

Who Knew? Patients' Share of Health Spending Is Shrinking
"Consumer-driven medical spending may be the second-biggest story in health care, after the [ACA]. As employers give workers more 'skin in the game' through higher costs from purse and paycheck, the thinking goes, they'll seek more efficient treatment and hold down overall spending. ... Despite rapid growth in high-deductible health plans and rising employee contributions for insurance premiums, consumers' share of national health spending continued to fall in 2011, slipping to its lowest level in decades." (Kaiser Health News)

Flu Economics for Employers
"In what has become known as 'presenteeism,' the act of attending work while sick has drawn attention from benefits professionals and researchers alike. Companies that scale back benefits may do so to cushion the bottom line but end up losing money. This is because workers who show up sick often underperform while on the job and then infect others around them who in turn get sick and underperform." (Pension Risk Matters)

Equilibrium Labor Market Search and Health Insurance Reform; Eliminating Employer Mandate Could Increase Coverage
"[The authors use an] estimated model to evaluate the equilibrium impact of the [ACA] and find that it would reduce the uninsured rate among the workers in our estimation sample from 20.12% to 7.27%. [They] also examine a variety of alternative policies to understand the roles of different components of the ACA in contributing to these equilibrium changes ... [and] find that the uninsured rate will be even lower (at 6.44%) if the employer mandate in the ACA is eliminated." (National Bureau of Economic Research; purchase required)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]

2013 Benefit Limits
"The IRS and the Social Security Administration have announced the cost-of-living adjustments for various benefit plan limits for 2013. Limits affecting retirement plans [as well as] the limits for health and certain other fringe benefit plans are shown [in this article]." (Kilpatrick Townsend)

Press Releases

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