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June 20, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Part Time On Call Retirement Planning Consultant
for Transamerica Retirement Solutions in AR, CA, MO, NY, UT

Senior Actuarial Consultant
for USI Consulting Group in CT

Account Manager
for Atlanta based Employee Benefits Firm in GA

Lead Consultant - Employee Benefits
for Atlanta based Employee Benefits Firm in GA

Retirement Specialist
for Nationwide Financial in MD

Retirement Planning Consultant
for Transamerica Retirement Solutions in GA

Institutional Management Investment Group Account Manager
for PNC in PA

ERISA Counsel - Tax Qualification
for T. Rowe Price in MD

Group Benefits Administrator
for MAGii, Inc in NY

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Webcasts and Conferences

Top-Heavy Rules: A Trap for the Unwary -- Web Seminar
July 25, 2013 WEBCAST
(SunGard Relius)

Healthcare Consumerism and Shifting to a Patient-Centered Organization - Webinar
July 10, 2013 WEBCAST
(Worldwide Employee Benefits Network (WEB))

4th Annual Financial Advisor Retirement Symposium
April 28, 2014 in NV
(Financial Advisor and Private Wealth Magazines)

SouthWest Benefits Association/Internal Revenue Service 24th Annual Employee Benefits Conference
November 7, 2013 in TX
(SouthWest Benefits Association)

HealthCare Consumerism: Helping Employers Move from a Parenting Approach to a Partnering Approach -- Webinar
June 25, 2013 WEBCAST
(Aflac)

10th Annual American Health Care Congress
December 2, 2013 in CA
(World Congress)

Coverage and Nondiscrimination Testing for Related Employers -- Web Seminar
July 18, 2013 WEBCAST
(SunGard Relius)

ASPPA Annual Conference
October 27, 2013 in MD
(American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA))

401(k) Plan Design Considerations -- Webcast
July 11, 2013 WEBCAST
(American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA))

View All Webcasts and Conferences


 

Local Governments Cut Part-Time Hours to Avoid Obamacare Mandate
"[W]hile private companies are getting all this unwelcome and hostile attention, local governments across the country have been quietly doing exactly the same thing -- cutting part-time hours specifically so they can skirt ObamaCare's costly employer mandate, while complaining about the law in some of the harshest terms anyone has uttered in public. The result is that part-time government workers -- many of them low-income -- face pay cuts that can top $3,000 a year, and yet will still be left without employer-provided benefits." (Investor's Business Daily)

Bipartisan Bill from Two Senators Would Soften Obamacare Mandate
"A pair of centrist senators introduced a bill Wednesday to soften the employer mandate in President Obama's healthcare law. The healthcare law requires employers to offer coverage to employees who work more than 30 hours per week. Some employers have said they will reduce workers' hours to avoid the mandate. Sens. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) proposed a bill to move the threshold to 40 hours per week, saying the employer mandate should match the traditional definition of a full-time worker." (The Hill)

Aetna to Stop Selling Individual Health Insurance Policies in California
"Aetna will stop selling individual health insurance policies in California next month, just weeks after opting out of the exchange that is being established as part of the national health care reforms ... Aetna says it has about 58,000 individual enrollees in the state and expects to have about 49,000 by the end of the year. It plans to withdraw from the state at the end of the year but will continue to offer small and large group plans, as well as Medicare, dental and life insurance products." (San Jose Mercury News)

2013 Employer-Sponsored Health Care: ACA's Impact
"The vast majority (69%) of organizations say they plan to continue providing coverage when exchanges open in 2014, primarily to retain and attract talented employees. That percentage is up from 2012, when 46% of organizations definitely planned to continue coverage[.]" (International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

ACA's MLR Rule Delivered Value to Consumers in 2012 (PDF)
"[Premium] savings went up from 2011 to 2012. While the amount of rebates declined in 2012 over 2011 ... the value for consumer premium dollar increased, reflected as premium savings ... Premium savings are the amount that consumers would have paid if their insurance company's MLR did not improve from 2011 to 2012.... [T]he percent of enrollees receiving upfront value increased from 2011 to 2012. And, insurance company overhead was lower in 2012 than 2011[.]" (Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)


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Policy Options for Restructuring Medicare
"Medicare's current structure is widely recognized as being outdated, lacking predictability and protections for the beneficiary, such as a cap on out-of-pocket spending. It also gives beneficiaries little incentive to seek the highest-value care or avoid unneeded care. Although some advocates of Medicare redesign seek to improve the benefit structure, others view these reforms as a means of reducing federal spending chiefly by shifting costs onto beneficiaries." (Health Affairs)

Choosing a Strategy for Essential Health Benefits
"Choosing an EHB benchmark plan requires analysis of any existing annual or lifetime limits on self-insured plan benefits against the state's definition of EHB. For example, a plan that excludes acupuncture as an eligible expense might not want to select Colorado as its EHB benchmark.... Payers have examined this issue and chosen a benchmark plan that defines EHB coverage for all plans under their umbrella, whether fully insured or self-funded.... [E]mployers with self-funded plans can direct their plan administrators ... to use a different state's benchmark plan -- one that more closely aligns with their own plans." (HighRoads)

Launching the Medicare Part D Program: Lessons for the New Health Insurance Marketplaces
"Although the officials implementing [Medicare Part D] encountered significant technical, educational, and coordination difficulties at first, eight years later, many of the initial difficulties have been forgotten. The public generally views the program as a success. [The authors describe] the challenges that led up to the launch of Part D and the real-time improvements officials made to ensure that beneficiaries were able to obtain the benefits they were promised. [They] then review how state and federal officials working on exchanges may benefit from the lessons their predecessors learned during implementation of Part D." (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)

California Medical Center Settles HIPAA Violation for $275,000
"Specifically, [Shasta Regional Medical Center]: Sent a letter to California Watch to respond to a media story about Medicare fraud, which included PHI about medical treatment and lab results. Met with the Record Searchlight editor and disclosed PHI regarding the same matter. Sent a letter to the Los Angeles Times, including detailed information about the treatment involved in the matter. Sent an e-mail to approximately 785 to 900 of its employees, including information about the medical conditions, diagnosis, and treatment of the patient involved in the matter. Failed to sanction its employees in adherence to its internal sanction policy." (Nixon Peabody LLP)

UnitedHealth Makes the Case for Insurer-Retail Partnerships
"Insurers could, say, team up with grocery stores to help increase health awareness and wellness purchasing among their consumers. Or they could partner with technology companies to help inform consumers' wellness goals, including walking, weight management and diet." (FierceHealthPayer)

On Target for Opening the New Health Insurance Marketplace
"We are on target for open enrollment, and looking forward to several key milestones over the coming months to accomplish this important task. This summer, our focus is on public education and training.... While there may be a bump here or there -- which can be expected when you are creating a program of this magnitude -- let there be no doubt: Every state will have a Marketplace up and running for open enrollment on October 1." (Healthcare.gov)

Senate Health Committee Republicans Request Details on FDA's Promotion of ACA
"The senators wrote: 'We are writing to ask why and under what authority the [FDA] is using its time and resources to enroll Americans in health insurance marketplaces created by the new health care law.... The e-mail alerts your agency sends to the public should reflect your agency's actual statutory mission to assure the safety of food, drugs, and medical devices. The upcoming enrollment period and insurance coverage availability under the new law appear to be outside of your agency's mission to approve and regulate lifesaving medical products in a timely manner and keeping our food supply safe."" (Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, U.S. Senate)

GAO Report Points to Challenges in Setting Up Federal Health Insurance Marketplaces
"'It is the GAO's job to outline problems that could occur,' said Dan Mendelson of the private consulting firm Avalere Health ... States, he said, are rightly concerned that delays in the income and eligibility information technology might not operate efficiently at first. 'That would force them to do manual enrollment -- get on the phone with people -- and that's expensive,' said Mendelson, who oversaw health programs at the Office of Management and Budget during the Clinton administration." (Kaiser Health News)

Employment-Based Health Coverage Levels Hold Steady (PDF)
"[B]etween 1999 and 2011, the percentage of full-time workers employed by large firms with health coverage from their own jobs bounced around between 72.4 percent and 74.9 percent, although the low of 72.4 percent was reached in 2011. Coverage levels also held steady among smaller employers, but ranged between 39.5 percent and 44.4 percent, with the low of 39.5 percent, also reached in 2011. However, the recent downward trend was much stronger among full-time workers in small firms, dropping from 42.6 percent in 2008 to 39.5 percent in 2011." (EBRI)

Use of Health Care Services and Access Issues by Type of Health Plan
"In 2012, 26-40 percent of respondents reported some type of access-to-health-care issue for either themselves or family members. Individuals in consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) and high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) were more likely than individuals with traditional coverage to report access issues. Individuals in households with less than $50,000 in annual income were more likely than those in households with $50,000 or more in annual income to report access issues. Very few differences in access issues were found by whether employers contributed to the account, but access issues were found by the level of contribution." (EBRI)

Federal Government, States Could Foster Health Care Pricing Transparency, Panel Told
"Witnesses at a hearing on pricing transparency said the health care marketplace is dysfunctional because prices for goods and services and how they are set remain mysterious.... Steps to increase transparency include building on efforts by Medicare to release data on inpatient procedures, allowing more access to Medicare's databases, and requiring health plans participating in the health care marketplaces under the health care reform law to be more transparent, witnesses said." (Bloomberg BNA)

[Opinion]

Brady Opening Statement: Hearing on the 2013 Medicare Trustees Report
"Today, no Member of Congress can honestly look a 52 year old American in the eye and assure them that Medicare will be there for them when they retire because the trustees report has just confirmed it. That's not 'just fine.'" (Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), Chair, Subcommittee on Health, Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives)

[Opinion]

RAND Shrugged: What to Make of Its Report on the Effectiveness of Workplace Wellness Programs
"For critics of health-contingent workplace wellness programs, the conclusion is much more straightforward: even using prejudicial data sources and lacking a critique of the quality of the evidence, the impact of workplace wellness on the actual health of employees and the corporate medical care cost burden, is, generously stated, negligible. This is not worth $6BN a year, which is the purported size of the US market for health-contingent workplace wellness programs[.]" (The Health Care Blog)

[Opinion]

Statement of Center for Studying Health System Change at Senate Finance Committee Hearing on Health Care Costs (PDF)
"To date, most policy activity related to health care price transparency has missed the mark and has not achieved the prime goal of lowering prices by engaging consumers to choose providers on the basis of value. Without changes in insurance benefit designs that steer patients to high-value providers -- those that provide high-quality care efficiently -- price transparency initiatives are likely to continue to have limited impact." (Paul B. Ginsburg, Ph.D., of the Center for Studying Health System Change and the National Institute for Health Care Reform)

[Opinion]

Testimony before Senate Finance Committee Hearing on Health Care Costs (PDF)
"When you go shopping for a car, you know its price: it's right there on the window, and there are numerous sources for information about key aspects of quality. When you are booking a hotel room, likewise, it's easy to know the charges and to instantly access evaluations on everything from the cleanliness of the bathroom to the friendliness of the front-desk staff. Yet, when it comes to our health care system, it has been virtually impossible for a consumer to find out what it will cost for any given procedure or course of treatment, and to determine whether the quality of care is worth the price. This makes no sense from either a market or medical perspective." (Giovanni Colella, MD, CEO and Co-Founder of Castlight Health, Inc.)

[Opinion]

The Importance of Price Transparency from the Employer and Consumer Perspective (PDF)
"Transparency on health care prices increases the likelihood that consumers will choose health care providers that deliver effective and cost-efficient care.... Recent studies suggest that price transparency can help providers evaluate and identify the most appropriate and affordable care for their patients. Furthermore, employers and health plans cannot implement some of the more promising benefit and network designs without it." (Suzanne F. Delbanco, Executive Director of Catalyst for Payment Reform)

[Opinion]

Testimony of Steven Brill at Senate Finance Committee Hearing on Health Care Costs (PDF)
"[B]y any definition this is no one's idea of a functioning marketplace. In a functioning marketplace prices are based on something that is explainable -- whether it's the cost of producing the product, the laws of supply and demand, or the quality of the product. In this marketplace, no one can explain a hospital's charge of $77 for a box of gauze pads, or $18 for a diabetes test strip that can be bought on Amazon for about 50 cents." (U.S. Senate Committee on Finance)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

Cypen & Cypen Newsletter, June 20, 2013
Article titles include: [1] Public Sector Pension Reform; [2] Federal Appellate Court Upholds Cleveland's Mandatory Retirement for Police Officers at Sixty-five; [3] Are Retirement Rules Really Myths? and [4] Healthiest States for Seniors. (Cypen & Cypen)

Restricted Stock Grants: Research Shows Continued Growth
"While the number of companies granting both types of equity compensation remained fairly stable, there were significant changes in the percentage of companies granting only stock options and only restricted stock over the six-year period [2007-2012].... The percentage of the S&P 1500 that granted options during the period of study fell from 78.5% in 2007 to 65.2% in 2012. During the studied period, there was a sharp increase in the use of restricted stock (including RSUs)." (myStockOptions.com)

Pay for Performance: Rethink Your Metrics
"U.S. companies continue to shift more of the long-term incentive mix toward grants with explicit performance conditions and increasingly use total shareholder return (TSR) as a performance measure. These trends reflect an appropriate emphasis on 'pay for performance' in designing executive compensation programs. But, with the growing focus on TSR, companies may run the risk of overpaying for past performance and market-based fluctuations in share price, rather than rewarding executives for sustainable company performance and differentiated value creation." (Towers Watson)

[Opinion]

Unfinished Fiscal Fix -- But the Cliff Is Still There
"There is ... a litany of other taxes, penalties and fees introduced in the ACA ... [that] could legitimately be brought to bear by Republicans in addressing the fiscal cliff problem ... inasmuch as they, like the Medicare taxes, have been designed to hit high bracket businesses and individuals, by reason of being (i) targeted at big businesses (viz., medical device makers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and health insurance companies), or (ii) drafted with specific thresholds based on size of business payrolls or on individuals' income levels, as regards health insurance or self-insurance mandates imposed on businesses, or relating to insurance that individuals must purchase for themselves or their families, or (iii) imposed on the purchase of a specific luxury health item colloquially called a 'Cadillac insurance plan.'" (Alvin D. Lurie, Esq. on BenefitsLink.com)

Press Releases

Beltz-Ianni Announces New Hire
Beltz Ianni & Associates

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