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May 7, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Retirement Plan Advisory Services Operations Manager
for Alerus Retirement Solutions (Alerus Financial) in MI

Relationship Manager
for John Hancock Financial Services in CA

Processing Specialist
for The Newport Group in FL

Retirement Plan Investment Consultant
for Alerus Investment Advisors (Alerus Financial) in MN

Experienced Defined Contribution Analyst
for Milliman in OR

Pension Administrator
for Polycomp Administrative Services, Inc in CA

Plan Relationship Manager
for PenServ Plan Services, Inc. in SC

Retirement Plan Consultant
for General Pension Planning, a TWG Benefits company in OH

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Webcasts and Conferences

"Form 5500 Workshop 2013: Issues and Answers" - Irvine
June 6, 2013
(SunGard Relius) in CA

"401(k) Plan Workshop 2013: Tax Reform and the 401(k) Plan" - Irvine
June 7, 2013
(SunGard Relius) in CA

"401(k) Plan Workshop 2013: Tax Reform and the 401(k) Plan" - Knoxville
June 6, 2013
(SunGard Relius) in TN

Pharmacy Benefits Academy West Conference
May 13, 2013
(Midwest Business Group on Health and Pharmacy Outcomes Specialists) in OR

ERISA Advisory Council to Hold Open Meeting
June 4, 2013
(U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)) in DC

Cleveland Clinic Case Study: How We Created a Culture of Health and Responsibility for Our Own Employees through Effective Chronic Disease Management Incentives Webinar
June 4, 2013
(Corporate Research Group) WEBCAST

View All Webcasts and Conferences


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[Official Guidance]

Text of CMS Model Language for Individual Market Renewal Notices (PDF)
"Issuers of non-grandfathered health insurance coverage in the individual market are prohibited from using marketing practices that have the effect of discouraging the enrollment of persons with significant health needs in health insurance coverage. Similarly, issuers of qualified health plans (QHPs) are prohibited from using marketing practices that have the effect of discouraging the enrollment of persons with significant health needs in QHPs.... This guidance provides model language that issuers can use to provide notice to their existing customers about the new coverage options in the individual market, including QHPs, premium tax credits, and cost sharing reductions through Health Insurance Marketplaces, beginning January 1, 2014." (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services)


[Advert.]

How Will Health Care Reform Impact You? May 17, 2013

Sponsored by Lorman and BenefitsLink

This live audio conference will guide you through the essential aspects of the health care bill that impacts you. It will also help you gain an understanding of health exchange options, grandfathered plans, and defined benefit plans. Registration discount for BenefitsLink readers.


[Guidance Overview]

Application of New Rule for Retiree Drug Subsidy Payments Depends on Date Costs Were Incurred by Employer, Says IRS
"[E]mployer plan sponsors must now take into account the payments they receive under the Retiree Drug Subsidy (RDS) program when calculating the amount of their tax-deductible retiree prescription drug costs. This tax law change, which goes into effect with an employer's 2013 tax year, reduces the tax deduction for retiree prescription drug costs for employers participating in the RDS program, although the RDS payments remain excluded from an employer's taxable income.... [The] change does not apply to retiree prescription drug costs incurred by an employer prior to the 2013 tax year, even if the RDS payments with respect to such costs are received during the employer's 2013 tax year or later." (Towers Watson)

Illinois Opens Grant Process for Health Guides
"The race is on in Illinois for $28 million in grants to help consumers learn how to shop for health insurance. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn's office [has announced] a competitive grant process to distribute the federal money to community groups that want to help educate consumers about the new online insurance marketplace. The state will take applications through May 30." (Associated Press via 10tv.com)

Next Year Heralds Major Changes in Nation's Health Care
"Within the next 12 months, consumers could get a quick check-up at the pharmacy, text glucose levels to a doctor through a smart-phone app or earn bonuses for treadmill time from their employer -- all as the nation grapples with growing health care costs. Spurred in part by ... the [ACA], as well as by the chronic disease costs associated with obesity, insurers, providers and businesses have re-imagined everything from where a person with a sprained finger should go for care to what employers can do to increase the overall health -- and productivity -- of their employees." (USA TODAY)

Report on Mail Order Waste Provides Further Evidence for Patient Pharmacy Choice, PBM Reforms
"[R]esults included the following examples: [1] 'People bring or try to bring in drugs after patient dies ... a lot of children say parents tried to stop them from sending drugs, but just kept sending so they piled up.' [2] 'Medications came frozen, they come weeks late, they come wrong, or the Doctor has changed them and they will still send old script on auto fill.' ... [3] 'We have had patients bring in thousands of dollars of medication that was sent to them that they had stopped taking and never ordered.'" (National Community Pharmacists Association)


[Advert.]

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Sponsored by University Conference Services

50+ workshops led by benefits experts prepare you for the challenges of complying with ACA, containing costs, understanding exchanges and more. Exclusively for employers. Earn 16 HRCI recertification credits. Register by May 13 and save $100!


National Business Group on Health Newsletter, May 2013
Articles include: [1] When Your Surgery Goes Wrong, Hospitals Profit; [2] Implementing PPACA: The Time is Now; [3] A Debate on Not Hiring Smokers; and [4] A Sharp Rise in ADHD Diagnosis. (National Business Group on Health)

Use of Outcomes-Based Health Incentives is Growing
"82% [of employers surveyed] offer some form of incentives and/or disincentives.... 13% are already offering outcomes-based incentives and 28% are planning to launch programs over the next one to two years, while 40% indicated interest, but need more information. Of those currently offering outcomes-based programs, 54% tie incentives to both outcomes-based measures ... and improvements in outcomes ... versus one or the other." (Midwest Business Group on Health)

Private Exchange Customers Select Different Levels of Benefits Than What Their Employers Had Offered Under Traditional Benefits Model
"In 2012, 66 percent of Bloom Health's defined contribution private exchange customers opted to increase their take-home pay by choosing less rich coverage than they had prior to using the Bloom platform -- when they had fewer choices and little, if any, decision support. During the same time, 11 percent of Bloom's customers chose to invest in richer coverage than they previously had, and 23 percent chose benefit levels similar to what they already had." (Bloom Health)

ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits meets with CCIIO to Discuss ACA Implementation
"Employees will have many more choices staring in 2014, but not all choice is good. One issue we discussed is that Exchanges will be telling individuals that they may be eligible for tax credits up to $94,000 in income.... [I]f their employer coverage is affordable and provides minimum value, tax credits are not available. This may cause employees to initially waive coverage, and then later seek to come back into the employer plan, when the Exchange does not turn out to be a better deal. Employers will need to plan for this during upcoming annual enrollment." (Kilpatrick Townsend)

Will Obamacare Lead to Millions More Part-Time Workers?
"If a large employer moves to a larger part-time workforce, but still wants to stay staffed at the same level, that means more administrative work to take on additional workers. In that case there would be a new [role] for supervisors, too, who would likely need to manage their workers' hours more closely to ensure they don't go over the 30-hour threshold.... [M]oving workers to part-time status isn't just a way to cut benefit costs. It's a complicated decision, with benefits and drawbacks[.]" (The Washington Post)

Federal Spending on Behavioral Health Accelerated During Recession As Individuals Lost Employer Insurance
"During the recession behavioral health spending increased at a 4.6 percent average annual rate, down from 6.1 percent in 2004-07. Average annual growth in private behavioral health spending during the recession slowed to 2.7 percent from 7.2 percent in 2004-07.... In contrast, federal behavioral health spending growth accelerated to 11.1 percent during the recession, up from 7.2 percent in 2004-07. These behavioral health spending trends were driven largely by increased federal spending in Medicaid, declining private insurance enrollment, and severe state budget constraints." (Health Affairs)

Slowdown in Rise of Health Care Costs May Persist
"Major new studies from researchers at Harvard University, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and elsewhere have concurred that at least some of the slowdown is unrelated to the recession, and might persist as the economy recovers. David M. Cutler, the Harvard health economist and former Obama adviser, estimates that, given the dynamics of the slowdown, economists might be overestimating public health spending over the next decade by as much as $770 billion." (The New York Times)

Further Thoughts on the Recession and Health Spending
"[W]e found convincing statistical evidence that business cycles do impact health spending ... However, the effects are incremental and spread over a period of years (six in our model), so they are not easily discerned visually." (Health Affairs)

Slowdown in Health Care Spending During 2009-11 Reflected Factors Other Than the Weak Economy
"Based on an examination of data covering more than ten million enrollees with health care coverage from large firms in 2007-11, [the authors] found that these enrollees' out-of-pocket costs increased as the benefit design of their employer-provided coverage became less generous in this period. [They] conclude that such benefit design changes accounted for about one-fifth of the observed decrease in the rate of growth. However, we also observed a slowdown in spending growth even when we held benefit generosity constant, which suggests that other factors, such as a reduction in the rate of introduction of new technology, were also at work." (Health Affairs)

Strategies Could Curb Medicare Costs But Could Drive Seniors Out
"Researchers found that adding a means-tested premium for Medicare Part A would cut spending by 2.4 percent, while increasing the eligibility age would trim spending by 7.2 percent. The largest savings would come from a move to a premium support or voucher plan, which could cut spending by up to 24 percent if pegged to growth in the consumer price index ... But each of the approaches would cause some seniors to lose Medicare coverage." (RAND Corporation)

Holding Noses, Insurers Start Hawking Obamacare
"No one has a greater financial stake in the rollout of the new online markets known as exchanges than the insurers. It potentially means millions of new customers for health plans -- many of whom would get tax credits to help them pay for insurance.... Insurers plan on being particularly active in states like Louisiana, where Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal opposes the health law and the federal government is stepping in to set up the exchange." (Politico)

Why Cigna Isn't Joining the D.C. and Maryland Health Exchanges
"We had to first look at [in] what states do we have individual and small group plans ... [W]e have to file for [permission for] those products before we can actually consider entering the exchange space.... We want to ensure a level playing field and make sure the exchange supplements the existing marketplace rather than replace the existing marketplace.... And we also look for exchanges that promote quality and improved health outcomes." (Business Courier)

[Opinion]

The Expensive Truth Behind Taxpayer-Funded Mail Order Pharmaceuticals (PDF)
"Given the significant and disconcerting shortcomings of the mail-order delivery programs, policy changes must be implemented to address [these] issues ... PBMs must adhere to and provide commonsense forms of disclosure.... Taxpayers, the ones left to pay for these bills, deserve transparency. One way to achieve this is by implementing and holding PBMs accountable to requirements that foster an open and complete flow of information." (Taxpayers Protection Alliance)

[Opinion]

The Unhappy Marriage of Economics and Health Care
"America's health care system is collapsing, and we can blame the Economics profession. Most economists approach health care in the wrong way, viewing it as a commodity like shoes or the laptop on which I write. Instead, health care is an idiosyncratic commodity, subject to uncertainty and 'asymmetric information' leading to destructive behavior. Trying to force health care into a box, treating it like other commodities, economists have promoted cost sharing, market competition, and insurance oversight of health care providers that have inflated the administrative burden while denying ever more Americans access." (Gerald Friedman, for Unions for Single Payer Health Care)

[Opinion]

How the Fight Over a Key Obamacare Rule Highlights the Risks of Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance
"One of the biggest ways that companies have been [shifting an increasing percentage of their health care costs onto workers] is through the increasing use of high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) ... Ironically, this has more-or-less reintroduced the same problems into American health care that hospitals were trying to counteract by creating medical insurance in the first place by giving Americans a financial disincentive from consuming care until it is a medical emergency." (ThinkProgress)

[Opinion]

Stop Obsessing Over Wellness ROI
"As an industry, we should step away from the calculators, stop torturing the numbers and gain a bit of perspective.... ROI is hard to measure. There are lots of variables and variability among programs. Intangibles that are difficult to quantify. Value that is hard to fully claim without regard to the rest of the health care equation. Not to mention accounting for things that would have happened but didn't because of wellness interventions." (Employee Benefit News)

[Opinion]

Deloitte Health Care Reform Memo, May 6, 2013
"No one knows for sure what the outcome of the ACA will be. It's too soon to know. The results of many of the more formidable reforms in the law are indeterminate.... Reforming the industry that accounts for 17.9 percent of the nation's economy is hard enough: it's even tougher in a down economic cycle.... The ACA is the centerpiece of health reform legislation, but among many laws that reform the U.S. health system." (Deloitte)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

Supreme Court Oral Arguments on DOMA and Prop 8: Potential Employee Benefit Plan Implications (PDF)
"If the Supreme Court finds Section 3 of DOMA to be unconstitutional ... employers with pension and 401(k) plans would be required to recognize same-gender spouses for purposes of determining surviving spouse annuities or death benefits ... [and] employees would no longer have to be taxed on the income imputed for the employer's contribution for the same-gender spouses' coverage, and COBRA continuation would be required to be offered to same-gender spouses. Employers also would be required to permit employees to take family and medical leave to care for the illness of a same-gender spouse. Such a ruling ... presumably would require the federal government to clarify if and how federal law will defer to state marriage laws." (McDermott Will & Emery)

Advantages to Pre-Tax Deferral of Income in an Uncertain Tax Environment (PDF)
"[I]n all but a few scenarios, even if taxes do rise in the years ahead while working or during retirement, the accumulated savings that may be achieved over the long term through deferral of income and related taxes under [a nonqualified deferred compensation] plan are still greater than the amount that could be accumulated through after-tax investing in a personal investment account." (Fulcrum Partners)

Survey Finds Executive Compensation Remaining Steady
"Incentives continue to play an important role in executive compensation, with nearly 70 percent of financial executives reporting having an annual target bonus level ... [T]he majority (80 percent) of public company CFOs receive a form of stock-based long-term incentive awards. For those executives who do receive this benefit, stock options were the most popular option (44 percent) for public company CFOs.... The estimated average salary increase for all respondents was 3 percent. For public companies, the average salary increase was 3.5 percent, and for private companies the average salary increase was 3.1 percent." (Financial Executives Institute)

Press Releases

First NIPA Annual Forum & Expo Virtual Conference a Resounding Success
National Institute of Pension Administrators

New Private Exchange For Health Insurance Coming To New Jersey
Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey

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