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May 30, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise
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Employee Benefits Jobs


Webcasts and Conferences

Safe Harbor 401(k)s: Plan Design & EPCRS
July 24, 2013 WEBCAST
(McKay Hochman Co., Inc.)

Making Wellness Programs Work Under New Tri-Agency Final Wellness Regulations Webinar
June 4, 2013 WEBCAST
(Solutions Law Press, Inc.)

Briefing on Social Security and Medicare Trustees Reports
May 31, 2013 in DC
(U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA))

Health Care Reform for Employers: Now What?
August 14, 2013 in NV
(Lorman Education Services)

Health Care Reform for Employers: Now What?
August 20, 2013 in OR
(Lorman Education Services)

EPCRS 2013
June 21, 2013 WEBCAST
(McKay Hochman Co., Inc.)

Advanced Webinar on Health Care Reform - Preparation for 2014
June 12, 2013 in CA
(TrainHR)

View All Webcasts and Conferences


 

[Guidance Overview]

Agencies Issue Guidance on Workplace Wellness Programs
"[S]ince these rules implement HIPAA as well as the ACA, they apply to grandfathered plans as well.... The wellness rules are not intended to regulate all programs that could be labeled as wellness, disease management, case management, or similar programs, but are rather focused on programs that could violate the ACA prohibition against discrimination based on health status were it not for the wellness program exception. The key is whether or not a program offers a 'reward.'" (Timothy Jost in Health Affairs)


[Advert.]

Achieve a New Level of Professional Growth With CEBS!

Sponsored by IFEBP (International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

As the most respected designation in the industry, Certified Employee Benefit Specialist (CEBS) courses give you the knowledge and confidence to succeed in today's business environment. Learn More!


[Guidance Overview]

Final Wellness Program Regulations Issued
"The Departments reiterated that compliance with the final rules is not determinative of compliance with any other applicable Federal or State law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act. Therefore, uncertainty remains for employers designing wellness programs given that the [EEOC] still has not provided more definitive guidance on permissible incentives in the wellness program context.... The intention of the Departments is that every individual participating in a wellness program should be able to receive the full amount of any reward or incentive, regardless of any health factor." (Proskauer's ERISA Practice Center Blog)

[Guidance Overview]

Feds Say Employers Must Offer Choices Among Wellness Goals
"[A] worker who feels that the employer's contingency-based standard doesn't work for him or her can see a physician to work out a biometric goal that the employee can use to replace the employer's contingency-based standard. Employers with contingency-based incentive programs will have to provide notice of their right to an alternative standard for gaining the employer's reward, but the notice also has to inform workers of their right to get a second opinion for an alternative standard that the employer will adopt if possible." (Thompson SmartHR Manager)

[Guidance Overview]

Agencies Release Final Regs Impacting Wellness Programs, Changes Loom for 'Outcome-Based' Programs
"While the new regulations raise the maximum permissible reward that may be offered in connection with certain wellness programs, they make clear that outcome-based financial incentives must be widely available to program participants.... Perhaps most significantly, the regulations require that a reasonable alternative standard must be provided to all individuals who do not meet the initial standard, to ensure that the program is reasonably designed to improve health and is not a subterfuge for underwriting or reducing benefits based on health status." (Jackson Lewis LLP)

[Guidance Overview]

Final HIPAA Regulations Impact Group Health Plans
"An employer who currently posts the Notice of Privacy Practices on its website, on behalf of its group health plan, must (i) prominently post the changes required by the Regulations ... on its website by the [September 23, 2013] Effective Date, and (ii) provide the revised notice ... in the next annual mailing to individuals covered by the plan (e.g., at the beginning of the plan year or during the open enrollment period). Employers who do not post the Notice of Privacy Practices on a website must provide the revised notice ... to individuals within 60 days of the Effective Date." (Dechert LLP)


[Advert.]

Defined Contribution Healthcare & Private Exchanges Summit

Sponsored by Healthcare Education Associates

Join us for this exceptional opportunity to share ideas and network with leaders from 4 and 5-star plans, quality consultants and healthcare executives July 29-30 in Westlake Village, CA. Mention HMP164 for 10% discount.


What Would Happen if the Postal Service and FEHBP Part Ways?
"Currently, the approximately 1 million postal employees and retirees collect their health care with all other feds; that is, through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. Removing these enrollees -- as well as their dependents -- from the FEHBP would amount to losing about one quarter of the current pool ... The Postal Service has touted the switch as economically responsible, alleging it would save the agency $8 billion annually -- most of which would come from ending the requirement to prefund retirees health care, but $2 billion of which would come from reduced health care costs." (Government Executive)

Record 10,978,040 Americans Now on Disability
"[T]here are more Americans collecting disability today than there are people living in Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey or Virginia. The record 10,978,040 total disability beneficiaries in May included a record 8,877,921 disabled workers (up from 8,865,586 in April), a record 1,939,687 children of disabled workers (up from 1,936,236 in April), and 160,432 spouses of disabled workers. May was the 196th straight month that the number of American workers collecting federal disability payments increased." (CNS News)

Health Insurance Shopping: Consumers Rarely Consider Quality Ratings
"[The ACA] will transform health insurance shopping ... by standardizing much of the benefits offered among health plans. This standardization will increase the importance of quality comparisons in the purchase decision process since benefit differences will decrease. However, when ... consumers [were asked] about what would determine their health plan choice if health insurance plans offered the same benefits, ratings of customer satisfaction and quality were the least frequently chosen factor." (HealthPocket)

I Believe My Employee is Unfit to Return to Work. Can I Require a Full Medical Examination Before His Return?
"Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, an employer may require the employee returning from FMLA leave to undergo a medical examination if the employer has a 'reasonable belief' that the employee's ability to perform essential job functions will be impaired by a medical condition or that he or she will pose a direct threat due to a medical condition.... The courts generally support an employer's right to require a medical examination in these instances." (FMLA Insights)

Health Reform Shields Young Adults from Emergency Medical Costs
"[R]esearchers estimate that $147 million in nondiscretionary medical care was newly covered by private insurance. Without the new regulation, those costs would have been paid by young people and their families, or been written off by hospitals as uncompensated care....[M]ore than 22,000 nondiscretionary emergency room visits during 2011 involved young adults who were newly insured under the provision." (RAND Corporation)

Immigration Reform and the Financial Health of Medicare
"[B]etween 2002 and 2009, immigrants contributed $115.2 billion in excess of what they utilized. During this same time frame, U.S. born persons withdrew $28.1 billion more than they contributed." (Leah Zallman and Danny McCormick in Health Affairs)

Immigrants Give More to Medicare Than They Receive, Harvard Study Finds
"Immigrants are crucial in balancing the age structure of American society, providing an infusion of young, working-age adults who support the country's aging population and help cover the costs of Medicare and Social Security. And with the largest generation in the United States, the baby boomers, now starting to retire, the financial help from immigrants has never been more needed, experts said." (The New York Times; subscription may be required)

Wisconsin Health Insurers Take Cautious Approach to New Exchanges
"With enrollment to begin in four months, the public still doesn't know how many insurance companies will sell plans for individuals and small employers on the exchanges and what those plans will cost. Insurance companies had to tell state regulators this month whether they were considering selling health plans on the exchanges. But that information isn't public, and the companies have until September to make a final decision and to set prices." (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

New District Court Decision Provides Roadmap for Making Claim for Equitable Relief Under ERISA
"[T]he United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island ... touched on a fundamental issue in equitable relief litigation under ERISA ... namely, is the outcome of equitable relief claims under ERISA dependent solely on whether the precise elements of such claims as set forth in Supreme Court decisions exist, or can courts go beyond those and rely on the general and long standing principles of equity to decide such claims?" [Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island v. Korsen, No. 09-317L (D.R.I. May 22, 2013)] (Boston ERISA Law Blog)

BMW Drives Employees to Comprehensive Onsite Clinic
"Employers looking to keep health care costs in check are increasingly turning to onsite clinics and health screenings ... Earlier this year, Walgreens announced the opening of what it called one of the country's most comprehensive worksite health centers at BMW Manufacturing's facility in Spartanburg, S.C. Some 25,000 square feet, the Associates' Family Health Center offers not just occupational care, but full primary care services for BMW employees and their dependents, as well as some retirees." (Employee Benefit News)

HHS Received More Than 830 'Letters of Intent' for Navigator Program
"[CMS] announced a $54 million funding opportunity April 9 for cooperative agreements to fund navigators in federally facilitated marketplaces, including state partnership marketplaces ... Applicants were encouraged to submit a nonbinding letter of intent to apply by May 1, to enable HHS to plan for the application review process. The grants will be awarded in August ... In addition to the navigator grants for the FFMs, CMS will issue a final rule on navigators and non-navigator assistance personnel 'very soon'[.]" (Bloomberg BNA)

[Opinion]

Trouble for Obamacare in New Hampshire
"If a health insurance marketplace launches in the woods with exactly one insurance carrier, does it count as a marketplace at all? This is not an odd health policy riddle ... It is actually the situation in New Hampshire, where it's increasingly looking like just one health insurer, Anthem BlueCross BlueShield, will compete on the exchange -- if that counts as competing at all." (Sarah Kliffin in The Washington Post)

[Opinion]

As Obamacare Starts, Health Insurers Are Just Guessing
"Insurers have to decide now how much they'll charge next year.... The problem is that insurers don't know what their costs will be next year. So they're guessing. They're guessing who will enter the exchanges. They're guessing who will choose to buy their coverage. They're guessing whether healthy, young people will obey the individual mandate or pay the penalty. They're guessing what price they'll need to be competitive against other insurers, given differences in the networks, benefits, etc.... If they get it wrong by being too cheap, they'll lose money." (Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas in The Washington Post)

[Opinion]

What to Look for in Tomorrow's 2013 Medicare Trustees' Report
"Medicare spending per beneficiary in fiscal year 2012 rose by only 0.4 percent -- well below the growth in gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. Over the 2010-2012 period, Medicare spending per beneficiary grew at a 1.9 percent annual rate, while GDP per capita grew by 3.2 percent a year. The trustees' new projections may assume that some of this slowdown in cost growth will continue, as the [CBO] has done." (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)

[Opinion]

Letting the Data Speak: On Refusing Medicaid Expansion
"There are 14 states so far where the political deciders have opted out of expanding Medicaid related to health reform. Ten of those 14 clearly have worse population health ... For the citizens of those states, it's not just about being poor and not having access; it's about being poor and less healthy, and not having access." (The Health Care Blog)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]

Cost Basis for Stock Compensation: Final IRS Rules Complicate Stock-Sale Reporting on Form 1099-B
"The final cost-basis regulations, which apply to equity awards 'granted or acquired' on or after January 1, 2014, include a few important changes relating to equity compensation that differ from the treatment under the proposed regulations: The cost basis reported to the IRS on Form 1099-B for NQSO exercises cannot include the compensation element that is part of the basis. It can include only the exercise cost. Form 1099-B will not have a box, field, or other item that indicates whether the shares sold were acquired from stock compensation -- a feature that would help to warn you that the basis could be too low." (myStockOptions.com)

Bankruptcy Judge Allows Patriot Coal to Scrap Union Contracts
"Patriot Coal Corp. won approval from a bankruptcy-court judge Wednesday to slash the pay and benefits of thousands of miners, retirees and dependents. The ruling is a major blow to the United Mine Workers of America, which represents the miners and has sought to fend off cuts to its active members and retirees." (The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required)

CBO Says Top U.S. Tax Breaks to Cost $12 Trillion Over Decade
"The top 20 percent of income earners will reap more than half of the $900 billion in benefits from these tax breaks that will accrue in 2013, the non-partisan CBO said on Wednesday.... [B]enefits for the largest of the tax preferences, the exclusion for employer-paid health benefits, worth $3.4 trillion over 10 years, are more evenly distributed, with well over half of the benefits going to the middle 60 percent of earners. The middle 20 percent of earners also got the biggest benefit from excluding a portion of Social Security and Railroad Retirement benefits, a perk worth $414 billion over 10 years." (Reuters)

The Distribution of Major Tax Expenditures in the Individual Income Tax System
"The 10 major tax expenditures considered here are distributed unevenly across the income scale. In calendar year 2013, more than half of the combined benefits of those tax expenditures will accrue to households with income in the highest quintile (or one-fifth) of the population (with 17 percent going to households in the top 1 percent of the population), CBO estimates. In contrast, 13 percent of those tax expenditures will accrue to households in the middle quintile, and only 8 percent will accrue to households in the lowest quintile ... When measured relative to after-tax income, those 10 major tax expenditures are largest for the lowest and highest income quintiles." (Congressional Budget Office Blog)

Proxy Advisors Drill Down on Pay Program Design Issues
"Here's a look at some of the issues they've been focusing on: Degree of difficulty for annual incentives ... Justification and performance conditions for retention awards ... Duplicate performance measures for both annual and long-term incentives ... Increases in maximum payout potential ... Absolute metrics for long-term incentives ... Severance for departed CEOs[.]" (Towers Watson)

[Opinion]

Who Should Actually Have Say on Pay?
"[T]he chief determinants of how shareholders vote appear to be (a) stock performance, and (b) the voting recommendations of proxy-voting advisors ISS and Glass-Lewis, which are based in part on returns to shareholders over the previous three years. To a large extent, say-on-pay ... is a simple exercise in bandwagon-following.... The question is, what kind of impact?" (Harvard Business Review; free registration required)

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