EmployeeBenefitsJobs.com logo BenefitsLink.com logo

BenefitsLink Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

September 30, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise
         Past Issues  |  Search

Employee Benefits Jobs

Retirement Services Manager
District of Columbia Retirement Board
in DC

Retirement Plan Administrator
HCS Retirement Services, LLC
in UT

Account Manager, Employee Benefits
Lenox Advisors
in CT, NJ, NY

Systems Development Analyst
New York Life Retirement Plan Services
in MA

Post Your Job

View All Jobs

RSS feed for jobs RSS Feed: All Jobs


Webcasts and Conferences

Affordable Care Act 101 Webinar
October 3, 2013 WEBCAST
(U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA))

Wake Up Summit 2013
October 1, 2013 in MA
(Sun Life Financial)

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 OPM Final Regs on Federal Employees Health Benefits Program for Members of Congress and Congressional Staff
"While OPM acknowledges that, in general, the [ACA] did not intend to disrupt existing health insurance coverage, in this context, the Act included clear and unambiguous language providing that all Members of Congress and congressional staff employed by the official office of a Member of Congress be subject to the terms of Section 1312 regardless of their dates of employment. Thus, the final rule implements Section 1312 of the [ACA] as written.... Because a Government contribution is, in essence, an employer contribution, the final rule clarifies that Members of Congress and designated congressional staff must enroll in an appropriate SHOP as determined by the Director in order to receive a Government contribution.... this ensures that Members of Congress and congressional staff do not have additional choices in the individual Exchanges with a Government contribution that other individuals lack." (Office of Personnel Management)  


[Advert.]

P&I West Coast Defined Contribution Conference Oct. 27-29 | San Fran

Sponsored by Pensions & Investments

Empower your employees to save and invest for retirement. Hear directly from DC experts discuss on the most pressing investment, legislative, plan design and education issues today.



[Guidance Overview]

IRS Issues Simplified Procedures for Windsor-Related Employment Tax Adjustments
"The simplified procedures apply to overpayments with respect to same-sex spouse benefits that were treated as taxable to employees and after-tax employee contributions for same-sex spouse health coverage from employees who also made pre-tax elections for health coverage under a cafeteria plan.... Employers are likely to welcome the simplification provided by these procedures -- but they can use the regular procedures instead if they choose. Either way, employers should consider the options, taking into account the various deadlines." (Thomson Reuters / EBIA)  

[Guidance Overview]

HHS Indicates Potential Delay in Some Functions of Federally-Facilitated SHOP
"The reference to November suggests a delay in implementation for at least some functions of the FF-SHOP, but it appears a January 2014 effective date for coverage is still anticipated. While details remain to be seen, it appears that portions of the FF-SHOP will be operational on October 1. Noting that small employers can enroll through the SHOP on a monthly basis throughout the year, the news release adds that some state SHOP Exchanges are phasing in application and enrollment periods." (Thomson Reuters / EBIA)  

Quitting for Obamacare: Trapped Workers May Seek Relief in New Health Exchanges
"Starting a business or retiring early will suddenly become an option under the new exchanges ... especially for the many employees who have felt trapped by so-called 'job lock' -- being stuck in a position because of the benefits, usually health insurance, it provides.... It may be particularly attractive for older workers -- those in their late 50s and early 60s still too young for Medicare -- who will find they can get affordable insurance despite health problems. That will free them from the trap of needing to work, but being too sick to stay on the job[.]" (NBCNews.com)  

Three of Four People Are Aware of Individual Mandate but Only Four of Ten Know About Marketplaces and Premium Subsidies
"Only 32 percent of people without health coverage during the past year are aware of the marketplaces, compared to 43 percent of people with coverage all year. Thirty-one percent of people without coverage during the year are aware of the subsidies that are available, compared to 43 percent of those insured all year. Just under one-third (32%) of adults with incomes under 250 percent of the federal poverty level ($28,725 for an individual and $58,875 for a family) are aware of the subsidies, compared to 47 percent of those with higher incomes." (The Commonwealth Fund)  

Where You Live Determines How Much You Pay for Health Insurance
"In Pennsylvania and more than a half dozen states, consumers in some cities will pay at least 50 percent more for the same type of coverage than their friends and relatives in other parts of the state.... Consumers in Georgia, Wisconsin, California, Arizona, Missouri and Florida will also see wide variations, ranging from more than a 100-percent cost spread between high- and low-cost regions of Georgia, to 82 percent in Wisconsin and 52 percent in Florida." (Kaiser Health News)  

U.S. Plans to Unveil New Insurance Options
"Federal officials said they had signed a contract with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association to offer health insurance next year in the marketplaces, or exchanges, of 30 states and the District of Columbia.... Under its federal contract, Blue Cross and Blue Shield will offer different products in different states -- a total of more than 150 products, including health maintenance organizations and preferred provider organizations ... In many of the products, consumers will have access to a nationwide network of doctors and hospitals." (Robert Pear in The New York Times; subscription may be required)  

Text of Petition for Writ of Certiorari by HHS Secretary in Hobby Lobby Contraceptive Mandate Case (PDF)
45 pages, plus 206 pages of Appendices. Excerpt: "[T]he court of appeals' decision is incorrect and would transform RFRA from a shield for individuals and religious institutions into a sword used to deny employees of for-profit commercial enterprises the benefits and protections of generally applicable laws.... The majority found it unremarkable that, under its interpretation of RFRA, for-profit corporations could obtain religious exemptions that come 'at the expense of their employees.' ... This Court, by contrast, has cautioned that 'courts must take adequate account of the burdens a requested accommodation may impose on nonbeneficiaries.'" (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, via Becket Fund)  

Court Holds That Severance Policy is Not an ERISA Plan
"Especially with respect to a severance policy, an ERISA-governed plan must provide that the sponsoring employer has created an 'ongoing administrative program.' By contrast, a one-time calculation of a severance payment using a fixed formula will not qualify as an ERISA-governed plan.... [The] court therefore weighed the following factors: whether the employer's undertaking or obligation requires managerial discretion in its administration; whether a reasonable employee would perceive an ongoing commitment by the employer to provide employee benefits; and whether the employer was required to analyze the circumstances of each employee's termination separately in light of certain criteria." [Okun v. Montefiore Medical Center, No. 11 Civ. 9615 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 10, 2013)] (Williams Mullen)  

Public's Biggest Questions About ACA Center on Costs and the Need for Basic Information
"[This poll] asked people who say they don't have enough information about the law (51 percent of the public overall) what their top questions are about the ACA. Their top two answers: they want more information about how much the law will cost them and how it is paid for; and they want an easily digestible summary of what the law is and how it works.... [M]ost people say news coverage of the law is focused on politics and controversies rather than the impact on people, and more report seeing advertising that makes arguments in favor or against the ACA rather than providing practical information about the law and how to get coverage." (Kaiser Family Foundation)  

Lacking Rules, Insurers Balk at Paying for Intensive Psychiatric Care
"Mental health accounts for a small part of total health care spending -- by one estimate, $113 billion annually, or less than 6 percent of the $2.6 trillion overall health care bill. But pressure is intensifying on insurers under the [ACA], which includes mental heath care as an essential benefit ... Insurers are concerned about the potential for new costs, while patient advocates worry that mental health will be neglected." (The New York Times; subscription may be required)  

Ten Things Obamacare Won't Tell You
"[1] You might want to avoid signing up on Day One.... [2] Yes, some workers are being required to use exchanges -- but not these exchanges.... [3] Expect to be confused.... [4] Don't bother asking our staff for recommendations.... [5] Blue states do it better.... [6] Abuse our honor system at your peril.... [7] You'll still pay for this, even if you don't use it.... [8] We're a magnet for hackers and con artists.... [9] You might not be able to keep your doctor.... [10] Competition is for the greater good -- except when there aren't any competitors." (MarketWatch)  

Untangling Obamacare: Shopping the Insurance Exchanges
"While the Secretary of Health and Human Services said signing up for health insurance will be like buying an airline ticket from Travelocity, it won't be. Buying an airline ticket to Paris is a lot easier and much more fun than understanding coinsurance from Blue Cross.... For starters, it's best to think of buying insurance in the exchanges as a four-step process that includes several key decision points." (Columbia Journalism Review)  

[Opinion]

The Misplaced Hysteria About October 1
"October 1 is not an inherently significant date.... [W]e know that there will be some delays.... But ... these are not delays in coverage or eligibility for premium tax credits, which will not be available until January 1 in any event.... Do these glitches mean that [ACA] implementation is on the verge of collapse, or at least not ready for prime time? No." (Timothy Jost in Health Affairs Blog)  

[Opinion]

Argument for One-Year Delay of Health Reform Riddled with Flaws
"A one-year delay would be a mortal blow to health reform, with tens of millions of Americans who otherwise would gain coverage instead remaining uninsured, possibly for many years.... Health reform has not spurred a big jump in part-time work.... Health reform is not causing big layoffs.... Young adults won't have to pay unaffordable premiums for their health insurance.... Most young adults won't be subject to tax penalties.... Health reform will be of substantial benefit to the near-elderly... Health reform won't be a drag on the economy.... The Administration did not provide a special break for lawmakers and their staffs." (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)  

[Opinion]

Will ACA Implementation Lead to a Spike in Demand for Care?
"[T]here is evidence that the increase in demand will not be as great as the raw number of newly insured Americans might suggest.... In reality, the uninsured use substantial amounts of health care -- but only about half the care that the insured use today. One reason is because they are uninsured -- paying full prices for care rather than a small copay discourages use. Another reason also explains why many (but not all) are uninsured in the first place: they are healthy and don't anticipate needing or wanting medical care." (RAND Corporation)  

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Official Guidance]

Text of IRS Request for Applications for the Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities
"The [IRS] is requesting applications for membership to serve on the Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities (ACT). Applications will be accepted for the following vacancies, which will occur in June 2014: Two (2) employee plans; two (2) exempt organizations; three (3) federal, state, and local governments; two (2) Indian Tribal Governments; and one (1) tax-exempt bonds.... Written applications or nominations must be received on or before Nov. 4, 2013." (Internal Revenue Service)  

[Official Guidance]

Treasury Department's Contingency Plan in the Event of a Lapse in Appropriations
"IRS would halt non-automated collections and tax processing activities, but would continue activities necessary for the protection of government property. These activities include, but are not limited to, processing tax payment remittances; computer operations necessary to prevent loss of data in process and revenue collections; retaining minimal personnel to maintain safe conditions for essential personnel; maintaining criminal law enforcement and undercover operations; and the protection of statute expiration, bankruptcy, liens and seizure cases. The IRS would halt taxpayer services such as responding to taxpayer questions, including telephone customer service functions." (Internal Revenue Service)  

[Guidance Overview]

Preliminary 2014 Proxy Season Checklist
"At this time, there are relatively few new items that need to be considered for the upcoming proxy and 10-K season." [Editor's note: Article includes an extensive interactive checklist of ongoing issues.] (Dodd-Frank.com, a blog by Leonard, Street and Deinard)  

Identifying the Proper Party Defendant in ERISA Benefits Claims: A Circuit Survey
"Plan sponsors, administrators, and insurers share responsibility by adopting unclear plan documents and participant communications. The result is frequent and costly motion practice as defendants seek dismissal of claims and sort out among themselves responsibility for the payment of benefits and costs of legal defense. This article ... provides a circuit-by-circuit survey of case law on this proper party issue." (Bloomberg Law)  

Stockton Releases Bankruptcy Plan; CalPERS Payments Unaffected
"The massive plan document submitted to the Stockton City Council [on Friday, September 27] reinforces the concept that CalPERS would be held harmless while other creditors would suffer losses. The city pays CalPERS about $29 million a year ... The proposed plan 'significantly impairs the interests of former employees and retirees with respect to health benefits,' the document says." (Merced Sun-Star)  

Employer May Be Liable to Participants for Mishandling FICA Tax Under a Nonqualified Plan
"[T]he court felt the plaintiff had framed his suit as one for plan benefits that were improperly reduced and held that such a claim is not subject to the limits on suits for improper tax withholding. The court rejected all of the company's other arguments, thus clearing the way for this claim to go to trial.... [T]he case should make employers that sponsor nonqualified retirement plans aware that if they fail to comply with the special FICA tax-timing rules for such plans, they might face participant claims for additional benefits that go well beyond the risk of IRS penalties." [Davidson v. Henkel Corp. No. 12-cv-14103 (E.D. Mich. July 24, 2013)] (Towers Watson)  

[Opinion]

Text of Comments by American Benefits Council to IRS and EBSA on Form 5500 Report and Schedules (PDF)
"First, the Agencies should revise Schedule C so that the information required of pension plans is consistent with the information provided pursuant to the Department's regulations under ERISA section 408(b)(2). Second, the Agencies should consider expanding the small plan threshold for filing purposes from 100 participants to 250 participants. Finally, the Agencies should not remove the ability of plans to use a limited scope audit." (American Benefits Council)  

Press Releases

Statement on City of Stocktonís Proposed Plan of Adjustment
CalPERS (California Public Employees' Retirement System)

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: