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

Benefits Tax Associate
Boutique Benefits Firm
in DC

Account Manager
BlueStar Retirement Services
in FL

401(k) Plan Administrator
America's 401k, Inc.
in TX

Attorney
Spear Wilderman, P.C.
in PA

Retirement Plan Marketing Specialist
Stifel Financial
in MO

Experienced Benefits Account Manager
Ascension
in GA

Daily Valuation Supervisor
Ingham Retirement Group
in FL

Defined Contribution Administrator
Saint-Gobain Corporation
in PA

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Webcasts and Conferences

FREE Webinar: Employers and the Military Leave Act
October 15, 2013 WEBCAST
(Davidson Marketing Group -- FutureOffice Network)

RMD Intricacy
October 17, 2013 WEBCAST
(McKay Hochman Co., Inc.)

ERISA Workshop 2013 - Bloomington
November 7, 2013 in IL
(SunGard Relius)

ERISA Workshop 2013 - Charlotte
November 7, 2013 in NC
(SunGard Relius)

PPC 401(k) Service Training Program - Classroom Format
November 14, 2013 in PA
(fi360)

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]

How the Premium Assistance Tax Credit for Health Insurance Impacts the Marginal Tax Rate
"[B]ecause the premium assistance tax credit phases out as income rises, it indirectly serves as a surtax that triggers higher marginal tax rates for those who are phasing the credit out.... [At] relatively modest levels of gross income from $250,000 to $50,000 of income, the premium assistance tax credit effectively doubles the marginal tax rate (to more than 30%) for those who are purchasing health insurance from the individual exchange. For older households that are claiming Social Security early, but still obtaining health insurance from an exchange (as they're not eligible for Medicare yet), the effect can be even more severe, as marginal tax brackets, the phaseout of the premium assistance tax credit, and the phase-in of Social Security taxability all overlap." (Michael Kitces in Nerd's Eye View)  


[Advert.]

Why and How to Wrap ERISA Welfare Plans Free Webinar

Sponsored by ftwilliam.com

Interested in learning more about Wrap Plans? Join us 12/5 for the basics of Wrap plans and SPDs. Our expert will cover using a wrap to coordinate the numerous health care plan disclosures and discuss whether wraps are newly relevant with HCR changes.



Federal Judge Says Sacramento County Retirees Aren't Entitled to Permanent Health Care Subsidies
"As a cost-saving measure in tough economic times, the Board of Supervisors slashed the subsidy in 2010 by $100 a month -- from a maximum $244 to $144 -- and then, in 2011, to a maximum of $80.64 a month. The [Sacramento County Retired Employees Association] ... argued that the long history of the subsidies created an implied contract guaranteeing them in perpetuity.... [They] claimed that, under the terms of various contracts between the county and its medical plans, its retirement system was required to maintain a minimum level of funding for the subsidies. But U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller saw it differently, ruling that the association failed to back up its claims." (Sacramento Bee)  

Consumer-Driven Health Plans Continue to Grow in Popularity
"According to Aon Hewitt's 2013 Health Care Survey of nearly 800 large and mid-size U.S. employers covering more than 7 million employees, 56 percent of employers currently offer CDHPs as a plan choice, and another 30 percent are considering offering one in the next three to five years. While 10 percent of employers offer CDHPs as the only plan option, another 44 percent are considering doing so in the next three to five years. In 2012, employers reported at least a 2 percentage point lower cost trend for CDHP plans (4 percent) versus other plans, including PPOs (6 percent), HMOs (7 percent) and Exclusive Provider Networks (6 percent)." (Aon Hewitt)  

New York Health Insurance Exchange Says 40,000 Have Applied For Coverage
"New York's online insurance exchange on Tuesday said more than 40,000 people have completed applications for coverage so far, though not all have chosen a health plan.... Nationally, nearly 80,000 people have applied for coverage in the state exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act, according to a ... tally of ten states that have disclosed numbers of applications submitted. Several state exchanges are not yet releasing figures, nor is the federal government which is doing enrollment for 36 states." (Kaiser Health News)  

Plan Sponsors Already Considering Ways to Avoid ACA's 40% Excise Tax on High-Cost Health Plans in 2018
"The excise tax will affect employer-sponsored coverage with limits of $10,200 for employee-only coverage and $27,500 for an employee and spouse or family coverage.... One way for plan sponsors to stay under the limit is make the population healthier. Expect more workplace-based wellness programs.... Perhaps easiest ... is reducing the actual benefit, by providing high-deductible health plans, usually coupled with an HSA, which will carry lower premiums for participants." (PLANSPONSOR.com)  

Many Small Businesses Plan to Use Advisors to Help Manage Their Benefits
"Ninety-four percent of small businesses believe the need for an outside advisor will increase or stay the same in the next two years ... [F]irms with 10 to 24 employees, companies that are still establishing themselves, and those that are actively looking to expand are most likely to see a need for an advisor in the next two years.... [E]mployers relied on their advisors for a variety of services. The most important services include reviewing their plans to ensure that the rates are competitive and services are current and reviewing the renewal rate adjustment to ensure it is competitive[.]" (LIMRA)  

Tenth Circuit Grants Injunction in Contraceptives Coverage Challenge
"[T]he U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ... [has affirmed] a district court's preliminary injunction barring enforcement of health care reform's contraceptives coverage mandate ... against a for-profit, secular corporation and its owners.... [The appellate court] remanded the case to the district court with instructions to suspend further proceedings until the Supreme Court completes its consideration of the Hobby Lobby case." [Newland v. Sebelius, No. 12-1380 (10th Cir. Oct. 3, 2013)] (Practical Law Company)  

Historically Low Health Care Price Inflation Holds Health Spending Growth to 3.8% in August
"National health care prices in August 2013 were 1.0% higher than in August 2012, down one-tenth from the July 2013 level and equal to the May 2013 rate, which was the all-time low in our series that extends back to January 1990. The 12-month moving average, at 1.5%, is a new low for our data.... National health expenditures in August 2013 grew 3.8% over those of August 2012 and kept the annualized growth rate at 3.8% for 2013 to date." (Altarum Institute)  

Amount of Savings Needed for Health Expenses for People Eligible for Medicare: More Rare Good News (PDF)
"In 2013, a man would need $65,000 in savings and a woman would need $86,000 if each had a goal of having a 50 percent chance of having enough money saved to cover health care expenses in retirement. If either instead wanted a 90 percent chance of having enough savings, $122,000 would be needed for a man and $139,000 would be needed for a woman. Savings targets declined between 6 percent and 11 percent between 2012 and 2013 for a person or couple age 65. For a married couple both with drug expenses at the 90th percentile throughout retirement who wanted a 90 percent chance of having enough money saved for health care expenses in retirement by age 65, targeted savings fell from $387,000 in 2012 to $360,000 in 2013." (Employee Benefit Research Institute [EBRI])  

State Exchanges: A Horse of a Different Color, Depending on Who You Are
"Large Employers: Three big opportunities ... Small Employers: First-time opportunity... Insurance Companies: Bigger market opens opportunities... Consumers: Take steps to find the best plan." (ExtendHealth)  

Uninsured Find More Success Via Health Exchanges Run by States
"While many people have been frustrated in their efforts to obtain coverage through the federal exchange, which is used by more than 30 states, consumers have had more success signing up for health insurance through many of the state-run exchanges ... Alan R. Weil, the executive director of the National Academy for State Health Policy ... credited the relative early success of some state exchanges to the fact that they could leap on problems more quickly than the sprawling, complex federal marketplace." (The New York Times; subscription may be required)  

Congressional Panel to Review IRS Progress on ACA
"The U.S. Internal Revenue Service executive in charge of enforcing President Barack Obama's new healthcare law will be the lone witness on Wednesday before a congressional panel run by Republicans resolutely opposed to the law.... A Republican staffer said Republicans hope to uncover at the hearing any problems that lie ahead for the IRS as it works to implement the healthcare law." (Reuters)  

28,000 Sign Up for Health Insurance Through California's Exchange
"More than 16,000 applications on behalf of 28,700 people have been completed through the state's insurance marketplace ... Executive Director Peter Lee said 16,311 applications, some representing several family members, were completed between Oct. 1 and Oct. 5 and another 27,305 are in process. Lee did not specify how many of the applicants would receive coverage through the state-based exchange or how many qualified for Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program. The applications were completed online, in person or over the phone, he said. About 400 small businesses also registered." (Kaiser Health News)  

Careful Selection and Contracting With Vendors Is Critical Part of Health Plan Renewals
"[M]ost employer or other plan sponsors and their management will find it helpful to begin by critically evaluating the credentials and contracts of the health plan brokers, consultants and service providers. This review should verify these advisors have the bonding and other legal credentials to qualify to perform the role desired under ERISA, the scope of services and accountability undertaken by the service providers, and the responsibilities for which the employer or other appointing party will continue to bear for the proper documentation and administration of the plan after hiring these vendors." (Solutions Law Press)  

[Opinion]

It's Time for Episode-Based Health Care Spending
"[Retrospective episode-based payment (REBP)] identifies which provider is in the best position to affect the clinical outcomes and total costs associated with an episode of care; it then assesses ... the outcomes achieved and costs incurred during each episode over a specific period of time ... The identified providers are then rewarded or penalized based on their average performance across all the episodes. The desire to jump straight to outcomes-based payment models focused on the total cost of care for an entire population has led many payers and providers to overlook, or give up on, episode-based payment.... REBP can serve as a bridge to more comprehensive total-cost-of-care approaches." (Harvard Business Review; free registration required)  

[Opinion]

The ACA and High-Deductible Insurance: Strategies for Sharpening a Blunt Instrument
"The [ACA] will cause a major expansion of high-deductible health insurance, a fact that has received little attention but has substantial implications for patients, health care providers, and employers.... Unfortunately, large gaps remain in our understanding of HDHPs' effects on vulnerable populations, life-saving services, and health outcomes.... The United States seems destined for a 'bronze' health insurance system that could create financial burdens high enough to cause adverse outcomes in vulnerable populations." (New England Journal of Medicine)  

[Opinion]

A Guide to the Obamacare Exchange 'Glitches': Answers to Americans' Biggest Questions About What's Going Wrong
"With three years to prepare, why wasn't the administration ready for this? ... Why is it taking so long to get an application started? ... Why is it so hard to complete an application? ... Why is the application so confusing? ... Why is it so hard to determine my Medicaid eligibility? ... How many people have been affected by exchange 'glitches'? ... Will the security of my information be in danger on these systems?" (Senator Lamar Alexander, Ranking Member, Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, U.S. Senate)  

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]

Proposed CEO Pay Ratio Disclosure Rules: Another Piece of the Dodd-Frank Puzzle
"The pay ratio disclosure requirements have elicited a fair amount of controversy and criticism, mostly due to a perceived high cost of calculating the ratio as compared to the value to investors of the information provided by the disclosure. In recognition of the complexity and cost that many public companies will face in complying with the disclosure requirements, particularly those with a significant global presence, the SEC's proposed regulations provide some flexibility in the methodology that may be used by an issuer in making the pay ratio calculations. However, there will still be challenges for many issuers to properly comply with the requirements." (Epstein Becker Green)  

San Francisco Ordinance Would Expand Flex Time Rights
"The city's Board of Supervisors passed the Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance [which] would amend the city's administrative code to allow employees in San Francisco to request flexible or predictable working arrangements to assist with their caregiving responsibilities.... The request can be made by any employee who is the primary contributor to the ongoing care of: a child or children for whom the employee has assumed parental responsibility; a person or persons with a serious health condition in a family relationship with the caregiver; or a parent of the caregiver age 65 or over." (Thompson SmartHR Manager)  

Press Releases

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