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April 5, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Retirement Education Specialist
for The Newport Group, Inc. in NC

401(k) Plan Third Party Administrator
for Applied Pension Services, LLC in NY

Senior Actuarial Analyst
for Verisight, Inc. in IL

Client Service Manager, Defined Benefit
for The Newport Group in WI

Managing Director, Retirement Plan Services
for Charles Schwab in TX

Business Consultant
for New York Life Retirement Plan Services in MA

Business Analyst
for New York Life Retirement Plan Services in MA

Enrolled Actuary
for Retirement, LLC in ANY STATE, OK

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Webcasts and Conferences

Overview of Types of Plans, IRA/DOL Guidance
Nationwide on April 16, 2013 presented by McKay Hochman Co., Inc.

Qualified Plan Essentials Plus Series
Nationwide on April 16, 2013 presented by McKay Hochman Co., Inc.

Defined Benefit Plan Update Phone Forum
Nationwide on April 23, 2013 presented by Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Financial Education Resource Workshop
in Missouri on April 9, 2013 presented by U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

Ethics in the Insurance Industry
in California on April 11, 2013 presented by No. Calif. Chapter of Certified Employee Benefits Specialists (ISCEBS)

RITA IRA Institute
in Colorado on May 21, 2013 presented by Retirement Industry Trust Association (RITA)

IRA Live Streaming Webinar - Level II, Part 1
Nationwide on June 6, 2013 presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

IRA Live Streaming Webinar - Level II, Part 1
Nationwide on June 20, 2013 presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

IRA Live Streaming Webinar - Level II, Part 2
Nationwide on June 13, 2013 presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

IRA Live Streaming Webinar - Level II, Part 2
Nationwide on June 27, 2013 presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

View All Webcasts and Conferences

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[Official Guidance]

Text of CMS Q&As on Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan Program Contingency Fund (PDF)
[7 Q&As, including:] "What happened to the CO-OP money appropriated by the [ACA]? ... What happens to current CO-OP loan recipients? ... What happens to CO-OP applicants that were in active negotiations with CMS to complete a CO-OP loan agreement, submitted a request for reconsideration of a previous application, or were given the option to reapply?" (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services)


Mid-Sized Retirement & Healthcare Plan Management Conference - April 28 - May 1

Sponsored by University Conference Services

The road ahead for employer-sponsored benefits is uncharted. You cannot afford to fall behind with your organization's healthcare and retirement plans. This in-person, 2-1/2 day program provides answers & ideas that no online course or webcast can.

[Official Guidance]

Text of OIG Report on Private Health Insurance Submissions to the HealthCare.gov Plan Finder (PDF)
"[G]aps exist in CMS's oversight of private insurers' compliance with Plan Finder reporting requirements. CMS did not conduct targeted followup with insurers that did not report detailed pricing and benefit information. CMS also has not been able to identify the entire population of insurers required to report basic company and product information.... CMS has not asked insurers to certify to the completeness of submitted data in accordance with Federal regulation.... [T]he data displayed on the Plan Finder for the sample of products and plans contained some inconsistencies that may confuse consumers. The products and plans displayed were not always available for sale or were not always recognized by insurers' representatives. When products and plans were available and were recognized, 81 percent of their data displayed on the Plan Finder matched the information provided by insurers' representatives.... [A]dditional efforts are needed to oversee private insurers' compliance with reporting requirements for the HealthCare.gov Plan Finder and to ensure that the data displayed on the Plan Finder are accurate." (Office of Inspector General, Department of Health and Human Services)

[Guidance Overview]

Update on IRS Game-Changing Regulations Interpreting ACA's Pay or Play Requirement (PDF)
"It is tempting to consider the 4980H Rules as a mandate either to offer coverage to full-time employees or a mandate to offer full-time employees a certain level of coverage. The 4980H Rules simply prescribe penalties if certain coverage is not made available to full-time employees. Thus, compliance with 4980H is merely identifying the amount of penalty owed, if any." (Alston & Bird)

[Guidance Overview]

Agencies' FAQ XII Addresses ACA's Out-of-Pocket Maximum and Preventive Services
"Large insured and self-insured employer group health plans (generally more than 100 employees) need not comply with the $2,000 limit on annual deductibles for single coverage ($4,000 for family coverage). Only plans and insurers in the small group market must comply with the deductible limit beginning in 2014." (Towers Watson)

NAIC Offers Options on Limiting Higher Health Rates
"[The report] analyzes steps that states can take to 'mitigate expected premium increases.' The options include tighter regulation of premiums, forcing insurers to cut costs or operate at a loss; financial assistance to consumers, in addition to subsidies that will be provided by the federal government; and programs to ensure that the costs of the sickest patients are shared by all insurers." (The New York Times)

Federal Regulators Allow Collaborative Arrangements for Enforcement of ACA
"CMS has the responsibility for enforcing the reforms in states that lack the authority or ability to do so. In those states, insurers will be required to submit policy forms to CMS. According to the guidance, CMS will notify issuers of any concerns, conduct targeted market-conduct examinations, and respond to consumer inquiries and complaints. CMS will 'work cooperatively with the state' to address any concerns about compliance and transition enforcement responsibilities back to the state when it is willing and able to assume enforcement authority." (The Commonwealth Fund)

It's Easier to Apply for Green Card Than Obamacare
"If you thought nothing could be more tedious than filling out your tax forms, just wait until you try to apply for health insurance through the [ACA]'s new exchanges. The draft of the paper application is 15 to 21 pages, depending on whether someone is applying individually or for their family. That's nearly six times longer than the instructions for a green-card application. (There are also videos of the process.)" (MarketWatch.com)

Small Business Groups Shrug Off Delays to Obamacare's Health Care Exchanges
"The plan was to offer smaller firms the same multiple-plan and employee-choice options available to their bigger counterparts, but allow employers to pay one lump sum to the exchanges, which would then distribute the payments to each insurance company. Thus, business owners would have added flexibility without the added billing and administrative requirements. Now, that flexibility must wait at least another year." (The Washington Post)

Fifty Shades of Grey in My Health Plan Utilization Report (PDF)
"If an organization keeps total costs below market trend, but those costs started out higher than everyone else's to begin with, would you call that a 'win'? ... There are two important benchmarks against which to evaluate your plan. First, compare your current performance to prior years -- i.e., benchmark against yourself. Second, see how your plan is performing against a similarly situated group." (Cammack LaRhette Consulting)

Keeping Coverage Affordable: Addressing Chip 'Premium Stacking' (PDF)
"The [ACA] limits the amount of income a family can be expected to pay for coverage purchased in their state's new marketplace if their income is 400 percent of the federal poverty level or below. However, the premiums that families in some states pay for CHIP coverage will not be taken into account in the overall calculation of coverage affordability. For these families, the combined cost of coverage for parents and children could be too high -- and higher than the thresholds set by the [ACA]." (Families USA)

Congress Sees Self-funded Health Plans' Financial Strength
"[S]elf-funding remains financially viable and the companies that do self-fund tend to be larger and richer than companies that do not. Data on the relative financial health of companies that self-fund versus fully insure were mixed. On the one hand, fully insured firms had more cash flow relative to total debt than self-insured and mixed-insured firms. On the other hand, fully insured firms had lower operating income relative to debt." (Thompson SmartHR Manager)

Non-Smokers More Likely to Choose High-Deductible Health Plans
"[Researchers determined that] subjects who were enrolled in an HDHP were less likely to smoke every day compared to those who had another kind of employee-sponsored health coverage... [T]his finding may contribute to the fact that people who live healthy lifestyles may be inclined to choose HDHPs over other types of health insurance." (ConnectYourCare)

Understanding ACA's Subsidies and Their Effect on Premiums
"[W]hile subsidies may reduce the amount that a lower-income individual has to pay directly for health insurance, they do not affect the actual premium. If a monthly premium for an individual policy in California is $450, a Federal subsidy of $392.50 would reduce an individual's cost to a manageable $57.50. But this is different than reducing the premium. The premium remains $450, with or without the subsidy." (Healthcare Town Hall)

Sixth Circuit Ruling Allows Disability Plan to Amend its Terms to Terminate Benefits that Have Already Been Awarded
"The [disability] plan contained a provision that allowed for amendments that 'may be made retroactively.' Whether that provision allowed for a retroactive application of a prospective end-date was 'ambiguous' and therefore it was not unreasonable to conclude that the Plan could do so. There is a strongly-worded dissent, noting that a plan could not retroactively deny death benefits, so the same should be true for disability benefits." [Price v. Indiana Laborer's Pension Fund, No. 11-4126 (6th Cir. Feb. 15, 2013) (James E. Arnold & Associates, LPA)

Misperceptions of Benefits Make Trimming Them Harder
"President Obama ... [recently] described a basic problem for the nation's fiscal future: For each dollar that Americans pay for Medicare, they ultimately draw about $3 in benefits. What's more, he added, most people do not understand that... [T]he president was referring to the widespread and incorrect view, especially among older Americans, that Medicare recipients get only what they have paid for through taxes, premiums and medical co-payments. Now that misperception is making it all the harder for politicians to consider trimming those benefits or raising out-of-pocket expenses[.]" (The New York Times)

The New Era of Health Care Benefits: Engaging Employees to Become Better Health Care Consumers (PDF)
"To realize the significant opportunity to reduce health care costs through greater cost transparency, consumers must be engaged in their care now more than ever. Engagement is more than just signing up for a service offered by an employer or health plan. To truly save on health care costs, consumers must understand and regularly seek out savings opportunities." (Employee Benefit Plan Review)

Employees Prefer Competition With Weight-Loss Cash Rewards
"The results from [a recent study] showed that group-based incentives yielded three times the weight loss than that achieved with individual rewards. Researchers anticipate that the number of employers willing to offer similar incentives will rise, in the hope of controlling healthcare costs in addition to boosting workers' health." (Associated Press via Yahoo News)

U.S. Ranks 25 Out of 30 in Amount of Vacation Time Available to Employees
"On average, most Americans receive 10 days of paid time off and enjoy an additional 10 national holidays, such as Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day. Of the 30 nations surveyed, ... the global average of annual leave and public entitlement to be 28 days, which is eight more days of additional paid time off than what the average U.S. worker receives." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)

Readers Respond to Newspaper Story About $1,206 Charge for Toenail Clipping
"[One] reader also got a shocking emergency-room bill -- but his insurer didn't have to pay much of it. The bigger question, he says, is why the health-care system keeps sending people to the ER in the first place[.]" (The Washington Post)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

Majority of American Workers are Worried About Job and Benefits Security
"[A recent survey] found that: More than three in four (77%) workers believe their benefits will be reduced, especially health benefits. More than three in five (64%) believe their salaries will not increase. Half (50%) believe they will be asked to do more work for the same pay." (Harris Interactive)

Early Season Say-on-Pay Votes -- Will 2013 Be 'Deja Vu All Over Again'?
"Although the size of our say-on-pay sample thus far in 2013 is relatively small -- 151 Russell 3000 companies -- the results year to date are very close to last year's voting patterns. These companies received 90% shareholder support on average, while 11% received negative proxy advisory recommendations and 2% -- three companies -- failed to gain majority support for their resolutions." (Towers Watson)

Federal Claims Court Upholds IRS Position on Discounted Stock Options
"This is the first reported case where 409A penalties were assessed and pursued by the government.... The Company granted these stock options before 409A was even enacted, and the CEO exercised them during the 'good faith' 409A transition period ... [M]any practitioners have [assumed] that ... there may have been some IRS leniency in enforcement based on the good-faith operational compliance standard ... However, the strict enforcement of 409A in this case warrants reconsideration on this point, especially in light of the Plaintiffs' attempted self-correction through a reformation agreement." [Sutardja v. U.S., No. 11-724T (Fed. Cl. Feb. 27, 2013) (Groom Law Group)

Compensation Committee Charters: From Updates to Smoking Guns
"With Nasdaq and NYSE independence rules requiring significant charter revisions in 2013, compensation committees should take the opportunity to make thoughtful refinements. Loose language has the potential to create fiduciary duties, and breaches, where none would otherwise exist. Here is a table that identifies common charter terms, and refinements to consider." (ExecutiveLoyalty.org)

Press Releases

PBGC to Pay Pension Benefits at Bill Johnsonís Restaurants Inc.
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC)

3 Good Reasons to Sell Voluntary - April SalesTalk
Davidson Marketing Group -- FutureOffice Network

CalPERS Statement on Resignation of HP Chair and Two Directors
CalPERS (California Public Employees' Retirement System)

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David Rhett Baker, J.D., Editor and Publisher
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