Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

March 6, 2019

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Jobs

Client Relationship Manager
The Retirement Advantage, Inc.
in Milwaukee WI / Telecommute

Plan Consultant
Sentinel Benefits & Financial Group
in Wakefield MA / NY

Experienced Plan Consultant
Randall + Hurley
in Helena MT

Junior Plan Consultant
Randall + Hurley
in Helena MT

Retirement Plan Contracts Specialist
Transamerica
in Cedar Rapids IA / CO

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Webcasts, Conferences

Traditional Performance Reviews: Are They Helping or Hurting Your Employees?
March 20, 2019 in TX
Worldwide Employee Benefits Network [WEB] - Houston Chapter

Building Resilience: Practical Tools to Help Your Workplace Thrive
April 2, 2019 WEBCAST
International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [IFEBP]

Washington Legislative Update
May 20, 2019 in DC
International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [IFEBP]

►See 178 Upcoming Webcasts and Conferences

►See 1490 Recorded Webcasts


Discussions

New Topics on the BenefitsLink Message Boards

New Comments and Topics

All Topics, Grouped by Forum


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[Official Guidance]

Text of 2018 IRS Publication 969: Health Savings Accounts and Other Tax-Favored Health Plans (PDF)

22 pages, Mar. 4, 2019. "Salary reduction contributions to your health FSA for 2018 are limited to $2,650 a year."
Internal Revenue Service [IRS]

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Sponsored by ECFC [Employers Council on Flexible Compensation]

Flexible compensation is constantly evolving as new regulations, laws, and interpretations affect the discipline. Become a leader and take the steps to become certified as a Flexible Compensation Specialist.


[Guidance Overview]

California Paid Sick Leave Laws Vary by City

"As of January 2019, the following cities have their own separate paid sick leave laws ... Berkeley, Emeryville, Los Angeles (city), Oakland, San Diego, San Francisco, and Santa Monica. Some of these city-specific laws contain provisions that are different than or conflict with the requirements under California law. Employers must adopt the provisions which are more favorable to the employee."
Jackson Lewis

United Loses in Court on Behavioral Health Coverage Guidelines

"A federal judge ruled Tuesday that United Behavioral Health breached its fiduciary duty to patients by using unreasonable and overly restrictive guidelines to make coverage decisions for tens of thousands of mental health and substance abuse patients. The decision, if upheld on appeal, could have wide ramifications of what insurers must cover in the fast-growing behavioral healthcare sector." [Wit v. United Behavioral Health, Nos. 14-2346, 14-5337 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 5, 2019)]
Modern Healthcare Online; free registration required

Mental Health Treatment Denied to Customers by Giant Insurer's Policies, Judge Rules

"In his 106-page decision, Judge Spero described the company's guidelines as 'unreasonable and an abuse of discretion' and having been 'infected' by financial incentives meant to restrict access to care. 'There is an excessive emphasis on addressing acute symptoms and stabilizing crises while ignoring the effective treatment of members' underlying conditions,' he said. He dismissed much of the testimony by UnitedHealth's experts as 'evasive -- and even deceptive.' " [Wit v. United Behavioral Health, Nos. 14-2346, 14-5337 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 5, 2019)]
The New York Times; subscription may be required

Sixth Circuit Follows Ordinary Principles of Contract Law to Find No Obligation for Lifetime Retiree Healthcare Benefits

"A recent decision [confirms] that a CBA's general durational clause applies to healthcare benefits unless the CBA contains clear, affirmative language indicating the contrary.... The Court found that the CBAs covering the retirees lacked clear, affirmative language that Whirlpool had an obligation to fund their health benefits after the expiration of the agreements' general durational clause. Thus, Whirlpool was under no obligation to continue to offer those benefits past the general durational clause's expiration." [Zino v. Whirlpool Corp., Nos. 17-3851, 17-3860 (6th Cir. Feb. 15, 2019, unpub.)]
Seyfarth Shaw LLP

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Benefits in General

Health of Employee Benefit Programs Can Be Make-or-Break Issue for Impending Merger or Acquisition

"Companies typically like to delay due diligence of employee benefits to maintain the confidentiality of the impending deal and because employee benefits may be perceived as being less material to the decision about whether to proceed or not. Unfortunately, this level of discretion can be costly, as employee benefit programs can deeply affect a potential deal, sometimes to the surprise of the acquiring company."
Milliman

Americans Cite Healthcare Expenses as No. 1 Barrier to Early Retirement

"When asked to name barriers to financial independence and early retirement, Americans are less concerned about uncertain market conditions (37 percent) or inflation (35 percent), than they are about healthcare costs (57 percent)... An overwhelming majority of Americans (76 percent) point to Medicare as the best way to pay for healthcare in retirement. Yet more than half of pre-retirees (61 percent) are not confident that it will cover the bulk of their retirement medical expenses."
TD Ameritrade

Press Releases

Most Popular Items in the Previous Issue

OCR Report to Congress on HIPAA Compliance for 2015-2017 (PDF)
Office for Civil Rights [OCR], U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS]

Respondeat Superior in the ERISA Context (PDF)
The Wagner Law Group, via Benefits Law Journal

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Lois Baker, J.D., President  loisbaker@benefitslink.com
David Rhett Baker, J.D., Editor and Publisher  davebaker@benefitslink.com
Holly Horton, Business Manager  hollyhorton@benefitslink.com

BenefitsLink Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9595. Copyright 2019 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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