Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

August 8, 2017

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Employee Benefits Jobs

Plan Administrator
Atlantic Pension Services Inc.
in PA, Telecommute

Investment Change Specialist
Aspire Financial Services LLC
in FL

Principal Pension and Retirement Analyst
University of California Office of the President
in CA

Associate Attorney
Trucker Huss APC
in CA

Client Executive
Transamerica
in TN

Retirement Plan Specialist
Transamerica
in FL

Senior Retirement Plan Administrator
Growing TPA
in CT, GA, IL, IN, KS, MA, MD, MI, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, TN, VA, WI

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Webcasts and Conferences

Repeal, Replace, Retreat or Revolt: What’s Next for the Affordable Care Act?
August 17, 2017 in GA
Worldwide Employee Benefits Network [WEB] - Atlanta Chapter

Affordable Care Act: Key Compliance Issues for Employers in 2017 and Beyond
August 21, 2017 WEBCAST
ComplianceOnline

LGBT Issues in the Workplace
August 23, 2017 in IL
Worldwide Employee Benefits Network [WEB] - Chicago Downtown Chapter

Understanding Retirement Plan Fees
August 29, 2017 WEBCAST
Multnomah Group

Future of Employee Benefits
September 13, 2017 WEBCAST
Conference of Consulting Actuaries

Half-Day Benefits Symposium
September 20, 2017 in WA
PSCA [Plan Sponsor Council of America]

Health Benefits Laws Compliance Assistance Seminar
September 20, 2017 in CA
Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor

Form 5500 Reporting Update
October 2, 2017 WEBCAST
Lorman Education Services

Certificate Series San Jose
October 9, 2017 in CA
International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [IFEBP]

2017 Executive Compensation Conference
November 7, 2017 in NY
The Conference Board

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[Guidance Overview]

Prepare for the New York Paid Family Leave Law
"Although the PFLL does not take effect until January 1, 2018 and will not be fully implemented until 2021, many employers are already taking steps to prepare.... he PFLL requires covered employers to provide employees with notice of their rights under the law.... Covered employers are required to maintain Paid Family Leave insurance, funded by employee payroll deductions. An employer should work with its disability insurance carrier to ensure that it has appropriate coverage.... [H]uman resource personnel must be able to identify situations that qualify for leave, charge that leave to the applicable leave entitlement(s) and provide the employee with appropriate notice."
Thompson Hine

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[Guidance Overview]

Paid Family Leave in Washington: What You Need to Know
"The law creates a paid family and medical leave program that offers employees 12 to 18-weeks of paid time off for birth, adoption or foster placement of a child or a serious health condition of any employee or a member of an employee's family. The program is paid for by premium payments equal to 0.4 percent of an employee's wages -- with two-thirds going toward medical leave and one-third going towards family leave. While employers can elect to pay the full premium on behalf of their employees, employers are required to pay at least 37.5 percent of the premium, and may deduct the remainder from employees' paychecks."
Davis Wright Tremaine LLP

Large U.S. Employers Project Cost of Health Benefits Will Surpass $14,000 Per Employee in 2018
"Employers will cover nearly 70% of those costs while employees will bear about 30%, or nearly $4,400 in 2018. For the second consecutive year, employers ranked specialty pharmacy (26%) as the top driver.... Virtually all employers (96%) will make telehealth services available in states where it is allowed next year.... Twenty-one percent of employers plan to promote ACOs in 2018 but that number could double by 2020 as another 26% are considering offering them.... More than half of employers (54%) will offer onsite or near site health centers in 2018 and that number could increase to nearly two-thirds by 2020."
National Business Group on Health [NBGH]

Telemedicine Expanding Rapidly
"According to one recent survey, telemedicine services (i.e., remote delivery of healthcare services using telecommunications technology) among large employers (500 or more employees) grew from 18% in 2014 to 59% in 2016. Common selling points touted by telemedicine vendors include reduced health care costs and employee convenience. However, state licensure laws imposing restrictions on telemedicine practitioners can often limit the value (or even availability) of telemedicine services to employees. But that seems to be changing."
Benefits Bryan Cave

Take the Generic Drug -- Unless Insurer Says No
"Consumers have grown accustomed to being told by insurers -- and middlemen known as pharmacy benefit managers -- that they must give up their brand-name drugs in favor of cheaper generics. But some are finding the opposite is true, as pharmaceutical companies squeeze the last profits from products that are facing cheaper generic competition. Out of public view, corporations are cutting deals that give consumers little choice but to buy brand-name drugs -- and sometimes pay more at the pharmacy counter than they would for generics."
HealthLeaders Media

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More Smaller Employers Are Self-Insuring Health Benefits
"As the [ACA] drives up premiums because of more requirements and taxes, self-insurance has become a more attractive option because it is often less expensive than purchasing fully insured plans ... But some policy analysts argue the companies that are self-insuring generally have healthy employees and that leaving the fully insured risk pool results in higher costs for fully insured companies with older, less healthy employees."
Bloomberg BNA

How Much Do Americans Say They Can Pay Monthly for Health Insurance?
"By a wide margin, '$100 a month or less' was the most common answer among survey respondents regarding the most money they could pay for monthly health insurance premiums. Over half of Americans surveyed selected this answer.... Least popular among the answers was '$500 a month.' "
HealthPocket

Supporting the Individual Health Insurance Market
"[T]he current market status can be traced back to a series of regulatory and implementation failures that served to undermine the market including lax enforcement of the individual mandate, incomplete payouts to insurers, and regulatory uncertainty. Looking ahead, a set of regulatory and legislative changes, alongside the assurance of operational and regulatory certainty for issuers, could put it back on track."
Michael Chernew and Christopher Barbey, in Health Affairs

Insurers Score Another Risk Corridor Win in Court
"Molina's win means that insurers have now prevailed on the merits in two of the 26 risk corridor cases pending in the Court of Claims while the government has prevailed in three."
Timothy Jost, in Health Affairs

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Seven Implications of Ending Obamacare's Cost Sharing Reduction Payments
"[1] The decision would affect only subsidized plans sold in the exchange market ... [2] As only Silver-level plans qualify for cost sharing reductions, it would also not affect customers buying plans at other levels of coverage ... [3] [T]he number of affected individuals ... would be about 5.8 million.... [4] [I]nsurers offering coverage in the Obamacare exchanges would still be required by law to reduce cost sharing amounts for qualified enrollees.... [5] [I]nsurers couldn't increase enrollee's premiums immediately -- that would have to wait until the next plan year.... [6] Taxpayers would pick up almost all of the additional premium cost.... [7] Continuing these subsidies will not help stabilize the broader individual-market, because the cost sharing reductions apply only to plans purchased through the Obamacare exchanges."
The Heritage Foundation

[Opinion]

Zombie Apocalypse? The Health Insurance Providers Fee Is Still Walking
"A rare piece of bipartisan legislation introduced a one-year moratorium on the health insurance tax in 2017 that both political parties recognized was not having its desired effect of taxing/penalizing health insurers. But 2018 is a new year and with it has returned the zombie known as the Health Insurance Providers Fee. And as we begin receiving our 2018 renewals ... that 1.5-2% the carriers pass down to their customers is now close to 4% in every insured renewal."
Frenkel Benefits

[Opinion]

Paid Family Leave Figures from BLS Are Misleading
"[In calculating the number of employers who provide paid family leave, the Bureau of Labor Statistics] requires paid family leave be provided 'in addition to any sick leave, vacation, personal leave, or short-term disability leave that is available to the employee.' This means that when employees take paid leave for family purposes, it doesn't count if it could have been used for another purpose. In the real world, parents with conventional benefit programs often save and pool paid personal leave, vacation, sick leave, and short-term disability in the event of a birth or adoption."
Cato Institute

Benefits in General

Video Communication: The Master of Employee Benefits Engagement
"[It's] important to remember that your employees are consumers, and their expectations are high. In most all other aspects of their lives, they have immediate access to the information they need to make a purchase, tutorials to help them solve an immediate need or expert advice to support their decision making. They want convenient guidance, and they find that in video.... In fact, 75 percent of people are more likely to watch a video than read."
Benefitfocus

Executive Compensation
and Nonqualified Plans

The CEO-to-Employee Pay Ratio Rule: Consider Your Company's Messaging
"[1] Consider the entire range of stakeholders who will review your pay ratio disclosure ... [2] Consider how your operations may differ from your competitors and what data is under your control ... [3] Consider disclosing additional ratios that may provide greater context ... [4] Consider highlighting validating messages ... this new disclosure is likely to have important, and possibly unforeseen, implications for engagement regarding compensation as well as the potential to impact proxy voting decisions."
Bloomberg BNA

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Lois Baker, J.D., President  loisbaker@benefitslink.com
David Rhett Baker, J.D., Editor and Publisher  davebaker@benefitslink.com
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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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