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June 21, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise
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Employee Benefits Jobs

DC/401(k) Valuation & Compliance Testing Software Support Specialist
for Actuarial Systems Corporation in ANY STATE

DB/DC Specialist
for Novak Birks, PC in MO

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Webcasts and Conferences

Distribution and Taxation: Navigating the Maze -- Web Seminar
July 30, 2013 WEBCAST
(SunGard Relius)

What Retirement Plan Professionals Should Know About the Health Care Reform Law
July 11, 2013 in GA
(ASPPA Benefits Council of Atlanta)

FASB Education Session: Pensions And Other Postretirement Benefits
June 26, 2013 WEBCAST
(Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB))

What to Expect from an EBSA Investigation
July 9, 2013 in IL
(ASPPA Benefits Council of Chicago)

Taking the Mystery Out of Retirement Planning Workshop
July 25, 2013 in TX
(Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), U.S. Department of Labor)

Getting It Right - Know Your Fiduciary Responsibilities
July 25, 2013 in CA
(Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), U.S. Department of Labor)

Health Benefits Laws Compliance Assistance Seminar
July 16, 2013 in VA
(Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), U.S. Department of Labor)

View All Webcasts and Conferences


[Guidance Overview]

HHS Proposes Clarifications for Market Reform Regulations and New Exchange-Related Obligations But Leaves Key Questions Unanswered
"The proposed rule imposes new requirements on health insurance issuers offering Qualified Health Plans through Health Insurance Exchanges and clarifies other obligations for various market reforms and the Premium Stabilization Programs, despite the fact that applications to offer coverage through Exchanges already have been submitted and 2014 benefit packages and rates already have been developed." (McDermott Will & Emery)


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.

Viable FLMA Claim Presented Where Employee Fired for Absences Exceeding His Certification
"When the frequency or duration of the employee's absence(s) change substantially, the regulations give the employer the right to seek recertification. Here, however, FMG simply asked the doctor to confirm the previous certification, but without any context. As the court properly pointed out, FMG should have provided Dr. Post with a record of Jim's pattern of absences and asked whether Jim's serious health condition and need for leave was consistent with such a pattern." (FMLA Insights)

Private Firm Prepares to Open Federal Health Exchange Calls Centers
"[HHS] estimates that Vangent's call centers will receive 42 million calls about the federal marketplaces this year, a daily average of up to 200,000; plus answer 2,400 letters and 740 e-mails, and host 500 Web chats daily. Customer service representatives will take consumers through the process -- from shopping for a plan to enrolling. Running the 800-Medicare call centers may provide valuable experience, but Vangent's track record reveals that it was slow to adapt when changes in the Medicare program caused dramatic spikes in demand." (Kaiser Health News)

Federal District Court Allows College to Exclude Birth Control from Student Health Care Coverage
"Geneva College can offer students a health insurance plan that does not cover intrauterine devices or morning-after and week-after anti-pregnancy medications while it continues to challenge the new federal health care law that requires insurers to pay for such options ... [This] injunction is significant because it was the first obtained by a nonprofit, said Gregory Baylor, an attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund, which is representing the [Christian] college in the challenge." (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Tens of Thousands of Workers Roll Out Obamacare
"State offices that will run insurance exchanges are hiring tens of thousands, either on staff or through outsourcing firms. Federal agencies that are key to implementing the law, such as the Internal Revenue Service, plan to hire thousands more, and private non-profit groups backed by the White House are dispatching thousands of newly hired staffers and volunteers into the field.... But the precise size of this workforce is shrouded in secrecy." (Reuters)


Leadership Summit on Health Insurance Exchanges (HIXs)

Sponsored by World Congress

Timely information focused on leveraging current "knowns" and progress to derive practical strategies for successful future participation in HIXs. Join us July 15-17 in Arlington, VA.

Cash-Only Doctors Abandon the Insurance System
"Fed up with declining payments and rising red tape, a small but growing number of doctors are opting out of the insurance system completely. They're expecting patients to pony up with cash. Some doctors who have gone this route love it, saying they can spend more time with and provide higher quality care to their patients. Health advocates are skeptical, worrying that only the wealthy will benefit from this system[.]" (National Center for Policy Analysis)

Medicare Benefits and Cost-sharing: How Does Medicare Compare? (PDF)
"Medicare offers good but not luxury coverage. It lacks any protection from catastrophic expenses, unlike most employer health plans, putting older adults at risk of incurring significant OOP costs. Further, it requires significant cost-sharing from beneficiaries, more so than typical large employer plans." (AARP Public Policy Institute)

How Important Is Social Security Disability Insurance to U.S. Workers? (PDF)
"Efforts to address SSDI's long-term financing deficit must recognize the crucial role it plays in supporting vulnerable Americans with disabilities. Nearly half of DI beneficiaries rely on it for at least half of their family income. A fifth of beneficiaries rely on it for almost all their income." (Urban Institute)

Annual Growth Rates of Health Care Costs Accelerated in April
"[T]he average per capita cost of healthcare services covered by commercial insurance and Medicare programs increased by 3.16% over the 12-months ending April 2013, accelerating from the +3.06% annual growth rate recorded in March. Eight of the nine S&P Healthcare Economic Indices showed higher annual growth rates for April 2013 compared to March 2013." (Healthcare Town Hall)

On Upcoming Referendum in San Francisco: Proposed Mandatory Flexible Working Arrangements
"[The] proposed 'Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance' ... would allow employees who are caregivers to request a wide range of flexible working arrangements. Employers would be able to deny the request only upon a showing of 'undue hardship.' If approved by voters on November 5, 2013, this ordinance would, subject to any legal challenge, take effect on July 1, 2014, and would be the first of its kind in the United States.... Employers that regularly employ ten or more employees would have to comply with the ordinance[.]" (Nixon Peabody LLP)

Health Insurers to Pay $500 Million in Rebates This Summer
"[HHS] attributed the decline in rebates to insurers' adhering more closely to this requirement and to lowering premium rates for their products.... 8.5 million insurance customers would receive an average rebate of about $100 per family after August 1. For 2011, 4.1 million people received about $152 per family, or a total of $1.1 billion." (Reuters)

GAO Issues Progress Report on Health Exchanges
"Under the best of circumstances, creating and implementing a program that will revolutionize the way in which individual and small group health insurance is underwritten and sold in the United States, providing financial assistance through the tax system and Medicaid to millions of Americans who cannot afford health insurance, and organizing health insurance markets to promote choice and competition -- and to do all this in the timeframe allowed by the ACA -- would have been a daunting task." (Timothy Jost in Health Affairs)

Could Health Care Reform Make Your Employees Less Productive?
"Employees who are very satisfied with benefits are nearly five times less likely to worry about unexpected health and financial issues. As a result, they can be more productive. Yet, 44% of surveyed employees are concerned that their employer may reduce their benefits. And, almost two-thirds of employees are very concerned about having access to affordable health insurance as well as having enough money to cover increasing out-of-pocket medical costs." (MetLife)

More than Four in Five Americans Say Brand is Important when Selecting a Health Insurance Policy
"When asked which factors are among the most important when selecting a health insurance plan, Americans are most likely to select overall plan price (including premiums, deductibles, co-pays, etc.) and benefits included in the plan (66% and 64%, respectively), followed by which doctors are included in the plan's network (35%), the reputation of the insurer (30%) and which hospitals are included in the plan's network (24%). Women are more likely than men to feel that overall plan price, benefits included in the plan and doctors in the plan's network are important." (Harris Interactive)

American Academy of Actuaries Testimony on 2013 Medicare Trustees Report before House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health (PDF)
"Because Medicare plays a critically important role in ensuring that older and certain disabled Americans have access to health care, the American Academy of Actuaries' Medicare Steering Committee urges action to restore the long-term solvency and financial sustainability of the program. The sooner such corrective measures are enacted, the more flexible the approach and the more gradual the implementation can be. Failure to act now will necessitate far more drastic actions later." (American Academy of Actuaries)


The Effects of Health Insurance on Health
"The CBO projects that 14 million people will become newly insured next year under the [ACA] and 25 million will gain coverage by 2016. These historic gains in health insurance coverage are likely to have variable effects on the health of newly insured people over the next several years, with the sickest and the oldest realizing more immediate changes in health status. But even those changes may not show up as dramatic improvements in health, but rather as the preservation of good health, or a slowing of its deterioration." (The Commonwealth Fund)


'Premium Shock' and 'Premium Joy' Under the ACA
"Younger and healthier members of the pool should realize that, in effect, they are buying a call option that allows them to buy coverage at a premium far below the high actuarial cost of covering them when they are sicker. The price charged the healthy for this call option is the difference between the premium they must pay and the current lower actuarial cost of covering them." (Uwe Reinhardt in The New York Times; subscription may be required)


Senators Tell HHS Navigator Program Lacks Safeguards, Increases Fraud Risk
"'The standards proposed by [HHS] could result in a convicted felon receiving federal dollars and gaining access to confidential taxpayer information. The same standards allow any individual who has registered with the exchange and completed two days of training to facilitate enrollment, as if the decision to purchase health insurance is similar to the decision of registering to vote,' wrote the Senators. 'The unreasonably low standard for becoming a navigator not only undermines the state's ability to ensure consumers are protected but raises questions about the appropriate use of federal resources and the protection of highly sensitive consumer information.'" (InsuranceNewsNet.com)


Obamacare: AMA's Curious Support
"While nearly no one thinks the [sustainable growth rate (SGR)]'s implementation is good policy, it is striking that even as the AMA fights against the lower payments the SGR mandates in Medicare, it is enthusiastic about having more patients in Medicaid, which pays even less in reimbursement. A Medicaid expansion would offer health coverage, but that is far different from patients being able to access health care." (The Heritage Foundation)


The Health Insurance Shell Game
"Health Insurance as both an industry and a product has become a frustrating web of inefficiency and confusion.... The workers' input to the design of health plans and their component fees is after the fact; their preferences are constrained by the options offered. They are faced with a complicated choice that pits financial savvy and preconceptions as to the value of health care against their tolerance of risk. This is the model that has been adopted by the [ACA] in the formulation of the Exchanges which are about to make their way deeper into the American landscape." (The Health Care Blog)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]

What Kinds of Expenses Can Be Paid from Plan Assets? (PDF)
[Very nice 5-page chart.] "The assets of an employee benefit plan can be used to pay certain of its expenses while other types of expenses may not be paid from plan assets. The chart below is designed to be used by plan sponsors to assist them in evaluating whether expenses incurred by their plans can be paid from the plans' assets." (Groom Law Group, via Practical Law Company)

[Guidance Overview]

Time to Assess the Independence of Your Compensation Committee's Outside Counsel and Other Advisers
"Based on informal guidance from the SEC staff, it would be advisable to consider whether outside counsel may be deemed to be providing indirect advice to the committee, based on the particular facts and circumstances, thereby triggering the independence assessment requirement. Some examples of potential indirect advice to the committee may include advice regarding: design of stock or bonus plans and awards for executives, preparation of executive employment or severance agreements, assistance with proxy statement compensation disclosures or compensation plan proposals and other regular securities or tax law advice. The SEC has stated that the independence assessment is required of any consultant, outside counsel or adviser that provides advice to the committee, whether or not limited to advice on executive compensation." (Benefits Bryan Cave)

Considering an Acquisition? Begin Total Rewards Planning Now
"Acquisitions mean big changes for numerous stakeholders. The implications for a target company's total rewards structure can be profound, requiring the buyer to tweak metrics, replace certain awards and often realign the performance management framework to support an integrated post-acquisition rewards structure.... It's crucial to have a disciplined methodology for addressing potential issues." (Society for Human Resource Management)

Press Releases

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