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October 1, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise
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Employee Benefits Jobs


Webcasts and Conferences

Affordable Care Act 101 Webinar
October 10, 2013 WEBCAST
(U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA))

ERISA Workshop 2013 - Portland
October 31, 2013 in OR
(SunGard Relius)

ERISA Workshop 2013 - San Francisco
November 1, 2013 in CA
(SunGard Relius)

Independent Contractors: Overcoming the Legal Perils and Challenges (NY CLE Program)
October 17, 2013 in NY
(WEB (Worldwide Employee Benefits Network), New York Chapter)

Should Employers Pay or Play? Podcast
October 15, 2013 WEBCAST
(Bloomberg BNA)

Legislative and Regulatory Update – Defined Benefit Plan Issues
October 15, 2013 WEBCAST
(American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA))

Protecting Qualified Plans & Spousal Rights
October 17, 2013 in OH
(ASPPA Benefits Council of Cleveland)

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 CCIIO Q&A on Members of Congress and Staff Accessing Coverage through Health Insurance Exchanges (Marketplaces) (PDF)
"Consistent with the OPM rule, this guidance clarifies that offices of the Members of Congress are considered qualified employers eligible to offer coverage to Members and designated Congressional staff through the appropriate SHOP as determined by OPM. CMS clarifies that offices of the Members of Congress, as qualified employers, are eligible to participate in a SHOP regardless of the size and offering requirements set forth in the definition of 'qualified employer' in the Exchange final rule, provided that the office offers coverage to those full-time employees who are determined by statute to purchase health insurance from an Exchange for the purpose of the government contribution." (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)  


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Obamacare Launch Hits Early Hitch as Online Traffic Snarls Up Sites
"[A] federally-run exchange for consumers in 36 states began posting error messages for at least 24 of them soon after the system opened for enrollment at 8 a.m. EDT, citing online traffic as a reason for the difficulties.... 'Consumers who need help can also contact the call center, use the live chat function or go to localhelp.healthcare.gov to find an in-person assistor in their community,' [HHS] said in a statement. Exchanges run by 14 states and the District of Columbia presented a mixed picture. Some, like Massachusetts, were able to accept consumer log-ins. The state-run exchange in Maryland delayed its opening by four hours, while Minnesota said it would wait until the afternoon after checking its connection with federal databases." (Reuters)  

Obamacare Site Goes Live, with Some Glitches
"The Web-based marketplaces that form the centerpiece of the president's health-care law are supposed to be open for business Tuesday, but applicants ran into technical glitches in the morning that prevented them from signing up for health coverage. People who were trying to sign up on Healthcare. gov, the federal government's main portal in 34 states, were getting different error messages, including one warning the 'system is down' and another saying that too many people are flooding the site.... The challenges are not a surprise." (The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  

Signing Up for Obamacare: 'This Was Totally Disappointing.'
"Jon Tucci stayed up until midnight Monday, hoping to enroll on West Virginia's new insurance marketplace at the first moment possible. Ten hours later -- after two attempts at signing up and one 45-minutes call with a consumer service agent -- technical glitches have prevented the 60-year-old grandfather from purchasing a plan.... Tucci woke up around 6 a.m. Tuesday morning to try again, but still got the same error messages. He called the customer service center, and waited 45 minutes, he estimates, to talk to an agent." (The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  

Deloitte Health Care Current, October 1, 2013
"Most employers also are aware that the employer mandate has been deferred until 2015. But most don't realize that they still must comply with reporting requirements and inform their employees about the existence of exchanges, how they work, their plan options, etc. Employees need more and better information to help them understand HIX, their coverage options and potential eligibility for tax credits and Medicaid programs.... Employers would be wise to send out their own notices about the exchanges or add a cover letter to the government materials to help employees understand their contents and why reading them is important." (Deloitte Center for Health Solutions)  


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Effects of the ACA on Consumer Health Care Spending and Risk of Catastrophic Health Costs
"[A]verage out-of-pocket spending is expected to decrease for all groups considered in the analysis, although decreases in out-of-pocket spending will be largest for those who would otherwise be uninsured. People who would otherwise be uninsured who transition to the individual market under the ACA will have higher total health care spending on average after implementation of the ACA because they will now incur the cost of health insurance premiums.... [R]isk of catastrophic health care spending will decrease for individuals of all income levels for the insurance transitions considered; decreases will be greatest for those at the lowest income levels." (RAND Corporation)  

Employers Hold the Line on Health Benefit Cost Per Employee in 2014
"Based on early responses from a major survey conducted annually by Mercer, employers expect health benefit cost per employee will rise by 4.8% on average in 2014. Cost growth slowed to 4.1% in 2012, a 15-year low. The projected increase for 2014, while still relatively low, represents a slight uptick in the rate of growth.... Employers estimate that if they made no changes to their current plans, health benefit cost per employee would rise by 7% on average in 2014." (Mercer)  

Healthcare Overhaul Pushes Small Firms to Lock in Lower Rates
"With major provisions of the federal health overhaul set to take effect Jan. 1, many U.S. insurers are prodding small-business customers to renew their current coverage early, to lock in lower rates.... Nearly one-third of small businesses surveyed ... said they would renew their health coverage earlier than in prior years." (The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required)  

Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Has Been Declining for Over 10 Years
"From 1999 to 2011, the number of people covered by employer-sponsored health insurance declined by 15 percent nationally. From 2008 to 2011, people purchasing private health insurance dropped 4.7 percent in Michigan and 4.4 percent nationally ... From 2002 through 2012, average total premiums in the United States increased by approximately 80 percent. The average premium for family coverage rose from $8,469 to $15,473." (Crain's Detroit Business)  

ML Strategies Health Care Reform Update, September 30, 2013 (PDF)
Update on developments in federal and state health care reform legislation and regulations, including summaries of recent announcements and regulatory activity by HHS, CCIIO, IRS and CMS. (ML Strategies, LLC)  

Employers Face Obstacles in Helping Employees With Mental Health Problems
"While most employers offer employee assistance programs [EAPs], the services continue to be under-used by workers due to the stigma mental illness carries. Creating a workplace culture that reduces that stigma and allows employees to seek help for mental health problems will greatly benefit both the employees in need of EAP services and their organization[.]" (Bloomberg BNA)  

Ten Questions About Obamacare You Were Too Embarrassed to Ask
Q&As (for consumers) include: "What is Obamacare, anyway? ... Why did we need to change things in the first place? I was perfectly happy with the old system.... So the insurance marketplace opens on Tuesday. Got it. What do I need to do? ... I hate Obamacare and refuse to move a finger. What can they do to me? ... I am psyched about signing up for health insurance. Once I do, am I all set if I end up in a hospital or get really sick with cancer? ... I'm 27 and make about $35,000 a year. According to my paycheck, I pay only $150 dollars per month for my health care plan, which is less than my cable bill. Why are people so worked up about health care costs?" (The Brookings Institution)  

U.S. Healthcare Spending: Who Pays -- and How Has That Changed?
"In 1960, almost 100% of the spending on prescription drugs came out of the consumer's pocket; by 2011, out-of-pocket spending was down to 17%. Over the past 50 years, there have been major shifts in how we pay for hospital care, physician services, long-term care, prescription drugs, and other services and products. This interactive graphic uses data from [CMS] to show national spending trends from 1960 to 2011 for health care by payer." (California HealthCare Foundation)  

[Opinion]

Facilitated Quality Competition as a Driver of Health Care Value
"[A] consensus is emerging that improvement in hospital quality and cost will be achieved through a combination of bundled payments and transparency of outcomes and costs. This can be interpreted as evidence that competition will be introduced.... [H]ospitals have a positive financial incentive to reduce complications if they can fill the empty beds resulting from the improvement program. Value-based purchasing, a policy of rewarding hospitals that achieve a target level of performance with bonuses of up to two percent of revenue would provide some incentive. But it's not clear that it will suffice." (Health Affairs Blog)  

[Opinion]

Will Health Insurance Exchanges Work?
"Tight implementation timelines and informational delays have also left states with inadequate time to test their systems before exchanges open for enrollment, which means the functional capabilities of exchanges remain largely unproven.... [W]hile most state-based exchanges are leveraging private-sector technologies for their exchange architecture and functionality, integrating these technologies with existing Medicaid and other state systems is proving to be a significant challenge." (Health Affairs Blog)  

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]

SEC Proposes CEO Pay Ratio Disclosure Rules
"Comments on the proposed rules will be due December 2, 2013. In the proposing release, the SEC requested comments on more than 60 specific issues to help the commission evaluate the approaches taken in the proposed rules. During the open meeting at which the SEC adopted these proposed rules, the commissioners also strongly encouraged issuers, investors and other stakeholders to submit robust comments on the potential impacts of these proposed rules. The dissenting commissioners encouraged detailed and 'data-heavy' comments, along with realistic estimates of the costs of compliance." (Perkins Coie LLP)  

[Guidance Overview]

CEO Pay Ratio Disclosure Rules Issued by SEC (PDF)
"Congress was able to describe the CEO pay ratio disclosure requirement in 150 words. The SEC has taken a remarkable 162 pages to explain those words, defend the disclosures required under the proposed rule and solicit responses to 69 questions it poses on the proposed rule. Corporate boards and management are unlikely to find much to cheer about regarding the proposed rule. However, one kernel of good news is that the proposed rule will not likely take effect before 2015. For a calendar year company, this means the CEO pay ratio disclosure would first appear in its 2016 proxy." (Meridian Compensation Partners, LLC)  

U.S. Justices to Hear Quality Stores Case on Whether Severance Can Be Taxed
"The Supreme Court agreed on [October 1] to consider whether severance pay in an involuntary layoff can be subject to federal payroll taxes in a case the Obama administration says could affect $1 billion in refund claims. The administration asked the justices to hear the case after losing a dispute with agricultural retailer Quality Stores Inc.... The legal question is whether the company was required to pay the taxes under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act, which helps finance federal retirement and healthcare benefits." (Reuters)  

2013 Director Compensation Study (PDF)
"Total compensation paid to non-employee directors rose +4.5% over 2011 levels, to a median of $261,333. Pay mix for non-employee directors has remained relatively unchanged since 2007. Directors continue to receive just over half of their total compensation in the form of equity (55% in 2012), in accordance with governance best practices.... Committee chairs for each of the audit, compensation and nominating/governance committees receive additional fees (retainer plus meeting fees) at 94% of the companies studied." (Steven Hall & Partners)  

Press Releases

California Secure Choice Request for Information
California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program

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