Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

July 27, 2017 logo logo
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Webcasts and Conferences

New Era Menu Design - How Evolving Behavioral Insights are Improving Fiduciary Decision-Making
July 27, 2017 WEBCAST
Manning & Napier, Inc.

Affordable Care Act Workshop
August 9, 2017 WEBCAST
Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor

Choosing a Retirement Solution for Your Small Business Workshop
August 9, 2017 WEBCAST
Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor

All About Leave: From FMLA Requests to Benefits Plans and ADA Obstacles in Between
August 18, 2017 in AL
Ogletree Deakins

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[Official Guidance]

Issuer User Manual for the Health Insurance Oversight System Plan Finder (PDF)
55 pages. "Plan Finder is the specific module within [the Health Insurance Oversight System (HIOS)] responsible for collecting issuer general identification information, product information, quarterly application data for each product and requesting component IDs for products. There are three available mechanisms for the issuers to submit their data ... These technical instructions explain the special features and other technical aspects related to the use of each submission mechanism." [Version 04.00.00, dated April 2017; published online July 27, 2017]
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [CMS], U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS]


Online Learning Course: COBRA

Sponsored by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [IFEBP]

Even with ACA coverage easier for individuals to obtain, group health plans must continue to offer COBRA coverage. This course explains technicalities of COBRA, including who is entitled and how to administer. Code BL2017 for 15% discount, through July 31.

HIPAA 'Wall of Shame' Gets Update from OCR
"The tool, commonly referred to as the 'Wall of Shame,' is a publically available listing of reported breaches of unsecured protected health information ('PHI') affecting 500 or more individuals.... [It] now includes enhanced functionality, an archive with all older breaches and how they were resolved, improved navigation to additional breach information, and consumer tips."
von Briesen & Roper, s.c.

HHS May Let States Decide Essential Health Benefits
"Changes in regulations governing the [ACA]'s essential health benefits are an area where [HHS] has legal latitude, and it may use it whether or not the ACA is changed substantially by Congress ... Under an HHS regulation issued in 2013, states can designate benchmark plans on which the EHBs are based, and most states designed the largest small group plans in their states.... HHS could change the rules governing which plans could be used as benchmarks[.]"
Bloomberg BNA

Senate Health Care Vote: Here's Where They Left Off and What's Next
"Senate Republicans have been trying to push through a repeal by using special budget rules that limit debate to 20 hours. That time is expected to be exhausted on Thursday.... Republicans seem increasingly likely to try to pass a slimmed-down bill that would repeal only a small number of the existing health law's provisions. By passing a so-called 'skinny' repeal bill, Senate Republicans would keep the repeal effort alive long enough to try to negotiate a broader compromise bill with the House of Representatives."
The New York Times; subscription may be required

Data on Service Workers Offered Medical Benefits in March 2017
"Sixty-seven percent of private industry workers had access to employer-provided medical care benefits in March 2017. Having access means employers offered the benefit, regardless of whether employees chose to participate. Forty-nine percent of private industry workers participated in an employer-provided medical care plan in March 2017. That results in a take-up rate -- the percentage of workers with access to a plan who participate in the plan -- of 72 percent."
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics [BLS]

2016 Health Insurance Enrollment: Private Coverage Declined, Medicaid Growth Slowed (PDF)
"During 2016, individual-market enrollment decreased by 583,000 individuals and employer-group coverage decreased by 4,000 individuals for a net decrease in private-market coverage of 587,000 persons. For the employer-group coverage market, enrollment in fully insured plans decreased by 1.049 million individuals; enrollment in self-insured plans increased by 1.045 million individuals. The net effect was a decrease of 4,000 in the number of individuals with employer-sponsored coverage in 2016."
The Heritage Foundation

Hospitals Exploring Stricter Rules Around Health Benefits
"A growing number of hospitals are enforcing stricter rules around their health benefits as they cope with increasing health care costs and an evolving health care landscape... [A recent survey] of more than 196 hospitals across 86 participating health systems in the Eastern region of the U.S., found that the average annual health care expense per employee was $15,541, compared to $11,102 in 2010. As costs continue to increase, so are hospitals' appetites for requiring more from their employees in managing their own health care and plan choices[.]"
Aon Hewitt

'Sky-High' Pay for CEOs of Health Care Firms Raises Questions
"Based on corporate financial filings with the [SEC], [one reporter] did research on 113 heads of 70 of the largest U.S. health care companies in the last seven years. Cumulatively, he says, these CEOs have earned $9.8 billion since the ACA was first enacted."
National Public Radio


Republicans Have a Chance to Eliminate the Individual Mandate. They Should Take It.
"Without a mandate, insurers would have to do what businesses have to do in every other sector of the economy: design products that you voluntarily want to buy because they represent a good value for you. Under Obamacare, they don't have to."
Avik Roy, in The Washington Post; subscription may be required


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Benefits in General

Supreme Court Church Plan Ruling May Bring Wider Interpretation in the Future
"This ruling significantly weakens the retirement security of participants in benefits plans managed by religiously affiliated health-care organizations.... However, the ruling does have a perversely beneficial effect for the same group of employees. Insured health, disability and life programs administered by the same organizations that have been exempted from ERISA as church plans will regain the protection of state laws that protect consumers, including the right to sue for damages and penalties for bad faith claim handling."
DeBofsky, Sherman & Casciari, PC

Cost of Providing Employee Benefits Has Risen 24% Since 2001
"The total cost of employer-provided benefits -- health care, retirement and postretirement medical -- rose from 14.8 percent of pay to 18.3 percent of pay, a jump of 24 percent. Health care costs for active employees more than doubled, rising from 5.7 percent to 11.5 percent of pay. Retirement benefit costs, which include defined benefit (DB), defined contribution (DC) and postretirement medical plans (PRM), declined by 25 percent between 2001 and 2015, from 9.1 percent to 6.8 percent of pay."
Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM]

Executive Compensation
and Nonqualified Plans

Compensation for Outside Corporate Directors Stabilizing
"Total pay for outside directors at the nation's largest corporations increased by a modest 2% in 2016, driven by increases in both cash and stock compensation ... [Of] all pay elements in a director's total package, the annual cash retainer for board service experienced the largest increase, jumping 6% in 2016."
Willis Towers Watson


Goodbye to the Rules on Incentive Compensation Risk for Financial Institutions?
"This is a godsend not just for financial institutions, but for the rest of corporate America. The onerous and prescriptive proposed rules issued in April 2016 would have wreaked havoc on the affected institutions by substantially increasing their compliance and compensation costs and reducing their ability to compete for talent in the marketplace."
Winston & Strawn LLP

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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