Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

May 10, 2017

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Webcasts and Conferences

Innovating Benefits Communication: Connecting with your Modern Workforce
May 25, 2017 WEBCAST
Worldwide Employee Benefits Network [WEB] - Cleveland Chapter

2nd Annual National Employee Well-Being Conference & Exhibition
July 25, 2017 in VA
World Congress

Aligning Executive Plans with Traditional Employee Plans
August 3, 2017 WEBCAST
RSM US LLP

Economy’s Impact on Retirement Plans
November 2, 2017 WEBCAST
RSM US LLP

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[Official Guidance]

Text of GASB Implementation Guidance No. 2017-2: Financial Reporting for Postemployment Benefit Plans Other Than Pension Plans
118 pages. "The objective of this Implementation Guide is to provide guidance that clarifies, explains, or elaborates on the requirements of Statement No. 74, Financial Reporting for Postemployment Benefit Plans Other Than Pension Plans, as amended.... The requirements of this Implementation Guide apply to the financial statements of all state and local governments."
Governmental Accounting Standards Board [GASB]

[Advert.]

ftwilliam.com -- Form 5500: Everything You Need to Know Webinar

Sponsored by Wolters Kluwer

Learn about the 2016 Form 5500 changes including new questions, IRS compliance questions and administrative penalty updates. Register here for this FREE webinar and earn 1 hour CE credit. Date: Thurs. June 1, 2017 Time: 12 pm (CT)


[Guidance Overview]

COBRA and Second Qualifying Events
"If the initial qualifying event that triggers an individual's COBRA rights is terminating employment or reducing hours of employment, subsequent qualifying events may result in an extension of the maximum COBRA coverage period for certain qualified beneficiaries.... Note that a covered employee is not a qualified beneficiary with respect to any 36-month qualifying event. Therefore, the expanded period that applies in connection with a second qualifying event will not apply to a covered employee but only to the spouse or a dependent child of a covered employee."
Willis Towers Watson

ERISA Benefits and a Claimant's Bankruptcy: When Judicial Estoppel Requires Dismissal of Lawsuits Seeking Long Term Disability Benefits
"The key is to determine when the 'potential cause of action' accrued. And a recent case says those claims 'accrue' when the claimant receives the initial benefit denial letter." [Byrd v. Wellpoint Flexible Benefit Plan and Anthem Life Ins. Co., No. 17-008 (E.D. Mo. May 2, 2017)]
Lane Powell PC

Enrollment in Health Plan with Tiered Provider Network Decreased Medical Spending
"An analysis of tiered network plans in Massachusetts found that they were associated with a 5 percent decrease in spending -- $43.36 less per member per quarter compared with per-member spending in similar plans not offering tiered networks."
The Commonwealth Fund

All-Encompassing Strategy Is Key to Building Effective Employee Health Care Programs
"Employers say their top three priority changes for managing costs of health care programs for 2017 are: [1] increasing employee point-of-care costs ... [2] modifying vendor strategies ... and [3] adding new provisions to prescription drug plans ... Actions employers will take to improve the employee experience of their health care programs include: [1] Implement a high-tech enrollment process with decision support.... [2] Offer greater choice of health plan options and types of benefits.... [3] Improve navigation of health care providers."
Wolters Kluwer Law & Business

[Advert.]

Online Learning Course: COBRA

Sponsored by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [IFEBP]

Even though the ACA has made health care coverage easier for individuals to obtain, group insurance plans must continue to offer COBRA coverage. This course will explain the technicalities of COBRA, including who is entitled and how it must be administered.


Trends in Telehealth
"This video looks at the following: [1] How telehealth has been utilized to improve access to quality care; [2] Reimbursement and licensure considerations for providers that use telehealth; [3] The challenges that employers face when implementing telehealth programs; [4] Legal and regulatory changes that could improve the provision of telehealth."
Epstein Becker Green

The ACA Repeal Tracker
"Here is a rundown of the main elements of the [ACA], which ones would be wiped out and which could survive under the House-passed bill, and what the surviving elements could turn into if the bill becomes law."
Drew Altman, Kaiser Family Foundation, via Axios

AHCA Fact Sheet: Pre-Existing Conditions (PDF)
"Under our plan: [1] Insurance companies are prohibited from denying or not renewing coverage due to a pre-existing condition.... [2] Insurance companies are banned from rescinding coverage based on a pre-existing condition.... [3] Insurance companies are banned from excluding benefits based on a pre-existing condition.... [4] Insurance companies are prevented from raising premiums on individuals with pre-existing conditions who maintain continuous coverage."
Energy and Commerce Committee, U.S. House of Representatives

AHCA Fact Sheet: The Patient and State Stability Fund (PDF)
"The $138 billion fund will help repair state markets damaged by Obamacare. States can use the funds to cut out-of-pocket costs ... or to promote access to preventive services ... States could use these resources to promote participation in private health insurance or to increase the number of options available through the market. Even more, they have the option to arrange partnerships with health care providers to support their efforts to provide care."
Energy and Commerce Committee, U.S. House of Representatives

[Advert.]

Managing Benefit Options for Part-Time, Seasonal and Hourly Employees

Sponsored by Lorman and BenefitsLink

May 11 webinar. Learn about the unique range of planning opportunities available to you in providing a range of welfare and retirement benefits to your part-time, seasonal and hourly employees. Discount for BenefitsLink readers.


Rising Health Care Benefit Costs Show No Sign of Abating Globally
"[M]edical insurers globally are projecting the cost of health care benefits to rise 7.8% this year, an increase from 7.3% in 2016.... Latin America projects the largest increases, driven by very high rates of inflation in some countries. The Middle East and Africa region is also projecting large increases (9.8%). Europe continues to show the lowest level of increase. U.S. insurers project a 7.5% increase this year, slightly less than they experienced in 2016."
Willis Towers Watson

Drug Maker Sanofi Says It Will Tie Price Increases to Health Spending
"The company says it's adopting a three-pronged approach that includes setting launch prices for its new drugs worldwide by measuring 'value' -- meaning, among other things, how well they work for patients. In the United States, Sanofi will also disclose annual increases in its list prices, before and after the discounts given to health insurers."
The Boston Globe

From Hotspot to Health Hub: How Communication and Data Can Help Solve the Growing Health Divide
"Just as law enforcement uses data to analyze and map out crime 'hotspots,' the health care community can do the same to hone in on the heaviest users of the health care system in communities across the country -- and that could help improve health outcomes and decrease spending."
Health Affairs

The Paid Family Leave Train: Next Stop, New York -- Final Destination, All States?
"On January 1, 2018, New York will join California, New Jersey and Rhode Island as the fourth state to provide paid family leave. This benefit will be incorporated under the state's statutory disability policy. Momentum is building throughout the country, and this may soon be law for all U.S. citizens."
Willis Towers Watson

[Opinion]

Paid Family Leave in the United States: Time for a New National Policy (PDF)
18 pages. "Positive outcomes from paid family leave are emerging from programs in California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. Yet, policy choices must be made to refine and implement a national program of paid family leave. These choices include who should be covered, how high should benefit amounts be, how long should they be paid, how should benefits be funded and administered, and should job protections be expanded? [The authors] review evidence from current state programs to help policymakers as they consider plans for a national paid leave policy."
Urban Institute

[Opinion]

The Health Insurance Tax: Raising Costs for Families, Seniors, Taxpayers, and States (PDF)
"The health insurance tax hits nearly everyone, increasing the cost of health coverage for individuals, small businesses, and beneficiaries in public programs. Recognizing the tax's impact on consumers' health care costs, Congress acted to suspend the tax for one year, 2017. To ensure continued access to affordable health insurance coverage, it is important for Congress to take additional action to repeal the tax in 2018 and beyond."
America's Health Insurance Plans [AHIP]

Executive Compensation
and Nonqualified Plans

[Guidance Overview]

To Defer or Not to Defer? Same-Year Deferral Options under Section 409A
"[If] anticipated tax-reform efforts result in lowering individual tax rates, individuals may wish to defer 2017 income into later years.... [D]eferral elections with respect to calendar year compensation ... are generally required to be made by December 31 of the calendar year that precedes the year in which the services for such compensation are first performed. However, under certain circumstances, it is permissible under Section 409A to make an initial deferral election after the calendar year has commenced."
Morgan Lewis

2017 Proxy Analysis: A New Normal Meets a New Reality
"Executive pay practices settled in to a new normal in 2016, characterized by modest pay increases, continued emphasis on performance-oriented compensation, and annual and long-term incentive (LTI) plan design features and metrics consistent with those of recent years.... Overall, CEO compensation levels increased modestly, as base salary and target bonus increased 2% and 3%, respectively, consistent with the rate of increases in 2015.... Target long-term incentive values ... increased 4% in 2016, compared to 9% in 2015."
Willis Towers Watson

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

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