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August 30, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Retirement Planning Consultant
Transamerica Retirement Solutions
in TX

Client Relationship Manager-Key Accounts
July Business Services

Director of Marketing and Communications
July Business Services
in TX

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Webcasts and Conferences

The Wide World of Rollovers
September 24, 2013 WEBCAST
(McKay Hochman Co., Inc.)

FASB Education Session Including Postretirement Benefit Obligations
September 4, 2013 WEBCAST
(Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB))

Advanced Cross-Tested Plans: Adding More Tools - Atlanta
September 27, 2013 in GA
(SunGard Relius)

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

HHS Announces First Guidance Implementing Supreme Court's Decision on DOMA
"[HHS has] issued a memo clarifying that all beneficiaries in private Medicare plans have access to equal coverage when it comes to care in a nursing home where their spouse lives.... Seniors with Medicare Advantage previously may have faced the choice of receiving coverage in a nursing home away from their same-sex spouse, or dis-enrolling from the Medicare Advantage plan which would have meant paying more out-of-pocket for care in the same nursing home as their same-sex spouse. [This] guidance clarifies that this guarantee of coverage applies equally to all married couples. The guidance specifically clarifies that this guarantee of coverage applies equally to couples who are in a legally recognized same-sex marriage, regardless of where they live." (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)  


Creating a Culture of Wellness & Health - October 9-10 - Chicago

Sponsored by World Congress

Shifting organizational norms and behaviors to embody a Culture of Health creates an exponential rise in employee health, engagement and performance. Focus on restructuring resources and charting next steps in transforming your workforce in an uncertain era.

[Guidance Overview]

2013 Small Employer Health Care Reform Checklist (PDF)
"This checklist is intended to provide a list of common steps that plan sponsors should consider in preparing for compliance with the ACA health care reform for 2013 and later years. This list is not intended to be all-inclusive and assumes all required compliance steps were taken to-date." (McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP)  

IRS Ruling on Same-Sex Couples Has Implications for Health Law
"Treasury officials did not offer estimates on what the decision would mean for the numbers of people who enroll in the exchanges or Medicaid, or the amount of subsidies the government would provide.... [S]ame-sex partners who each have an income of $40,000 may be eligible for the health law's tax credits individually, not if they get married.... Same-sex partners with incomes of $30,000 and $80,000, respectively, would not qualify for the health law's tax credits if they were married because their income would be too high, but the individual earning $30,000 would qualify for the credits if they remain unmarried[.]" (The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  

[Guidance Overview]

ACA Notice Requirements for Multiemployer Plans: What's Required, What's Coming and How to Make the Most of Them (PDF)
"This [article] outlines [ACA]-mandated communications, noting which ones apply, in what situations and when. Some notice requirements are the responsibility of the plan's trustees. Others are the legal responsibility of employers, but it is important to note that it is currently unclear to what extent trustees of a multiemployer plan could assume those responsibilities for the plan's contributing employer." (Segal)  

Colorado's Data Tangle Shows Strain for Obamacare Targets
"With 33 days and counting until online health insurance exchanges must open for business, states are racing to fine-tune computer systems, educate consumers and manage expectations. Marketplaces in California and Oregon said this month that technical hurdles may force consumers to apply with a broker or counselor instead of online when the exchanges start Oct. 1. In Colorado, managers are literally working around the clock to ensure computer systems share accurate Medicaid data." (Employee Benefit News)  


Same-Gender Marriage Rulings: Impacts on Employee Benefit Plans Across the Nation - September 30 Webinar

Sponsored by Lorman and BenefitsLink

This live webinar will provide information needed to administer benefit plans in accordance with applicable laws and will discuss best practices for offering benefits to civil union partners and other same-sex partners. Registration discount for BenefitsLink readers.

White House Considers Awarding Obamacare Subsidies, Intended for the Uninsured, to Labor Unions
"[T]he Obama administration is [reportedly] considering offering insurance subsidies -- intended for the uninsured -- to labor union members who already have employer-sponsored coverage.... However, it's not clear what the White House can unilaterally do to address unions' concerns.... If, suddenly, the 20 million people on Taft-Hartley plans were eligible for subsidies, Obamacare's costs would skyrocket." (Avik Roy, in Forbes)  

Obamacare Affects Federal Executive and Legislative Employees Differently
"Executive-branch employees won't automatically lose their existing health coverage when they become eligible soon for the insurance exchanges forming under President Obama's healthcare law, according to the federal personnel office. Agency officials began driving that point home this week amid continued confusion and concerns about how the so-called Obamacare legislation will affect health-benefits for federal employees.... Members of Congress and their staffers face a different scenario beginning next year. Congress booted lawmakers and their staffers off the federal healthcare program when they agreed in 2009 to an amendment from Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) to the [ACA]." (The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  

How to Talk to Employees About the Affordable Care Act (PDF)
"Most full-time public sector employees may not feel the need to pay any attention to this barrage of messages because they have employer-provided medical and prescription drug coverage.... Now is the time to start seriously communicating with employees about the [ACA] and the Marketplaces to help them understand what they might need to do, or avoid doing, to retain subsidized employer coverage." (Segal)  

So Long, New York: Aetna Pulls Out of Another Obamacare Health Exchange
"Aetna Inc has decided not to sell insurance on New York's individual health insurance exchange, ... the fifth state where it has reversed course in recent weeks. The third-largest U.S. health insurer has said it is seeking to limit its exposure to the risks of providing health plans to America's uninsured, but did not give details about its decision to pull out of specific markets.... Aetna's large competitors, such as UnitedHealth Group Inc and WellPoint Inc, have also planned limited entries into the new exchanges while they wait and see whether they operate smoothly and whether enough healthy people sign on to offset the costs of sicker new members." (Reuters)  

Group Health Cooperative Omits Abortion Coverage from Plans Sold on Washington State Exchange
"Group Health Cooperative will not cover abortion in its individual health-insurance plans being offered through the [Washington State] marketplace ... but says women who buy them will be able to access the service without paying more. Group Health said it made the decision not to include the coverage because of murky regulations about how it would have to account for federal money in plans that offered abortion.... The [ACA] requires insurers that cover elective abortion to segregate premiums and expenditures because federal law bars abortion services from being funded by the federal premium subsidies for plans offered through state marketplaces known as exchanges." (Kaiser Health News)  

Consumers Expect Complicated Shopping Process in Obamacare Exchanges
"998 people nationwide ... [were] asked, 'Do you believe shopping for a new Obamacare health insurance plan within a government exchange will be an easy process?' 54% of respondents answered 'No, I think it will be complicated.' These pessimistic respondents outnumbered those people expecting the shopping process to be easy by 3-to-1. In fact, those who don't know what an exchange is (29%) also outnumbered those consumers who believe health insurance shopping on an exchange will be easy (17%)." (HealthPocket)  


Too Much Health Care Can Be Hazardous to Your Health
"If there is one trend that epitomizes the overconsumption of health care, it's executive physicals. These in-depth half-day examinations, which often include extensive scanning, almost always reveal something, whether it's truly there or not.... The equivalent of the half-day executive physical for those of us in the '99 percent' is the biometric screen ... [A] $40 biometric screen will find at best one avoidable heart attack in every 4,000 people ... at a cost of $160,000. Add in, for instance, $200 in incentives and $20 in time off from work to persuade people to participate, and you've now created the million-dollar heart attack screen." (Tom Emerick and Al Lewis, via Managed Care)  


Obamacare: When You Have to Find a New Doctor
"A survey of doctors in 2012 found that one in 10 plans to convert their practice to concierge, also known as direct-pay because it eliminates third-party insurance. Many say they are responding to increasing bureaucratic interference and uncertainty over insurance and Medicare payments, and some directly cite Obamacare. This is one way for doctors to guarantee a level of patient care, which they fear is being compromised by indiscriminate regulations." (The Heritage Foundation)  


Why Delay of the Employer Mandate May Not Actually Mean That Much
"The bottom line is that the employer mandate does not provide a large inducement for firms to change their health insurance offerings, but it does raise a substantial amount of money to pay for the ACA's coverage provisions over time. A one-year delay won't break the bank, but a permanent repeal would be quite expensive." (The Health Care Blog)  

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]

IRS Recognizes All Legal Same-Sex Marriages for Federal Tax Purposes (PDF)
"Retirement plan sponsors who are not subject to the rules on spousal consent and survivorship rights (i.e., governmental and church plans) need no t adopt the IRS rule about same-sex spouses. These sponsors can decide not to provide coverage or can decide to use a different basis for determining marital status." (Buck Consultants)  

[Guidance Overview]

Treasury and IRS Announce That All Legal Same-Sex Marriages Will Be Recognized For Federal Tax Purposes
"Because employee benefit plans are extensively regulated by federal law, this announcement means that even employers in states that do not recognize same-sex marriage will be required to recognize such marriages for many employee benefits purposes. However, the impact will depend on whether the plan is subject to ERISA, or whether it is a governmental or church plan exempt from ERISA. The [detailed chart in this article] sets forth areas in which the announcement will affect the operation of different types of plans." (Calhoun Law Group)  

A State of Celebration: Treasury and IRS Issue Ruling Implementing Effect of Windsor Decision
"The announcement by the Treasury and IRS provides much-appreciated tax certainty and relief in the area of employee benefit administration because it provides for uniform application of the myriad of rules and requirements that apply to married couples under the Code and ERISA. For example, qualified plans must offer joint and survivor annuities ... and pre-retirement survivor annuities with the surviving spouse as beneficiary of the survivor portion. This requirement will now apply to opposite-sex and same-sex married participants." (Bloomberg BNA)  

IRS Announces That It Will Recognize All Same-Sex Marriages
"The new guidance allays concerns that the IRS would apply the more restrictive 'domicile rule,' which would have excluded couples who reside in states that do not recognize same-sex marriage. Instead, Thursday's guidance confers favorable tax treatment on all married couples, regardless of how their local state law treats same-sex marriage." (Littler)  

Hodgson Russ Employee Benefits Developments, August 2013
Topics include: IRS Compliance Check Targets Non-Governmental 457(b) Plans; Withdrawal Liability From Multiemployer Plan and Alter-Ego Liability; Private Equity Fund Deemed Trade or Business; Employer Breached Fiduciary Duty by Allowing Ineligible Employee to Enroll in Plan; $1.8M Penalty Assessed for COBRA Notice Violations; ERISA Governs Claim Under Phantom Carried Interest Plan; State Breach of Contract Claim for Severance Preempted by ERISA; and Employer Liability for Benefit Plan Mistakes. (Hodgson Russ LLP)  

Preserving Some Portion of the Non-Qualified Plan Benefits of a Bankrupt Company
"The bad news for the GM retirees is that they lost this case to have a plan amendment adopted as part of the bankruptcy process interpreted more favorably to them.... The good news ... is that the plan participants retained any non-qualified benefit at all following the bankruptcy." [Tate v. General Motors LLC, No. 12-1214 (6th Cir. Aug. 6, 2013)] (Winston & Strawn LLP)  

Press Releases

Legal Benefits Help with College Planning
Hyatt Legal Plans, a MetLife company

CalPERS Announces Start of 2013 Board Member-At-Large Election, Date of Candidate Forum
CalPERS (California Public Employees' Retirement System)

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