Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

October 21, 2016

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Employee Benefits Jobs

Assistant Pension Processing Manager
Service Employees International Union
in DC

Cash Balance Plan Administrator or Actuary
Cash Balance Actuaries, LLC
in MN, Telecommute

Senior Legal Counsel / Privacy Officer
GEHA, Inc.
in MO

Executive Director
National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans
in DC

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Webcasts and Conferences

Engaging Employees through Benefits Communication
RECORDED
International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [IFEBP]

Compensation & Benefits - Employee Stock Purchase Plans: The Introductory Course
November 9, 2016 WEBCAST
Winstead PC

Wellness Communications: A Case Study
November 10, 2016 WEBCAST
International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [IFEBP]

The Power of Data - Strengthen & Focus Your Strategies
November 16, 2016 WEBCAST
University Conference Services

Where Do We Go from Here? Employee Benefits in 2017
December 13, 2016 in MA
New England Employee Benefits Council

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[Official Guidance]

Text of DOL ACA FAQ 33: Premium Reduction Arrangements for Student Health Plan Coverage (PDF)
"Will the Departments' enforcement relief to colleges and universities for certain health care premium reduction arrangements offered in connection with student health plans be extended? Yes.... [P]ending further guidance, the Departments consider it appropriate to further extend the enforcement relief provided in the February 5, 2016 guidance and will not assert that a premium reduction arrangement offered by an institution of higher education fails to satisfy PHS Act section 2711 or 2713 if the arrangement is offered in connection with student health coverage (insured or self-insured)."
Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL]

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New York's New Parental Leave Law: What You Need to Know

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October 26 webinar provides an overview of current laws governing parental leave and then turns to an overview of the new New York law, which is effective January 1, 2018.


[Guidance Overview]

Update on ACA Reporting Duties
"ACA reporting deadlines for applicable large employers arrive early in 2017 and affected employers won't enjoy the lengthy extensions that the IRS made available earlier this year, for 2015 reporting. This brief PowerPoint presentation summarizes some changes in the final 2016 Forms 1094-C and 1095-C, from last year's versions, and includes some helpful hints for accurate and timely reporting."
E is for ERISA

Wellness Rules for Employers Offering Multiple Health Plans
"[W]hen wellness program participation does not require enrollment in a particular option, the maximum incentive is determined by the lowest-cost option, even if that is not the option in which the employee is actually enrolled. This interpretation, the EEOC explains, promotes consistency within the wellness program by making the incentive limit the same for all employees.... [T]he EEOC acknowledges that this approach differs from the HIPAA/ACA rule, but asserts that the end result balances a desire for consistency between the statutes with the need to ensure that incentives are 'not so high as to become coercive.' "
Corporate Synergies

IRS Letter Affirms Notice Obligation of Qualified Beneficiary Seeking Disability Extension
"A plan that does not establish and communicate reasonable notice procedures faces an indefinite notice period and risks being bound by oral or informal notices from covered employees and qualified beneficiaries, even if notice is given to individuals within the employer's or insurer's organization who do not ordinarily handle COBRA matters for the plan."
Thomson Reuters / EBIA

Justice Department Seeks Dismissal of Moda, BlueCross BlueShield Risk Corridor Lawsuits
"The Department of Justice has filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Moda Healthcare that claims it is owed more than $191 million in the risk corridors program. The DOJ has filed a similar motion to dismiss the claim of BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina ... [T]he DOJ is arguing no deadline was established for HHS to pay risk corridors payments."
Healthcare Finance News

[Advert.]

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Access to Quality, Affordable Health Care: Progress and Promise of the Affordable Care Act and Other Administration Efforts
"Eight years ago, candidate Obama promised that he would make quality, affordable health care not a privilege, but a right.... High and rising health care costs placed serious burdens on our businesses, workers and economy ... Thanks in part to the ACA's focus on reducing costs and inefficiencies, health care prices have risen at the slowest rate in 50 years since the law passed, which will benefit all of us for years to come. For example, as a result of low premium growth in employer-sponsored coverage, the average premium for employer-sponsored family coverage in 2016 was nearly $3,600 lower than if premium growth since 2010 had matched the average premium growth rate recorded over the decade preceding the ACA."
Office of the Press Secretary, The White House

Obama Says the ACA Works But Has Affordability 'Growing Pains'
"The president said rising premiums and diminished competition in ACA insurance exchanges in some states are especially problematic for people who do not qualify for federal subsidies that the law provides. He proposed that his successor in the White House and the next Congress provide larger tax credits to encourage young adults to buy coverage through the marketplaces and raise the income thresholds to make the subsidies available to more middle-class families."
The Washington Post; subscription may be required

Obamacare Rates to Skyrocket 50-75 Percent in Arizona
"Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona will sell marketplace plans in every county but Maricopa, hiking rates up to 51 percent while Centene Corp. will sell 'Ambetter' plans in every county in the state with rate increases of up to 74.5 percent ... Seven out of ten Arizonans reportedly get subsidized coverage."
Breitbart

[Opinion]

CMS Acting Administrator Says Insurers Didn't Charge Enough
"When the nation is upset about the very high increases in the insurance premiums for plans offered on the insurance exchanges, CMS acting administrator Andy Slavitt says that the insurers should have started with higher premiums, and the annual premium increases should have been greater. Slavitt says that nobody could have known what it would cost to insure sick people, and, by implication, certainly not even the insurers."
Physicians for a National Health Program [PNHP]

[Opinion]

What Holds Back Consumer-Driven Health Plans?
"[An] average $5,569 of premium for a PPO plan is deducted from a worker's pay, while $13,433 is contributed directly by the employer. For a High-Deductible Health Plan, the shares are $4,289 versus $12,488. So, if an employer switches from a PPO to a HDHP, the worker saves $1,280, or 23 percent of the premium deducted from his pay. However the employer's share of premium drops $945, just seven percent."
National Center for Policy Analysis Health Policy Blog

Benefits in General

How Will the Election Impact Employee Benefits?
"In health care, the top issues employers support are: [1] More health care provider price transparency (96%); [2] Tax-favored status of employer-provided health coverage for employers (87%); [3] Small business health plans ... (85%) ... For other benefits-related topics, the top issues employers support are: [1] Tax-favored status of employer-provided retirement savings for workers (91%); [2] Tax-favored status of employer-provided retirement savings for employers (88%); [3] Tax exclusions for child-care expenses (75%)."
International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [IFEBP]

Executive Compensation and Nonqualified Plans

[Guidance Overview]

Nasdaq Clarifies Its Position on Stock Plan Amendments to Allow Greater Than Minimum Tax Withholding
"[T]his year's amendment of the accounting standards for stock based compensation -- ASU 2016-09 -- allows for equity plans to withhold a participant's shares of taxes related it his or her award up to the maximum individual tax rate in the applicable jurisdiction, rather than the just the minimum statutory withholding amount, without triggering liability accounting treatment.... Nasdaq updated its FAQs, which now indicate that an amendment to increase the ability for a plan to go from withholding at a minimum tax rate to a maximum tax rate would not be considered a material amendment."
Winston & Strawn LLP

Senate Considering Tax Change for Options and RSUs in Pre-IPO Companies
"HR 5719 seeks to give employees in privately held companies extra time to pay taxes on the income they recognize at exercise. Instead of paying taxes at the exercise of nonqualified options or at the vesting of stock-settled RSUs, employees would be allowed to elect to defer the resulting income, and thus the taxes on that income, for up to seven years."
myStockOptions.com

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David Rhett Baker, J.D., Editor and Publisher  davebaker@benefitslink.com
Holly Horton, Business Manager  hollyhorton@benefitslink.com

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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