Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

January 5, 2016

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Employee Benefits Jobs

401(k) Plan Administrator
Southern Pension Services
in FL

Retirement Plan Account Administrator
Stalker and Associates. Inc.
in PA

Retirement Plan Consultant
Consulting TPA with national scope
in ANY STATE

Retirement Services Deputy Director
ACCG
in GA

Client Services Specialist
ACCG
in GA

Relationship Manager - MidWest Territory
John Hancock
in ANY STATE, IL, ND, SD

Actuarial Analyst
John Hancock Retirement Plan Services
in MA

Retirement Plan Administrator
Hawkins Retirement
in UT

401(k) Plan Administrator
Equity Trust Company
in OH

Senior Auditor
Novak Birks, P.C.
in KS, MO

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Webcasts and Conferences

42nd Annual TIPS Mid-Winter Symposium on Insurance and Employee Benefits
January 14, 2016 in FL
(ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits [JCEB])

ACA 1094/1095 Reporting Details
January 28, 2016 WEBCAST
(Frenkel Benefits, LLC)

ABA Tax Section 2016 Midyear Meeting
January 28, 2016 in CA
(ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits [JCEB])

Private Exchanges: What You Need To Know (Part 1)
February 4, 2016 WEBCAST
(International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [IFEBP])

Private Exchanges: Making the Right Choices in An Increasingly Complex Market (Part 2)
February 11, 2016 WEBCAST
(International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [IFEBP])

View All Webcasts and Conferences


Discussions


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[Official Guidance]

Text of HHS Final Regs: HIPAA Privacy Rule and the National Instant Criminal Background Check System
56 pages. "[HHS] is issuing this final rule to modify the [HIPAA] Privacy Rule to expressly permit certain HIPAA covered entities to disclose to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) the identities of individuals who are subject to a Federal 'mental health prohibitor' that disqualifies them from shipping, transporting, possessing, or receiving a firearm.... Under this final rule, only covered entities with lawful authority to make the adjudications or commitment decisions that make individuals subject to the Federal mental health prohibitor, or that serve as repositories of information for NICS reporting purposes, are permitted to disclose the information needed for these purposes. The disclosure is restricted to limited demographic and certain other information needed for NICS purposes. The rule specifically prohibits the disclosure of diagnostic or clinical information, from medical records or other sources, and any mental health information beyond the indication that the individual is subject to the Federal mental health prohibitor." (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS])  


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[Guidance Overview]

IRS Notice 2015-87 Provides Various ACA Guidance Regarding Employer Health Coverage
"Increase in percentage of affordability safe harbors ... Employer mandate penalties increase ... Flex contributions only help make premiums affordable for the employer mandate if they qualify as 'health flex contributions' ... Cash in lieu does not help make premiums affordable for the employer mandate ... Employer contributions to [HRAs] may reduce the employee's required contribution for affordability for the employer mandate ... HRA credits cannot be used to purchase individual market coverage ... HRAs covering spouses and dependents must be integrated with other group health plans also covering spouses and dependents ... COBRA beneficiaries can carry over unused health FSA amounts to the extent non-COBRA beneficiaries can." (Liebert Cassidy Whitmore)  

Prepare to Avoid or Delay the ACA Excise Tax (PDF)
"This article looks at the origin of the excise tax -- which is also known as the 'Cadillac tax' -- that is slated to take effect in less than three years, and also at how the tax is expected to function. Long-term effects on public employers are considered, and recommendations for what organizations could do to avoid or delay the tax's financial penalties without reducing the quality or value of their health care plans are presented." (Segal Consulting)  

OCR Ends 2015 with Announcement of Additional HIPAA Settlements
"[One] investigation involved a breach of 599 individuals' protected health information (PHI) when an unencrypted laptop was stolen from a workstation.... The significant failures within [a second] compliance program included a lack of administrative, physical, and technical safeguards to protect PHI, a failure to conduct an adequate risk analysis of all applications using ePHI, and impermissible use or disclosure of PHI to outside vendors and within mailings. [A third] investigation involved a breach of approximately 90,000 individuals' ePHI after an employee fell prey to a phishing email and opened an attachment containing malware.... Although the three settlements involved different types of a breach, a common theme ... is that the covered entity failed to perform a comprehensive risk analysis." (Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP)  

More Employers Offer Plans That Provide Lump Sums for Critical Illnesses
"Forty-five percent of employers with 500 or more workers offered the plans last year, up from 34 percent in 2009.... Nine out of 10 critical illness policies are sold through the workplace ... These plans provide an average $15,000 payout to workers diagnosed with one of the conditions covered under the policy. Plans sold on the individual market pay $31,000 on average ... but applicants generally have to go through medical underwriting to qualify. Employer plans usually don't require that." (Kaiser Health News)  

The Burden of Medical Debt
"Overall, about a quarter (26 percent) of U.S. adults ages 18-64 say they or someone in their household had problems paying or an inability to pay medical bills in the past 12 months.... Roughly one in five of those with health insurance through an employer (19 percent), Medicaid (18 percent), or purchased on their own (22 percent) also report problems paying medical bills. In fact, overall among all people with household medical bill problems, more than six in ten (62 percent) say the person who incurred the bills was covered by health insurance, while a third (34 percent) say that person was uninsured." (Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation)  

Could State Waivers Undo the ACA Employer Mandate?
"While the ACA itself still permits a state to apply for a State Innovation Waiver requesting the employer mandate rule or other cumbersome coverage requirements be waived, recent guidance makes it clear those requests will be hard to win." (Employee Benefit News)  

Bill Gutting Obamacare Would Save Half-Trillion Over a Decade, CBO Finds
"A GOP-led effort to repeal the biggest parts of ObamaCare would cost about $42 billion less than previously expected, saving more than a half-trillion dollars over a decade, the congressional budget scorekeeper said ... The CBO had previously said the bill would reduce deficits by $474 billion, but the estimates have been reduced in light of the recently enacted governing spending bill." (The Hill)  

Easing the Student Loan Debt Burden: Points for Employers to Consider
"Although [a recent] survey showed that just 3 percent of employers offer to help employees pay down their student loan debt, a growing number of employers have announced they will be offering this benefit in the future, and more are thinking about providing it.... The most important thing to keep in mind about student loan repayment benefits is that they don't receive preferential tax treatment. In other words, any amount paid to employees will be subject to income and payroll taxes." (Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM])  

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

Are Your Retirement Vesting Provisions Motivating the Wrong Behaviors?
"As more executives near retirement age, many banks are realizing their equity vesting provisions may be motivating unintended behaviors. Do your bank's retirement provisions encourage executives to: Provide advance notice of retirement to facilitate planned succession? Assist in their transition? Remain engaged and motivated through the last day on the job? Remain interested in the bank's success following retirement? Unfortunately, many retirement provisions don't consider these important objectives and in some cases motivate the opposite behaviors." (Meridian Compensation Partners, LLC)  

President Obama Approves Consolidated Appropriations Act with Key Employee Benefits Provisions
"In addition to the Cadillac Plan Tax delay and the Section 9010 Fee suspension, the Consolidated Appropriations Act included a host of other benefits-related changes ... including: [1] Permanent parity between employer-sponsored mass transit and parking transportation fringe benefits; [2] Permanent allowance of tax-free distributions from [IRAs] for charitable purposes; [3] A safe harbor for de minimis errors on information returns, payee statements and withholding; [4] Relief for rollovers from retirement plans into SIMPLE retirement accounts; and [5] Clarification of certain tax-related church plan provisions." (Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP)  

Press Releases

ECFC Hires Martin Trussell as Executive Director
ECFC [Employers Council on Flexible Compensation]

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BenefitsLink Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9595. Copyright 2016 BenefitsLink.com, Inc. All materials contained in this newsletter are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of BenefitsLink.com, Inc., or in the case of third party materials, the owner of that content. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.

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