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September 9, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Client Service Representative
Associated Pension Consultants
in CA

Client Service Manager
The Newport Group
in FL, NC, WI

Project Specialist
Heartland Consulting Group, Inc.
in KS

Account Manager - Retirement
MullinTBG, A Prudential Financial company
in CA

Technical Operations Manager
Nationwide Financial
in OH

Conversions Specialist
Verisight, Inc.
in CA

Project Manager
Professional Capital Services
in PA

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Webcasts and Conferences

Countdown to Exchanges: Last-Minute Preparations for the New Marketplaces
September 18, 2013 WEBCAST
(Atlantic Information Services, Inc)

Full Day Seminar with Sal Tripodi
September 17, 2013 in OH
(ASPPA Benefits Council of Cleveland)

Advanced Cross-Tested Plans: Adding More Tools - San Francisco
October 4, 2013 in CA
(SunGard Relius)

SIMPLE Plans
September 17, 2013 WEBCAST
(Ascensus)

72(t) Payments
September 17, 2013 WEBCAST
(Ascensus)

What Every Retirement Plan Professional Should Know About Social Security Benefits and the Social Security System
October 17, 2013 WEBCAST
(American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA))

Practical Behavioral Finance Solutions to Improve 401(k) Plans
September 18, 2013 in FL
(ASPPA Benefits Council of Central Florida)

DOMA Decision Details, Directives, and Discussion
September 17, 2013 in CA
(Western Pension & Benefits Council - San Diego Chapter)

Retirement Policy Update from Washington: What Plan Sponsors Need to Know
September 17, 2013 WEBCAST
(Transamerica Retirement Solutions)

The Public Health Insurance Exchanges: What It Means For Employers And Employees
September 26, 2013 WEBCAST
(Mercer)

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]

Text of IRS Notice 2013-57: Provision of No-Deductible Preventive Health Services and Preventive Care by Health Savings Accounts (PDF)
"Under this notice, preventive care for purposes of section 223(c)(2)(C) of the Code is anything that is preventive care under Notice 2004-23 and Notice 2004-50 without regard to whether it would constitute preventive care for purposes of section 2713 of the PHS Act. Preventive care for purposes of section 223(c)(2)(C) also includes services required to be provided as preventive health services by a group health plan or a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage under section 2713 of the PHS Act and regulations and other administrative guidance issued thereunder. Accordingly, a health plan will not fail to qualify as [a high deductible health plan (HDHP)] under section 223(c)(2) of the Code merely because it provides without a deductible the preventive care health services required under section 2713 of the PHS Act to be provided by a group health plan or a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage." (Internal Revenue Service)  


[Advert.]

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[Official Guidance]

HHS Announces Draft Departmental Strategic Plan for FY 2014-2018, Requests Comments
"This document articulates how the Department will achieve its mission through four strategic goals. These four strategic goals are (1) Strengthen Health Care, (2) Advance Scientific Knowledge and Innovation, (3) Advance the Health, Safety, and Well-Being of the American People, (4) Ensure Efficiency, Transparency, Accountability, and Effectiveness of HHS Programs. Each goal is supported by objectives and strategies." [The full strategic plan is available on the HHS web site. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)  

[Guidance Overview]

HHS Finalizes More Exchange Regulations, Including Rules for Agents and Brokers and Eligibility Appeals
"Employers will want to study the process for appealing Exchange determinations that their employees are eligible for premium tax credits -- beginning in 2015 these employees may trigger shared responsibility penalties for the employer.... Employers and employees will both benefit from accurate eligibility determinations since employees can avoid having to repay unearned advance tax credits and employers can avoid the hassle of erroneous assessments of shared responsibility penalties." (Thomson Reuters / EBIA)  

[Guidance Overview]

HITECH and HIPAA Omnibus Final Rule: A Glimpse at Primary Changes
"Due diligence and timing is critical. The obligation is to promptly report the breach to affected individuals without unreasonable delay but in no case later than 60 calendar days after discovery of the breach. According to HHS, the clock for notifying individuals of breaches begins upon knowledge of the incident, even if it is not yet clear whether the incident qualifies as a breach for purposes of this rule." (Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC)  

[Guidance Overview]

ACA Reporting Requirements for Employers and Minimum Essential Coverage
"To reduce their reporting burden, insurers are not required to report information on individuals enrolled in qualified health plans through the exchanges, since this information will be provided to the IRS by the exchange. They must, however, report on enrollment through the SHOP exchange, as the exchanges will not report SHOP information to the IRS.... Self-insured large employer plans will have to report under both 6055 and 6056. But the proposed regulations suggest that the IRS may allow the use of substitute forms and statements by entities that will have to report under both 6055 and 6056 requirements, and the IRS is considering whether this information could be provided on a W-2[.]" (Timothy Jost in Health Affairs Blog)  


[Advert.]

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.



[Guidance Overview]

IRS Issues Proposed ACA Rules on Employer Information Reporting
"The proposed rules describe a variety of options to potentially reduce or streamline information reporting, such as: [1] Replacing Section 6056 employee statements with Form W-2 reporting on offers of employer-sponsored coverage to employees, spouses and dependents. [2] Eliminating the need to determine whether particular employees are full time if adequate coverage is offered to all potentially full-time workers. [3] Allowing organizations to report the specific cost to an employee of purchasing employer-sponsored coverage only if the cost is above a specified dollar amount." (Society for Human Resource Management)  

Early Renewals Under the ACA: Are They Right for You?
"Opting for an early renewal is an idea that has emerged to delay the impact of these rating increases.... On the surface this approach has some appeal. The potential to save or delay tens of thousands of dollars of increased medical premiums is certainly something that should be considered. However, when you sit back and look under the surface, there are a few reasons why you may want to proceed with some caution." (William Gallagher Associates)  

The Great Migration to Private Exchanges
"The concept of defined-contribution healthcare -- providing employees a set amount of money to purchase their own health plans rather than having the company select and pay for the plans directly -- is hardly new.... For the 200,000 employees at Darden Restaurants Inc., the private-exchange concept is now a reality.... Under the exchange, employee and dependent participation rates for Darden's health benefits are higher than they were under the traditional plan[.]" (Human Resource Executive Online)  

As More Employers Drop Coverage, Retirees Turn to Specialized Insurance Exchanges
"In 1993, 40 percent of employers with 500 or more workers offered medical insurance to their Medicare-eligible retirees ... By 2011, that figure had fallen to 16 percent. Many employers that contract with exchanges ... fund at least part of the coverage by making deposits for their retirees into accounts called health reimbursement arrangements, or HRAs." (Kaiser Health News)  


[Advert.]

Wellness Programs: Impact of the New HIPAA Nondiscrimination Regulations - October 21 Webinar

Sponsored by Lorman and BenefitsLink

This live webinar reviews new HIPAA nondiscrimination regulations, other regulatory developments, case law, and other developments, and requirements of wellness programs. Registration discount for BenefitsLink readers.



From GE to IBM: Ending Retiree Health Plans is Historic Shift
"[R]etirees have expressed concern that subsidies provided by companies in private exchanges may not keep up with rising medical costs, potentially putting them at financial risk in the future. And an influx of retirees could put added pressure on public exchanges that provide taxpayer-supported subsidies." (Bloomberg)  

Retirees Become the Guinea Pigs of Health Insurance Exchanges
"[H]undreds of thousands of retirees are already using exchanges to pick Medicare plans, and many more are likely to do so in the months ahead as companies look for ways to fix their health-care costs by moving to the 'defined contribution' model they adopted for pensions years ago." (The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required)  

IBM to Move Retirees Off Health Plan
"IBM plans to move about 110,000 retirees off its company-sponsored health plan and instead give them a payment to buy coverage on a health-insurance exchange, in a sign that even big, well-capitalized employers aren't likely to keep providing the once-common benefits as medical costs continue to rise. The move, which will affect all IBM retirees once they become eligible for Medicare, will relieve the technology company of the responsibility of managing retirement health-care benefits. IBM said the growing cost of care makes its current plan unsustainable without big premium increases." (The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required)  

Nonprofit Groups Rush to Hire, Train Obamacare Experts with Just 3 Weeks to Go
"More than 100 nonprofits and related organizations, which specialize in everything from running soup kitchens to organizing farm workers, have been recruited by the federal government to sign up 'navigators' to help the 30 million uninsured people who can now gain coverage.... The short time available for training raises questions about how prepared the workers will be to answer people's questions about the different policies and government subsidies available. Community groups received the course materials for the 20-hour training only days ago. Many have just begun to post the openings on job boards." (The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  

Obama Administration to Congress: We're Tired of Your Dumb Obamacare Questions
"Republican lawmakers have questions for the groups signing up the uninsured for Obamacare.... Their questions were detailed in a three-page letter sent earlier this month to more than 100 'navigator' groups, which had received federal funding for health law enrollment Health and Human Services stepped in Monday morning with a response on behalf of the groups ... 'In an effort to address your remaining questions about the Navigator Program and enable the Navigators to focus on training staff to begin to assist uninsured Americans, we are providing the following responses to the questions posed in your letter to awardees.'" (The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  

Wrapping Your Health Insurance Marketplace Notice
"Helping employees understand the context of [the health insurance marketplace] and their options is important for ensuring employees receive coverage that is the best value and coverage level for them and their families. Reinforcing the need to understand the individual mandate is also important so an employer doesn't have to deal with the concerns of employees who find they have to pay the tax penalty -- and may protect an employer offering a qualified plan from being subject to a penalty audit if employees try to receive tax credits or discounts on the marketplace." (Idaho Business Review)  

BCBS of North Carolina Exchange Rates Could Reach $947 a Month
"Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina has released pricing information for the plans it will sell on the state's health insurance exchange.... The least expensive option, called the bronze plan, would range between $185 and $593, while a gold plan would cost anywhere from $284 [to] $851. The most expensive plan, the platinum version, ranges from $318 [to] $947. All the cost estimates are based on non-smoking members and don't reflect federal subsidies[.]" (FierceHealthPayer)  

Employees Are Asking About Impact of Health Care Reform
"Ninety percent of responding employers surveyed said they have received questions from employees asking how their benefits will be impacted by health care reform ... About 90% of self-funded employers indicated that they don't plan to move any of their covered population to either public marketplaces or private exchanges in the immediate future.... Over the next four years, employers indicated they will offer more high deductible health plans and decrease the number of health maintenance organizations, point of service plans and preferred provider organization options.... Over 70% of responding employers indicated they will not increase salaries for employees who obtain insurance coverage from the public marketplaces." (Midwest Business Group on Health)  

Most of the Increase in Employment Since the ACA Became Law Is in Full-Time Positions
"Of the increase in employment since the [ACA] became law, more than 9 out of 10 positions are full-time.... The mix of full-time and part-time employment has been typical for an economic recovery... The number of persons working part-time for involuntary 'economic reasons' has fallen by 152,000 over the past twelve months.... There is no systematic evidence that employers are shifting employees to just below 30 hours per week.... Employment growth in restaurants and bars has exceeded what you would predict from sales growth alone." (Council of Economic Advisors)  

Minnesota Says Its Marketpace Rates Are Nation's Lowest So Far
"Minnesota consumers will be able to buy a health plan for as little as $90.59 per month on MNsure, the new state health insurance marketplace, state Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman said ... Rothman said Minnesota has the lowest average rates for individuals and families compared to the other states that have revealed the costs of their plans thus far[.]" (Kaiser Health News)  

CBO Analysis of H.R. 2668, An Act to Delay the Application of the Individual Health Insurance Mandate and the Employer Health Insurance Mandate
"Title I of H.R. 2668 would delay for one year the requirement that most residents of the United States have health insurance coverage by January 1, 2014. Title I also would shift by one year the schedule of penalties for people who do not comply with that mandate.... CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimate that enacting H.R. 2668 would reduce federal deficits by roughly $36 billion over the 2014-2018 period and by roughly $35 billion over the 2014-2023 period. Those budgetary effects would result entirely from title I." (Congressional Budget Office)  

Equilibria in Health Exchanges: Adverse Selection vs. Reclassification Risk
"[The authors] find that market unravelling from adverse selection is substantial under the proposed pricing rules in the [ACA], implying limited coverage for individuals beyond the lowest coverage (Bronze) health plan permitted. Although adverse selection can be attenuated by allowing (partial) pricing of health status, [this study's] estimated risk preferences imply that this would create a welfare loss from reclassification risk that is substantially larger than the gains from increasing within-year coverage, provided that consumers can borrow when young to smooth consumption or that age-based pricing is allowed." (National Bureau of Economic Research [NBER])  

The Next Investment After Your 401(k) and Kid's College Fund: Health Care
"A growing number of employees are required by companies to set up special savings accounts to cover part of their medical bills. Over time, they are also encouraged to invest a portion of it in stocks, bonds or a mutual fund, just like they do with a 401(k) or IRA. Americans now have $18 billion in Health Savings Accounts ... That's up more than 40 percent from a year ago. The amount of money in HSAs is expected to double by the end of 2015[.]" (The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  

[Opinion]

Obamacare's Worst Feature? It's Wedded to 50-Year-Old Assumptions About Health and Insurance
"Top-down controls on health-care spending and bureaucratic panels embedded in Obamacare will inevitably clash with the emerging bottom-up, patient- and consumer-focused market for personalized health solutions at affordable prices. If anything, science and smartphones will lead us to devolve more responsibility and discretion to individual patients and physicians for producing better health outcomes -- making government guidelines (however well-meaning) for how care is delivered and who must deliver it outdated before the ink is even dry." (Forbes)  

[Opinion]

Text of Comments by American Academy of Actuaries to CMS on Medical Loss Ratio Report for Medicare Advantage Plans and Prescription Drug Plans (PDF)
"[F]or consistency in MLR reporting not only among issuers, but also between the commercial and Medicare markets, we encourage CMS to state explicitly within the instructions for the Medicare MLR report that the following questions [from previously-issued FAQs] apply to Medicare MLR as well. If guidance on any of these items for Medicare MLR is not to remain consistent with the applicable guidance for commercial plans, it would be helpful for CMS to provide an explanation of the differences, possibly through a notice of rulemaking process with an opportunity for public comment." [FAQs cited in this letter were issued by CCIIO on May 13, 2011, July 18, 2011, and February 10, 2012.] (Medical Loss Ratio Regulation Work Group, American Academy of Actuaries)  

[Opinion]

IRS Reporting Requirements for Managing ACA Subsidies and Penalties
"Here it is folks. These are the proposed ACA rules on reports that insurers and employers must file with the IRS -- rules that proved to be so complex that the Obama administration deferred for a year the requirement that these reports be filed. Without these reports, the employer mandate could not be enforced.... If you just glance at the few changes to simplify the rules ... you will see that even they are quite complex. By the time that the multitude of variables for each individual are taken into consideration, you will see that the bureaucracy is living up to its reputation for complexity that induces intolerable frustrations." (Physicians for a National Health Program [PNHP])  

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]

Treasury Department Guidance on Same-Sex Spousal Status Requires Employers to Take Immediate Action on Employee Benefit Plans
"Among the unanswered questions which may be addressed in that future guidance may be: What, if any, survivor annuity rights must be provided to the same-sex spouse of a retired employee who commenced pension benefits prior to the September 16, 2013, effective date? ... What, if anything, must a defined contribution plan do if death benefits have been paid to a non-spousal beneficiary without the same-sex spouse's consent?... What about church plans which are exempt from [ERISA]?... How will plans maintained by state governments or their instrumentalities be impacted by the positions outlined in Revenue Ruling 2013-17?" (BakerHostetler)  

Deferred Compensation Arrangements in Employment Agreements Not an ERISA Plan
"Although there was a cap on certain payments, the court held that such provision did not involve enough employer discretion to constitute an administrative scheme, thus ERISA did not apply. The court also noted that the cap would likely never be triggered, no administrative scheme was needed to monitor the company's former employees to ensure compliance with non-compete provisions, and even though the triggering events, including termination without cause and retirement, would occur more than once and at a different time for each employee, they could easily be ascertained without employer discretion." [Cantrell v. Briggs & Veselka Co., No. 12-20294 (5th Cir. Aug. 27, 2013)] (Haynes and Boone, LLP)  

SEC Considers Rule Comparing CEO Pay with Workers
"The rule is a result of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms of 2010. But little progress has been made, partly because the rule lacked a deadline and partly because big companies lobbied against it.... One big hurdle they complain about: Collecting pay data for employees overseas.... But proponents of the plan say companies could virtually ignore overseas employees, due to the way the SEC intends to have companies report median employee pay." (CNNMoney.com)  

Equity Vesting and Managerial Myopia
"[The authors] use recent changes in compensation disclosure to introduce a new empirical measure that is tightly linked to theory -- the sensitivity of equity vesting over the upcoming year.... An interquartile increase is associated with a decline of 0.11% in the growth of R&D (scaled by total assets), 37% of the average R&D growth rate. Similar results hold when including advertising and capital expenditure. Newly-vesting equity increases the likelihood of meeting or beating analyst earnings forecasts by a narrow margin. However, the market's reaction to doing so is lower, suggesting that it recognizes CEOs' myopic incentives." (National Bureau of Economic Research [NBER])  

Option Plays Dwindle in Pay Mix
"With shareholders opposing outsized enrichment for executives, stock options are gradually giving way to restricted stock in compensation packages.... At the 110 'mature' companies studied, stock options accounted for 49 percent of equity shares granted in 2012. That left 51 percent of the shares in the form of restricted stock, which often requires only that the employee stay on the job for a certain length of time in order to be vested in the award." (CFO)  

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