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October 21, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Regional Sales Director
Goldleaf Partners
in MO

Distribution and Loan Specialist
Cornerstone Group
in RI

Retirement Plan Relationship Manager
Charles Schwab
in CO

Managing Director, Client Services
Charles Schwab
in TX

Sr. Manager - Conversion
Charles Schwab
in TX

Senior Defined Benefit Calculation Analyst
Transamerica Retirement Solutions
in MA

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Webcasts and Conferences

Defined Contribution Plan Overview
October 22, 2013 WEBCAST
(NH Hicks)

Defined Benefit Plans and Cross Testing Overview
October 23, 2013 WEBCAST
(NH Hicks)

2013 Fall Forum - San Antonio, TX
October 28, 2013 in TX

401(k) Essentials Plus Series
November 12, 2013 WEBCAST
(McKay Hochman Co., Inc.)

Executive Compensation Plans – A Solution to Help Lock in Your Key Employees
November 14, 2013 in TX
(ASPPA Benefits Council Dallas/Ft Worth)

Ethical Dilemmas for Pension Actuaries
November 20, 2013 WEBCAST
(Society of Actuaries)

Pension De-Risking Summit
January 20, 2014 in NY
(Financial Research Associates)

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]

IRS Addresses Use of HRA or Cafeteria Plan to Purchase Individual Health Policies and Provides Helpful Exemption for Employee Assistance Programs (PDF)
"[IRS] Notice 2013-54 ... eliminates an employer's ability to use a stand-alone health reimbursement arrangement or other tax-favored arrangement, such as a cafeteria plan, to help employees pay for individual health insurance policies on a tax-free basis.... The Notice also discusses a long-standing exemption from certain group health plan requirements for health flexible spending arrangements that meet the definition of an excepted benefit, and provides a new exemption for Employee Assistance Programs that do not provide significant benefits in the nature of medical care or treatment." (Groom Law Group)  


Are You Prepared for a DOL Investigation? Download your free report.

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Knowing what to expect during a DOL investigation can help you be better prepared. Download your complimentary report from Bloomberg BNA to get an understanding of the investigative process and better identify areas of compliance.

ACA Faces New Legal Challenges
"Federal judges in Washington, D.C., and Virginia will consider whether the text of the statute prevents the administration from offering subsidized health insurance to millions of low- and middle-income Americans.... The question before the courts is whether the [ACA]'s wording is a drafting mistake contrary to what Congress intended -- or a barrier to subsidies for coverage in the 36 states where the federal government is running some or all of the online exchanges." (The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required)  

Appropriations Act Provision Addresses Verification of Eligibility for Exchange Affordability Programs
"It remains to be seen how HHS will implement the new requirements and what, if any, impacts they may have for employers (whether, for example, more income verification requests will be made by Exchanges and whether there will be an increased focus on verification of employer coverage, bringing with it more inquiries about coverage provided to employees)." (Thomson Reuters / EBIA)  

Adding Up the Penalties: Building Toward ACA Compliance
"Not offering coverage to a class of employees that puts you below the 95% threshold can be substantially more expensive then offering coverage that is merely unaffordable to that class (depending on the size of the class)." (Fox Rothschild LLP)  

The Sam's Club Approach to Healthcare
"[E]mployers and insurers across the country are increasingly relying on narrow networks to control the costs of insurance coverage.... But narrow networks and their discounted rates are not enough to hold down healthcare costs. Employers and insurers are also negotiating with providers for fixed, transparent prices, which allow them to budget for the costs of coverage." (HealthLeaders InterStudy)  


IRS COBRA Audit Guidelines - November 7 Webinar

Sponsored by Lorman and BenefitsLink

At this live webinar, we will explore the impact of the IRS' COBRA Audit Guidelines issued in 2012, and how they can be used as a roadmap for COBRA compliance. Registration discount for BenefitsLink readers.

Texas Doctors, Hospitals Don't Know If They're in or Out of Obamacare Plans
"Many insurance companies participating in the marketplace have created health plans with provider networks based on existing contracts with physicians and hospitals, and did not contact those providers to sign new contracts or ask if they were willing to participate in the new health plans, according to the associations. As a result, many providers do not know which of the health plans offered in the marketplace will pay them for services." (Kaiser Health News)  

How to Turn Employees Into Value Shoppers for Health Care
"In January 2010 [CalPERS] implemented a reference pricing initiative for patients undergoing total knee and hip replacement surgery.... It then launched a communications initiative to its members emphasizing that if they used these value facilities they would be subject only to traditional cost sharing but if they used the higher-priced facilities outside of this group they would incur significant financial liabilities. The results were striking." (Harvard Business Review blog; free registration required)  

Thousands of Consumers Get Insurance Cancellation Notices Due to Health Law Changes
"The main reason insurers offer is that the policies fall short of what the Affordable Care Act requires starting Jan. 1. Most are ending policies sold after the law passed in March 2010. At least a few are cancelling plans sold to people with pre-existing medical conditions.... An estimated 14 million people purchase their own coverage because they don't get it through their jobs. Calls to insurers in several states showed that many have sent notices." (Kaiser Health News)  

Most Consumers Don't Complete Exchange Applications
"[A]bout 9.5 million unique people visited the federal exchange site in the first week. But less than half of 1 percent of those consumers, about 1 million people, actually completed the registration process. And only 271,000 people could successfully log into their accounts, while only 196,000 consumers could enter the enrollment stage." (FierceHealthPayer)  

HHS Statement on Improvements to Healthcare.gov
"Unfortunately, the experience on HealthCare.gov has been frustrating for many Americans.... To ensure that we make swift progress, and that the consumer experience continues to improve, our team has called in additional help to solve some of the more complex technical issues we are encountering ... [who are] some of the best and brightest from both inside and outside government[.]" (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)  

Big Insurers Avoid Many State Health Exchanges
"So few insurers offer plans on some of the new government health insurance exchanges that consumers in those states may pay too much or face large rate increases later ... An average of eight insurers compete for business in 36 states that had exchanges run or supported by the federal government last month ... Many state-run exchanges also have far fewer than HHS' average, which is weighted based on the number of uninsured residents in an area. Vermont has two, Kentucky has three and Nevada and Maryland each have four." (USA TODAY)  

Employees' Share of Health Costs to Approach $5,000 in 2014
"In 2014, average health care premium increases at large U.S. companies are projected to move back to the 6-to-7 percent range, up from the 2013 premium rate rise of 3.3 percent, which was the lowest increases in more than a decade.... These projections mean that over the last decade employees' share of health care costs -- including premium contributions and out-of-pocket costs -- will have increased almost 150 percent from $2,011 in 2004 to $4,969 in 2014." (Society for Human Resource Management)  

About 476,000 Applications Filed Under Federal and State-Run Health Exchanges
"Administration officials say about 476,000 health insurance applications have been filed through federal and state exchanges, the most detailed measure yet of the problem-plagued rollout of President Obama's signature legislation. However, the officials continue to refuse to say how many people have actually enrolled in the insurance markets. Without enrollment figures, it's unclear whether the program is on track to reach the 7 million people [projected] by the [CBO] to gain coverage during the six-month sign-up period.... Of the 476,000 applications that have been started, just over half have been from the 36 states where the federal government is taking the lead in running the markets. The rest of the applications have come from the 14 states running their own markets, along with the District." (The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  

No Computer? You Can Still Get Marketplace Coverage. (PDF)
[HHS Infographic] "There are several ways to get Health Insurance Marketplace coverage, even if you don't have a computer.... If you fill out and mail in an application, we'll be in touch. Once we process your application, we'll mail you information that lets you know what coverage you qualify for and if you can get any help paying for it. We'll also tell you about your next steps, including how to compare plans, choose one that works for you, and enroll." (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)  


Can Obama Fix Obamacare?
"HealthCare.gov probably has about a month before the problems of the web site infect the product itself. The nightmare scenario looks something like this: The web site continues to be a mess through the fall. As such, only the people who need insurance most -- older, sicker people -- go through the trouble of signing up. Younger, healthier people come once or twice and then never again. The risk pools fill with more expensive applicants and, in year two, premiums spike." (Ezra Klein and Evan Soltis in The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  


Obamacare Exchanges Are in Danger of Experiencing Death Spirals
"Even if the glitches get fixed and the exchanges operate as smoothly as originally envisioned ... ObamaCare faces a triple whammy that almost no one is paying attention to.... [1] State risk pools and the ObamaCare risk pools are about to officially close and dump their high-cost enrollees on the health insurance exchanges. [2] Both public and private employers are about to dump their retirees on the exchanges. [3] Employees who are trapped by job lock will leave their employer plans and head toward the exchanges as well." (John Goodman's Health Policy Blog)  


Obamacare, Failing Ahead of Schedule
"The online federal health care exchange, the heart of the Obamacare project, is such a rolling catastrophe that it may end up creating a major policy fiasco immediately rather than eventually.... [It] was hard to imagine the Obama White House botching the design and execution of its national health care exchange. Building Web sites, mastering the Internet -- this is what Team Obama does! Except this time Team Obama didn't." (Ross Douthat in The New York Times; subscription may be required)  


24 Million Will Be Permitted to Remain Uninsured Without Penalty
"[A recent] CMS release defines the category of hardships which would allow you to remain uninsured without having to pay a penalty. When you check the list, it seems that most of these hardships would indicate a greater need for having health care coverage. But instead of seeking ways to fill these gaps, ACA simply cuts these people loose with no coverage at all." (Physicians for a National Health Program [PNHP])  

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

Be Prepared for Shareholder Proposals on Executive Compensation
"To date, there have been more than 100 shareholder proposals regarding executive compensation in 2013, up from 61 in 2012, and only 39 in 2011. The most common shareholder proposals in 2013 have been requests for [a]doption of a stock retention policy, [a]doption (or improvement) of a compensation clawback policy, and [p]ro-rata vesting of equity awards, rather than acceleration, upon a change in control." (Winston & Strawn LLP)  


Text of Comments by National Investor Relations Institute to SEC on Proposed Pay Ratio Disclosure Rules (PDF)
"NIRI believes that the draft rule, as written, would provide no material benefit to most investors while imposing significant costs on more than 3,800 U.S. issuers and inhibiting efficiency, competition, and capital formation. This rule, as proposed, will result in disclosures by issuers that are likely to be misleading or inconsistent or both with a high probability that the disclosures would confuse most investors and not contribute to their understanding of corporate pay practices." (National Investor Relations Institute [NIRI])  

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