Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

March 11, 2019

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Sixth Circuit Overturns District Court Approval of Enhancements to Retiree Health Care Benefits (PDF)

20 pages. "The arbitrator did not arguably construe or apply the 2002 CBA when he ordered TRW to restore the enhanced healthcare benefits that it offered its retirees from 2007 to 2012, and he exceeded his authority by interpreting the retirees' acceptance of TRW's 2007 offer of enhanced coverage as a modification of their prior agreement." [UAW v. TRW Automotive U.S., Nos. 18-1160/1161 (6th Cir. Mar. 5, 2019)]
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Federal vs. New York Family and Medical Leave Laws

"In addition to the federal FMLA, New York has laws regarding pregnancy leave, adoptive parents leave, blood donation leave, bone marrow donation leave, military spouse leave and paid family leave (effective Jan. 1, 2018). [A chart compares] federal vs. New York family and medical leave laws regarding the type of leave and criteria for a serious health condition/serious injury or illness."
Strategic Benefit Services

What Employers Need to Know About COBRA Coverage for Terminated Employees

"There are many reasons terminated employees are choosing COBRA over other insurance options. Some do not want the hassle of purchasing marketplace coverage, or see few appealing marketplace choices. Others simply prefer the devil they know -- after all, why risk buying a new plan which may not cover needed services and preferred doctors, or might have terrible service? Moreover, some individuals are offered subsidized COBRA as part of a severance package, or are courted by a new employer who is willing to pay COBRA premiums for coverage under the former employer's plan."
Mintz

Administration Weighs Publicizing Secret Rates Hospitals and Doctors Negotiate With Insurers

"Mandating public disclosure of the rates would upend a longstanding industry practice and put more decision-making power in the hands of patients. Hospitals and insurers typically treat specific prices for medical services as closely held secrets, with contracts between the insurers and hospital systems generally bound by confidentiality agreements."
The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required

As Hospitals Post Price Lists, Consumers Are Asked to Check Up on Them

"Most hospitals appear to be complying with the rule, according to hospital officials and a small sampling of websites. However, the feds acknowledge they are not yet enforcing the rule, industry groups are not monitoring compliance, many hospitals are burying the information on their websites, and debate continues about whether the price lists are creating more confusion than clarity among consumers."
Kaiser Health News

Telehealth: Connecting Consumers to Care Everywhere

"Telehealth has emerged as a new platform that improves access by removing traditional barriers to health care such as distance, mobility, and time constraints. For certain conditions, telehealth is as effective as in-person visits with potential for cost savings, and real benefits to provider efficiency, consumer convenience, and better management of chronic conditions."
America's Health Insurance Plans [AHIP]

Creative Solutions to Engage Employees in Corporate Wellbeing Programs

"[One company] started to think well outside the proverbial box by using three unique tactics to engage employees: [1] Introducing a musical cue and making it fun (with a side of pop culture) ... [2] Make models of your employees -- literally ... [3] Participation at every level."
HealthFitness

CMS Requests Information on Grandfathered Group Health Plans

"[T]he number of group health plans and policies and individual policies that are considered to be grandfathered has declined each year since enactment of the ACA, with only 16% of American workers being enrolled in a grandfathered group health plan in 2018 (down from 56% in 2011) ... Therefore, this initiative to assist plan sponsors and issuers in preserving grandfathered plan status may be arriving too late for the ultimate demise of grandfathered plans."
Cheiron

[Opinion]

Administration Considers Groundbreaking Regulation Forcing Healthcare Providers to Disclose Secret Industry Pricing

"Insurers and providers alike will have a bullseye on the Trump Administration and the officials responsible for implementing this rulemaking. And that is no small lobby, with pockets as deep as one-fifth of the entire U.S. economy. The cash cow of obfuscation, secret discounts, unknown prices and third-party payment would begin a rather strict diet very soon if this information were permitted to flow into the light of day."
Benefit Revolution

Press Releases

PSCA Honors Zvi Bodie With Lifetime Achievement Award
PSCA [Plan Sponsor Council of America]

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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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