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September 6, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Webcasts and Conferences

Advanced Cross-Tested Plans: Adding More Tools - Appleton
October 3, 2013 in WI
(SunGard Relius)

Introduction to Qualified Retirement Plan Distributions
September 16, 2013 WEBCAST

Fiduciary Obligations of the Qualified Plan Committee
September 25, 2013 WEBCAST
(American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA))

Hardship and Loan Rules - And an Update on New Regulations
September 26, 2013 in NY
(ASPPA Benefits Council of New York)

New IRS Rules Post-Windsor: Update on the Impact of the DOMA Decision
September 11, 2013 WEBCAST
(American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA))

ERISA Claims, Litigation and Litigation Avoidance
September 10, 2013 in GA
(Mazursky Constantine LLC)

Navigating the Rough Waters of HIPAA’s September 2013 Compliance Deadline
September 18, 2013 in IL
(John Marshall Law School)

View All Webcasts and Conferences

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official guidance, jobs, webcasts and more.
[Guidance Overview]

Employers Beware: DOL's Model Notice About Health Exchanges Requires Tailoring!
"Section 18B only expressly requires that the Exchange Notice: Inform employees of coverage options, including information about the existence of the new Marketplace ... Inform the employee that the employee may be eligible for a premium tax credit ... Include a statement informing the employee that if the employee purchases a qualified health plan through the Marketplace, the employee may lose the employer contribution (if any) to any health benefits plan offered by the employer ... [The] language and content of the Model Notices proposed by the DOL goes well beyond these minimum requirements.... Furthermore, much of the proposed language in the Model Notices also raises concerns for employers, health plan fiduciaries and service providers." (Solutions Law Press)  

White House Proposes ACA Reporting Rules on Employers, Insurers and TPAs
"The new proposal from the Treasury Department seeks comment on options to reduce or streamline reporting by employers, insurers and health plan administrators. In some instances, the administration is proposing to eliminate duplicative reports and in other cases, it's asking for less detail. Business groups said it will take time to sort through the technicalities but praised the administration's effort to find common ground." (Boston.com)  

U.S. Moves to Ease Employers' Obamacare Burden
"Although the employer mandate has been delayed, the separate requirement that all individuals carry health insurance or pay a fee, goes into effect on January 1, 2014. Thursday's proposal would, among other things, eliminate the need for employers to determine whether particular employees are full-time where adequate coverage is offered to all 'potentially full-time employees.' It also would let employers report specific costs for health plans only if the cost is above a certain threshold dollar amount. The proposed rules would also allow, in certain instances, the reporting of healthcare information on W-2 tax forms that employers issue to workers, rather than a separate statement.... Cathy Livingston, who worked on the health care rules as an IRS attorney, said it is likely that 'a very limited number of entities would voluntarily choose to report.'" (Reuters)  

IRS Releases Proposed Reporting Requirements for Employer and Minimum Essential Coverage
"The large-employer reporting requirement is necessary to determine whether large employers are complying with the employer responsibility provisions of the ACA and will also help identify individuals who are ineligible for premium tax credits because they have been offered coverage by their employer. The minimum essential coverage reporting requirement will assist the IRS in determining whether individuals are complying with the ACA's individual responsibility requirement, and also whether they are eligible for premium tax credits because they lack minimum essential coverage. The absence of these rules was the reason given by the IRS for delaying the employer mandate until 2015. The IRS is encouraging voluntary reporting by employers and insurers subject to the requirements for 2014, and should have no trouble getting the final rules in place for mandatory reporting in 2015." (Health Affairs Blog)  

Employers Should Focus on Potential Impact of ACA on Workforce Disability and Absence Management
"[E]mployers and carriers are far more likely to believe that the incidence of long-term absences will increase. Further, more believe the duration of absences will increase as a result of increased waiting times for access to care than decrease as a result of more timely treatment of conditions. There is more uncertainty about how the ACA will impact the number of disability claims, although those who feel knowledgeable enough to predict what will happen are more likely to believe the number of claims will rise due to employees no longer fearing a loss of health care coverage from a long-term absence ... Forty-two percent believe that the ability of employees to see a physician for routine care in a timely manner will get worse, while only 21 percent believe it will improve." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)  


National Business Coalition on Health Annual Conference

Sponsored by National Business Coalition on Health

Register now for the National Business Coalition on Health's (NBCH) 17th Annual Conference, November 18-20, 2013 in Scottsdale, AZ to gain insight and learn best practices for improving health and transforming health care.

The Exchanges Won't Be Ready in Time -- But It Probably Won't Matter
"The June GAO report found that Idaho's exchange still had 56 'key activities' left to complete as of May 13, 2013; in comparison, Covered California had 45 activities left to complete, and Maryland's exchange had just 20.... Officials at Cover Oregon, which has been among the fastest-moving exchanges for implementation, already announced that they will beta-test their IT system on Oct. 1 rather than roll it out to the public. Covered California officials also are weighing a 'soft launch' of their online marketplace[.]" (The Health Care Blog)  

Why Payers Like Defined Contribution Health Programs
"Low administrative costs and the capability to compete with public health insurance exchanges are driving factors. So is the promise of access to big data, which can give payers a strategic edge." (HealthLeaders Media)  

Obamacare Approval Ratings by Party, Age, Gender, Race, Region and More
"Fully 46 percent of seniors strongly disapprove of the healthcare overhaul, compared with 37 percent of adults 45-64, 29 percent of adults 30-44 and only 18 percent of adults under 30.... More than four in 10 married males, and approximately four in 10 married females, strongly disapprove of the 2010 health care overhaul, compared with 22 percent of single males and 17 percent of single females." (The Morning Consult)  

Proactive HR Can Help Clear Up Employee Confusion about ACA
"During open enrollment, employers traditionally had to focus only on describing their own health plans, consultants say. Now, they'll have to address a host of questions about insurance exchanges, the individual mandate to buy insurance and other features of the new law." (Human Resource Executive Online)  

Washington State Call Center Logs 900 Calls On First Day
"The phones are already busy at the Washington State Exchange call center where customer service representatives are fielding hundreds of questions about the state's new health insurance exchange, slated to open for enrollment Oct. 1. The call center ... took 900 calls [the first] day.... [T]he first call came in before 7:30 a.m., the official start time. There were more than 100 calls within the first hour." (Seattle Times and Kaiser Health News)  

Improving Employee and Community Health by Design
"Since [North Shore-LIJ Health System] introduced innovative wellness programs and a new structure for employee health benefits, increases in the system's cost for employee health claims have been significantly below the market average: 2.2% versus an 8.2% market average in 2011, and 2.2% versus a 5.2% market average in 2012. Even more important, workforce health has improved: Data show a meaningful drop in chronic conditions among employees, and employee participation in wellness activities has surged." (Towers Watson)  

What Pink Floyd Can Teach Employers about FMLA: Enforce Call-In Procedures and Insist Upon Facts Supporting Need for Leave
"Every employer should maintain a call-in policy that, at a minimum, specifies when the employee should report any absence (e.g., 'one hour before your shift'), to whom they should report the absence, and what the content of the call off should be.... [I]nclude very clear language in your FMLA and other leave policies about how you expect your employees to communicate with you regarding the need for leave of any kind.... [A]sk questions of your employees to elicit enough facts about their absence so you can be in the best position to determine whether FMLA might be in play." (FMLA Insights)  

A Link Between Health Care Plan Costs and Satisfaction? (PDF)
"in 2012, 62 percent of traditional-plan enrollees were extremely or very satisfied with their overall health plans, compared with 48 percent of consumer-driven health plan (CDHP) enrollees and 38 percent of high-deductible health plan enrollees. However, while the overall satisfaction rates for CDHP enrollees increased in most years of the survey, satisfaction rates among traditional enrollees decreased in most years. Between 2006 and 2008, they fell from 67 percent to 63 percent, and, after in creasing between 2008 and 2009, they fell from 66 percent in 2009 to 57 percent in 2011, before rebounding to 62 percent[.]" (Employee Benefit Research Institute [EBRI])  

Most American Indians and Alaska Natives Potentially Eligible for Expanded Health Coverage, but Action Needed to Increase Enrollment
"While [Indian Health Service (IHS)] and CMS have reported providing basic training on expanded Medicaid and the Exchanges, most of the facilities and tribes GAO interviewed said they received little or no information from IHS or CMS, as of February 2013.... Although a Supreme Court decision had been issued and some state decisions had been made, IHS had not developed a plan to increase enrollment and billing capacity to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of American Indians and Alaska Natives potentially eligible for expanded and new coverage options." (U.S. Government Accountability Office)  

U.S. Representatives Camp, Kline Request Cost Estimate of Extending Taxpayer Subsidies to Union Health Plans
"Amid news reports the Administration is crafting new regulations to appease union critics of the health care law, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp and House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline today requested the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimate the taxpayer cost of providing premium tax credits to individuals participating in multiemployer health care plans, which overwhelmingly serve union members.... To understand the potential costs, the Chairmen requested a response from CBO and JCT by September 19." (Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives)  

Premium Competition: Consumers Should Review Both Off-Exchange and On-Exchange Plans When Shopping
"The difference in insurance plan inventories on and off the exchanges raises the question of whether the departure of several well-known brands from the exchanges will have implications for price competitiveness on exchanges.... [In] 9 out of 10 states examined, the insurers that will sell only off-exchange currently average lower premiums than the other plans in their state. On average, the health plans avoiding exchanges were 23% less expensive than the remaining insurers in the state." (HealthPocket)  


Private Insurers Allow Hospitals Too Much Market Power
"Suppose the insurers insisted that hospital prices were capped at the 50th percentile of current spending, bringing down the high prices commanded by the must-have hospitals. This study shows that would still not be enough to meet the average annual growth in per capita spending." (Physicians for a National Health Program [PNHP])  

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]

Recent IRS Guidance on Same-Sex Marriage Simplifies Benefits Administration
"Those employees who purchase health insurance coverage for their same-sex spouse through their employer may pay the cost of such coverage on a pre-tax basis and exclude the amount of the coverage from income for federal income tax purposes.... Employers should remember, however, that states can continue to tax health insurance differently for same-sex versus opposite-sex spouses and that the laws of the particular state will need to be monitored in this regard." (Orrick)  

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