Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

May 17, 2017 logo logo
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Webcasts and Conferences

Stockbrokers' Secrets: Retirement Planning With Stock Compensation
May 17, 2017 WEBCAST

Group Health Plan SPDs: Content and Distribution
May 18, 2017 WEBCAST
Thomson Reuters / EBIA

Understanding the New York Paid Family Leave Law
June 1, 2017 WEBCAST
Hodgson Russ

Top IRS and DOL Audit Issues for Retirement Plans
June 14, 2017 in TX
Worldwide Employee Benefits Network [WEB] - Houston Chapter

2017 Strategic Retirement Solutions: You've Saved your Nest Egg: Spend it Wisely!
June 15, 2017 in MA
New England Employee Benefits Council

Employee Benefit Issues in Mergers & Acquisitions
June 15, 2017 in OH
Worldwide Employee Benefits Network [WEB] - Cleveland Chapter Regional One Day Conference
June 20, 2017 in IL
Wolters Kluwer Regional One Day Conference
August 8, 2017 in PA
Wolters Kluwer

Strategic Communication in Total Rewards (T4): Make Sure Employees "Get It"
September 14, 2017 in MA
New England Employee Benefits Council

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[Official Guidance]

Text of CMS Health Insurance Exchange Guidance: Proxy Direct Enrollment Pathway for 2018 Individual Market Open Enrollment Period (PDF)
"CMS will no longer require the consumer-facing redirect with Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) for all individual market enrollment transactions for coverage offered through the Federally-facilitated Exchanges (FFEs) and State-Based Exchanges on the Federal Platform (SBE-FPs) that rely on for individual market eligibility and enrollment functions, and will permit [Direct Enrollment (DE)] entities to use a 'proxy direct enrollment' pathway, under which DE entities may collect consumer information on its website and input that information into This approach is intended to provide consumers with access to new and innovative shopping experiences for individual market coverage offered through the FFEs and SBE-FPs and further stabilize the risk pool by providing more ways for consumers to access coverage."
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [CMS], U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS]

[Advert.]'s Regional One-Day Conferences

Sponsored by Wolters Kluwer

We are offering two regional one-day conferences in 2017! Conferences will provide a mix of industry topics and product training/updates. Receive up to 7 CE credits, including 2 Ethics hours! Click here for information and to register.

2017 Milliman Medical Index
"In 2017, the cost of healthcare for a typical American family of four covered by an average employer-sponsored preferred provider organization (PPO) plan is $26,944, according to the Milliman Medical Index (MMI).... The MMI's annual rate of increase is 4.3%.... Prescription drug trends are lower, but still high.... Employees pay a bigger piece of the healthcare cost pie."

Lincoln National Ducks Political Consultant's ERISA Lawsuit
"Lincoln properly offset a former lawyer's disability benefits to account for money he received as a freelance political consultant, a federal judge ruled May 16. The lawyer argued that Lincoln wrongly offset his benefits before he reported this consulting income for tax purposes -- a practice he said affects beneficiaries across all Lincoln-issued disability policies. The judge rejected this claim because the lawyer hadn't first raised it through Lincoln's internal procedures." [Barber v. Lincoln Nat'l Life Ins. Co., No. 17-0034 (W.D. Ky. May 16, 2017]
Bloomberg BNA

Retiree Health Care Benefits for State Employees in Fiscal Year 2015 (PDF)
"In 2015, approximately 80 percent of state government units offered health insurance to retirees under age 65 and approximately 70 percent offered the benefit to those over age 65.... This report focuses on OPEB finances for states and state agencies, and all relevant data are sourced from state and statewide retirement system financial reports. A list of the agencies responsible for administering retiree healthcare plans reflected in this report is [included]."
National Association of State Retirement Administrators [NASRA]

Obamacare Insurer Oscar's New Strategy Helps to Narrow Loss
"The privately held health insurer, created to sell plans under the [ACA], lost $25.8 million across three states in the first three months of this year, compared with a loss of $48.5 million a year earlier ... Oscar says it's trying to reinvent medical insurance from the perspective of a technology company. That means using data to design insurance products and to help guide members to the right kinds of health care when they need it."


2017 Health Savings Accounts Facts

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Turn to the new 2017 Health Savings Accounts Facts to obtain vital HSA questions and answers right at your fingertips. Use code BENLINK for 10% discount.

Senate GOP Group Mulls Action on ACA Payments to Insurers
"Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said the group discussed a number of ideas, including supporting congressional action so insurers can still receive Obamacare payments next year that subsidize coverage for low-income beneficiaries. The Trump administration has refused to commit to making the payments beyond May. Without them, many insurers say they would be forced to exit the ACA exchanges in 2018."
Morning Consult

After Wannacry, Experts Worry Healthcare's Vulnerabilities Will Make the Next Ransomware Attack Even Worse
"As industries across the globe recover from the WannaCry ransomware attack that hit more than 300,000 machines in 150 countries, cybersecurity experts are concerned that the next attack will be even more vicious and damaging. And healthcare providers with legacy systems and subpar defenses will inevitably end up in the crosshairs."

Benefits in General

ERISA Advisory Council to Meet June 6-8
"[T]he 186th open meeting of the Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans (also known as the ERISA Advisory Council) will be held on June 6-8, 2017.... The Advisory Council will study the following topics: [1] Reducing the burden and increasing the effectiveness of mandated disclosures with respect to employment-based health benefit plans in the private sector, and [2] Mandated disclosure for retirement plans -- enhancing effectiveness for participants and sponsors."
Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL]

Widening Gap in U.S. Life Expectancy Based on Geographic Location
"[R]ecent gains in longevity aren't being enjoyed equally in all corners of the United States. In fact, depending on where you live in this great country, life expectancy can vary more than 20 years -- a surprisingly wide gap that has widened significantly in recent decades. Researchers attribute this disturbing gap to a variety of social and economic influences, as well as differences in modifiable behavioral and lifestyle factors, such as obesity, inactivity, and tobacco use."
National Institutes of Health

Testimony on the Costs of Federal Civilian Personnel: A Comparison With Private-Sector Employees (PDF)
"Average benefits were 52 percent higher for federal employees whose highest level of education was a bachelor's degree than for similar private-sector employees ... Average benefits were 93 percent higher for federal employees with no more than a high school education than for their private-sector counterparts. Among employees with a doctorate or professional degree, by contrast, average benefits were about the same in the two sectors. On average for workers at all levels of education, the cost of benefits was 47 percent higher for federal civilian employees than for private-sector employees with certain similar observable characteristics, CBO estimates."
Congressional Budget Office [CBO]

Ransomware: The Smart Person's Guide
"Because of the ease of deploying ransomware, criminal organizations are increasingly relying on such attacks to generate profits.... While home users have traditionally been the targets, healthcare and the public sector have been targeted with increasing frequency. Enterprises are more likely to have deep pockets from which to extract a ransom.... How do I protect myself from a ransomware attack?"

Last Week's Notable ERISA Decisions, from a Plaintiff's Perspective
Contains summaries of the facts and results in 25 recent ERISA-related court decisions, which are considered to be notable by this plaintiffs' law firm. The case descriptions are sorted by subject matter and jurisdiction, and include links to the court opinions.
Roberts Bartolic

Executive Compensation
and Nonqualified Plans

Practical Considerations Relating to Share Withholding for Taxes
"[A new FASB rule] permits cash settlement of a share-based award for tax withholding up to the maximum statutory tax rate in the applicable jurisdiction without causing adverse accounting treatment of the equity award. The rule generally became effective for calendar year companies on January 1, 2017. Many companies are now considering implementing increased share withholding for taxes and must consider their existing equity plan provisions and securities law, IRS, and payroll issues."
Morgan Lewis

Discussions on
the BenefitsLink Message Boards

Charging Employees to Participate in FSA
"An employer wants to pass along to the employees their monthly administration fee for administering an FSA. For example, $150 annually per plan and $4 monthly per employee. Can employees pay this fee on a pre-tax basis through a premium conversion plan? If so, does the amount count toward any maximum pre-tax limit?"
BenefitsLink Message Boards

Press Releases

PSCA Washington DC Public Policy Fly-in Scheduled for June 12
PSCA [Plan Sponsor Council of America]

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David Rhett Baker, J.D., Editor and Publisher
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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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