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December 19, 2013          Get Retirement News  |  Advertise
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Internal Retirement Plan Consultant
The Standard
in ANY STATE

Compliance Analyst
National Retirement Services, Inc.
in NC

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Webcasts and Conferences

Two New Half-day Specialty Topic Seminars Detroit and 16 Other Cities - January
January 16, 2014 in MI
(SunGard Relius)

Two New Half-day Specialty Topic Seminars Syracuse and 16 Other Cities - January
January 16, 2014 in NY
(SunGard Relius)

401(k) Plan Duties and Liability Update: What You Need to Know and Do
January 28, 2014 WEBCAST
(Lorman Education Services)

Ethics for Benefit Professionals
February 11, 2014 WEBCAST
(American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA))

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]

Group Health Plans: Year-End Action Items and Upcoming Changes
Extensive checklist covering 2013 tasks, upcoming 2014 changes, preparing for the ACA Shared Responsibility requirement in 2015, and documenting recent extensive plan changes. (Morgan Lewis)  


[Advert.]

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[Guidance Overview]

IRS Clarifies Same-Sex Marriage Issues for HSAs and Cafeteria Plans (Including FSAs) After Supreme Court's Windsor Decision
"Unfortunately, the IRS guidance has arrived so late in the 2013 cafeteria plan year that, as a practical matter, it will afford virtually no time for large employers to implement options with respect to the balance of the 2013 cafeteria plan year.... Employers that have made an effort to voluntarily communicate the tax law implications of the Windsor decision to employees should consider continuing those efforts with respect to IRS Notice 2014-1. Employers should consider reminding employees in same-sex marriages about the general maximum marital contribution rules for their dependent care FSAs and now for HSAs." (Towers Watson)  

[Guidance Overview]

Agency Guidance Strikes Major Blow to Individual Policy Premium Reimbursement and Stand-Alone Health Reimbursement Arrangements (PDF)
"Because the 2013 agency guidance does not specifically address its impact on the earlier FAQ guidance transition rule or its impact on HRAs that had previous waiver or class-exemption relief, its impact is unclear. Also, of specific interest to HRA sponsors who did not qualify for the FAQ transition rule, the waiver or class-exemption relief is the language that provides that the interim final regulation will be amended retroactively to September 13, 2013, to clarify that the Section 106(c)(2) FSA exemption is only applicable to FSAs offered through cafeteria plans. Exactly how the above concepts should be integrated is unclear, and would seem to leave a number of different applicability dates for existing HRA arrangements." (Alston & Bird, LLP)  

Federal District Court Enjoins Termination of Retiree Health Benefits by Moen, Inc. (PDF)
"The 2005 collective bargaining agreement unambiguously vests the healthcare benefits Moen's retirees presently enjoy .... If Moen wished to reserve the right to cancel benefits after the termination of the collective bargaining agreement, it knew how to do so.... The fact that the parties knew how to reserve the right to cancel benefits but did not reserve that right for retirees shows that they did not intend to give Moen the right to cancel or amend benefits for retirees.... Even if the language is ambiguous and the Court were to look to extrinsic evidence, the extrinsic evidence supports finding the benefits vested. The conduct of the parties over time shows that the parties believed the benefits to have been vested." [Gallo et al. v. Moen, Inc., No. 1:13-CV-02440 (N.D. Ohio Dec. 17, 2013)] (U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio)  

Most Employees Satisfied With Pay/Benefits Balance; Health Insurance Remains Key Job-Choice Factor (PDF)
"About one-third (35 percent) prefer to continue getting coverage the way they do today. Nearly one-half (45 percent) prefer to choose their insurance plan, having their employer pay the same amount it currently spends toward that insurance, and then paying the remaining amounts themselves. And one-fifth (21 percent) prefer their employer to give them the money and allow the workers to decide whether to purchase coverage at all, and how much to spend." (Employee Benefit Research Institute [EBRI])  


[Advert.]

23rd Annual National Health Benefits Conference & Expo - Jan. 28-29, FL

Sponsored by HBCE- Health Benefits Conference & Expo

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Health Insurers Voluntarily Extend Deadline for Premium Payment
"Health plans across the country are voluntarily giving individual market enrollees who select a plan by December 23 more time to pay their first month's premium. Consumers must still pay their first month's premium before coverage takes effect, but those who pay their premium by January 10 will now be able to have coverage retroactive to January 1." (America's Health Insurance Plans [AHIP])  

Health Care Reform: Marketplace Delay for Small Employers
"Whether a small employer buys insurance through a state-run SHOP or directly through a broker, agent or insurance company, the employer will be eligible for the 2014 tax credit.... Between the employer mandate delay and SHOP marketplace delay, some employers who do not currently offer health insurance may decide to delay adding coverage until 2015 when the SHOP marketplace opens for business. This means some employees may not gain access on January 1, 2014 to employer-provided health coverage as previously expected." (UNUM)  

Shedding Light on Private Health Insurance Exchanges: Misconceptions, Nuances and Little-Understood Attributes (PDF)
"Many of the organizations that administer private health insurance exchanges are the same organizations that HR professionals typically look to for advice about their health benefits plans. Because the lines between provider of health benefits and advisor to health benefits plan sponsors are blurred, employers must be diligent as they consider changing their benefits programs. This [article] presents an overview of the key considerations about private health insurance exchanges." (Sibson Consulting)  

Why It's So Tricky for the Self-Employed to Estimate Health Insurance Costs
"If you qualify for premium assistance credits based on projected income, the credits received will be reported on your tax return for the year you projected and reconciled with the amount you should have received based on that year's actual income. If you make more than you expected, and you're not eligible for the full amount of subsidy you received, you may have to repay some of that money. Repayments are capped at between $300 and $2,500, depending on how much your total [modified adjusted gross income (MAGI)] was for the year[.]" (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)  

First Analysis of Insurer Rate Increases Above 10% in New Health Plans Finds Most Driven by Medical Costs; ACA Not a Major Factor in 2013
"The average annual premium increases among carriers with increases of 10 percent or more were $648 in the individual market and $729 in the small-group market. Insurers on average attributed the entire amount of rate increases in the individual market to higher medical expenses. In the small-group market, insurers reported that medical costs accounted for 72 percent of requested rate increases. Rising prices were a larger driver of medical expense increases than enrollees' greater use of services. Insurers attributed more than half of the average medical expense increase to higher per unit costs for services in both the individual market (57%) and small-group market (58%). About a quarter (26%) of expected medical cost increases in the individual market and 31 percent in the small-group market were attributed to increased use of services." (The Commonwealth Fund)  

What's Behind Health Insurance Rate Increases? An Examination of What Insurers Reported to the Federal Government in 2012-2013
"Analyzing these filings for rates taking effect from mid-2012 through mid-2013, insurers attributed the great bulk -- three-quarters or more -- of these larger rate increases to routine factors such as trends in medical costs.... The ACA-related factor mentioned most often, but only in a third of the rate filings in this study, was the requirement to cover women's preventive and contraceptive services without patient cost-sharing. But, the insurers who point to this requirement or other ACA-related costs attributed only about 1 percentage point of their rate increases to the health reform law." (The Commonwealth Fund)  

Public Employer Annual Health Plan Costs Increase at Double the Rate of Private Sector in 2013
"[P]ublic employer cost per employee increased 22 percent from $7,001 in 2012 to $8,551 in 2013, while employer cost in the private sector increased only 15.8 percent from $5,226 in 2012 to $6,040 in 2013. The portion an employee pays decreased for both during that same time period, but by nearly 30 percent (or $1,025) for a public worker and only 15.7 percent for a private worker. Taxpayers, therefore, assumed an additional $1,681 or 24.28 percent of a public employee's health care cost." (United Benefit Advisors)  

Uninsured Skeptical of ACA
"Fifty-three percent of the uninsured disapprove of the law, [a new] poll found, compared with 51 percent of those who have health coverage. A third of the uninsured say the law will help them personally, but about the same number think it will hurt them, with cost a leading concern." (The New York Times; subscription may be required)  

ACA Can Survive Low Enrollment and Adverse Selection in the First Year (PDF)
"If enrollment grows throughout 2014 as technical problems are overcome and outreach efforts continue ... competitive pressures are likely to dissuade insurers from ratcheting up premiums. In a competitive market, insurers must set premiums for 2015 based on expected enrollment in 2015, not based on any losses that occurred in 2014. Simply put, insurers cannot recoup losses without achieving significant market share, and achieving market share requires that they price their products competitively for expected enrollees in the coming year." (Urban Institute)  

The Health Reform Monitoring Survey: Addressing Data Gaps to Provide Timely Insights Into the ACA (PDF)
"[M]ore than 60 percent of those targeted by the health insurance exchanges struggle with understanding key health insurance concepts. This raises concerns about some people's ability to evaluate trade-offs when choosing health insurance plans. Assisting people as they attempt to enroll in health coverage will require targeted education efforts and staff to support those with low health insurance literacy." (Health Affairs)  

[Opinion]

More on Deductibles
"People are not very good at saving for medical contingencies on their own. As a consequence, they may inappropriately forego needed care because of a cash flow problem. Enter the Health Savings Account.... The money the employer puts in the account is the employees' money. After a period of time they can withdraw it for other uses. Its only role is to insure that when people make choices between health care and other uses of money these choices are based on relative values, not on the constraints of cash flow." (John Goodman's Health Policy Blog)  

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

Benefits Strategy and Benchmarking Survey 2013 (PDF)
"Controlling benefits costs is by far the number one issue for [survey] participants, with over 80% ranking it within their top three challenges.... When it comes to benefits management, strategic planning was cited most often as a top priority.... Even with the recent delay in implementing the [ACA], most employers are not prepared for healthcare reform... Technology plays a large role in the benefits process.... Thirty-four percent of organizations reported that their benefits expense is between 11% and 20% of total compensation, while 30% said it was between 21% and 30% of total compensation." (Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc.)  

Supreme Court Upholds Enforceability of Plan Limitations Period
"Heimeshoff is the latest in a growing line of cases in which the Supreme Court has recognized the supremacy of the plan document over competing policy interests.... That the plan document is afforded near-sacrosanct status actually favors plan administrators, even if it leads to difficult results on occasion. Following this guiding principle, plan administrators can expressly enforce the reasonable plan terms as written, rather than attempt to make decisions based on policy or equitable considerations." [Heimeshoff v. Hartford Life and Accident Ins. Co., No. 12-729 (S.Ct. Dec. 16, 2013)] (Benefits Bryan Cave)  

Press Releases

Hawaii Contractor to Restore More Than $460,000 to Employee Profit-sharing Plan
Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), U.S. Department of Labor

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