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

Webcasts and Conferences

Review of the Regulatory Year
December 3, 2013 in IN
(ASPPA Benefits Council Of Northern Indiana)

EBSA Strategic Enforcement Plan, Audit Issues & Fiduciary Overview
December 3, 2013 in OH
(ASPPA Benefits Council of Cleveland)

Annual Recap and Year End Planning
December 4, 2013 in MA
(ASPPA Benefits Council of New England)

2014 Proxy Season Preview
December 4, 2013 WEBCAST
(Towers Watson)

Legislative/Regulatory Update
December 4, 2013 in FL
(ASPPA Benefits Council of Central Florida)

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 CMS Procedural Guidance Regarding State Reporting for Plan or Policy Years Beginning in 2015 (PDF)
"To update a standard that was applied for plan or policy years beginning in 2014 (including a standard that applied by default) for subsequent plan or policy years, States should continue to use the same reporting form and follow the same reporting process outlined in the February 25, 2013 guidance. For plan or policy years beginning in 2015, States must submit this information to CMS not later than January 1, 2014." (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)  


Preliminary Agenda Details Announced

Sponsored by HRE's Health & Benefits Leadership Conference

25 Breakouts and 7 General Sessions including: Moving From Cost-Control to Value Creation; The Budget, Implementing ACA & Future Implications for Employee Benefits; Making Retirement Work and more! Register now for best rate!

[Guidance Overview]

'Use It or Lose It?' A Closer Look at the Recent IRS Guidance on Flexible Spending Accounts
"[C]ertain issues are left unaddressed by the Guidance, including how the carryover rule could affect an individual's eligibility to make contributions to a Health Savings Account (HSA), as well as the potential implications of replacing a planned grace period for 2013 with the FSA carryover rule. Employers should carefully consider these issues in deciding whether to adopt the carryover rule for the 2013 plan year (and for 2014 and beyond), or to wait until further guidance is issued." (Crowell Moring)  

[Guidance Overview]

IRS 2013 Tax Forum Presentation: Health Care-Related Tax Provisions That Affect Businesses (PDF)
21 presentation slides. Topics include: [1] Transition Relief for 2014 under Sections 6056, 6055 and 4980H; [2] Applicable Large Employer (ALE) Status; [3] Tax provisions for Applicable Large Employers (ALEs): Information Reporting for ALE (Section 6056), Employer Shared Responsibility Provisions (Section 4980H); [4] Tax provisions for Small Employers -- Small Business Health Care Tax Credit (Section 45R); and [5] Tax provisions for all employer that sponsor self-insured plans regardless of size: Reporting of Minimum Essential Coverage (Section 6055). (Internal Revenue Service)  

[Guidance Overview]

IRS 2013 Tax Forum Presentation: Health Care-Related Tax Provisions That Affect Individuals (PDF)
17 presentation slides. Topics include: [1] Educate clients on ACA tax provisions and how to obtain non-tax healthcare information; [2] Provide assistance on tax requirements; [3] Assist in preparation of tax returns; and [4] Section 7216 requirements apply. (Internal Revenue Service)  

[Guidance Overview]

Final Regs Clarify and Expand Portland (Oregon) Sick Leave Law Requirements
"Employees who perform work for an employer by physically working in Portland via telecommuting are covered for hours that they telecommute in Portland.... Employees who perform work outside Portland, even if the employer is Portland-based, are not covered for hours worked outside Portland.... [E]mployees begin accruing sick time when the law takes effect on January 1, 2014. Regardless of whether an employee accrues unpaid or paid sick time, the accrual rate under the ordinance is the same -- one hour for every 30 hours worked within the city.... Employers with six or more employees must provide paid leave. Employers with fewer than six must provide unpaid leave." (Littler)  


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!

Circuits Split on Whether 'Satisfactory Proof' Language Confers Discretion for Insurers
"In 2013, there appears to be a larger force at work that has caused three circuits to address the question whether a plan that requires proof to be satisfactory to the insurer confers discretion.... There still remains a circuit split, with the Sixth, Eighth and Tenth Circuits holding that proof satisfactory to the insurer will confer discretion. But now the First, Third, Fourth, Seventh and Ninth Circuits have clearly held that the language is insufficient." (ERISA Claim Defense Blog)  

What Employees Think About Your Benefits Communication (PDF)
"While the largest segment (29%) of employees said they preferred one-on-one interactions with their HR department, their employers most frequently use non-interactive, text-based formats such as email (62.5%), websites (53.5%), and direct mail (52.8%) to communicate benefits information.... [L]ess than one third (29.5%) actually understand that they're only able to change enrollment information during open enrollment or qualifying events.... When asked how important is it to include their spouses and partners when deciding which health plan to get, 71.5% say it's important or very important." (ALEX)  

Majority of Small Businesses Feel They Will Be Unable to Secure Comprehensive, Affordable Health Care in 2014
"[N]early 60% of [small and micro-business owners surveyed] believe there is a 'low' or 'very low' chance they'll be able to secure both affordable and comprehensive coverage in 2014.... Of the half of the respondents who visited HealthCare.gov, over 60% of them experienced technical issues and/or glitches with the website.... Over 30% of those who visited HealthCare.gov have now decided to explore options outside of the Exchange. Almost 17% of respondents indicated that they'd be forgoing health insurance in 2014 due to costs." (National Association for the Self-Employed)  

Small Group Health Insurance 'Cancellations' -- The Next Shoe to Drop But a More Complicated One
"Many employers are facing significant changes in order to comply with Obamacare and therefore price increases. One Maryland broker ... has 90 small group accounts ... his smallest increase was 15%, his largest was 69%, and most are in the 30%-40% range. (By comparison, Mercer just announced the average large employer health care cost increase for 2014 will be 5.2%, meaning small groups could have reasonably expected an increase under 10% without Obamacare.) ... [T]he simplistic, 'Small employers are better off dropping coverage and sending them to the exchange,' is just too simplistic. It's a lot more complicated than that." (Bob Laszewski's Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review)  

Insurers Restricting Choice of Doctors and Hospitals to Keep Costs Down
"As Americans have begun shopping for health plans on the insurance exchanges, they are discovering that insurers are restricting their choice of doctors and hospitals in order to keep costs low, and that many of the plans exclude top-rated hospitals.... The result, some argue, is a two-tiered system of health care: Many of the people who buy health plans on the exchanges have fewer hospitals and doctors to choose from than those with coverage through their employers. A number of the nation's top hospitals -- including the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, and children's hospitals in Seattle, Houston and St. Louis -- are cut out of most plans sold on the exchange." (The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  

HHS Plans to Spend Up to $7B to Find Ways to Reduce Costs Under Obamacare
"The solicitation for bids for this wide-ranging project appeared today on the Federal Business Opportunities website: The purpose is to develop a Research, Measurement, Assessment, Design, and Analysis (RMADA) IDIQ [Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity] to respond to expanded needs of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Health Care Reform Act (HCERA). The work awarded under the RMADA will involve the design, implementation and evaluation of a broad range of research and/or payment and service delivery models to test their potential for reducing expenditures for Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, and uninsured beneficiaries while maintaining or improving quality of care." (The Weekly Standard)  

State Decisions on Health Insurance Policy Extensions
Interactive map shows states' decisions regarding extending the coverage of current policies. A PDF version of the map is also available. (America's Health Insurance Plans [AHIP])  

Insurance Commissioners Confirm Each State Will Decide Whether to Allow Older Health Plans to Continue
"A group of state insurance commissioners emerged from a meeting with President Obama and other federal officials on Wednesday saying that state regulators will continue to decide on their own whether to go along with his recent proposal to let consumers keep older insurance plans for an extra year, even if the plans did not comply with regulations under the new health care law. In a conference call with reporters and in a statement issued after the meeting, they said ... they warned the president that his proposal would amount to 'different rules for different policies and might result in higher premiums for consumers without addressing underlying concern of gaps in coverage.'" (The New York Times; subscription may be required)  

Blue Cross Seeks Higher Rates for Revived Health Plans
"Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina formally asked state regulators Tuesday to resurrect health plans that were to be canceled because they don't meet minimum requirements under the [ACA]. The move would come at significant cost to consumers, however, as the insurer is seeking rate increases of 16 to 23 percent on the plans.... The company said the higher rates reflect new taxes and fees under the [ACA], as well as the price of care and amount of medical services used by customers in those plans." (WRAL.com)  

Healthcare Under Obamacare: What If You Move?
"About 130,000 Americans pick up and move somewhere else every single day, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates.... That mobility will play a role in your health coverage under Obamacare. Your health plan options -- and prices -- vary by geography." (Orange County Register)  

Federal Employees' Health Benefits Are Not Affected by Obamacare
"As beneficiaries peruse their choices during [the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP)] annual open season, it's very important for them to remember one thing: their health benefits are safe under Obamacare. [The Office of Personnel Management] has taken pains to reassure FEHBP participants that they can retain their health insurance and that the 2010 [ACA]'s insurance marketplace will not affect FEHBP.... FEHBP exceeds the minimum coverage required by the law, and federal employees and retirees can keep their FEHBP coverage if they are happy with it." (Government Executive)  

Obamacare Bailout Sought as Effort Planned to Bypass Site
"States and insurers are already working to bail out President Barack Obama's health-care overhaul, anticipating the system's online insurance exchanges may not be ready by a critical December deadline. All of the alternatives have drawbacks.... consumer groups are coming around to the idea that 'expediency says, "Let's get people something."' When that can happen remains unclear. While the administration says most of the technical fixes needed for direct enrollment have been made, an insurance industry spokesman said more work has to be done." (Bloomberg)  

House Ways and Means Committee Asks HHS Secretary Sebelius to Verify Accuracy of Subsidy Calculations (PDF)
"[T]he law requires you certify to Congress that a system is in place that can accurately verify eligibility before the tax credits are made available. We do not believe you can make that certification today. We also believe it is time to acknowledge that we really do not know if you will be able to do so before January 1.... If the tax credits and cost sharing subsidies are not available on January 1, the American people need to know immediately. Individuals and families are making decisions based on inaccurate information, and that needs to be corrected." (Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives)  

The U.S. Ranks 26th for Life Expectancy, Right Behind Slovenia
"[T]he United States' average lifespan has fallen one year behind the international average, lower than Canada and Germany, more akin to the Czech Republic and Poland.... [A new OECD report] shows the United States as a country that is spending tons and tons on health care--but getting way less than other countries out of that investment. It exposes a country that's really great at buying fancy medical technologies, but not so fantastic at using those medical technologies to extend life. It is, in short, the story of why our health care system is so screwed up." (Ezra Klein in The Washington Post; subscription may be required)  

Report of Council of Economic Advisers on Trends in Healthcare Cost Growth and the Role of the ACA (PDF)
29 pages. Excerpt: "Health care spending growth is the lowest on record.... Health care price inflation is at its lowest rate in 50 years.... The slow down in health care cost growth is more than just an artifact of the 2007-2009 recession: something has changed.... The ACA is contributing to the recent slow growth in health care prices and spending and is improving quality of care.... Accounting for 'spillovers' implies that the ACA's effect on health care price inflation may be much larger than previously understood.... In the short run, slower growth in health spending is a positive for employment.... Over the long run, slower growth in health spending translates directly into higher wages and living standard." (The White House Council of Economic Advisers)  

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

The Most Valued Employee Benefit Is ... (PDF)
"[T]he vast majority of workers say that their benefits package is very or extremely important in their decision to accept a job -- and those workers continue to rank health insurance as the first or second most important benefit provided by employers. Between 1999 and 2013, the percentage of workers ranking health insurance as the first- or second-most important benefit varied between 75 percent and 82 percent." (Employee Benefit Research Institute [EBRI])  

Opportunity to Provide ISS with Input on Your Peer Group
"[M]any companies believe that the peer group used by ISS could be improved -- and this is their one chance to attempt to do that. To be clear, ISS still will pick its own peer group. ISS will use a company's self-selected executive compensation benchmarking peers as a key input into the ISS peer group selection process. For companies that use multiple peer groups, ISS uses the company peer group used for benchmarking CEO pay decisions. Thus, companies should provide the peer group that most closely matches that description." (Winston & Strawn LLP)  

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