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October 18, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise
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Cash Balance Administration Specialist
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Leading Financial Services Firm
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Webcasts and Conferences

IRA Reporting
October 24, 2013 WEBCAST

IRA Beneficiary Distributions
October 24, 2013 WEBCAST

DOMA and the New Benefits Landscape
November 6, 2013 WEBCAST
(Kushner & Company)

ERISA Workshop 2013 - Kansas City
November 14, 2013 in KS
(SunGard Relius)

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Contraceptive Coverage Mandate Continues to Get Attention (PDF)
"Even with the exemption for qualifying religious employers and the temporary safe harbor for nonexempt, nonprofit organizations with religious objections, there have been numerous challenges to this mandate based on religious grounds.... To date, however, the appellate courts have been ruling on pre-trial proceedings and not the full merits related to the First Amendment right of for-profit companies. Although these decisions now create a conflict among the federal appellate courts, and the Supreme Court has been petitioned to review, it's uncertain whether or not the Court will accept the issue." (Buck Consultants)  


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.

Health Website Woes Widen as Insurers Get Wrong Data
"Emerging errors include duplicate enrollments, spouses reported as children, missing data fields and suspect eligibility determinations, say executives at more than a dozen health plans. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Nebraska said it had to hire temporary workers to contact new customers directly to resolve inaccuracies in submissions. Medical Mutual of Ohio said one customer had successfully signed up for three of its plans. The flaws could do lasting damage to the law if customers are deterred from signing up or mistakenly believe they have obtained coverage." (The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required)  

Week Two of the Obamacare Federal Health Insurance Exchange Rollout: No Improvement
"There was no progress for the new federal health insurance exchange's information technology and enrollment challenges in its second week.... [However,] Washington state appears to be off to a very clean start. They ... have finalized enrollment for about 25,000 lives -- most in Medicaid.... [A]nother 37,000 have completed insurance exchange applications that are awaiting premium payments due in December.... So, they appear to be on their way to enrolling about 5% of their potential market in both Medicaid and the exchange." (Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review)  

Under Obamacare, Insurers Learn to Sell to Consumers Directly
"The law has created a mass market for health plans sold directly to consumers, many of whom will be buying insurance for the first time. That means a complete overhaul of selling tactics for insurers who are used to wooing corporate HR chiefs and brokers.... Not only do insurers have to figure out how to explain a complex product in simple terms, they also have to make their pitch memorable, so customers will choose their plans over a competitor's." (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)  

Shutdown Deal Won't Affect Health Reform Subsidies
"[The] deal to reopen the government and raise the debt limit doesn't change the procedures for verifying applicants' eligibility for new federal health insurance subsidies under health reform.... Instead, a provision ... requires the [HHS] Secretary to certify that the new health insurance marketplaces ... are verifying eligibility in a manner that's consistent with the requirements of health reform ... Here's how the verification procedures work[.]" (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)  


23rd Annual National Health Benefits Conference & Expo

Sponsored by HBCE- Health Benefits Conference & Expo

The Biggest Challenge Remains: Addressing the Most Intractable Cost Problem Facing Employers, Employees & Governments at All Levels - January 28-29, 2014 - Clearwater Beach, FL. High quality, moderate cost - Register now for best rates!

Why It May Require an MBA to Pick the Right Health Plan
"Like our self-directed retirement saving system, the new healthcare system is one that requires consumers with varying degrees of expertise and knowledge to make important decisions for themselves. Researchers ... asked a national cross-section of Americans to choose exchange policies that would be cost-efficient for them. The vast majority -- 80 percent -- failed to choose the best plan, resulting in average annual overspending of $611." (Reuters)  

Increase in Employer Health Insurance Costs Slows in 2013
"Health insurance costs for large employers in Chicago rose 3 percent in 2013, the lowest increase in five years ... The cost of providing coverage per employee this year in Chicago was $10,753, up from $10,434 in 2012 and $9,871 in 2011 ... Employers, however, pushed a larger percentage of the burden on to their workers, whose total health care costs jumped 9 percent in 2013[.]" (Chicago Tribune; subscription may be required)  

2013 Health Plan Survey Shows Major Differences in Health Benefits Across U.S. Regions
"Preferred provider organization (PPO) plans continue to be the dominant plan type offered to employees nationally, with approximately 47.2 percent of all employees enrolled in this plan type, which is 4.7 percent more than are enrolled in health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) combined. CDHP plans are far more prevalent, however, in the Northeast where 28.8 percent of employees are enrolled in this plan type, compared to the Western region where only 15.1 percent of employees are in a CDHP and 29.9 percent are enrolled in an HMO." (United Benefit Advisors)  

Quality of Care Delivered to Patients Within the Same Hospital Varies by Insurance Type
"[P]rivately insured patients had lower risk-adjusted mortality rates than did Medicare enrollees for twelve out of fifteen quality measures examined. To a lesser extent, privately insured patients also had lower risk-adjusted mortality rates than those in other payer groups. Medicare patients appeared particularly vulnerable to receiving inferior care. These findings suggest that to help reduce care disparities, public payers and hospitals should measure care quality for different insurance groups and monitor differences in treatment practices within hospitals." (Health Affairs)  

House Panel Questions Firms Who Got Paid Millions for Troubled Obamacare Website
"The House Energy and Commerce Committee ... has been steadily firing off letters over the past several days seeking answers to why the HealthCare.gov site was not fully operational when it launched on Oct. 1.... Much of the scrutiny has focused on the company that received the bulk of the taxpayer money to help create the website -- CGI Federal, a U.S. subsidiary of Canadian firm CGI Group. According to the company's own announcement, it secured a contract in late 2011 worth a total of $93.7 million, with the base value at $55.7 million." (Fox News)  

BLS Report of Employer Premiums and Employee Contributions for Family Medical Care Benefits, March 2013
"In March 2013, private industry employers who did not require their employees to contribute to family medical care benefits paid an average monthly premium of $1,152 per employee. Private industry employers who required employees to contribute to family medical care benefits paid an average monthly premium of $859, and the employee's average contribution was $442 per month. Among employers not requiring employees to contribute to medical care benefit plans, business establishments with 50 to 99 workers paid about the same monthly premium per employee as establishments with 100 to 499 workers ($1,094 and $1,090, respectively). Large establishments with 500 workers or more paid the highest monthly premium at $1,266 per employee." (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)  


One Nation, Two Healthcare Systems
"It's been clear for months that the Medicaid rejections would be a serious problem for the law. In those states, people who make less than the poverty line get nothing under Obamacare, but people who make between 100 percent and 400 percent of the poverty line gets subsidies for private insurance.... But more surprising is the fact that the federal exchanges are a mess while the state exchanges are, by and large, working well. Since the states that expanded Medicaid are, for the most part, the same ones that built their own exchanges, that's further widening the divide." (The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  


A Pragmatic Fix for Healthcare.gov and the HIXs
"Quietly last summer two private online insurance brokers, eHealth which runs the eHealthInsurance.com site, and GetInsured, struck deals with HHS that allowed them to enroll individuals in plans that qualify for the mandate under the ACA, and more importantly, connect with the 'Health Exchange Data Hub' that figures out whether the enrollee qualifies for a subsidy (theoretically by connecting to the IRS).... So why can't we put prominent links to eHealthInsurance.com and GetInsured on the Healthcare.gov site and move people over there?" (The Health Care Blog)  


My Personal Affordable Care Act: A Manifesto
"My manifesto is an algorithm for thriving in spite of the government's naked and absurd attempt to define health as something that begins in the clinic. My goal is to make myself and my family as scarce as possible within the health care system. The ACA is a collective solution to the mass failure of individual will. Our transformation into an information culture actually worsened the malady. We are so conditioned to success at the speed of a search engine that, like the person who aspires to retire early, but refuses to save, we've forgotten to manage the fundamentals." (Vikram Khanna in The Health Care Blog)  

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

Employee Benefits for Domestic Partners in March 2013
"Nearly half of private industry employees with access to a defined benefit retirement plan in March 2013 had a plan that provides survivor benefits to same-sex domestic partners. Among state and local government workers with access to a defined benefit retirement plan, three-fifths had a plan that provides survivor benefits to same-sex domestic partners.... Nineteen percent of employees in private industry had access to a defined benefit retirement plan in March 2013. Nine percent were in plans that provide survivor benefits for same-sex partners and 8 percent for opposite-sex partners.... In private industry, 70 percent of workers had access to healthcare benefits in March 2013. Thirty-one percent of workers had access to plans that provide healthcare benefits to same-sex partners, and 26 percent had access to plans that provide healthcare benefits to opposite-sex partners." (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)  

EBSA Announces ERISA Advisory Council to Meet November 4
"The next ERISA Advisory Council meeting is scheduled for November 4-5, 2013 ... The meeting is open to the public. The November 4 portion of the meeting, from 1 p.m.-5 p.m., will be a drafting session for the reports and recommendations which the Council will vote to approve at the November 5 session, which begins at 8:30 a.m." (U.S. Department of Labor)  

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