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

Webcasts and Conferences

Health Care Reform for Employers: Now What? - Pearl, MS
November 6, 2013 in MS
(Lorman Education Services)

Fall Seminar
September 10, 2013 in MO
(ASPPA Benefits Council of Greater Twin Cities)

Advanced Cross-Tested Plans: Adding More Tools - Boston
September 19, 2013 in MA
(SunGard Relius)

2013 Qualified Essentials Plus Series
September 18, 2013 WEBCAST
(McKay Hochman Co., Inc.)

401(k) Essentials Plus Series
September 26, 2013 WEBCAST
(McKay Hochman Co., Inc.)

Compliance Assistance Informational and Outreach Forum
August 27, 2013 in MA
(Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), U.S. Department of Labor)

Is My Oregon Business Eligible for the Small Business Tax Credit under the ACA and What's the Procedure? -- Hangout
August 27, 2013 WEBCAST
(U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA))

The Latest in Compensation and Benefits Accounting - Q3 2013 -- Webcast
September 18, 2013 WEBCAST
(PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP)

View All Webcasts and Conferences

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

CMS Health Insurance Literacy Toolkit
"Improved health insurance literacy results in better health outcomes and improved quality of life for people. When people understand health insurance, they are more likely to select coverage that is appropriate for their health and financial situation and to make use of the plan once purchased. They can properly understand plan information, evaluate options, understand cost implications, and match coverage to their needs. More knowledgeable people make better coverage decisions and can access programs that may help pay their health care costs. These tools will help increase people's health insurance literacy. They describe key topics that often require clarification for consumers." (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)  


New HIPAA Rules Require Compliance by September 23, 2013

Sponsored by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP)

New HIPAA rules issued earlier this year require compliance by group health plans and business associated by September 23. The International Foundation's HIPAA Privacy e-learning course provides the training you need to ensure compliance. Enroll Now!

[Guidance Overview]

Checklist for HIPAA Notice of Privacy Practices
"To comply with the new HIPAA Omnibus Rule, covered entities (including healthcare providers) will need to create or modify their Notice of Privacy Practices [NPP] to include new provisions. Because many NPP's were prepared years ago, it is a good time to review your NPP to ensure it still contains the elements required by HIPAA and does not impose more obligations than required." (Holland & Hart)  

[Guidance Overview]

Complying with the ACA Exchange Notice Requirement
"[T]he notice [is required to]: [1] Explain how the employee may be eligible for a premium tax credit or a cost-sharing reduction if the employer's plan does not meet certain requirements; [2] Inform employees that if they purchase a qualified health plan through the exchange, then they may lose any employer contribution toward the cost of employer-provided coverage, and that all or a portion of the employer contribution to employer-provided coverage may be excludable for federal income tax purposes; [3] Include contact information for customer service resources within the exchange, and an explanation of appeal rights; [4] Meet certain accessibility and readability requirements; and [5] Be in writing." (Mintz Levin)  

Sixth Circuit Concludes that CBAs Gave Retirees a Vested Right to Contribution-Free Lifetime Health Benefits
"[The company that had employed the retirees] argued that a series of side letters that purported to allow the company to cap its contributions to the retirees' health benefits applied to the [collective bargaining agreements] because: (i) the side letters had been consistently agreed to with the union since 1991; (ii) internal union conversations indicated that some union members believed the side letters applied; and (iii) the SPD explicitly set forth a contribution cap. Nevertheless, the Court found that the side letters did not apply, in part because separate, collectively bargained 'Pension, Insurance and Service Award Agreements,' which were distributed to all class members and described the benefits they could expect to receive, did not contain any 'capping' language. The Court also found that the side letters had not been distributed to all of the class members." (Proskauer's ERISA Practice Center)  

First Obamacare Open Enrollment Promises More Incentives and Costs
"[O]verall healthcare costs will rise 5.2 percent, less than the 5.9 percent increase last year. This is a shift in momentum from double-digit increases that have been typical over many of the last 15 years ... But workers do not have much to cheer as the increases are still double the rate of wage increases and four times the rate of inflation ... To the extent that premiums are being held in check, it is because of changing practices by employers[.]" (Reuters)  


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Health Care Reform Heightens Employers' Strategic Plans for Health Care Benefits
"While employers remain concerned about a predicted 5.2% increase in 2014 health care costs and the risk of triggering the excise tax in 2018, most (82%) continue to view subsidized health care benefits as an important part of their employee value proposition in 2014. However, the 2013 Health Care Changes Ahead Survey found that a majority of employers do anticipate making moderate to significant changes in their health benefit programs for all employees and retirees by the beginning of 2016." (Towers Watson)  

UPS Ending Health Insurance for Spouses of Some Employees
"The company told white-collar workers two months ago that 15,000 working spouses eligible for coverage at their own employers would be excluded from the UPS plan in 2014. The Fortune 100 firm expects the move, which applies to non-union U.S. workers only, to save about $60 million a year[.]" (Kaiser Health News)  

ACA Adds New Expense for Farmers: Insurance for Field Workers
"The effects of the new law could be profound. Insurance brokers and health providers familiar with California's $43.5 billion agricultural industry estimate that meeting the law's minimum health plan will cost about $1 per hour per employee worked in the field." (Kaiser Health News)  

Role of Agents, Brokers, and Web-brokers in Health Insurance Marketplace (PDF)
"Federally-facilitated Marketplaces, including State Partnership Marketplaces, will not establish a commission schedule or pay commissions directly to agents or brokers. Instead, brokers will be paid by the carrier, as they are today, and the commission will be the same for plans sold through the exchange and similar plans sold in the outside market, which is definitely good news. States setting up their own exchange may establish their own rules for compensating agents and brokers, by direct compensation from the Marketplace, or by having issuers pay commissions." (Health Partners America)  

Marketplace Data-Sharing Components Taking Shape, but Time Is Running Out
"With open enrollment only six weeks away, these data-sharing agreements are welcome and needed developments in the march toward marketplace viability. However, they do not necessarily equate to error-free marketplaces, in which eligibility determinations are made quickly and without compromises in security. Testing is critical, and there is very little time in which to do it." (HighRoads)  

Court Says Chiropractors Lack Standing Under ERISA to Assert Claims For Benefits
"A federal district court in New Jersey recently dismissed claims asserted by a putative class of chiropractors seeking to enjoin the procedure used by UnitedHealth to determine the necessity of certain treatments administered by in-network physicians ... The court determined that the plaintiffs had no standing to enjoin UnitedHealth's procedure because they were no longer in-network providers and thus would not be impacted by the procedure in the future." [Premier Health Ctr., P.C. v. UnitedHealth Grp., No. 2:11-cv-00425-ES-CLW (D.N.J. Aug. 1, 2013)] (Proskauer's ERISA Practice Center)  

Health Premiums Up 4% as Steep Climb Levels Off
"The 4 percent increase for a family is relatively tame, at least by historical standards for health care. But it is still a far bigger increase than for wages, which grew 1.8 percent over the last year... The increase this year is roughly the same as the increase in 2012 over 2011, and much smaller than the 9 percent increase in 2011. Still, since 1999, insurance premiums have nearly tripled, while wages have increased by only 50 percent and consumer prices by 40 percent[.]" (The New York Times; subscription may be required)  

Assessing the ACA Exchanges
"While the federal government has announced that it will not release official information on plan participation and premiums until September, some information has been released by the states. Although the information is limited and each state is unique, there are several key considerations that are relevant in assessing the exchanges. Specifically: [1] The number of health insurers participating in the exchanges, [2] The scope of the insurer's provider network, [3] The change in premiums and cost sharing, and [4] The degree of additional regulatory power exercised by the exchange." (The Heritage Foundation)  

Employers Not Deserting Healthcare Benefits
"The percentage of employers offering health insurance to their workers fell only slightly this year compared with last year ... The overall drop came mostly from the smallest firms -- those with three to nine workers -- which fell from 50% offering health benefits last year to 45% this year.... Almost all employers with at least 200 workers offer at least one wellness program with weight-loss programs (58%), newsletters (60%), lifestyle coaching (57%), classes (50%), and biometric screenings to measure health risks (55%) being more popular aspects. About a third (36%) of large employers offer some kind of financial incentive to participate, such as a lower premium or deductible." (MedPage Today)  


Obamacare's Biggest Wrong: Collecting the Premiums
"One of the long-standing problems in the individual health insurance market is collecting premiums.... Insurers try to avoid lapses in payment by requiring automatic withdrawals from bank accounts, credit card back-ups, or prepayment of premiums on a quarterly basis.... It will be more than a little interesting to see how the [ACA] deals with these problems, especially since cancellation means people will be in violation of a federal mandate." (John Goodman's Health Policy Blog)  


Young Adults Gained Coverage Through ACA, But Aren't Aware of Health Insurance Marketplaces
"An estimated 7.8 million of the 15 million young adults who were enrolled in a parent's health plan last year likely would not have been eligible for this coverage without the health reform law's dependent coverage provision, according to a new Commonwealth Fund survey. However, the survey also found that only 27 percent of young adults were aware of the state health insurance marketplaces that are launching October 1. Moreover, millions of low-income young adults are at risk of remaining uninsured if the states they live in choose not to expand Medicaid." (The Commonwealth Fund)  


Pushing Wellness Programs: What's Science Got to Do With It?
"[The] ignominy of being the most distasteful and coercive program, however, belongs to Blue Care Network of Michigan, which recently published results from their 'voluntary' walking program designed exclusively for their obese enrollees. The invitation to join was extended to enrollees with a body mass index (BMI, which is an unscientific, mathematically bereft proxy for health ...) of 30 or greater. The program was 'voluntary' as long as you were okay with paying $2,000 in added insurance premiums if you did not volunteer." (The Health Care Blog)  


Class Action Lawsuit Barring 'Bait and Switch' Health Plan Deductibles Advances
"A consumer protection lawsuit that would bar Blue Cross from changing 'any term or benefit' of consumers' health plans each month may proceed, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge has ruled. Judge Jane Johnson green-lighted two class action lawsuits ... challenging Blue Cross's 'bait and switch' tactics, including policy fine-print that purports to allow Blue Cross to change 'any term or benefit' of consumers' health plans each month." (Consumer Watchdog)  

Press Releases

US Labor Department Sues Marlton, NJ, Beauty Salon to Restore Contributions to Employee Retirement Savings Plan
Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), U.S. Department of Labor

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