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October 29, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Retirement Plan Administrator (Trust/Fund Specialist)
The Huntington National Bank
in OH

Benefit Services Specialist
Northwestern Benefit Corporation of Georgia
in GA

Relationship Manager
Verisight, Inc.
in IL

Client Service Consultant
Dedicated Defined Benefit Services
in CA

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Webcasts and Conferences

Overview of Cross-testing
November 8, 2013 WEBCAST
(McKay Hochman Co., Inc.)

Designated Roth Accounts and Roth Conversions
November 12, 2013 WEBCAST
(McKay Hochman Co., Inc.)

Rocky Mountain Benefit Plans Conference
November 13, 2013 in CO
(Innovest Portfolio Solutions)

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 Final OPM Regulation Allowing Health Coverage for Children of Same-Sex Domestic Partnerships But Only in States Not Allowing Same-Sex Marriages
"The United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is issuing a final rule to amend the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB) regulations regarding coverage for children up to age 26. The regulations also allow children of same-sex domestic partners living in states that do not allow same-sex couples to marry to be covered family members under the FEHB and the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP).... OPM has decided to release this final regulation as proposed with several changes. The most significant change to this regulation is that eligibility for the children of same-sex domestic partners is limited to those states in which same-sex couples are unable to marry." (Office of Personnel Management)  


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[Official Guidance]

Text of CMS Enrollment Period FAQ: Additional Hardship Exemption Granted (PDF)
"HHS recognizes that the duration of the initial open enrollment period implies that individuals have until the end of the initial open enrollment period to enroll in coverage through the new Marketplaces while avoiding liability for the shared responsibility payment. Yet, unless a hardship exemption is established, individuals who purchase insurance through the Marketplaces towards the end of the initial open enrollment period could be required to make a shared responsibility payment when filing their federal income tax returns in 2015. HHS has determined that it would be unfair to require individuals in this situation to make a payment. Accordingly, HHS is exercising its authority to establish an additional hardship exemption in order to provide relief for individuals in this situation." (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)  

[Official Guidance]

Five Steps for Employers to Apply for Coverage in the SHOP Marketplace (PDF)
"[1] Create an account at healthcare.gov ... [2] Download the SHOP application ... Mail your application. [CMS] will notify you about your eligibility to buy coverage through the SHOP Marketplace.... [3] Log in to HealthCare.gov... Fill out the employee worksheet. This will be used to estimate your SHOP coverage costs and eligibility for your business.... [4] Choose a health plan that meets your needs.... [5] Come back to online SHOP application and review which of your employees accepted coverage." (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)  

[Guidance Overview]

Massachusetts Health Connector Announces Fate of Section 125 Plan Requirement and Supporting Provisions (PDF)
"According to [Administrative Bulletin 03-13], the Patrick Administration plans to pursue legislation to repeal the following MA health reform provisions: Section 125 Plan requirement; Employer Health Insurance Responsibility Disclosure (Employer HIRD) report; Free Rider Surcharge; and Recently created Section 125 Notification requirement. The primary component is the Section 125 Plan requirement, which provides that employers with 11 or more full-time equivalent employees must offer a Section 125 plan as a way for non-benefits eligible employees to purchase non-group health insurance using pre-tax income with no employer contribution. Under recent federal guidance ... such pre-tax voluntary plans for non-group coverage will not comply with one or more of the ACA market reforms becoming effective in 2014." (Parker Brown Macauley & Sheerin)  

Obama Administration Knew Millions Could Not Keep Their Health Insurance
"Four sources deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act tell NBC News that 50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a 'cancellation' letter or the equivalent over the next year because their existing policies don't meet the standards mandated by the new health care law. One expert predicts that number could reach as high as 80 percent. And all say that many of those forced to buy pricier new policies will experience 'sticker shock.'" (NBC News)  

Health Policies Canceled in Latest Hurdle for Obamacare
"The Obamacare rollout is leading to the cancellation of hundreds of thousands of health insurance plans nationwide, contradicting President Barack Obama's repeated pledge that people who like their coverage can keep it.... As many as 80 percent of people who don't have a company-hosted plan or insurance through the Medicare or Medicaid government programs may have to find new health coverage, said Robert Laszewski, an insurance-industry consultant in Arlington, Virginia. About 19 million people are included in this market." (Bloomberg)  

Carney Admits Some Americans Will Lose Existing Plans Under Health Care Law
"While many consumers are grandfathered under the law, there are two exceptions: people who signed up for a plan after the law was enacted in 2010, or those whose plans changed significantly. There is significant turnover in the individual market, according to several studies, with anywhere from 40 to 67 percent of consumers leaving their plan within one or two years." (The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  

As Insurance Termination Notices Pile Up, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton to Introduce 'Keep Your Health Plan Act'
"The bill would allow health care plans available today on the individual market to continue to be offered so Americans have the option to keep what they have if they like it. The bill also ensures that Americans maintaining their health care plan would not face a penalty under Obamacare." (Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, House Committee on Energy and Commerce)  

How Health Care Reform Changes Employers' Incentives to Offer Coverage
"Most (81 percent) of establishments that currently offer [employer-sponsored health insurance (ESI)] will continue to have an economic incentive to do so, even after health care reform is implemented. About two-thirds of establishments that do not currently offer ESI will not have an incentive to do so after reform.... Because some are exempt from the employer mandate, smaller firms will have a weaker incentive than larger firms to offer ESI after reform. However, on average, firms with fewer than 50 employees still have a positive incentive to do so." (Houston Chronicle)  

Federal Health Site Healthcare.gov Stymied by Lack of Direction as Obamacare Was Formulated
"As it becomes clear that no single leader oversaw implementation of the health law's signature online marketplace -- a complex software project that would have been difficult under the best circumstances -- the accounts of more than a dozen current and former officials show how a disjointed bureaucracy led to the site's disastrous Oct. 1 launch.... Divergent agency cultures, political directives that clashed with operational deadlines, a compressed timeline and dispersed geography led to the federal site's technical failures[.]" (The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required)  

Due to Subsidies, Nearly Half of the Uninsured Single Young Adults Eligible for the Health Insurance Marketplace Could Pay $50 or Less Per Month (PDF)
"This report focuses on the 7.2 million eligible uninsured young adults in single-person households in the 34 states with Federally-facilitated or State Partnership Marketplaces.... Of the 7.2 million eligible uninsured single young adults in the 34 states, 2.9 million may be Marketplace-eligible. Of these potentially Marketplace-eligible uninsured single young adults, approximately 1.9 million, or nearly two-thirds (66 percent) of the 2.9 million potentially eligible for Marketplace coverage, may be able to pay $100 or less per month in 2014." (Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)  

ML Strategies Health Care Reform Update, October 28, 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)  

The Effects of Retiree Health Insurance Plan Characteristics on Retirees' Choice and Employers' Costs
"[The authors] estimate the effects of the introduction and subsequent repeal of a [North Carolina] Comprehensive Wellness Initiative for non-Medicare eligible retirees, as well as increases in coinsurance and copayments and the introduction of a premium for all retirees. Over a third of non-Medicare retirees shifted into the least generous plan between June 2009 and December 2012. The level effects on annual costs and unfunded accrued liabilities were relatively modest, but growth rates were diminished." (Robert Clark, Melinda Morrill and David Vanderweide via the National Bureau of Economic Research [NBER])  

[Opinion]

Why the Exchanges are a Mess, and a Very Simple Solution
"[F]iguring out how much subsidy you are entitled to is almost as difficult as filling out your income tax return.... How could all this complexity be reduced to easy-to-manage simplicity? ... Give everyone the same subsidy regardless of income, age, geography, or any other factor.... So, if you are buying an individual policy and you enter the exchange, neither you nor anyone else will ever have to wonder how much your subsidy is. It's $2,500. Voila! Problem solved." (John Goodman's Health Policy Blog)  

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

Are You Ready to Retire? Take This Quiz.
"Wherever you stand -- several years from leaving work or already retired-the following quiz highlights some of the most critical parts of planning for later life and can help you judge how successful your retirement might be.... Research by Fidelity Investments recommends that workers should aim to save what multiple of their ending annual salary at age 67 in order to meet basic income needs in retirement? ... A 65-year-old couple retires in 2013. How much money will they need to cover medical expenses throughout their retirement?" (The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required)  

ISS Releases 2014 Proposed Changes to Executive Compensation Evaluation Policy
"ISS has posted its 2014 Draft Policies for comment by institutional investors, companies and other members of the governance community. These draft policies have traditionally served as a preview of the final policies expected next month which will be effective for the 2014 proxy season. This year's draft policies do not propose any major modifications to the ISS methodology." (Steven Hall & Partners)  

Rabbi Trusts: An Important Adjunct to Deferred Compensation Plans
"Rabbi trusts can provide executives with some security for the future payment of their deferred compensation benefits.... These trusts must be properly structured, however, to defer compensation by avoiding constructive receipt, economic benefit, or violations of the requirements of IRC section 409A. While the IRS has created a model trust document, employers still need to take care in drafting the underlying deferred compensation plan." (Fulcrum Partners, LLC)  

Employees Love Equity Awards But Corporate Stock Plan Education Could Be Better
"[A]significant majority of the participants (65%) either have skilled professional or technical roles or work in middle or low-level management.... One interesting line of inquiry gauged the perceived value of stock plans to that of other benefits, especially 401(k) plans. In this comparison, every grant type [but one] proved to be more popular than other company benefits[.]" (myStockOptions.com)  

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