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May 1, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Regional Bundled Sales Specialist
for Nationwide Insurance in AZ, CA, CO, KS, OR, WA

Pension Administrator
for Retirement Strategies, Inc. in GA

401(k) Compliance Consultant
for The Savitz Organization in PA

Retirement Plan Consultant / Actuary
for Ingham Retirement Group in FL

New Account Manager
for Heintzberger - Payne in OR

Plan Administration Manager
for Heintzberger - Payne in OR

Actuary/Retirement Plan Manager
for Benefit Consultants Group in NJ

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Webcasts and Conferences

"Form 5500 Workshop 2013: Issues and Answers" - Nashville
May 30, 2013
(SunGard Relius) in TN

"401(k) Plan Workshop 2013: Tax Reform and the 401(k) Plan" - Nashville
May 31, 2013
(SunGard Relius) in TN

Annual Benefits Fair and Trade Show
June 5, 2013
(New England Employee Benefits Council) in MA

HIPAA HITECH 2013 Update and Compliance Actions
May 8, 2013
(Employers Council on Flexible Compensation (ECFC)) WEBCAST

Basics: 403(b) Plan and 457(b) Plan Overview Webcast
May 30, 2013
(American Bar Association (ABA)) WEBCAST

View All Webcasts and Conferences

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[Official Guidance]

Text of CMS Guidance on Role of Agents, Brokers, and Web-brokers in Health Insurance Marketplaces (PDF)
"Section I of this document provides a high-level overview of the role of agents and brokers, including web-brokers, in Federally-facilitated Marketplaces and State Partnership Marketplaces. In section II, we address common questions raised by states and other stakeholders on the role of agents and brokers in all Marketplaces -- including State-based Marketplaces. In section III, we address questions specific to web-brokers. Finally, the Appendix includes process flows for both pathways." (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services)

[Official Guidance]

Text of Proposed IRS Regs on Minimum Value of Eligible Employer-Sponsored Plans and Other Rules Regarding the Health Insurance Premium Tax Credit
"This document contains proposed regulations relating to the health insurance premium tax credit enacted by the [Affordable Care Act and subsequent legislation]. These proposed regulations affect individuals who enroll in qualified health plans through Affordable Insurance Exchanges ('Exchanges') and claim the premium tax credit, and Exchanges that make qualified health plans available to individuals and employers. These proposed regulations also provide guidance on determining whether health coverage under an eligible employer-sponsored plan provides minimum value and affect employers that offer health coverage and their employees." (Internal Revenue Service)

[Guidance Overview]

New Proposed IRS Regs on Premium Tax Credits Address 'Minimum Value' for Employer Coverage
"A difficulty with the HHS approach is that group health plans other than small group plans are not required to cover the EHBs.... The IRS rule proposes that a plan's anticipated spending for benefits provided under any particular EHB benchmark plan for any state should count toward the numerator for MV, but seems to say that the denominator will be coverage of all EHBs.... [T]he IRS proposed rule would provide that all employer contributions for the current plan year to an HSA should be taken into account in determining the plan's share of costs for MV and be treated like amounts available for first dollar coverage." (Timothy Jost in Health Affairs)

[Guidance Overview]

Good News for Affordability and Wellness in Proposed IRS Regs
"[1] Surcharges based on smoking cessation that are part of a wellness plan arrangement (that satisfies the wellness plan rules) can be excluded from the annual premium calculation for purposes of affordability. In other words, the premium that applies to non-tobacco users is used for testing affordability for all employees regardless of tobacco use. [2] For any plan year beginning prior to January 1, 2015 (e.g., the 2014 calendar year), surcharges for any wellness plan arrangement (that satisfies the wellness plan rules) can be excluded from the annual premium calculation for purposes of affordability, but only to the extent of the terms of the wellness arrangement in effect on May 3, 2013." (Kilpatrick Townsend)

[Guidance Overview]

Agencies Issue More ACA FAQs; HHS Releases Streamlined Exchange Application
"Curiously, the form does not ask about tobacco use, although it can be a relevant rating factor. The form does instruct financial assistance applicants who have available employee coverage to provide information to calculate the affordability of that coverage taking into account available discounts for tobacco cessation programs, but not discounts for other wellness programs. Employers who do not offer affordable coverage, that is, cannot make unaffordable coverage otherwise affordable by offering wellness discounts, other than smoking cessation programs." (Timothy Jost in Health Affairs)


Employer healthcare at the crossroads -- where are your benefits headed?

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Laying Bare Your Finances to Apply for Health Care
"After a storm of complaints, the Obama administration on Tuesday unveiled simplified forms to apply for insurance under the president's new health care law. You won't have to lay bare your medical history but you will have to detail your finances.... Filling out the application is just the first part of the process, which lets you know if you qualify for financial help.... Once you're finished with the money part, actually picking a health plan will require additional steps, plus a basic understanding of insurance jargon." (Associated Press via Yahoo News)

Defined Contribution Health Plans Are the Future of Employee Benefits
"The one-stop shopping through exchanges simplifies administration and allows employees to purchase ancillary products as part of their health plan. The convenience predicts substantial growth in everything from short- and long-term coverage to pet insurance." (SmartBusiness)

Yahoo Expands Paid Maternity, Paternity Benefits
"Under Yahoo's new policy, new mothers and fathers can take up to 8 weeks of fully-paid leave. If a woman gave birth to the baby, she is entitled to an additional 8 weeks of paid leave, for a total of 16 weeks paid leave. Yahoo previously did not provide paid leave to fathers and the total amount of paid maternity leave varied from state to state, but was generally six weeks. New parents will now also get up to $500 for expenses such as child care and laundry[.]" (Reuters)

USPS Extends Health Care to Non-Career Federal Employees to Comply with ACA
"This Postal Service plan could offer health benefits to 35,000 non-career postal employees who are currently left out of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program." (Government Executive)

Aetna Cuts Predictions for Obamacare Enrollment
"'This is going to be a slow uptake,' Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini told investment analysts ... 'The process required to sign up, to get the subsidies, is going to take some time. And I think this is a two-year ramp to get the individual exchanges up to a level where customers are going to feel appropriate signing up. And so our estimates of what we believe ... enrollment [will be] are dropping for the first year.' ... Without naming specific states, the company cut from 15 to 14 the number of states in which it might sell exchange plans to individuals. Aetna might even withdraw at the last minute if exchanges aren't ready or look unprofitable, Bertolini said." (Kaiser Health News)

Obama: 'We're Pushing Very Hard' to Meet Health Law Deadlines
"Establishing the exchanges 'is still a big complicated piece of business,' Obama said ... 'When you're doing it nationwide, relatively fast, and you've got half of Congress who is determined to try to block implementation and not adequately funding implementation, and you've got a number of Republican governors who know that it's bad politics for them to try to implement this effectively ... when you have that kind of situation, that makes it harder,' he said." (Kaiser Health News)

President on Obamacare: 'Still a Big Complicated Piece of Business'
"[T]here are a whole host of benefits that -- for the average American out there, for the 85 to 90 percent of Americans who already have health insurance, this thing's already happened, and their only impact is that their insurance is stronger, better, more secure than it was before. Full stop. That's it. Now they don't have to worry about anything else." (Kaiser Health News)

The Cost of Dementia: Who Will Pay?
"[In] 2010 Americans spent $109 billion for dementia care purchased in the market place, like nursing home stays. Factoring in the costs of informal care -- provided by family members or others outside of institutional settings -- the total cost of caring for dementia patients grew to between $159 billion and $215 billion.... Even if we assume that dementia's prevalence stays at the current rate and the cost of care per person does not go up, ... by 2040 total costs will have soared to between $379 billion and $511 billion as measured in today's prices." (The Health Care Blog)

Invasion of the Health Insurance Brokers
"[I]t won't be long before your workplace is crawling with health insurers and brokers trying to recoup revenues they lost because of the Affordable Care Act.... [T]he commercial players looking to pick up business directly from workers will [also] include worksite marketers, benefit consultants, retirement-plan representatives and payroll-services providers ... The products on offer likely will include such 'voluntary benefits' as hospital-cost, supplemental health, disability, dental and cancer insurance, sold at the worksite and wholly bought by employees at cheaper rates than they could get on their own." (CFO.com)

April 2013 ACA Tracking Poll: Almost Half of Americans Not Sure ACA Still in Effect
"Four in ten Americans (42%) are unaware that the ACA is still the law of the land, including 12 percent who believe the law has been repealed by Congress, 7 percent who believe it has been overturned by the Supreme Court and 23 percent who say they don't know enough to say what the status of the law is. About half the public (49%) says they do not have enough information about the health reform law to understand how it will impact their own family." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Health Care Experts Propose $1 Trillion in Savings
"The proposals are comprehensive, addressing everything from Medicare Advantage to medical liability reform to licensing barriers. They promise $300 billion in net federal savings over 10 years. In Medicare, the group would phase out fee-for-service care over 10 years by promoting comprehensive payment organizations. They would also enact an out-of-pocket cap on expenses. The paper places special emphasis on cost and quality transparency, urging universal standards that would translate between private and public health insurance." (The Hill)


Panel Offers Advice on Use of Incentives in Worker Wellness
"[O]ne of the most important messages in the use of [outcomes-based] incentives is that they should be considered 'just one small part of an overall wellness program, a tool to encourage participation.' Employers shouldn't rely only on incentives, but should strive to accomplish 'cultural change' in encouraging healthier behaviors through a broad range of programs." (American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine)


HHS to End the Only Demo that Actually Worked
"If you go down the list of about 7,500 tasks that Medicare pays doctors to perform, you'll discover that reducing hospitalization just isn't there.... [If Health Quality Partners'] activities were replicated nationwide we would save about $122 billion a year.... So what is the Department of Health and Human Services doing about this fascinating experiment? It's going to close it down." (John Goodman's Health Policy Blog)


A Health Insurance Exchange That Won't Be a 'Train Wreck'
"Maryland is an example of what an on-track and well organized effort looks like for any exchange hoping to be ready to enroll people on October 1 -- and ensure that they will be covered should they walk into a doctor's office on January 1, 2014.... [H]ere it is April 30th and what have we heard from the feds on their progress on each of the critical milestones toward being ready with the federal exchange in the 33 states not building their own?" (Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review)


Strategies for Reducing Health Care Costs, Implementing Payment Innovations
"[America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP)] recommends three strategies for reducing health care costs: [1] Tackling Barriers to Transparency ... [2] Facilitating Benefit Modernization ... [3] Advancing Bold, Structural Reforms ... [T]he new payment reforms are not cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approaches, but rather tailored initiatives that can support providers at all levels of readiness." (America's Health Insurance Plans)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

BLS Report of Compensation Costs in March 2013 for State and Local Government Employees
"Compensation costs for state and local government workers increased 1.9 percent for the 12-month period ending March 2013. In March 2012 the increase was 1.5 percent. Wages and salaries were up 1.0 percent for the 12-month period ending March 2013, the same as the March 2012 change.... Benefit costs increased 3.5 percent in March 2013, up from the March 2012 increase of 2.3 percent." (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Text of IRS Notice 2013-31: Determination of Housing Cost Amount Eligible for Exclusion or Deduction for 2013 (PDF)
"The [table in this Notice] provides adjusted limitations on housing expenses (in lieu of the otherwise applicable limitation of $ 29,280) for 2013." (Investment News; free registration required)

The 2013 ABCs of Employee Benefits
"Accountability is working.... Barrage of regulations. ... Consider outsourcing your benefits administration. ... Don't forget the Family and Medical Leave Act.... Ensure you have good help.... X-amine 'play or pay.'... Your well-being.... Zero in on exchanges." (Employee Benefit News)

Hodgson Russ Employee Benefits Developments, April 2013
Articles include: Now is the Time to "Play or Pay" [with employer checklist]; DOL Offers Target Date Fund Tips for Fiduciaries; Agencies Issue New FAQs Regarding Affordable Care Act Preventive Care Issues; Discounted Stock Options Subject to Section 409A Penalties; Second Circuit Revisits Application of Moench Presumption; Rental Property Sufficient to Find Personal Liability for Multiemployer Plan Withdrawal. (Hodgson Russ LLP)

Medicare's Income-Based Premiums Can Affect Retirement Savings
"What's the difference between $107,000 and $107,001? Answer: $974.40, at least that's how much more that $1 in income will raise ... annual Medicare premiums for Part B and Part D in 2013.... The standard Part B premium is set to equal 25 percent of projected program costs, with general revenues funding the other 75 percent. Higher-income enrollees pay a higher percentage of Part B costs. The percentage rises as income rises, with premium amounts that range from 35 percent to 80 percent of the value of Part B coverage." (Financial Advisor)

Press Releases

New ESOP Website for Plan Sponsors
Principal Financial Group

PBGC.gov Goes Mobile
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC)

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David Rhett Baker, J.D., Editor and Publisher
Holly Horton, Business Manager

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