Spencer and Benefit’s NetNews – July 26, 2013


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Featured This Week

New Reports

  • Analysis: Chronological Summary Of HSA Guidance, 7/13 (356.-25)

(Read Intelliconnect) »

  • Analysis: Medicare Primer On Eligibility, Benefits, Premiums, Copayments, 7/13 (324.4.-1)


(Read Intelliconnect) »

  • Analysis: EBSA Tips On Target Date Funds For Plan Fiduciaries, 7/13 (233.-19)


(Read Intelliconnect) »

  • Survey: 2013 PBGC Interest Rates, 6/13 (619.5.-51)


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  • Survey: IRS Monthly Segment Rates, 6/13 (101.2.-9)


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July 26, 2013

Workplace Health Coverage Falls, Despite Economic Recovery: EBRI

Although the economy is recovering, the percentage of workers with health benefits has not increased, according to recent research from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). However, there does remain a strong link between health benefits and employment: In 2011, 58.4 percent of nonelderly individuals (under age 65) were covered by employment-based health benefits, including 68.3 percent of workers, 34.7 percent of nonworking adults, and 54.7 percent of children. As a result, employment-based health benefits remain the most common form of health insurance for nonpoor and nonelderly individuals in the United States…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

ACA Employer Mandate Still Problematic, Lawmakers Told

Even though the Obama Administration has delayed the implementation of the employer mandate under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), employers will still delay hiring full-time workers due to the added costs of the health care law, Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute, told House lawmakers on July 23. Turner testified at a joint hearing of the House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions, chaired by Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), and the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, chaired by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Minn)…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

ERISA Advisory Council To Meet August 27-29

The Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans, also known as the ERISA Advisory Council, will hold a meeting from August 27-29, in Washington, D.C., at the U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue NW. The notice of the meeting was published in the July 24
Federal Register

(Read Intelliconnect) »

July 25, 2013

IRS Issues Q&As For PCORI Trust Fund Fees Due On July 31

The Internal Revenue Service has issued questions and answers regarding the fees imposed by Code Secs. 4375 through 4377 on issuers of specified health insurance policies and sponsors of applicable self-insured health plans. The fees, referred to as “PCORI fees,” help to fund the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). Added by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), the PCORI fees apply for policy and plan years ending on or after Oct. 1, 2012, and before Oct. 1, 2019. The IRS notes that the PCORI fees are due July 31, 2013. This is because issuers of specified health insurance policies and plan sponsor of applicable self-insured health plans must report and pay the PCORI fee for a policy year or plan year no later than July 31 of the calendar year following the last day of the policy or plan year…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Massachusetts Repeals Employer Mandate Through State Budget

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has signed a $33.6 billion Fiscal Year 2014 budget that includes a repeal of the state’s Fair Share Contribution Program. The program was established under the Commonwealth’s 2006 health care reform law and mandated that employers with 11 or more full-time equivalent employees (FTE) make a “fair and reasonable” contribution toward the health care costs of their full-time workers or pay a $295 per FTE assessment…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

July 24, 2013

HSA Adoptions Leads To Sustained Reduction In Health Spending: EBRI

High-deductible health plans (HDHPs) linked with a health savings account (HSA) reduced health spending initially, and over a four-year period, according to recent research from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). EBRI analyzed detailed claims data over a five-year period from a large Midwestern employer that adopted an HDHP/HSA for all employees in place of its traditional health care offering. EBRI found that introducing the full-replacement HSA plan (meaning it was the only type of health plan the employer offered) reduced the plan’s total health care spending by 25 percent in the first year, or $527 per person in the aggregate…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Health Reform’s Benefits Highlighted By President The Day After House Votes To Delay Employer And Individual Mandate

On July 18, President Barack Obama highlighted key benefits of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), the day after the House of Representatives approved two bills that would officially codify the delay in the employer and individual mandate included in the ACA…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

July 23, 2013

Employers Increasingly Relying On Wellness Programs

Companies are relying more on wellness programs than in years past, according to recent research from Aflac. The 2013
Aflac WorkForces Report found that 44 percent of companies currently sponsor a wellness program, compared to just 30 percent in 2011. The majority of these are large companies with more the 100 employees. While there is a growing investment in wellness programs, many companies still struggle with effectively measuring the impact of these programs, Aflac noted…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Hawaii Enacts Breastfeeding Accommodation Law

Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie has signed a law that requires private and state and local government employers to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child, as needed, for up to one year after the birth. Employers must provide such employees with a private location, other than a restroom, to express breast milk…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

COBRA Violations Draw Penalty Of More Than $1.85 Million For Class Members

Concluding that Visteon Corporation willfully violated the COBRA notice provision and that terminated employees were prejudiced by the lack of notice of their right to continued health coverage, a federal court in Indiana imposed a statutory penalty of more than $1.85 million, to be shared equally among 741 (remaining) class members, amounting to $2,500 to each. The case is
Pierce v. Visteon Corporation

(Read Intelliconnect) »

July 22, 2013

74 Percent Of Full-Time Workers Have Access To Retirement Plans, 85 Percent Have Access To Health Care Plans: BLS

In March 2013, employer-provided retirement benefits were available to 74 percent of private industry full-time workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, the BLS noted that only 37 percent of part-time workers had access to a retirement plan. These data are from the BLS’s
National Compensation Survey (NCS), which measures incidence and provisions of employee benefit plans. Less than half (49 percent) of all private industry workers participated in a retirement plan in March 2013…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Both Men And Women Are Saving More For Retirement, But Men Are “Paying More Attention”

Both men and women cite “saving enough for retirement” as their greatest financial concern—but men are paying more attention and taking more positive action, according to recent research from MassMutual Retirement Services. Men also are relying more on financial professionals. Despite a strong rebound in the equity markets and signs of economic recovery, the survey found that, compared to 2011, the pessimists are more pessimistic and the optimists are more optimistic. Among survey respondents, 34 percent believe the United States will be in a recession in the next 12 months, up from 31 percent in 2011. In addition, health care expenses as a savings objective is up 9 percentage points overall compared to 2011, likely due to heightened focus on health care costs in general, MassMutual noted…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

ERISA Did Not Bar Enforcement Of Terminated Employee’s Release Of Claim For Additional Benefits

An employee’s general release of claims in exchange for severance benefits was valid and enforceable, according to the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in
Hakim v. Accenture United States Pension Plan, et al. ERISA’s anti-alienation provision did not apply to the employee’s claim for additional benefits and he had constructive notice of his claim before signing the release…

(Read Intelliconnect) »