Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

October 19, 2016

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[Guidance Overview]

Final Instructions Make It Impossible to Tell an Accurate Narrative on Each Form 1095-C
"When discussing line 16 code 2F, the Form W-2 affordability safe harbor code, the instructions state 'If an ALE Member uses this safe harbor for an employee, it must be used for all months of the calendar year for which the employee is offered health coverage (emphasis added).' ... [T]he calendar year language means there is no exception made for plans that do not operate on a calendar year. This seems like a clear oversight. Combined with the 'offered health coverage' language there are only a few line 16 codes that can be entered in the same calendar year with code 2F."
Accord Systems, LLC

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[Guidance Overview]

Employer Obligations Under the New Nondiscrimination Rules: ACA Section 1557 (PDF)
10 pages. "Although HHS is the only agency to issue regulations so far, the scope of Section 1557 is broader, and other federal agencies could potentially issue similar regulations for programs involving federal financial assistance within their jurisdiction in the future.... Is it possible for an employer who is not otherwise subject to Section 1557 to avoid liability if the group health plan that it sponsors and maintains receives HHS assistance and violates Section 1557? Technically it would appear that such an employer could avoid liability; however, the plan would be liable for Section 1557 violations, and in such a case, the plan sponsor would ultimately be responsible for ensuring that the plan complies."
Alston & Bird LLP

[Guidance Overview]

Cook County, Illinois, Becomes First in Midwest to Mandate Countywide Paid Sick Leave
"On October 5, 2016, the Cook County Board of Commissioners passed the Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance ... The Ordinance is nearly a carbon copy of Chicago's paid sick leave law, and is slated to take effect on July 1, 2017, allowing employees to accrue up to 40 hours of paid sick leave in a 12-month period."
Littler

Workers Like Their Healthcare Coverage but Dislike the Healthcare System and Worry About the Future (PDF)
12 pages. "When asked to rate the U.S. health care system overall, many workers describe it as poor (27 percent) or fair (33 percent) and only a small minority rate it as excellent (3 percent) or very good (12 percent).... One-half of those with health insurance coverage are extremely or very satisfied with their coverage, while only 12 percent are not satisfied with their current health plan.... One-half of all workers report having experienced a health care cost increase in the past year, down from 61 percent in 2013."
Employee Benefit Research Institute [EBRI]

Just Around the Corner: HIPAA Audits for Business Associates
"For business associates, desk audits will target breach notification and the security rule's risk analysis and risk management requirements. OCR intends for the desk audits to begin any time now and to conclude by the end of the year. Next year, OCR plans to conduct full audits of all the HIPAA requirements of a selected group a both business associates and covered entities."
Davis Wright Tremaine LLP

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Medical Care Prices Rose Less Than Non-Medical Prices in September
"The Consumer Price Index rose 0.3 percent in September. Remarkably, medical prices rose a smidgen less, at 0.2 percent. This is a big breather from August, when increases in medical prices were dramatic. Nevertheless, both prescription and non-prescription drugs increased prices by 0.8 percent."
National Center for Policy Analysis Health Policy Blog

Embracing a Culture of Mental Health
"Originally, [American Express] offered a telephone-only EAP that had a utilization rate in-line with the national average of approximately 4%. By adding onsite professionals for free, face-to-face counseling sessions in regional wellness centers in the United States, and rebranding the EAP as part of the 'Healthy Living' program, covering lifestyle, safety, and disease management, utilization more than doubled."
Partnership for Workplace Mental Health

Sallie Mae Delivers New Parental Leave Benefits
"The new parental leave benefit, which is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2016, will be available to more than 1,200 employees in the U.S.... It will cover parents of babies born by the biological mother or a surrogate, and parents of adopted children age five or younger. The primary caregiver -- usually the person who takes the primary responsibility of caring for the newborn or child -- will have 12 weeks of paid leave, while the secondary caregiver will enjoy four weeks of paid leave."
Bloomberg BNA

Survey of 2017 Premium Increases for the Individual Market in 14 States
"Consumers purchasing health coverage both on and off of the Obamacare exchanges will see their rates increase by an average of at least 10 percent, according to the insurer filings in 14 states and the District of Columbia.... Here's how rates in the District of Columbia and the 14 states -- Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, and Vermont -- will increase next year[.]"
The Daily Signal

Obamacare Enrollees Face a Rude Awakening in Two Weeks
"[O]verall, nearly a third of the counties in the U.S. will have only one insurer.... [In Illinois] the average increase for a Silver plan is 45%. The average for the cheaper Bronze is 44%. The biggest hike in the state is 84%, and the smallest is 20% ... In Nebraska, the average premium hikes for the two remaining insurers in the state are 41% and 55% ... A 25-year-old living in [California] who makes $18,000 a year will end up paying an average of $1,080 a year -- after subsidies -- for a Silver plan that comes with $3,000 in deductibles ... That means they'll have to spend roughly 20% of their income on premiums and medical bills before seeing a dime in benefits. For a 40-year-old who makes more than $47,500 -- and won't be eligible for any subsidies -- the cheapest Bronze plan will cost $2,412 a year, and come with $6,800 in deductibles."
Investor's Business Daily

Capping Enrollment to Save Minnesota's Individual Market
"The Minnesota Department of Commerce struck a deal with five health plans in the state's individual market to prevent a market collapse.... The agreement reached included caps on health plan enrollment and significant rate increases between 50-66.8 percent.... The aggregate cap of 153,700 represents two-thirds of the 250,000 in Minnesota's individual market."
Health Affairs

Executive Compensation and Nonqualified Plans

[Guidance Overview]

SEC Publishes FAQs on Pay Ratio Rule
"Some of the FAQs, or in SEC parlance CDIs (Compliance and Disclosure Interpretations), address the question of certain permissible matters if an issuer decides to identify the median employee using a consistently applied compensation measure (CACM) instead of annual total compensation ... The SEC also noted that Item 402(u) does not define or even address furloughed employees."
Dodd-Frank.com, a blog by Stinson Leonard Street

2016 Corporate Governance and Incentive Design Survey
"Combining the roles of CEO and Board Chair continues to be the slight majority practice, with 54% of companies choosing to combine these positions. More than one-half (57%) of the Meridian 250 disclose a mandatory retirement age in which a director may no longer stand for re-election."
Meridian Compensation Partners, LLC

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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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