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October 31, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Webcasts and Conferences

Defined Benefit Plans and Cross Testing Overview
November 6, 2013 WEBCAST
(NH Hicks)

Top Common Code Section 403(b) Problems and Solutions
November 6, 2013 WEBCAST
(Multnomah Group)

Free Webinar - Engaging Participants to Drive Better Retirement Outcomes
November 7, 2013 WEBCAST
(University Conference Services)

Healthcare Benefits Benchmark Study
November 21, 2013 WEBCAST

Fiduciary Training: Best Practices in Running and Advising an Investment Committee
December 10, 2013 WEBCAST
(American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA))

4th Annual Accountable Care Web Summit 2013
December 12, 2013 WEBCAST

View All Webcasts and Conferences

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official guidance, jobs, webcasts and more.
[Guidance Overview]

Massachusetts Connector Changes Cafeteria Plan Rules
"Massachusetts has aligned the Connector's purchasing rules with the [ACA]'s requirements; accordingly, effective January 1, 2014, pre-tax cafeteria plan money can no longer be used to purchase coverage from the Connector.... For plan years starting in 2014, under the federal guidance, employers may no longer offer cafeteria plans that permit their employees to purchase their own non-group health insurance policies using pre-tax income. Cafeteria plans can continue to be offered to employees for other purposes, such as the purchase of group health insurance or other benefits." (Mintz Levin)  


Gain a fresh outlook from benefits leaders ahead of the curve

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Text of Bipartisan Discussion Draft on SGR Repeal and Medicare Physician Payment Reform (PDF)
"The proposal would permanently repeal the [Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR)] update mechanism, reform the fee-for-service (FFS) payment system through greater focus on value over volume, and encourage participation in alternative payment models (APM). The revised FFS system would freeze current payment levels through the ten-year budget window, while allowing individual physicians and other health care professionals ... to earn performance-based incentive payments through a compulsory budget-neutral program. By combining the current quality incentive programs into one comprehensive program, this proposal would further value-based purchasing within the overall Medicare program while maintaining and improving the efficiency of the underlying structure with which professionals are already familiar." (Staff of Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives, and Finance Committee, U.S.Senate)  

Key Senate, House Committee Chairmen Offer Plan to Fix Medicare Doctor Payments
"The proposal would make a historic shift in doctor payments, moving physicians from the traditional system in which they are paid for volume and instead using financial incentives to encourage them to move to alternative payment models emphasizing quality care. The framework would repeal the SGR and instead hold doctors' pay at current levels as alternative payment models are developed and tested." (Kaiser Health News)  

Wellness Apps and Websites Go for New Clients: Insurance Companies
"Companies and insurers have taken different approaches to building their wellness programs. But most contain some common elements: a social networking component, health trackers and some sort of incentive. Incentives can be virtual, such as points and prizes that give users little more than bragging rights; or very concrete, like discounts on insurance premiums." (Kaiser Health News)  

Some Question Value of Outcomes-Based Wellness
"Employers are moving from participation-oriented to outcomes-oriented wellness programs because they want to see immediate changes ... 'They are in a panic that employees are not changing fast enough, that they aren't losing weight fast enough,' says [Dr. Dee Edington, CEO and founder of Edington Associates]. He explains that 'employers are moving toward [outcomes-oriented wellness programs] in some cases more rapidly ... because they are driven by their need or perceived need to make a business case to their CFO.'" (Employee Benefit News)  

Lost in the Shuffle: The SHOP Exchanges for Small Employers
"For 2014, employers with fewer than 50 FTEs can purchase coverage through the exchange and, after 1/1/2014, the small business tax credit will only be available for coverage purchased through the exchange.... [E]mployers should be aware that the individual carriers offering the exchange may have required participation rates (like 70% if your population) and coverage purchase through SHOP must be offered to all employees who work 30 or more hours per week." (Fox Rothschild LLP)  

Under Pressure: An Update on Restrictive State Insurance Marketplace Consumer Assistance Laws
"[Under the ACA], states enjoy considerable leeway to customize requirements for consumer assisters, so long as they do not interfere with federal law. Some states, particularly those operating their own marketplaces, used this freedom to empower assisters.... [M]any states that chose not to develop a state-based marketplace have been slow to support consumer outreach ... These states have shown no hesitation, however, in acting to regulate consumer assistance programs.... [Some have] adopted restrictions on navigators and other assisters that test the limits of the health law's flexibility." (The Commonwealth Fund)  

Three States Tell Insurers to Scrap Plans That Don't Comply with Obamacare
"[Virginia, Kentucky and Idaho] have determined that with so many changes required under Obamacare, it's easier to start over than to try to bring existing plans into compliance.... Virginia Bureau of Insurance spokesman Ken Schrad said insurance companies could offer customers with discontinued plans similar coverage ... But, he cautioned, 'it is virtually impossible to compare what you have to what you're going to have because of all the new provisions.'" (CNN)  

Fact Check on Grandfathered Policies
"The primary reason most policies are not grandfathered today is because people chose to change their policies or purchased new coverage after the law was enacted. According to ... HHS, 'between 40 percent and 67 percent of policies are in effect for less than one year' and 'the high turnover rates ... would dominate benefit changes as the chief source of changes in grandfather status.'" (America's Health Insurance Plans [AHIP])  

Why Was My Plan Canceled? and What Do I Do Now?
"The canceled plans are most likely high-deductible, low coverage ones that do not qualify under the ACA because they don't adequately cover the ten required essential benefits (EHB). So, if you have been notified you that your plan has been canceled, check its terms, if you have them.... Remember, people under the age of 30 have the option to buy a catastrophic plan.... [If] you're not worried about going without coverage for the first couple of months in the year, you can sign up as late as the end of March without paying a penalty." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)  

ACA Led to Canceled Plan? Maybe It Was for the Best
"Insurance companies are now coming back to employers with plans 'with all this preventive care, all these essential health benefits' and zero caps for maximum cost, and employers are balking at the new prices ... Companies that had never considered dropping care are doing exactly that.... Some employers are just now getting a look at what's available at their state or federal exchange and deciding their population is better off in the Obamacare marketplace[.]" (Employee Benefit News)  

Obama Blames 'Bad Apple' Insurers for Canceled Coverage
"President Barack Obama said ... that 'bad apple' insurance companies, not his signature healthcare law, are to blame for hundreds of thousands of people losing their coverage in the past few weeks.... On Capitol Hill, Obama's top health official called the debut a 'debacle' as she sought to assure skeptical lawmakers at a congressional hearing that the administration would eventually get the portal to work smoothly. HealthCare.gov was down over the course of the four-hour hearing." (Reuters)  

Obama to People With Canceled Plans: 'Just Shop Around in the New Marketplace'
"'Almost all the insurers are encouraging people to join better plans with the same carrier and stronger benefits and stronger protections,' [President Obama] said during remarks on the [ACA] delivered at Faneuil Hall, 'while others will be able to get better plans with new carriers through the marketplace, and that many will get new help to pay for these better plans and make them actually cheaper.' ... Of course, getting new plans through the exchanges so far has been easier said than done: As Obama spoke, the Healthcare.gov site was not usable due to a Verizon data hosting problem." (The Atlantic)  

Obama: Majority Can Keep Healthcare Plans
"'For the vast majority of people who have health insurance that works, you can keep it,' Obama said. 'For the fewer than 5 percent of Americans who buy insurance on your own, you will be getting a better deal.' Hundreds of thousands of people have received letters notifying them that their plans will be canceled by the end of the year." (The Hill)  

CEO of eHealth.com to Obama: 'Let Us Take Over' Healthcare.gov
"In a letter to President Obama, [eHealth] CEO Gary Lauer [asked] for the administration to 'allow eHealth to take over enrollment' for the federal marketplace. 'We are ready to help you get this program back on track promptly, with the cooperation of the federal exchange, if you allow us to take over the shopping and enrollment process in all 36 federal exchange states -- without cost to the taxpayer. While your staff is working hard to repair Healthcare.gov, with your support, we can be the stopgap that is needed,' Lauer wrote." (Healthcare Payer News)  

Obamacare Website Security at 'High Risk' Before Launch
"'From a security perspective, the aspects of the system that were not tested due to the ongoing development exposed a level of uncertainty that can be deemed as a high risk,' said the memo from [HHS] officials James Kerry and Henry Chao. The memo recommended the creation of a dedicated security team, weekly testing of servers, daily scans and a full security assessment within 60 to 90 days of launch. It provided for a temporary, six-month authority to operate the system." (Reuters)  


Will the U.S. Join the World of Paid Leave?
"In a few weeks, the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act will be introduced to afford paid leave to eligible employees for their own or a family member's serious illness ... the birth or adoption of a child, the injury of a family member in the military, or the need for care arising from a service member's deployment. A few of its high points are: [1] Benefits up to 66% of the individual's typical monthly wage up to a capped amount tied to inflation; [2] Applicability to workers regardless of size of the company; ... [3] Affordable funding by both employer and employee, at two-tenths of one percent (0.2 of 1%) of a worker's wages, or less than $1.50 per week to an average worker[.]" (Valerie Young of the National Association of Mothers' Centers, via Altarum Institute)  


Exposing Problems with Workplace Wellness Programs: Responding Again to Prof. Ron Goetzel
"Professor Goetzel's most recent comments display at least three problems with the case often made by advocates of incentive-based, workplace wellness programs: [1] Commitment to the faulty logic that if some attribute of an employee has an effect on the business, the employer has a compelling reason, or even a right, to interfere with the private lives of its employees. [2] Unwarranted faith that improvements in the biometric measures often used to gauge an employee's success in a wellness program indicate improved health.... [3] Insufficient concern for the material consequences of such programs on low-wage workers and for equity across socio-economic status" (John DiNardo and Jill Horwitz in Health Affairs Blog)  


Mr. President, I Like My Health Insurance. I'd Like to Keep It. Can You Please Help Me Out?
"[T]his letter from my health plan ... says I can't keep my current coverage because my plan isn't good enough under Obamacare rules.... Now, my plan covers about everything. Never had a procedure for either my wife or myself turned down. Wellness benefits are without a deductible. It covers mental health, drugs, maternity, anything I can think of. The new plan would have a deductible $500 higher than the one I now have and a lot more if I go "out-of-network" inside the rest of the Blue Cross national network. And, wait all you people telling me rate shock does not exist, [the] far more restricted plan costs 66% more than our current monthly premium. Mr. Rate Shock got rate shocked -- and benefit shocked to boot." (The Health Care Blog)  


The Truth About Those Obamacare Coverage Letters
"[The ACA] bars certain common practices of insurance companies that most people find unacceptable at best, outrageous at worst.... The major problem has not been venality by insurers -- although there has been some of that -- but lousy incentives that drove normal human beings to engage in socially deplorable practices. Obamacare is changing the system. With the requirement that people carry approved coverage, anticipated profits on some customers will offset anticipated losses on others." (Henry J. Aaron in the New York Daily News, via The Brookings Institution)  


It's Too Late to Delay Obamacare
"Anyone who is calling for the system to be put on pause at this point is calling for the millions of people being moved out of existing private-market plans to have fewer options for new coverage, instead of more, and for them to be denied opportunities to find subsidies for plans. And anyone calling for a significant delay in imposing the individual mandate is putting at risk the affordability of the entire private individual-insurance market as it's been shaped to meet the law's requirements over the last three years[.]" (The Atlantic)  


Will You Be Able to Keep Your Plan? The Economics Behind the Obama Administration's Latest Problem
"It seems that the architects of the ACA have let concerns about one economic theory (cream skimming) dominate another (moral hazard). And while plans that do not offer generous coverage of a wide range of medical services may enjoy some favorable selection, some enrollees may not value this coverage because of personal preferences independent of their medical needs." (The Health Care Blog)  


Obamacare's Middle-Class Losers and Why They Matter
"[T]he individual market's 'mandate-regulate-subsidize' setup isn't creating a universal benefit ... or a means-tested benefit paid for through progressive taxation: Rather, it's creating a bifurcated system in which protections for the lower middle class and the sick are funded in part through what amounts to a flat tax that falls most heavily on people making just slightly higher incomes.... [T]he potential problem with Obamacare's regulation-driven 'rate shock' isn't that it doesn't let everyone keep their pre-existing plans. It's that it cancels plans, and raises rates, for people who were doing their part to keep all of our costs low." (Russ Douthat, via the New York Times)  

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]

November and December Filing and Notice Deadlines for Qualified Retirement and Health and Welfare Plans
"The filing and notice deadline table [in this article] provides key 2013 filing and notice deadlines common to calendar year plans for the next two months....[T]he deadlines will be different if your plan year is not the calendar year.... [T]he table does not include all applicable filing and notice deadlines, just the most common ones." (King & Spalding)  

CEO Pay Ratio Disclosure: Now is the Time for Comments on the SEC's Proposed Rules
"Employers who want to minimize the burden of the final rules -- or to delay them -- need to voice their concerns in November because the SEC is facing concerted pressure to retreat from the flexibility that employers would have under the current proposal." (Paul Hastings LLP)  

Executive Compensation and Governance: Where We've Been and Where We're Heading
"[B]oards and management will increasingly need to look beyond compliance to a broader array of perspectives and insights, informed by global data, up-to-the-minute market intelligence, in-depth research and cross-disciplinary critical thinking. As a new generation enters the board room, a different value set will infuse the governance agenda with a broader view of human capital that goes far beyond the top five or 10 executives[.]" (Towers Watson)  

Sutardja v. The United States: The Federal Claims Court Applies Code Section 409A to Discontinued Stock Options
"It is interesting that the IRS and the court identified the vesting date, as opposed to the grant date, as the date the legally binding right to the stock option compensation arose for purposes of 409A. Based on the final 409A Treasury Regulations, [the authors] suspect that the IRS today (as well as most practitioners) would argue that the legally binding right to stock options arises on the date the options are granted (even if the options are not vested at grant)." (King & Spalding)  

How to Make Smart Benefits Choices for 2014
"Learn to live with high deductibles.... Split up your family coverage.... Use a flexible spending account.... Be cautious about add-ons.... Take the time to collect extras." (Reuters)  

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