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December 6, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise
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Senior DB Calculation Developer
Transamerica Retirement Solutions
in MA

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Third Party Administrators, Inc.
in NH

National Business Group on Health
in DC

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Webcasts and Conferences

1099-R: An Ongoing Challenge 2013
December 19, 2013 WEBCAST
(SunGard Relius)

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  LinkedIn   Twitter   Facebook Hand-picked links to the web's best news articles,
official guidance, jobs, webcasts and more.

Private Exchanges and Plan Sponsors: The Headlines, Facts, Opportunities, and Potholes (PDF)
"[A private] exchange's value should be analyzed separately from the cost shifting to employees that often happens with this approach. The private exchange should provide plan options that are available at lower cost than comparable plan options obtained directly from insurance carriers. It is critical in the financial analysis of private exchanges to understand how the exchange sponsors are paid, particularly with respect to commissions. The selection of an exchange provider should include an analysis of the quality and network access of insurers, the ease of utilization by employees, the mechanics of the flow of employer subsidy, and the value provided by the exchange." (Milliman)  


WEB's mission is to further the development of benefits professionals

Sponsored by WEB - Worldwide Employee Benefits Network

We are committed to helping define the role of the benefits professional in the 21st century, and as changing market forces reshape the profession, WEB will help its members meet the challenges ahead.

[Guidance Overview]

New Carryover Option for Health Flexible Spending Arrangements (PDF)
"[E]mployers who wish to add a carryover option to their Health FSAs (as well as those who alternatively offer a grace period feature) may want to consider providing a limited-purpose or post-deductible Health FSA with respect to the plan year to which the carryover is made (or period covered by the applicable grace period) in order to allow those individuals who wish to make HSA contributions in such plan year (or applicable grace period) to be able to do so. As the impact of the new $500 carryover option on HSA eligibility was not expressly addressed in the IRS guidance, it may be expected that the IRS will directly address this impact in future guidance." (Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP)  

The 9.5% Conundrum: Discrimination in Required Employee Health Plan Contributions
"When considering what constitutes 'affordable' coverage under PPACA, some employers have ... said 'well, I will just charge everybody 9.5% of their pay.' And on its face, that seems to be what the rule permits. But as with other components of PPACA, Congress may have overlooked that our old friend ERISA already has a little something to say about what employees can be charged as a contribution." (Fox Rothschild LLP)  

Drug-Cost Surprises Lurk Inside New Health Plans
"Many people with chronic illnesses may find that gold or platinum plans are more cost-effective in the long run than the cheapest-seeming bronze plans, patient advocates say.... Putting the costly drugs on high tiers with hefty copays and imposing other restrictions isn't unique to the Affordable Care Act. But experts say such practices are more prevalent in exchange plans as insurers try to keep premiums down." (The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required)  

Students, Educators, and School Leaders Fear Obamacare Consequences
"One higher education leader testified the law's punitive mandates could force his institution to increase tuition by as much as 20 percent. A public school superintendent stated the law's requirements will pile more than $4.5 million on the local board of education, potentially costing his district 58 teaching positions. Similar reports about the health care law's devastating impact continue to surface from school districts and universities nationwide[.]" (Committee on Education and the Workforce, U.S. House of Representatives)  


Voluntary Benefits Option: Adding Benefits Without Increasing Costs

Sponsored by Lorman and BenefitsLink

New plan designs can improve employer operational efficiencies. This December 12 webinar will discuss what products and offerings will have the highest perceived value by employees. Registration discount for BenefitsLink readers.

'SHOP' Small Business Exchange Pared Back Further
"Eligible small businesses in states with a federally run SHOP can still take advantage of the ACA's small business tax credit -- which in tax years beginning in 2014 could be worth up to 50 percent of employer-paid premium costs -- by: [1] Enrolling their employees in coverage through an agent, a broker or an insurer that offers a certified SHOP plan and has agreed to conduct enrollment according to HHS standards. [2] Alternatively, employers may fill out the application form themselves or call a special SHOP-exchange call center." (Society for Human Resource Management)  

CMS SHOP Update, December 2, 2013 (PDF)
17 presentation slides describe the direct-to-issuer enrollment process. (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)  

What Happens If My Income Changes After I Receive An Insurance Subsidy?
"If the amount you received in tax credits is higher than it should have been based on your annual income, you'll have to pay back the difference. But under the law your liability is limited if your income is less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level. Someone ... with income between 300 and 400 percent of poverty ($34,470 to $45,960 in 2013) would be liable to repay no more than $1,250." (Kaiser Health News)  

Insurers Face Three Distinct Challenges in Exchanges
"Confronting 'an actuarial "blind-spot" as it relates to estimating the underlying cost structure of new members and setting rates for the upcoming 2014 open enrollment season.' [2] 'Identifying, stratifying and managing the risk of individual members as they enroll through the exchanges.' [3] Developing ways to 'identify and address the medical needs of their members in a proactive and cost-effective manner.' The chief obstacle for health insurance carriers is essentially a lack of insight into who's enrolling in their HIX plans." (Insurance Networking News)  

More than Eighty Members of Congress Send Bipartisan Letter Opposing Additional Cuts to Medicare Advantage
"The letter ... raises concerns that recent cuts to the program 'have jeopardized the stability of Medicare Advantage' and highlights the fact that the Medicare Advantage program faces cuts of $25.4 billion in 2014 alone. 'These cuts are already resulting in fewer benefits and plan options, higher premiums and co-pays, and more limited provider networks,' the letter states. 'The outlook for the MA program looks worse in 2015 and beyond as the phase-in of the ACA's funding cuts continues and the Quality Bonus Demonstration Program ends[.]'" (America's Health Insurance Plans [AHIP])  

Text of CBO Report on Health-Related Options for Reducing the Deficit: 2014 to 2023
"Most of the 16 options in this report would either decrease federal spending on health programs or increase revenues (or equivalently, reduce tax expenditures) as a result of changes in tax provisions related to health care. Some options would result in a reallocation of health care spending -- from the federal government to businesses, households, or state governments, for example -- and most would give parties other than the federal government stronger incentives to control costs while exposing them to more financial risk. Eleven of the options are similar in scope to those in CBO's previous volumes of budget options.... The other five options ... address broad approaches to changing federal health care policy, all of which would offer lawmakers a variety of alternative ways to alter current law." (Congressional Budget Office)  


Is Obamacare Really Responsible for the Recent Slowdown in Health Care Costs?
"Is Obamacare even partly responsible for the slowdown in health care costs? That is silly. First, Obamacare is not a health care reform law; it is a health insurance reform law. No one on either side of the debate has ever argued anything different. Does the law have some limited cost containment features in it? Yes. But these are either pilot projects or are years from being fully implemented." (Bob Laszewski's Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review)  


Explaining the ACA to the Public: What We Have Here Is a Failure to Communicate
"What other completely predictable 'surprises' await us as the ACA careens toward its full enactment? What other headlines will come rolling out as the reforms unfold? ... Narrow networks will exclude desired physicians, hospitals.... Providers will see a lot of bad debt.... Many will fail to sign up." (HealthLeaders InterStudy)  

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Official Guidance]

Text of Advance Copies of 2013 Form 5500 Series
Forms include: Form 5500 Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan with Instructions; Form 5500-SF Annual Return/Report of Small Employee Benefit Plan with Instructions; Schedule A -- Insurance Information; Schedule C -- Service Provider Information; Schedule D -- DFE/Participating Plan Information; Schedule G -- Financial Transaction Schedules; Schedule H -- Financial Information; Schedule I -- Financial Information -- Small Plan; Schedule MB -- Multiemployer Defined Benefit Plan and Certain Money Purchase Plan Actuarial Information; Schedule R -- Retirement Plan Information; and Schedule SB -- Single-Employer Defined Benefit Plan Actuarial Information. (U.S. Department of Labor, Internal Revenue Service, and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation)  

DOL Releases Advance Copies of 2013 Form 5500 Annual Report (PDF)
"The [DOL, IRS and PBGC] today released advance informational copies of the 2013 Form 5500 annual return/report and related instructions. Modifications to the Form 5500 and Form 5500-SF and their schedules and instructions for plan year 2013 [include] [1] Form 5500-DOL Form M-1 Compliance Information. The Department of Labor published earlier this year final rules under the Affordable Care Act to protect workers and employers whose health benefits are provided through Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements (MEWAs). [T]he Form 5500 includes a new section 'Form M-1 Compliance Information,' which is being added as an attachment to the Form 5500 for the 2013 plan year. Also, all welfare plans required to file the Form M-1, 'Report for Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements (MEWAs) and Certain Entities Claiming Exception (ECEs),' must now file the Form 5500 regardless of plan size or type of funding (including small unfunded or insured welfare plans).... [2] Schedule SB. The Schedule SB instructions have been updated to reflect the provisions of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act ('MAP 21')." (U.S. Department of Labor, Internal Revenue Service, and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation)  

NASDAQ Proposes Less Stringent Compensation Committee Independence Requirements
"Under the proposed amendment, the prohibition on the receipt of compensatory fees would be eliminated from the rule. Nasdaq proposes instead that in affirmatively determining the independence of any director who will serve on the compensation committee, a company's board must consider the source of compensation of the director, including any consulting, advisory or other compensatory fee paid by the company to the director.... The proposed rule amendment does not eliminate the requirement that members of the compensation committee be 'Independent Directors.'" (Schiff Hardin LLP)  

Employer with Discretion to Reduce or Eliminate Bonuses Prior to Payment Not Entitled to Deduction in Year Bonuses Accrued, Rather Than in Year Paid
"The IRS reasoned that the discretion to reduce or eliminate bonus amounts at any time prior to payment prevents the 'fact of liability' and the 'amount of liability' from being determined until the bonuses are actually paid. The IRS memorandum noted that if a bonus 'pool' is establish by the end of the year but the employer retains discretion with regard to the allocation of the pool among eligible employees, such an arrangement would satisfy the all events test even though the plan provides for such discretion." [IRS Field Attorney Advice Memorandum 20134301F] (Haynes and Boone, LLP)  

Clarification on NASDAQ Compensation Committee Certification
"NASDAQ expects to release the final [certification] form in early January, which will be changed somewhat from the preview ... Listed companies will not file a paper certification with NASDAQ -- but rather will certify electronically through NASDAQ's 'Listing Center' website." (Winston & Strawn LLP)  


CEO-to-Worker Pay Ratios Are Material to Investors
"The SEC has received over 100,000 comments that are overwhelmingly in support of this disclosure provision.... Many of these investors' letters express concern that existing CEO pay practices are flawed.... High levels of CEO pay relative to other employees can reduce company performance.... Employee productivity, morale, and loyalty suffer when workers see that the CEO is taking more while those same workers do more for less. In contrast, a reasonable pay ratio sends a positive message to the workforce that the contributions of all employees are valued." (The Conference Board)  

Press Releases

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