EmployeeBenefitsJobs.com logo BenefitsLink.com logo

BenefitsLink Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

September 20, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise
         Past Issues  |  Search

Employee Benefits Jobs


Webcasts and Conferences

Are You Keeping Your Client's Health Information Secure? -- Recorded
October 4, 2013 WEBCAST
(Nixon Peabody LLP)

The Fix Is In! Your Year-End Checklist for Using the IRS 403(b) Fix-It Guide
December 5, 2013 WEBCAST
(National Tax Sheltered Accounts Association)

Health Reform - Beyond the Basics: Putting It Together
October 3, 2013 WEBCAST
(Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)

COBRA Administration Specialist (CAS) Study Session
September 25, 2013 WEBCAST
(Flexible Compensation Institute (FCI))

Flexible Compensation Specialist (FCS) Exam and Certified in Flexible Compensation (CFC) Study Session
September 26, 2013 WEBCAST
(Flexible Compensation Institute (FCI))

Public Funds Defined Contribution Summit
October 1, 2013 in IL
(Pensions & Investments)

Public Funds Defined Contribution Summit
October 3, 2013 in NY
(Pensions & Investments)

Fee Disclosure Regulations - A Discussion of Important Obligations for Plan Sponsors
October 24, 2013 in NY
(Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC)

2013 Employee Benefits Fall Seminar
October 30, 2013 in KS
(Spencer Fane Britt & Browne 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.
[Guidance Overview]

Employers Can No Longer Pay for an Employee's Individual Health Insurance Policy on a Tax-Free Basis (PDF)
"For over fifty years, the IRS has permitted employers to reimburse or otherwise pay for employee individual health insurance premiums on a tax-free basis.... [S]ome employers have considered dropping their health coverage and subsidizing the cost of their employees' purchase of health coverage on the exchanges. Because all policies offered through the exchanges must comply with ACA's market reforms, an employer could reasonably believe that such an arrangement should not be unlawful under the ACA because the policies themselves would be ACA compliant.... The Notice provides that stand-alone HRAs maintained only for retirees are exempt from ACA's market reform rules and therefore may pay for individual health insurance premiums on a tax-free basis." (Paul Hastings LLP)  

Pricing Glitch Afflicts Rollout of Health Exchanges
"Less than two weeks before the launch of insurance marketplaces created by the federal health overhaul, the government's software can't reliably determine how much people need to pay for coverage ... Government officials and insurers were scrambling to iron out the pricing quirks quickly ... to avoid alienating the initial wave of consumers.... If not resolved by the Oct. 1 launch date, the problems could affect consumers in 36 states where the federal government is running all or part of the exchanges." (The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required)  

Achieving Corporate Wellness Through the Art of Presentation: Why the Medium Is the Message
"When making the case for corporate wellness, when advocating specific policies that can promote a culture focused on health and worker retention, there are facts aplenty -- more statistics, charts and graphs than we can remember -- but few intelligible presentations about this issue.... Without an easy-to-follow, informative series of PowerPoint slides (to illustrate a proposed plan) or a professionally designed Excel spreadsheet (to calculate savings) even the grandest idea will be nothing but indecipherable babble. Why? Because health care is a complex issue, perhaps the most complex social, economic and political matter to confront this country in the last few decades." (Healthcare Reform Magazine)  

How Technology is Shaping Wellness Programs (PDF)
"Gamification was most prevalent in current use (62 percent) and was viewed as most effective in driving results (27 percent).... [F]ew respondents said they had measured results, perhaps explaining the low percentage of respondents (11 percent for mobile and social media) who are confident in the effectiveness of these tools. Mobile technology was least implemented by employers, but was the top priority to adopt or expand (40 percent). Social media had high use (50 percent) and was rapidly growing. Yet this approach caused the greatest confidentiality and privacy concerns (51 percent)." (Buck Consultants)  

Implementing Health Reform: Political and Legal Battles, Data Security, and More
"The week of September 16, 2013, has been quiet on the [ACA] regulatory front. Most of the noise has emanated from Capitol Hill, where the House of Representatives seems poised to enact legislation that would 'defund Obamacare' as part of a continuing budget resolution. Although this legislation has no chance of being enacted by the Senate and would be vetoed by the President in any event, it is interesting to speculate on what it would mean if the ACA were 'defunded.'" (Timothy Jost in Health Affairs Blog)  


[Advert.]

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.



House Subcommittee Considers Obamacare's Impact on Competition
"There was a general agreement from the witnesses that healthcare industry consolidation predates the PPACA by at least two decades. The questions then became whether or not 'Obamacare' was accelerating that consolidation and whether that consolidation is driving up healthcare costs." (HealthLeaders Media)  

Obamacare's Impact on Insurance Claim Costs
"The latest analysis comes from the Society of Actuaries. It's attracting attention because of the group's expertise and nonpartisanship. What actuaries do for a living -- predicting future expense based on multiple squishy factors -- is at the core of figuring out what will happen under Obamacare.... [T]he society forecasts that the number of people covered by individual polices will double to 25.6 million by 2017 ... [and] that insurer costs -- medical claims per policyholder -- will soar, on average, 32 percent for the individual market in 2017 ... That's not the same thing as saying prices consumers pay for policies will rise 32 percent. But if claims are higher, insurers generally charge more." (The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  

U.S. House Oversight Committee Preliminary Staff Report on Risks of Fraud and Misinformation with Obamacare Outreach Campaign: How Navigator and Assister Program Mismanagement Endangers Consumers (PDF)
30 pages. Excerpt: "Although the structure of the Navigator and Assister programs could potentially lead to consumers receiving incomplete and inaccurate information about the law, the main concern for consumers is the heightened risk of identity theft and financial loss from a poorly managed outreach campaign.... In addition to the risks associated with an insufficient training program and the lack of background checks, there are already numerous reports of scam artists posing as Navigators and Assisters to take advantage of people's confusion about ObamaCare .... The failure of the Administration to provide clarity about prohibited marketing and solicitation techniques and to provide consumers with a list of authenticated Navigators and Assisters substantially increases the number of Americans likely to fail prey to fraud and identity theft." (Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, U.S. House of Representatives)  

Home Depot to Tap Health Insurance Exchanges for Part-Timers
"Home Depot's change would affect roughly 20,000 part-time workers who previously had chosen the limited liability medical plan the company offered, spokesman Stephen Holmes said. After December 31, companies can no longer offer those plans ... 'We're going to shift them over to the public exchanges, where there are more options,' Holmes said.... Home Depot's plans for part-time workers [had] provided coverage of up to $20,000 depending on the plan and were administered by Aetna Inc." (Reuters)  

Employers Act to Avoid ACA Excise Tax
"Over the short term, virtually all employers (98%) plan to retain active medical plans ... Nearly three quarters (72%) of employers believe that health care reform will raise costs for active full-time employees. Six in 10 (61%) expect to trigger the 2018 excise tax without making adjustments to their benefit strategy." (Towers Watson)  

More Businesses Plan to Offer High Deductible Health Plans
"Roughly 10 percent of large and midsize companies now offer HDHPs as their only option for healthcare coverage, and 44 percent of other comparable businesses are contemplating employing the same system sometime in the next three to five years ... This makes up a very significant percentage of the 94 percent of employers who are committed to offering financially supportive health benefits to their workforce." (ConnectYourCare)  

National Health Expenditure Projections, 2012-22: Slow Growth Until Coverage Expands and Economy Improves
"Health spending growth through 2013 is expected to remain slow because of the sluggish economic recovery, continued increases in cost-sharing requirements for the privately insured, and slow growth for public programs. These factors lead to projected growth rates of near 4 percent through 2013. However, improving economic conditions, combined with the coverage expansions in the [ACA] and the aging of the population, drive faster projected growth in health spending in 2014 and beyond. Expected growth for 2014 is 6.1 percent, with an average projected growth of 6.2 percent per year thereafter.... By 2022 health spending financed by federal, state, and local governments is projected to account for 49 percent of national health spending and to reach a total of $2.4 trillion." (Health Affairs)  

An Early Look at Premiums and Insurer Participation in Health Insurance Marketplaces, 2014 (PDF)
29 pages. Excerpt: "17 states and the District of Columbia have published insurance company rate filings that detail exchange premiums for 2014 ... Using these rate filings, [the authors] tracked insurer participation and plan offerings in the exchanges [and] then calculated the unsubsidized premiums for enrollees of bronze and silver plans at various ages (25, 40, and 60 years old) in the rating area of the largest city in each of these 17 states and Washington, DC.... For each of the rating areas, [the authors] calculated the expected tax credit amounts for individuals and families at various income levels and show what premiums they would pay after taking into account those tax credits." (Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation)  

Many Young, Uninsured Adults Believe They Need Health Insurance but Question Cost
"Among uninsured adults aged 18 to 64 without access to employer coverage, only two in 10 believe they are 'healthy enough' to go without health insurance ... However, uninsured people are about evenly split about whether health insurance is affordable -- 37 percent believe health insurance is not worth the money that it costs, 41 percent believe insurance is worth the cost and 22 percent are uncertain[.]" (Center for Studying Health System Change)  

Obamacare Unleashes Benefit Changes
"For weeks, headlines have cataloged the upheaval at private employers ... None of the moves was dictated by the health-care law. All, though, have occurred in an environment shaped by Obamacare, which has pushed businesses and governments to reexamine their health-care role as costs soar and national priorities shift. The act now is giving businesses cover to loosen the decades-old link between jobs and health insurance, a shift that may further cloud the outlook for an already unpopular law." (Treasury & Risk)  

Both Sides Request U.S. Supreme Court Review of Birth-Control Mandate
"The Obama administration has taken its own case to the Supreme Court on the birth-control mandate in the new federal health care law. The petition and appendix [in the Hobby Lobby appeal] were filed [on September 18].... The government petition raises only an issue under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, not under the First Amendment.... [Also on September 18, Conestoga Wood Specialities] asked the Supreme Court to bar the government from requiring the firm to provide birth-control health insurance for its workers, under the new federal health care law. [These are] the first of multiple cases on the issue that likely will reach the Court out of the sixty-plus cases working their way through lower courts.... The chances are strong that the Court will agree to rule on one or more of the challenges, since federal appeals courts are now split on the question." (SCOTUSblog)  

The Slowdown in Health Care Spending
"Growth in spending for the fee-for-service portion of Medicare has slowed markedly in the past few years -- apparently not because of the financial turmoil and recession but because of other factors affecting the behavior of beneficiaries and providers.... The slowdown in health care cost growth has been sufficiently broad and persistent to persuade us to make significant downward revisions to our projections of federal health care spending.... Despite the recent reductions in our projections of federal health care spending, growth in such spending remains the central challenge in putting the federal budget on a sustainable path." (Congressional Budget Office)  

[Opinion]

Five Reasons the Federal Insurance Exchange Glitch May Be That Big of a Deal
"[1] This news is not a surprise.... [2] The federal exchange isn't the only one with glitchy software. State exchanges are having problems, too.... [3] But the fear that disaster is looming may outpace the reality.... [4] If the software's not ready to go, there will be workarounds.... [5] The most important variable isn't whether the software's perfectly functional. It's who's buying into the exchanges." (The Health Care Blog)  

[Opinion]

Comments on Report by CMS Office of the Actuary on Growth in Health Expenditures
"Celebrating the slowing of the rate of increase in health care spending is premature, judging by the conclusions of the experts at the Office of the Actuary at CMS. Over the next decade, health care costs will continue to increase at a rate of about 6 percent annually, reaching nearly 20 percent of our GDP by 2022. If the [ACA] will not adequately control health care inflation, then what financial impact is it having?" (Physicians for a National Health Program [PNHP])  

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]

Hot Topics in Employee Benefits, September 18, 2013 (PDF)
65 presentation slides. Topics include: [1] Insurance exchange notices: Analysis of taking a narrow legal compliance approach vs. using the notices to nudge non-employees off of employer-provided coverage; [2] The Sun Capital decision: Hidden multiemployer withdrawal liability for private equity funds; [3] New guidance from the DOL on revenue sharing and ERISA accounts; [4] Implications for plan sponsors of qualified plans following the U.S. Supreme Court's [DOMA] holding; and [5] Executive compensation "Good reason" provisions in severance plans and executive employment agreements and issues that arise under section 409A. (Morgan Lewis)  

[Guidance Overview]

SEC Proposes CEO Pay Ratio Disclosure Rules Required by Dodd-Frank
"Despite several requests that the SEC limit the calculation to full-time employees based in the U.S., the proposed rules do not allow an issuer to exclude part-time, temporary or seasonal, or foreign employees. Under the proposed rules, an issuer can annualize the compensation of newly hired employees or permanent employees on an unpaid leave of absence, but it may not annualize the compensation of part-time, temporary or seasonal employees or make cost-of-living adjustments to the compensation of foreign employees." (Sidley Austin LLP)  

[Guidance Overview]

SEC Proposes CEO-to-Median Employee Pay Ratio Disclosure Rules
"The disclosure of the company's methodology, including assumptions, adjustments and estimates used, should provide enough information for an investor to evaluate the appropriateness of the calculation.... [If] statistical sampling is used, the company should disclose the sample size, the size of the whole population, the sampling method and how differences in systems or geographies were handled. Changes in assumptions, adjustments or estimates from one year to the next should also be identified, including the reason for the change and the estimated impact of the change on the median and the ratio." (Faegre Baker Daniels LLP)  

What's the Right Ratio for CEO-To-Worker Pay?
"Is it 147-to-1, the reported ratio in Germany, the economic powerhouse of the European Union? Is it 58-to-1, the ratio from the late 1980s, according to the Economic Policy Institute, before the stock options craze of the 1990s really got going? Or to be purely arbitrary (if more realistic), should it be 100-to-1? No doubt what's deemed acceptable once these ratios start coming out will be just that: arbitrary. Whatever the median ratio is -- however inflated that may be in today's world of executive compensation -- will by default become the new yardstick." (The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  

CEO Pay Ratio Disclosure Won't Be Required for 2014 Proxy Season
"[T]he proposed regulations make it clear that disclosure of the CEO pay ratio won't be required until the 2015 proxy season at the earliest. That would mean the data being included in the 2015 proxy, assuming the regulations were finalized before the end of 2013, would be based on compensation data assembled for the 2014 fiscal year. So companies have more time to gather and analyze the employee information that will be needed to comply with the pay ratio disclosure rule." (Towers Watson)  

'Top-Hat Plan' Exemption Compliance for Deferred Compensation Arrangements
"As corporate interest in deferred compensation plans increases, advisors can offer significant value to clients who are contemplating the establishment of such plans by guiding them through a top-hat analysis that ensures (1) only a relatively small percentage of the workforce is invited to participate, (2) the plan participants have executive or managerial employment duties, (3) there is significant disparity in the average compensation levels between plan participants and nonparticipants, and (4) the language of plan documents limits participation to a select group of management or highly compensated employees." (AALU and Fulcrum Partners)  

FASB Task Force Provides Guidance on Accounting for Stock Compensation (PDF)
"The [Emerging Issues Task Force (EITF)] tentatively decided that equity awards with a performance target that may be attained after completion of an underlying service-vesting period (if any) should be accounted for as a performance condition that affects the vesting of the award. Thus, compensation cost is recognized over the vesting period when attainment of the performance target becomes 'probable,' which could be subsequent to the service vesting period when the award recipient is no longer employed or never if the performance target is not attained." (Frederic W. Cook & Co., Inc.)  

Medicare and Social Security Payroll Taxes and Benefits for People in Different Birth Cohorts
"Over their lifetime, beneficiaries born in the 1940s would, on average, receive about $160,000 in benefits (net of premiums paid) and pay about $45,000 in payroll taxes (both figures are expressed in 2013 dollars). Those born in the 1950s would receive, on average, about $205,000 in benefits and pay about $60,000 in payroll taxes, CBO estimates. And those born in the 1960s would receive, on average, about $270,000 in benefits and pay about $65,000 in payroll taxes." (Congressional Budget Office)  

[Opinion]

Pay Ratio Rule Explained ... In Plain Pithy English
"[T]here is nothing in the rule that either serves to reform Wall Street or to protect consumers. In case you missed that, let me repeat in different words: the rule serves no useful purpose.... The rule allows for significant simplification in the process. That said, multinational companies with decentralized payrolls may still spend millions of dollars complying with 953(b), but that still pales when compared with what they might have spent." (Benefits and Compensation with John Lowell)  

Press Releases

Connect   LinkedIn   Twitter   Facebook
BenefitsLink.com, Inc.
1298 Minnesota Avenue, Suite H
Winter Park, Florida 32789
Phone (407) 644-4146
Fax (407) 644-2151

Lois Baker, J.D., President
David Rhett Baker, J.D., Editor and Publisher
Holly Horton, Business Manager

Copyright © 2013 BenefitsLink.com, Inc. -- but feel free to forward this newsletter without further permission from us, if you do not modify the newsletter in any way (including this lower portion).

All materials contained in this newsletter are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of BenefitsLink.com, Inc., or in the case of third party materials, the owner of that content. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.

Links to Web sites other than those owned by BenefitsLink.com, Inc. are offered as a service to readers. The editorial staff of BenefitsLink.com, Inc. was not involved in their production and is not responsible for their content.

Useful links: