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November 4, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Internal Sales Consultant
The Newport Group
in NC

Retirement Plan Consultant
The Standard
in MD

Daily Valuation Associate
Retirement Planners
in VA

Benefits Consultant, Small Group
Northwestern Benefit Corporation of Georgia
in GA

Retirement Specialist
Nationwide Insurance
in MN

ERISA Legal Counsel Director
Charles Schwab
in TX

Defined Contribution Consultant
The Benefit Practice
in CT, FL

Defined Contribution Plan Administrator
in PA

Retirement Plan Sales Officer
Heartland Financial USA
in AZ, CO, KS, MN

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Webcasts and Conferences

New Use-or-Lose Rule for Health FSAs: Timing and Administration of Permitted Carryovers
November 11, 2013 WEBCAST
(Thomson Reuters / EBIA)

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

IRS Issues Long-Awaited Rollover Guidance for FSAs
November 13, 2013 WEBCAST
(Employers Council on Flexible Compensation (ECFC))

Seizing Pension Risk Transfer Opportunities in 2014
November 20, 2013 WEBCAST

Voluntary Insurance Products in the Workplace: Compliance Issues and Changing Legal Requirements
November 21, 2013 WEBCAST
(Thomson Reuters / EBIA)

Washington Update
December 3, 2013 in FL
(ASPPA Benefits Council (ABC) of North Florida)

Pension De-Risking for Employee Benefit Sponsors
December 10, 2013 WEBCAST

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]

Modification of 'Use It or Lose It' Rule for Health Flexible Spending Arrangements
"The impact of the new carryover rule on limited-purpose health FSAs and HRAs (limited to reimbursement for dental, vision and post-deductible expenses) was not addressed in the guidance. Under prior IRS guidance, individuals covered by limited-purpose health FSAs and HRAs are eligible to make HSA contributions. Thus, if it is permissible for an employer that sponsors a limited-purpose health FSA and/or HRA to adopt a carryover feature, presumably participants who have limited-purpose health FSAs and HRAs with such features should be eligible to make HSA contributions while covered under such arrangements." (McDermott Will & Emery)  


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[Guidance Overview]

Carryover for Health FSA Funds (PDF)
"The change does not affect an employee's ability to elect up to $2,500 (indexed) of salary reductions for a given plan year. Any allowed carryover would be on top of the current year's election. The carryover balance can be up to $500 (an employer can elect less), and is determined at the end of an employer's run off period, typically 60 or 90 days after the end of the plan year." (Kushner & Company)  

[Guidance Overview]

IRS Loosens 'Use-It-Or-Lose-It' Rule (PDF)
"Offering a carryover will also require employee communications that explain how the carryover works. To give employees the best opportunity to plan for their expenses, these communications should be provided as soon as possible after the decision to allow the carryover has been made." (Buck Consultants)  

[Guidance Overview]

Final HHS Regs Address Exchange Program Integrity, Reinsurance Contributions, and Risk Adjustment Programs
"Although the bulk of these regulations primarily affect insurers and Exchange operators, their expansive scope includes some items of interest for plan sponsors and their advisors. Of particular interest are the rules relating to reinsurance contributions, although most self-insured plans are administered by a TPA, so the future exemption may have rather narrow application." (Thomson Reuters / EBIA)  

[Guidance Overview]

Health Insurance Marketplace Registration Process for Agents and Brokers
53 webinar slides. Excerpt: "Webinar objectives: [1] Present the registration process for Agents and Brokers, including Web-brokers, wishing to assist consumers in the Federally-facilitated Marketplaces; [2] Describe the pathways for assisting consumers with eligibility determinations and enrollment in Qualified Health Plans (QHP); [3] Provide resources for technical assistance and support for Agents and Brokers in the FFMs. The FFM includes the Individual and the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplaces. This registration process also applies to Agents and Brokers operating in State Partnership Marketplaces." (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)  


10th Annual American Health Care Congress - Dec. 2-3 - Anaheim, CA

Sponsored by World Congress

Senior health care executives from hospitals, health systems, health plans, and medical groups gather to address meaningful change in our system - policy, business strategy, and care delivery transformation.

For Consumers Whose Health Premiums Will Go Up Under New Law, Sticker Shock Leads to Anger
"If the poor, sick and uninsured are the winners under the Affordable Care Act, the losers appear to include some relatively healthy middle-income small-business owners, consultants, lawyers and other self-employed workers who buy their own insurance. Many make too much to qualify for new federal subsidies provided by the law but not enough to absorb the rising costs without hardship. Some are too old to go without insurance because they have children or have minor health issues, but they are too young for Medicare." (Ezra Klein in The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  

Healthcare.gov Meeting Notes: 'Paper Applications Allow People to Feel Like They Are Moving Forward'
"Notes taken at the 10/11/13 meeting state, 'The same portal is used to determine eligibility no matter how the application is submitted (paper, online) ... The paper applications allow people to feel like they are moving forward in the process and provides another option; at the end of the day, we are all stuck in the same queue.' ... However, by 10/21/13, according to the notes, '[W]e are to instruct Navigators to use paper applications rather than go through the call center.'" (Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, U.S. House of Representatives)  

Mounting Exchange Problems Generate Bipartisan Calls for ACA Amendments Potentially Affecting Employers
"[S]everal bipartisan bills have been introduced in Congress that could significantly impact employers next year should the rollout continue to flounder and Congress be forced to pass something in response.... Should the ACA rollout continue to have problems through December and January, other bills could be put into play." (HR Policy Association)  

While Healthcare.gov Struggles, a Different Story Plays Out for Employers on the Private Exchanges
"Quietly and in a relatively drama-free way, the private health insurance exchanges are busily taking over the world of insurance and, in [the author's] opinion, portend a radical set of changes in how our health insurance system operates.... Being out of the benefits administration business means less overhead cost, less drama as employees come to you when they want something covered, less lawyers to keep up with HR regulation.... But most importantly, transitioning to the private exchange means employers have the ability to fix their annual health benefit costs at a known and predictable amount that they control." (The Health Care Blog)  

Thirty-One Things We Learned in Healthcare.gov's First 31 Days
Includes a "Finger-Pointing Flowchart" and some useful points in an entertaining format. Excerpt: "The key date is no longer Oct. 1. It's Nov. 30. This is the third night of Hannukah, but, more relevant here, the day that the administration expects the Web site to be up and running. If it's not, health law supporters say, it will be difficult for some people to sign up by Dec. 15, the last day to get coverage beginning January." (Sarah Kliff in The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  

Under ACA, Millions Eligible for Free Policies
"Three independent estimates by Wall Street analysts and a consulting firm say up to seven million people could qualify for the plans, but federal officials and insurers are reluctant to push them too hard because they are concerned about encouraging people to sign up for something that might ultimately not fit their needs. The bulk of these plans are so-called bronze policies, the least expensive available. They require people to pay the most in out-of-pocket costs, for doctor visits and other benefits like hospital stays." (The New York Times; subscription may be required)  

Seventeen Percent of Americans Who Are Potentially Eligible for Coverage Have Visited Health Insurance Marketplaces; Sixty Percent Are Aware of Them
"One of five (21%) adults who visited the health insurance marketplaces said they enrolled in a health plan. Those who did not enroll said they were not sure they could afford a plan (48%), were still deciding on a plan (46%), and/or had technical difficulties with the website (37%)." (The Commonwealth Fund)  

What Is the Case for Paid Maternity Leave?
"[T]he median number of weeks of paid leave to mothers among OECD countries was 14 in 1980, but had risen to 42 by 2011. [The authors] assess the case for paid maternity leave, focusing on parents' responses to a series of policy reforms in Norway which expanded paid leave from 18 to 35 weeks (without changing the length of job protection).... [F]indings suggest the generous extensions to paid leave were costly, had no measurable effect on outcomes and regressive redistribution properties." (National Bureau of Economic Research [NBER])  

D.C. Appeals Court Says ACA Birth-Control Mandate 'Trammels' the First Amendment
"Judge Brown wrote the court has 'no basis for concluding a secular organization can exercise religion.' Still, she said the [two brothers who are owners of the companies sponsoring an ACA-regulated health plan] have a right to challenge the mandate as a burden on their own beliefs. The Justice Department had argued that the free exercise of religion is an individual right, and that the wall between the Gilardis and their companies prevented them from bringing a legal challenge -- an interpretation Judge Brown described as 'perplexing and troubling.'" (The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required)  

Without Commercial License, Not-for-Profit Insurer Gets Yanked from California State Exchange
"Covered California, the state's public health insurance exchange, has removed one [of] its 12 health plans from the site, effectively barring consumers from selecting the insurer until further notice. Alameda Alliance for Health, a public not-for-profit health plan and HMO created by Alameda county to cover Medicaid beneficiaries and in-home support service workers, is not licensed by the state to sell commercial insurance. So Covered California officials have stopped it from selling plans until it gets approval." (Healthcare Payer News)  

Smokers Can Expect a Hefty Surcharge
"The state Department of Health said health care costs caused by smoking Floridians are about $6.3 billion a year, $1.2 billion of which is paid by Medicaid.... [A]bout 17 percent of Floridians are smokers, and 28,600 deaths a year in the state are caused by tobacco use.... Former smokers who use e-cigarettes may be subjected to the surcharge as well, but it will be up to insurers to define who is classified as a smoker[.]" (Florida TODAY)  

Helping Consumers Understand their Coverage Options
"[R]esources and responsibilities for consumer outreach, education, and enrollment assistance differ significantly between the state-based or state partnership marketplaces and the federally facilitated marketplaces.... These disparities may already be driving significant state-by-state variability in consumer awareness. A recent poll from Pew found that 59 percent of residents in states with state-based or state partnership marketplaces knew that a marketplace would be available in their state, compared with only 44 percent in states with a federally run marketplace." (The Commonwealth Fund)  

HSAs Help 'Super Savers' Save Even More (PDF)
"[E]mployees with HSAs truly do save more -- not less -- than their peers in their DC plans. This phenomenon has remained true across virtually all incomes and ages for the last three years.... These employees may have already been on the path to retirement readiness in their DC plan. Now with the advent of HSAs, they have become even more diligent savers -- in both savings vehicles." (Fidelity Investments)  

Financial Reporting by Health Insurers Under the ACA (PDF)
"There are several [ACA] provisions that may affect health insurance issuers' financial reporting, including the premium stabilization programs ... new taxes and fees, advance payments, and existing actuarial liabilities. These may have the following effects: [1] Increased level of uncertainty in financial statements. [2] Issues with year-to-year comparability of the balance sheet. [3] Issues with year-to-year comparability of the income statement. [4] Issues with issuer-to-issuer comparability." (American Academy of Actuaries)  

Letter from Ways and Means Committee Chairman to CMS Ordering Ongoing Reports of Exchange Enrollment Information (PDF)
"CMS is already providing enrollment information to [HHS] and the White House. If the updates are good enough for Secretary Sebelius and other Administration officials, the information is good enough for the Committee of jurisdiction. I request you produce the following: [1] All enrollment data to date by close of business [November 1, 2013]; and [2] Each day's enrollment data no later than 5:00 p.m. the following business day beginning immediately. A refusal to comply with these requests will be met with subpoenas to compel their production." (Chairman Dave Camp, Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives)  


If You Like Your Plan, Can You Keep Your Plan? -- An Obamacare Flowchart
"No speechwriter to President Obama needs to be reminded of how often the president made this promise.... So as a former speechwriter to the president ... it's no surprise that I've been asked often (and occasionally politely) about this promise and what keeping it, or failing to keep it, means for the larger enterprise of reforming our nation's health care system. Here's my answer, in chart form." (The Atlantic)  


The Selling of Obamacare
"It's as though two completely separate conversations have been going on. From day one, the health policy community has correctly seen the [ACA] as an attempt to completely change the health care system. This isn't even controversial. It's accepted by all as an undisputed fact. However, no one has ever said this to the American people.... So why has it taken so long for the mainstream media and the general public to wake up to what is going on[?]" (John Goodman's Health Policy Blog)  


Letting Everyone Keep Their Plan: Terrible Idea
"The exchanges are allowed to charge older people up to three times the premium they charge the young. But in the employer system, they're not allowed to charge older people any higher rate at all. The shift from healthy to sick in the employer insurance pool is massive.... People accept this transfer from the healthy to the sick because it is the only way to make medical care affordable to the sick. This is a simple mathematical truism." (New York Magazine)  


The Costs of Delaying the Individual Mandate
"Although the administration must continue to urgently repair the federally facilitated exchange website, a one-year delay of the mandate would undermine the success of state-based exchanges and harm millions of Americans, resulting in significantly more uninsured individuals and more costly premiums for consumers in plans both in and out of exchanges." (Center for American Progress)  


U.S. House Committee Investigates Role of Worker Centers in Obamacare Enrollment
"Right now navigators with strong ties to labor unions are collecting sensitive information with questionable safeguards. Congress has a responsibility to ensure individuals' privacy is protected and contact with an ObamaCare navigator doesn't lead to a phone call from union organizers." (Committee on Education and the Workforce, U.S. House of Representatives)  

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]

Year-End Checklist for Plan Sponsors of Retirement and Group Health Plans
"Over the next few months, employers and plan sponsors will probably focus most of their attention on the changes mandated by the [ACA], for health plans, and the effect of U.S. v. Windsor on both retirement and group health plans. With all the planning, there will hardly be time to keep up with all the normal plan maintenance issues. This article will help ease the transition by serving as a to-do list for plan sponsors in meeting its annual notice obligations and any additional actions that may be required or need to be assessed in the wake of ACA and/or the Windsor decision." (Troutman Sanders)  

[Guidance Overview]

California Reduces Section 409A Tax Penalty from 20% to 5%
"[T]his reduced CA 409A tax penalty is applicable for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2013, so the reduced rate applies retroactively to the beginning of 2013.... Federal Section 409A and the other provisions of CA 409A are unaffected by the new law, and employers continue to have the same obligation to report Federal Section 409A and CA 409A violations and withhold ordinary income recognized under such arrangements." (Goodwin Procter)  

Tell All Employees About DOMA Changes
"[T]here is a lot for employers to think about regarding DOMA, especially as more states ... legalize same-sex marriage. And it is important that as you communicate your response, you don't make the mistake of assuming you know which of your employees is affected. You really have no way of knowing who may or may not be involved in a same-sex relationship, or who is now legally married. You need to communicate to everyone." (Idaho Business Review)  

Press Releases

Nominations for the NCEO Board of Directors Now Open
National Center for Employee Ownership

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