Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

February 1, 2017 logo logo
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Employee Benefits Jobs

401k Administrator
Farmer & Betts
in CO, OR, WA

401(k) Compliance Consultant
DWC ERISA Consultants, LLC

NF Tech Operations Manager
in OH

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Webcasts and Conferences

Defined Contribution Plan Sponsor Roundtable
February 8, 2017 in MA
Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP

Individual Benefits: Employee Engagement Infrastructure Driving Education, Benefit Relevance, Re-enrollment Rates, and Employee Satisfaction
February 16, 2017 in AZ
Worldwide Employee Benefits Network [WEB] - Phoenix Chapter

Keeping Up with Changes to Employee Benefits Rules (Part 1)
February 23, 2017 WEBCAST
Frenkel Benefits, LLC

Hot Topics in Executive Compensation
February 23, 2017 in OH
Worldwide Employee Benefits Network [WEB] - Cleveland Chapter

2017 Total Rewards Conference & Exhibition
May 7, 2017 in DC

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[Guidance Overview]

ACA Information Returns (AIR) Working Group Meeting, January 31, 2017 (PDF)
64 presentation slides. Topics: [1] Lessons learned during filing season 2017 start-up; [2] Updated ACA employer Questions & Answers on IRS website; [3] Submitting prior year (TY2015) form data during filing season 2017.
Internal Revenue Service [IRS]


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[Guidance Overview]

Does Your Health Plan Comply with the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act? (PDF)
"As DOL and HHS step up efforts to enforce the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act [MHPAEA], now is a good time for plan sponsors to review their health plan design and make sure they are in compliance.... What Plans Are Subject to MHPAEA? ... What Does MHPAEA Require? ... What Are DOL and HHS Looking For? ... What Are the Courts Saying? ... Compliance Steps."
benefits magazine, a publication of the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [IFEBP]

Four Keys to a Solid Paid Parental Leave Policy
"Decide when it kicks in ... Watch for discrimination traps ... Consider other paid leave ... Use FMLA accordingly."
HR Benefits Alert

Third Circuit: Honest Belief Employee Was Abusing FMLA Leave Defeats Retaliation Claim
"Even assuming an employee made out a prima facie case of FMLA retaliation, his employer was properly granted summary judgment because the evidence showed that it fired him based on an honest belief that the employee, who was arrested for a DUI and had court dates coinciding with his intermittent FMLA dates, was misusing FMLA leave. The Third Circuit also affirmed summary judgment against the employee's FMLA interference claim because there was no evidence he was ever denied benefits to which he was entitled." [Capps v. Mondelez Global, LLC, No. 15-3839 (3d Cir. Jan. 30, 2017)]
Wolters Kluwer

Consumer-Driven Health Care: Can Your Employees Afford It?
"In 2016 ... employees who selected an HDHP made approximately $5,000 more on average in annual salary than those who selected a PPO. That gap has narrowed somewhat for 2017, but the trend still holds up -- especially for older employees. Among workers over the age of 36, HDHP subscribers are making up to 17 percent more than PPO subscribers."


Understanding the Math of Your Health Plan Renewal

Sponsored by Lorman and BenefitsLink

Feb. 27 webinar. Understand concepts and terminology in your health insurance renewal to identify inefficiencies and design and build successful strategies that can have both short and long term cost savings.

Smaller Self-Insured Employers Look Beyond the ACA
"Although stop-loss insurance coverage is commonly used by self-insured organizations, employers need to be careful when choosing a policy and to heed state requirements for this coverage.... [S]maller employers can address concerns about stop-loss coverage and risk management by forming or joining a stop-loss captive that collects premiums from, and pools the risk among, a group of like-minded employers."
Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM]

ACA Repeal Could Lead to More Complicated Regulations for Employers
"If the ACA's employer mandate is repealed, States and municipalities will quickly fill the void with new rules and regulations. This could be a compliance nightmare for an employer who operates in multiple locations. In a post-ACA repeal world, an employer operating in multiple locations may have to worry about thirty or more different State and local laws with employer mandate-like provisions."
Accord Systems, LLC

State Waivers: A Federalist Rx for Obamacare Ills (PDF)
"Section 1332 of the ACA provides for 'state innovation waivers' that allow states to waive many elements of the law, including the individual mandate and the law's subsidy structure. If a waiver is granted, a state receives essentially a block grant of funding that it otherwise would have received through the waived element(s).... 1332 waivers alone cannot replace the ACA, but in tandem with parallel waiver provisions in the Medicaid program, they can help usher in a replacement that will rebalance state and federal government power."
Manhattan Institute for Policy Research

ACA Path to Repeal: Revenue Provisions in the Crosshairs
"The budget reconciliation process will allow Congress to craft legislation that repeals or amends certain revenue provisions of the ACA. The details regarding Congressional repeal legislation will not be known until the respective committees report the legislation. This [article] highlights certain revenue provisions that impact large employer-sponsored plans that are subject to being included in the reconciliation legislation."
Eversheds Sutherland


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9th Annual Health Plan Marketing Summit. Convening marketing, strategy, and innovation professionals from across the health insurance industry to discuss trends in consumerism and market strategy.

GAO Testimony: Concentration, Plan Availability and Premiums, and Enrollee Experiences in Health Insurance Markets Since 2014
"In this testimony, we discuss our prior work that found: enrollment in health plans was concentrated among a small number of health insurance issuers; consumers in the individual market had access to more plans in 2015 than 2014, with varying premiums; and enrollees who obtained exchange coverage were generally satisfied with their plans, with affordability still a concern for some." [GAO-17-383T, Jan. 31, 2017, released Jan. 31, 2017]
U.S. Government Accountability Office [GAO]

How the ACA Has Improved Americans' Ability to Buy Individual Health Insurance Plans
"Among working-age adults who had shopped for plans in the individual market and ACA marketplaces over the prior three years, the percentage who reported it was very difficult to find affordable plans fell by nearly half from 2010, prior to the ACA reforms, to 2016.... [T]he number of adults who reported problems getting needed health care and filling prescriptions because of costs fell from a high of 80 million in 2012 to an estimated 63 million in 2016."
The Commonwealth Fund

Aetna CEO Mark Betolini on the Future of Obamacare
"Aetna, one of the five large public health insurers, said that it may totally pull out of the [ACA] exchanges because they do not know what the future of the law will be.... 'We have no intention of being in the market for 2018,' said [Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini]. 'Currently, where we stand, we'd have to have markets worked up ... prices worked up for April 2017 to apply, and there is no possible way that we'll be able to do that given the unclear nature [of where] that regulation is headed.' "
Business Insider


ERIC Statement to Senate HELP Committee Hearing on Stabilizing the Individual Health Insurance Market
"Congress has a duty to work toward solutions for the millions of Americans threatened by a collapse of the individual market, but those solutions must not jeopardize or shift costs to working families. Employers are the largest source of health coverage in the country, providing health insurance benefits to more than 178 million Americans. Employers add enormous value to the health care system -- working on behalf of their employees to improve health care quality, reining in health care costs, and developing and engaging in innovative delivery system reforms."
The ERISA Industry Committee [ERIC]

Press Releases

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BenefitsLink Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9595. Copyright 2017, 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, Inc., or in the case of third party materials, the owner of those materials. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notices from copies of the content.

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