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June 17, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Webcasts and Conferences

SunGard's Advanced Pension Conference
August 28, 2013 in IL
(SunGard Relius)

SunGard's Just for ERPAs Workshop
August 27, 2013 in IL
(SunGard Relius)

"Fundamentals of 401(k) and Other Qualified Plans" - a 3-day Seminar, Dallas
July 17, 2013 in TX
(SunGard Relius)

9th Annual Value-Based Benefits & Wellness Forum and Vendor Fair
December 5, 2013 in TX
(Dallas-Fort Worth Business Group on Health)

Getting It Right – Know Your Fiduciary Responsibilities
August 6, 2013 in VA
(Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), U.S. Department of Labor)

Employer Exchange Notice and Related Disclosures: Communicating Minimum Value, Affordability, and More to Employees
June 13, 2013 WEBCAST
(Thomson Reuters / EBIA)

View All Webcasts and Conferences


[Guidance Overview]

New Regulations Address Program Integrity and Many Other Exchange and Market-Reform Issues
"Employers with one employee qualify as small groups under the ACA, in contrast to the prior rule of [HIPAA], under which at least two employees were required. The principle business address of the policyholder is used for determining the geographic rating area for determining rates for small groups; the address of the policyholder for determining rates for the individual market, regardless of where various employees or family members live.... [T]he proposed rule reinterprets the ACA (which could be read either way) to permit the establishment of state SHOP-only exchanges (although only if the state has a federally facilitated individual exchange).... A number of the provisions of the proposed rule deal with agents and brokers." (Timothy Jost in Health Affairs)


A Practical Approach to Developing a Wellness Program

Sponsored by Lorman and BenefitsLink

Learn to use a six step model process for designing your program, look at a practical example of a program, find out how to locate resources for your program, and how to keep it fresh and effective. Registration discount for BenefitsLink readers.

[Guidance Overview]

Differences Between the ACA and the Massachusetts Health Care Law May Affect Employers with Massachusetts Employees
"[E]mployers [may need] to obtain a certification (waiver) from the Massachusetts Health Connector ... to ensure their employees do not face penalties under the state health care reform law.... Employers should review their plans to determine whether the coverage meets the Massachusetts MCC requirements.... Employers with employees in Massachusetts may want to communicate that such employees will be subject to both the federal and state requirements, and let them know whether their health coverage meets the state standards." (Towers Watson)

Are You GINA-Compliant? EEOC Focusing on Improper Inquiries into Employees' Family Medical Histories
"The EEOC's apparent newfound interest in GINA does not come as a complete surprise, as its Strategic Enforcement Plan for 2012-2016 identified emerging and developing issues in equal employment law as one of its six national priorities, which includes genetic information. Employers should immediately cease from inquiring about an applicant's or employee's genetic information, unless such inquiry falls within one of GINA's narrow exceptions (inquiries in connection with employee wellness programs, genetic monitoring programs, or conducting DNA testing for law enforcement agencies)." (Nixon Peabody LLP)

HIPAA Sanctions Triggered by Covered Entity's Statements to Media, Workforce
"Health plans, health care providers, health care clearinghouses ('covered entities') and their business associates should confirm their existing policies, practices and training for communicating with the media and others comply with the Privacy Rule requirements of [the HIPAA Privacy Rule] in light of a Resolution Agreement with Shasta Regional Medical Center (SRMC) announced [on June 14, 2013].... [E]fforts to respond to press or media reports, patient or other complaints, physician or employee disputes, high profile accidents, or other events that may involve communications not typically run by privacy officers can create big exposures. While the Resolution Agreement targets a health care provider, the lessons are equally applicable to health plans and health care clearinghouses[.]" (Solutions Law Press)

Colorado Health Insurance Companies Post Rates
"Connect for Health Colorado will include 11 carriers offering a combined 243 plans, including 150 plans in the individual/ family market and 93 in the [SHOP] market.... A preliminary [Department of Insurance] review shows that monthly premiums for the new health insurance plans vary widely, depending on what portion of medical expenses the plan will pay and what portion consumers pay in co-pays and other out-of-pocket expenses. In addition, DOI reviewers have noticed that some of the rates don't meet the new requirements." (InsuranceNewsNet.com)

FMLA Stats Will Help Your Company Feel Better -- Unless You're in One of These Five Industries
"[T]he five industries where FMLA leave is most rampant ... Casinos (49% of employees take FMLA leave in a year), Health care (39%), Government (36%), Call centers (33%) and Manufacturing (23%). For comparison purposes, ... only 7% of employees in professional services firms take FMLA leave in a year -- one of the lowest industry percentages the study found." (HR Benefits Alert)

Choice of Health Plans to Vary Sharply from State to State
"States like California, Colorado and Maryland have attracted an array of insurers. But options for people in other states may be limited to an already dominant local Blue Cross plan and a few newcomers with little or no track record in providing individual coverage, including the two dozen new carriers across the country created under the [ACA]." (The New York Times; subscription may be required)

Want a Law Job? Learn the Affordable Care Act
"Health-care companies racing to comply with the Affordable Care Act and other rules are calling in the lawyers, sparking a mini-boom for specialist attorneys who can backstop overloaded internal teams and steer clients through an increasingly crowded regulatory minefield. Seizing opportunity at a time when overall demand for legal services remains soft, some law firms are beefing up their health-care groups." (The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required)

July 31 is Non-Extendable PCORI Fee Deadline for Certain Self-Insured Health Plans
"If you have a self-insured health plan subject to the PCORI fee with a calendar year plan year and intend to use the Form 5500 method to count covered lives, you cannot utilize the 2-month extension[.] You must file your 2012 Form 5500 by July 31, 2013." (ERISAdiagnostics, Inc.)

Hospital Layoffs Point to Growing Problem for Health Care
"BJC Healthcare's decision to cut 160 employees last week is a tangible sign that hospitals ... are being increasingly squeezed by government cuts and reduced consumer spending. Similar layoffs are occurring at hospitals in Indianapolis, northern Virginia and other parts of the country. Health care experts attribute the job reductions to a raft of potential economic hardships that hospitals will face as the [ACA] is implemented, along with other financial pressures on health systems nationwide." (St. Louis Post Dispatch)

More Data, But Health Care Still Hard to Figure for Consumers
"Comparison-shopping for health care is a relatively new idea and not for the faint of heart. Medicare gave us a little help last month when officials released reams of numbers, actual average prices that individual hospitals billed for treatment related to the 100 most common inpatient stays.... Luckily, there already are more consumer-friendly places to go." (InsuranceNewsNet.com)

Proposed Legislation Seeks to Expand and Strengthen FSAs and HSAs
"Under the current language of the bill, this exception would exempt a stand-alone HRA 'which permits the purchase of a qualified health plan through an Exchange established under section 1311 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act' from the prohibition on annual and lifetime limits. This could be a welcome legislative change for employers seeking to provide tax-favored funding for their employees to purchase individual or family policies through a health insurance marketplace." (Hill, Chesson & Woody)

Lessons from Early Medicaid Expansions Under the ACA
"All the early ACA Medicaid expansions occurred in states with pre-existing state or local insurance programs for low-income adults.... Expansion-related predictions are challenging.... Barriers to coverage and access remain after expanding eligibility.... Behavioral health is a critical need for this population.... While the early expansions required significant administrative effort, these states -- like all states -- still face major implementation challenges for 2014." (Health Affairs)

Patterns of Older Americans' Health Care Utilization Over Time
"Older individuals' health and changes in health are more strongly correlated with persistence of and changes in care-seeking behavior over time than are financial status and changes in financial status. The more pronounced sensitivity to health status and changes in health are important considerations in insurance and retirement policy reforms." (RAND Corporation)

CCIIO Publishes Plan for ACA Exchange Implementation
"July and August are scheduled for the training of navigators, agents, and brokers ... although the CCIIO says that training will be ongoing. The CCIIO also says that it expects to have Assister training modules available no later than August. In August, issuers will be able to view their QHP offerings loaded on marketplace websites the way consumers will see them, so that they can identify any inaccuracies and request corrections before the plan offerings are made public." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)

Text of H.R. 2288: Commuter Parity Act of 2013 (Introduced Version)
"LIMITATION ON EXCLUSION- The amount of the fringe benefits which are provided by an employer to any employee and which may be excluded from gross income under subsection (a)(5) shall not exceed-- (A) $220 per month in the case of the aggregate of the benefits described in subparagraphs (A) and (B) of paragraph (1), (B) $220 per month in the case of qualified parking, and (C) $35 per month for qualified bicycle commuting reimbursement." [Introduced on June 7, 2013. The bill is similar to S. 1116.] (U.S. House of Representatives)


Supporting Family Caregivers with Progressive Workplace Leave Policies (PDF)
"Policy Recommendations: [1] Increase the reach of [FMLA] by expanding the relationships covered by the law to include domestic partners, parents-in-law, grandparents, and siblings. [2] Require employers to protect workers in businesses with fewer than 50 employees. [3] Adopt policies at the state level that exceed the current federal eligibility requirements for the FMLA. [4] Optimize worker productivity and retention at the federal, state, and local levels by promoting access to paid family leave insurance." (AARP Public Policy Institute)


Are Employers to Blame for High Medical Prices?
"In a recent New York Times blog, Uwe Reinhardt places much of the blame for high and rising medical prices on passive employers.... Reinhardt gets the economics wrong here and, in the process, he puts too much of the blame on employers. Reinhardt is right in one respect -- employees care about their entire wage/benefit packages. If benefits deteriorate, employers will have to increase wages to retain workers. Thus, it seems that if an employer reduces benefit costs, it must increase wages by an equal amount. If that is true, we can understand why employers are passive." (The Health Care Blog)


What Sweden Can Tell Us About Obamacare
"Swedish health economists ... have spent their lives under a system in which most health care providers work directly for the government.... So if extensive government involvement in health care is indeed a recipe for doom, they should have clear evidence of that by now. Yet none of them voiced the kinds of complaints about recalcitrant bureaucrats and runaway health costs that invariably surface in similar conversations with American colleagues." (Robert H. Frank in The New York Times; subscription may be required)


Competition in Medicare Programs: Boon or Boondoggle?
"[Recent research] found that competing ... Medicare Advantage plans did not save money. In fact, since their introduction, the private (mostly for-profit) insurance programs have cost taxpayers an extra $282.6 billion.... Medicare currently pays these privately run plans a set premium per enrollee (about $10,123). This amount is $2,526 more than the premium paid for enrollees covered under the standard Medicare plan. About 27 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are currently covered under Medicare Advantage plans." (Physicians for a National Health Program)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Official Guidance]

EBSA Requesting Nominations to ERISA Advisory Council (PDF)
"Council members shall be persons qualified to appraise the programs instituted under ERISA. Appointments are for terms of three years.... The Council will meet at least four times each year. The terms of five members of the Council expire this year. The groups or fields they represent are as follows: (1) employee organizations; (2) employers; (3) insurance; (4) accounting; and (5) the general public.... [A]ny person or organization desiring to nominate one or more individuals for appointment to the Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans to represent any of the groups or fields specified ... may submit nominations ... [which must be] received on or before August 8, 2013." (Employee Benefits Security Administration)

SHRM 2013 Employee Benefits Survey: An Overview of Employee Benefits Offerings in the U.S. (PDF)
88 pages. Excerpt: "Over the last five years, there has been an increase in the number of organizations providing wellness-related initiatives that offer incentives to employees.... Employer-sponsored retirement plans continue to shift toward defined contribution retirement savings plans and Roth 401(k) savings plans. There was also an increase in the number of organizations offering one-on-one investment advice and specific retirement-preparation advice.... Paid time off plans, which combine traditional vacation time, sick leave and personal days into one comprehensive plan, continue to gain in popularity. At the same time, the following benefits have become less prevalent: floating holidays, paid personal days, paid vacation leave donation programs and paid sick leave donation program." (Society for Human Resource Management)

Executive Does the Right Thing -- and Loses Everything
"[T]he acquirer threatened to withdraw its offer to purchase Capital Bank unless Yarber and other bank executives signed amendments to their employment agreements relinquishing their right to the change in control severance payments.... The acquirer closed the deal to purchase Capital Bank. It then removed Yarber from his position as president and chief executive officer, and terminated his employment ten days after the term of his contract expired. Yarber received no change in control severance payments.... Yarber sued ... Unfortunately for Mr. Yarber, the court saw this as an open and shut case." (Winston & Strawn LLP)

CFO Pay Rises But Subjective Bonuses Rankle Finance Chiefs
"Since 2006, median CFO pay has risen 18.75%, compared with an 11.1% rise in median pay for CEOs, presidents, and COOs ... CFO pay has not experienced the ups and downs of CEO pay. Instead, finance chiefs' pay has increased slightly each year ... The proportion of subjective CFO bonuses in private companies has decreased over the years, but that proportion remains relatively high compared with other countries[.]" (Journal of Accountancy)

Press Releases

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