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July 25, 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 Benefits Specialist (Retirement Plans)
for Assurant in NY

Trust/Fund Relationship Manager 2
for Huntington National Bank in OH

Director of Benefits
for Arnold & Porter LLP in DC

Pension Actuary
for BHA Consulting LLC in GA

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Webcasts and Conferences

Professional Service Agreement Webinar
July 31, 2013 WEBCAST
(AccuDraft, Inc.)

Health Care Reform Workforce Realignment: Beware the Unintended Consequences
August 13, 2013 in CO
(Spencer Fane Britt & Browne LLP)

401(k) Plan Loans and Hardship Withdrawals -- Webcast
August 20, 2013 WEBCAST
(Spencer Fane Britt & Browne LLP)

The Affordable Care Act: How Will It Affect You? -- Webcast
August 29, 2013 WEBCAST
(Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), U.S. Department of Labor)

View All Webcasts and Conferences


  LinkedIn   Twitter   Facebook Hand-picked links to the web's best news articles,
official guidance, jobs, webcasts and more.
[Guidance Overview]

End of Year ACA Employer Checklist
"Pay PCORI Fee by July 31, 2013.... Distribute exchange notices to all employees by October 1, 2013.... Distribute Summaries of Benefits and Coverage during open enrollment.... Amend plan documents and [SPDs] to reflect changes effective for the 2014 plan year... Terminate any mini-med or limited medical plans, or stand-alone HRAs that are no longer permitted.... [c]onsider implementing a 'trial run' of your 'pay or play' strategy ... [B]e aware of the changes to the wellness program rules (especially with respect to the 'reasonable alternatives' that must be provided) and recent HIPAA amendments that are effective September 23, 2013." (Haynes and Boone, LLP)  


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Chart Showing Paid Leave by Occupation, March 2013
"In March 2013, about three-quarters of all workers in private industry and state and local government had access to paid holidays and paid vacations (76 percent and 74 percent, respectively), while roughly two-thirds had access to paid sick leave (65 percent).... The proportion of management, professional, and related workers who received paid sick leave (85 percent) was larger than the proportion that received paid holidays and paid vacations (79 percent and 75 percent, respectively).... Paid leave was least common among service occupations." (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)  

Insurer Exits from Markets: An Unintended Consequence of the ACA?
"Health plans such as Medical Mutual were supposed to be motivated by the opportunities presented by the [ACA] to expand their business and obtain more lives. If these types of plans are instead pulling back and focusing only on places where they are already strong, then the ACA could produce the unintended consequence of decreasing competition in some markets and making the large national insurers even stronger." (HealthLeaders InterStudy)  

The New Economics of Part-Time Employment: What a Difference an Hour Makes
"By taking a 39-hour position, the employee can have comprehensive health insurance coverage and actually make more money than he would in a full-time position. In effect, the new subsidies totaling almost $8,973 more than fully offset, from the point of view of employers and their employees, the loss of production that occurs from working 39 hours a week rather than 40." (The New York Times; subscription may be required)  

Most Physicians Blame Others for Rising Healthcare Costs
"More than half of practicing physicians say trial lawyers, insurers, drug and device makers, and hospitals bear a major responsibility for rising health costs, but only one third point to themselves as the primary driver of the problem ... [N]early one in three said they did not think that electronic health records shared a responsibility to reduce healthcare costs, one in four did not think expanding access to quality and safety data would bend the cost curve, and 65% said they did not think bundled or fixed payment models for managing population health would do the job, preferring to stick with fee for service." (HealthLeaders Media)  


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Meet the CEO with Most at Stake under ACA
"[WellPoint] projected that exchange enrollment, along with expansion of the Medicaid program and growth in members who qualify for both Medicaid and Medicare, could help fuel an increase in company revenue to $90 billion by 2016, from a projection of $70 billion to $72 billion for this year. Mr. Swedish argues that WellPoint's assets and brand, among other resources, position it to do well in the new environment." (The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required)  

WellPoint Sees Small Employers Dropping Health Coverage
"As the nation prepares to roll out the next phase of Obamacare, the second biggest medical insurer said ... that it expects to lose members in health insurance plans sponsored by smaller employers. At the same time, WellPoint expects membership gains in self-insured employer plans and in the kind of individual plans that will be sold in subsidized exchanges starting Oct. 1." (The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Announces Hearing on the Status of ACA Implementation
"The Committee will hear testimony from Daniel Werfel, Principal Deputy Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Gary Cohen, Deputy Administrator and Director at the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight within the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The hearing will take place on Thursday, August 1, 2013[.]" (Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives)  

The History of Debates Over the Right to Medical Care in the United States
"[Beatrix Hoffman, Ph.D., professor of history at Northern Illinois University,] found 'The voices of poor women who were very appreciative of this new program. Having a Medicaid card was a point of pride.... Even as they sought to preserve their private, rationed system, providers began demanding a larger role for government in financing care for those who could not pay.... Largely because of heavy advertising by the American Medical Association, "visions of universal access to health care" were virtually shut down by 1950.'" (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)  

Scientists Warn of Overwhelming Costs of Mental Illness
"Publishing a study that put the estimated costs of brain disorders in Britain alone at more than 112 billion pounds ($172 billion) a year, [leading neuroscientists] said mental illness research needed to attract the same funding levels as illnesses such as cancer and heart diseases to be able to reduce the burden. 'No group of chronic diseases costs the world more than brain disorders,' said Barbara Sahakian, a professor at Cambridge University[.]" (Reuters)  

Institute of Medicine Finds Differences in Regional Health Spending Are Linked to Post-Hospital Care and Provider Prices
"Big health spending variations throughout the country are largely driven by differences in the use of post-acute services such as skilled nursing homes and home health care by Medicare beneficiaries, and by higher prices that some hospitals and doctors charge commercial insurers, according to an [Institute of Medicine (IOM)] report... The IOM panel ... rejected an idea that has been promoted by some members of Congress to pay more to medical providers in areas of the country where Medicare spending is lower ... and less in places where it is high[.]" (Kaiser Health News)  

Institute of Medicine Criticizes Geographic Pay Plan in Medicare
"Medicare should not adopt a geographic value index that would tie payments to the health benefits and costs of services in a particular region ... Health decisions are made at the physician or organization level, so a geographic adjustment would be a poor target for encouraging value improvement, the Institute of Medicine said. Furthermore, intra-area variation in spending can be large -- even down to the hospital, single-specialty group practice, and individual physician." (MedPage Today)  

Our Data on Health Premiums Has Been Pretty Bad, but Not Anymore
"The database, the GAO analysts admit, isn't perfect. About 20 percent of insurers don't post their plan data, which means we're missing about one-fifth of the marketplace. There's no enrollment data, which means some of the options listed may not have any subscribers. Still, this is probably the best data set we have on insurance premiums so far. It's also a dense report, 62 pages of line-by-line data[.]" (Sarah Kliff in The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  

WellPoint Pays HHS $1.7 Million to Settle Affiliated Covered Entity's Alleged HIPAA Violations
"While the Resolution Agreement is a voluntary settlement such that HHS did not have to prove jurisdiction, this should be of note -- and potentially of some concern -- to 'parent' or other holding companies to which HIPAA does not apply directly, but applies instead to its controlled affiliates. Holding companies that have active participation in the affairs of a covered entity could be subject to the provisions of HIPAA, either as a business associate or a member of an Affiliated Covered Entity." (Drinker Biddle)  

[Opinion]

'Best' Health Care in the World? You Be the Judge
"The good news is that, between 1990-2010 (from 75.2 to 78.2 between 1990-2010), the U.S. has seen improved outcomes on life expectancy and other important health indicators. The bad news is, our rate of improvement is among the worst of all leading industrialized nations, and dropped from 18th to 27th in age standardized death rate between 1990-2010.... Because the U.S. spends as much as 50% more per person on health care than the average of our leading peer nations, we might expect to do better or at least as well as our international peers. Not so." (Boston.com)  

[Opinion]

Making Sense of Geographic Variations in Health Care: A Critique of the New Institute of Medicine Report
"[G]eographic variations in spending are substantial, pervasive and persistent over time -- the variations are not just random noise.... [A]djusting for individuals' age, sex, income, race, and health status attenuates these variations, but there's still plenty that remain.... [T]here is little or no correlation between spending and health care quality." (Health Affairs)  

[Opinion]

Managing Retiree Health Care Liabilities: Strategies for Cities to Consider
"Why are [other post-employment benefits (OPEB)] deficits higher than pension deficits for most cities? In part, the answer is that OPEB liabilities were for many decades never reported on municipal balance sheets. Without such reporting, it seemed that cities' healthcare promises did not have serious financial consequences. That came to an end in 2006, when [GASB] required local governments to publicly report their OPEB liabilities." (Brookings)  

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]

Quick Reference Guide for Public Employers, Feb. 2013 Edition (PDF)
24 pages. "This guide is produced annually by the IRS office of Federal, State and Local Governments (FSLG). It is intended to provide a brief introduction to basic Federal employment tax and reporting information issues for governmental employers. For more detailed information in these areas, see IRS Publication 963, Federal-State Reference Guide." The publication's chapter titles are: Compensation; Social Security and Medicare Coverage; Public Retirement Systems; Retirement Plans; Fee-Based Public Officials; Special Situations for Public Workers; Fringe Benefits; Information Reporting; Backup Withholding; Key Dates; Section 218; Social Security Coverage (Flowchart); and Medicare Coverage (Flowchart). (Internal Revenue Service)  

Getting Employees to Take Action: Using Behavioral Economics Insights to Deliver Benefits Messages (PDF)
"Can the way you frame a message really make a big difference in whether people will get a health screening, consider a high deductible health plan or save for retirement? Research in behavioral economics demonstrates that the answer is 'yes!' This article provides practical advice on how employers can use two behavioral economics principles -- framing and social norms -- to create more powerful, effective messages that will lead to action instead of indifference." (Benefits Quarterly published by the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists (ISCEBS))  

Deducting Investment Management Fees Against Net Investment Income for the 3.8% Medicare Portfolio Surtax
"The rules do specify that the 2%-of-AGI threshold continues to apply against investment management fees -- as it otherwise would -- but the calculation is complicated by the fact that there are other miscellaneous itemized deductions that are not valid deductions against investment income for the 3.8% Medicare tax, and in 2013 the phaseout of itemized deductions for high-income earners also returned and must also be applied against these investment deductions." (Michael Kitces in Nerd's Eye View)  

Press Releases

ProCourse Names Sybesma as Chief Operating Officer
ProCourse Fiduciary Advisors, LLC

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