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July 18, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise
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Webcasts and Conferences

Health Care Reform for Employers: Now What? - Spokane, WA
September 24, 2013 in WA
(Lorman Education Services)

Health Care Reform for Employers: Now What? - South Burlington, VT
September 24, 2013 in VT
(Lorman Education Services)

Health Care Reform for Employers: Now What? - Plainview, NY
September 24, 2013 in NY
(Lorman Education Services)

Five Pieces You May Be Missing in the 457(b) Plan Puzzle -- Webcast
July 30, 2013 WEBCAST
(MassMutual Retirement Services)

Vision: IRI Annual Meeting 2013
September 22, 2013 in IL
(Insured Retirement Institute (IRI))

View All Webcasts and Conferences


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[Guidance Overview]

Massachusetts Repeals Its Employer Health Care Mandate, Adds Annual Per-Employee Tax on Most Employers
"The legislation repealing the Massachusetts Fair Share Contribution enacts a separate Employer Medical Assistance Contribution to be used to fund a state trust for uninsured residents. The assessment is equal to 0.36% of the same wage base that applies for Massachusetts unemployment taxation purposes (currently $14,000). This approximately $50 annual assessment applies to employers that have more than five employees for a calendar year, regardless of whether or not the employer provides health insurance." (Nixon Peabody LLP)


[Advert.]

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Officials Warn of Obamacare Insurance Exchange Delays
"Alan Duncan, an auditor with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration ... said testing the systems needed to implement the exchanges 'will be difficult to complete' by the October 1 start date. 'The lack of adequate testing could result in significant delays and errors in accepting and processing ... applications for health insurance coverage,' he told the House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform committee. At the same hearing, [GAO] official John Dicken said the amount of work the federal government needs to do in each state has yet to be determined, raising the risk of missing deadlines. He added that the federal government and the states have already missed some deadlines." (Reuters)

CMS Report of MLR Rebates by State and Market (PDF)
Chart shows detail of total rebates, consumers benefiting from rebates, and average rebate per family for each state. A further breakdown shows those amounts for individual, small group, and large group markets. (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

Middle Class Americans Saving Billions under the Health Care Law's Medical Loss Ratio Refunds
"[I]n 2012 8.5 million consumers received half a billion dollars in refunds -- with the average consumer receiving a refund of around $100 per family. Moreover, in 2012, 77.8 million consumers saved $3.4 billion up front on their premiums as insurance companies operated more efficiently as compared to 2011.... For those Americans who already have health insurance -- the vast majority -- the only changes you will see under the law are new benefits, better protections from insurance company abuses, and more value for every dollar you spend on health care. If you like your plan you can keep it and you don't have to change a thing due to the health care law." (The White House Blog)

Obama's Last Campaign: Inside the White House Plan to Sell Obamacare
"[David] Simas was at the center of the effort to find and persuade young and minority voters to go to the polls like they did in 2008.... This time, he doesn't just need them to vote. He needs them to buy health insurance, and, in some cases, spend hundreds of dollars a month for it. If they don't, the new insurance marketplaces -- the absolute core of Obamacare -- will be filled with older, sicker people, and premiums will skyrocket. And if that happens, the law will fail.... How many younger people are needed each year to hold down premiums depends on how many people sign up for the marketplaces. If the total this year is 7 million people, then about 2.7 million need to be in the 18-to-35 set." (The Washington Post)

The YouToons Get Ready for Obamacare: Health Insurance Changes Coming Your Way
"Join the YouToons as they walk through the basic changes in the way Americans will get health coverage and what it will cost starting in 2014, when major parts of the Affordable Care Act, also known as 'Obamacare,' go into effect. Written and produced by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Narrated by Charlie Gibson, former anchor of ABC's World News with Charlie Gibson and a member of the Foundation's Board of Trustees. Creative production and animation by Free Range Studios." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

House Votes to Delay Two ACA Requirements
"Defying a veto threat from President Obama, the House on Wednesday passed bills delaying two crucial parts of his health care overhaul that require most Americans to have insurance and many employers to offer it. Republicans said it was unfair for Mr. Obama to delay enforcement of the employer mandate without granting similar relief to individuals, who may face tax penalties if they go without health insurance next year." (The New York Times; subscription may be required)

Nebraska's Acclaimed Wellness Program Under Fire
"In its first two years, Nebraska's state employee wellness program said it had saved $4.2 million, caught more than 500 early cancers and improved the health of thousands of employees.... But a Massachusetts-based expert in analyzing health outcomes says the claims about Nebraska's wellness program amount to so much hokum.... 'They're spending millions of dollars to tell people three things they should already know: Stop smoking, eat healthier foods and exercise more,' [author Al Lewis] said." (Omaha World-Herald)

Trends in Employment-Based Coverage Among Workers, and Access to Coverage Among Uninsured Workers, 1995-2012 (PDF)
"Between December 2007 and August 2009, the percentage of workers with coverage in their own names fell from 60.4 percent to 55.9 percent. After August 2009, there appeared to be the beginning of a recovery in the percentage of workers with employment-based coverage, and by December 2009, 56.6 percent of workers had employment-based coverage. However, by October 2011, the coverage had slipped back to 54.7 percent." (EBRI)

ADP Annual Health Benefits Report, 2013
"This research includes analyses of healthcare premiums, eligibility and participation by various demographic categories including age, gender, marital status, income, number of dependents, state and industry.... Key findings include: Eligibility and Participation Remain Relatively Steady... Overall Premium Costs Continue to Rise but Are Moderating... Employees with Higher Incomes Covered more Dependents... Lower Wage Employees Pay Larger Percentage of Income... Fewer Young Employees Opt to Purchase Coverage." (ADP Research Institute; free registration required to download full report)

Hacker Magnet or Sophisticated Tool? Obamacare's Database Debated
"The centralized data hub that will link agency records on people who sign up for Obamacare is either solidly on schedule and impenetrable to hackers, or it is floundering and in danger of swelling into 'the biggest data system of personal information in the history of the U.S.' Both views were displayed Wednesday at a joint subcommittee hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that roped in issues from cybersecurity to government mismanagement to the fate of the [ACA][.]" (Government Executive)

Health Insurance Exchanges and State Decisions: How Are the States Preparing?
"Although GAO and others have questioned exchanges' ability to be fully operational in time for open enrollment, particularly given the compressed time frame in which exchanges and supporting infrastructure are being developed, HHS maintains that exchanges will be ready on time. Key milestones to be completed in the months before open enrollment include testing state and federal information technology systems, certifying plans, and training and certifying navigators and in-person assisters." (Health Affairs)

North Carolina Poised to Challenge ACA's Reach in the Small Group Market
"Perhaps the most significant change to the small group market is in Section 3 of the bill [that was passed by the North Carolina legislature on July 15 and now is on the governor's desk for signature]. Section 3 of H649 changes the prohibition on providing stop loss coverage to small employers by making the prohibition applicable only with respect to employers 'who employ fewer than 26 eligible employees.' The resulting expanded access to self-insurance arrangements for small employers requires an annual attachment point for claims incurred per individual of at least $20,000, and an annual aggregate attachment point of at least $20,000 or 120% of expected claims, whichever is greater." (Hill, Chesson & Woody)

ACA Could Help Close Gaps in Mental Health Care
"Private insurance has historically lacked mental health services, so patients often seek care through the public system. Nearly $7.8 billion in public money was spent in fiscal year 2012-13 on mental health care, with the largest share -- $3.3 billion -- paying for Medi-Cal beneficiaries.... The [ACA] expands who is eligible for Medi-Cal, the coverage program for poor and disabled residents, enabling them to get comprehensive mental health services, and California residents purchasing insurance through the healthcare marketplace will also have access to mental health care." (Los Angeles Times)

Testimony by Treasury Inspector General at Hearing on 'ACA -- Information Technology Readiness and Data Security' (PDF)
"Several key ACA provisions will become effective in Fiscal Year 2014, making Fiscal Year 2014 and Calendar Year 2015 a significant period for ACA oversight. In addition, many provisions that previously became effective will require continued oversight to ensure that appropriate corrective actions are taken by the IRS. Because of the extensive changes to numerous tax code provisions, our concerns related to the development and implementation of new ACA systems, and the extensive coordination required between all of the stakeholders to effectively administer the ACA, [the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration] has implemented a multi-year oversight strategy that includes audits, evaluations, and investigative resources to assess the IRS's implementation of the ACA." (Internal Revenue Service)

Strategies for Using FMLA to Manage Disability Costs
"[T]he following strategies [are recommended] to better manage costs associated with FMLA leaves: Connect employees with resources ... Explore work continuity options ... Expand training for supervisors ... Stay in touch with workers ... Better educate employees about FMLA ... Synchronize HR duties related to leaves." (Integrated Benefits Institute)

Veterans' Same-Sex Spouses Still Waiting for Benefits
"When the Supreme Court ruled [DOMA] unconstitutional, more than 1,000 federal laws involving marriage allowed same-sex spouses to reap the same benefits that opposite-sex couples enjoy. Through something of a loophole, however, those rights were not expanded to same-sex spouses receiving benefits through the Veterans Affairs Department. This is because current law does not simply say 'marriage' or 'spouse,' as do the 1,000 plus laws affected by the DOMA decision; instead, the U.S. code explicitly states the following: 'The term "spouse" means a person of the opposite sex who is a wife or husband.'" (Government Executive)

The Pioneer ACO First Year Results: A Fuller Picture
"Despite the media's rush to proclaim winners, losers and future prospects for the program, the realities of the Pioneer program do not fall into bright line distinctions. Instead, results are much more nuanced, filled with bright spots and even more opportunities for learning and improvement." (Health Affairs)

Witnesses at House Hearing Respond to Questions About ACA Data Security
"Witnesses [told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee] that data is not stored at the hub -- only transferred between parties -- and disposed of within minutes. Such data includes contact information, employment information, income, Social Security number, date of birth, and certain information about family members. The exchanges don't ask for, access, or store personal health information, [CMS] Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said." (MedPage Today)

Many Insurance Brokers Not Confident in Future of Their Industry, Yet Study Points to Increasing Opportunities from ACA
"More than 6-in-10 brokers (62 percent) named 'rising health care costs impacting client decisions on benefits' as the most important issue for their firm right now. Just 15 percent of brokers say they are completely confident in the future of their firms and the industry. This seeming self-doubt points to a disconnect with employers and employees, who say they want more help from brokers and benefits experts as they unravel the often-confusing web of changes resulting from health care reform." (Aflac)

Actuaries Says ACA's Impact Will Vary Substantially Across State Lines
"When examining the impact of the ACA on premiums, it is important to note the wide variation in impact that is likely to occur across states.... [According to a report by the Society of Actuaries,] '[T]he significant state-by-state variation can be attributed to many factors, including whether or not the state sponsored a high-risk pool, differences in current underwriting practices, and demographic characteristic and income level differences in state populations. In simplest terms, the states that will see large increases generally have low current individual costs and those showing decreases have high current individual costs, with all states moving closer together but at a higher level overall.'" (America's Health Insurance Plans)

[Opinion]

Ten Things I Learned Reporting on Obamacare
"[1] For the White House, it's all about the marketplaces.... [2] It's a lot like the campaign.... [3] Don't forget IT.... [4] No one knows how to model politics.... [5] But maybe the politics won't really matter.... [6] There will be glitches.... [7] Glitches may not really matter.... [8] Different states will have wildly different experiences.... [9] No one knows quite what to do in states that aren't expanding Medicaid.... [10] State regulators are exhausted." (Ezra Klein in The Washington Post)

[Opinion]

The Devastating Obamacare Tax on Low Income Workers at Large Employers
"[A] small firm worker in a family of 4 earning a poverty-level wage ($24,000) who will be eligible to purchase coverage through the exchange will get a tax-paid subsidy of $18,432. This includes a premium subsidy of $13,598 ... and an additional subsidy of $4,834 (leaving the employee responsible for $166). An equivalently-compensated worker working for a large firm who obtains the identical health plan through his employer would receive no tax subsidy whatsoever. In fact, due to the peculiarities of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), that worker actually would end up paying $123 more in federal taxes than his small firm counterpart who receives no employer-provided health benefits whatsoever.... When one compares these two workers in terms of their net cash income after taxes and after health care, Obamacare effectively imposes a tax of 142.9% on the large firm worker." (Forbes)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Opinion]

Letter from American Benefits Council to DOL and IRS Requesting Immediate Guidance on Effect of Windsor Decision on Employee Benefit Plans (PDF)
"[We] urge you to work together expediently to provide guidance in advance of July 22, 2013. Moreover ... we urge you to take account of the unique realities associated with the maintenance of employer-sponsored plans and benefits and adopt guidance that will allow for the uniform administration of plans and benefits across state lines -- for example, by adoption of a rule that looks not at where a same-sex spouse resides, but rather at whether an individual holds a valid marriage certificate regardless of current state of domicile." (American Benefits Council)

[Opinion]

Three Years Later, Still No SEC Regulations on Dodd-Frank's CEO Pay Ratio Requirement
"While some now question the usefulness of [CEO pay ratio] information to an investor's decision to buy or sell stock in a public company, the real debate has been the cost of implementing the rule. Congress could have approved legislation that required a ratio between the CEO's compensation and that of an average employee and left it to the SEC to issue regulations as to how to calculate that ratio.... Instead, it decided to set out in the statute how the ratio should be calculated. Among other things, the statute, if interpreted literally, would require every public company with a defined benefit pension plan to calculate the change in pension value for every single employee on a global basis in order to come up with the total compensation for each employee." (The Conference Board)

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