Spencer and Benefits Reports Netnews – August 14, 2015

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August 14, 2015


Text: DOL, HHS, IRS, FAQs about Affordable Care Act Implementation (Part XXVIII)

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Transparency reporting requirements are coming for non-QHP issuers

The HHS, IRS and the Labor Department have issued a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) letting issuers of non-qualified health plans (non-QHP issuers) and non-grandfathered group health plans know that it intends to propose transparency reporting requirements for them in the future. Those proposed reporting requirements with respect to non-exchange coverage may differ, they say, from recently issued requirements proposed for certain QHP issuers…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Faster health spending growth attributed to ACA coverage expansion

Following several years of slow growth in U.S. health spending from 2008 to 2013, recent reports indicate that national health expenditure (NHE) growth returned to a more typical level of approximately 5.6 percent in 2014. This is considerably higher that the increase in gross domestic product. A recent analysis from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the Urban Institute used two methods to determine if the growth in NHE was attributable to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) coverage expansion or to see if there was another explanation for the rise in NHE…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

August 13, 2015


No substantial burden in ACA regulations’ opt-out provision for religious nonprofits

The regulations promulgated under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) allowing religious nonprofit employers to opt out of providing contraceptive coverage do not substantially burden the employer’s religious exercise under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), 42 U.S.C. §2000bb et seq., ruled the Second Circuit in a challenge to the contraceptive mandate brought by two nonprofit Catholic high schools. The court also held that, in reference to the accommodation for religious nonprofits, a substantial burden does not exist where an organization argues that its religious exercise is violated by the government’s internal operations…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

IRS issues updated static mortality tables for 2016

The IRS has issued a notice providing the static mortality tables to be used under Code Sec. 430(h)(3)(A) and ERISA Sec. 303(h)(3)(A) for purposes of calculating the funding target and other items for valuation dates occurring during calendar year 2016. The notice includes a modified “unisex” version of the mortality tables for use in determining minimum present value under Code Sec. 417(e)(3) and ERISA Sec. 205(g)(3) for distributions with annuity starting dates that occur during stability periods beginning in the 2016 calendar year…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

State marketplaces can continue to rely on HHS for exemption processing

Answers to frequently received questions regarding exemptions from shared responsibility payments handled by state-based marketplaces are available on CMS’ Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) website. The shared responsibility payment is assessed on those who fail to maintain health care coverage that qualifies as minimum essential coverage. Section 1513 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act established this payment requirement, and there are several exemptions available…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

August 12, 2015


Phase out of reinsurance program is major factor driving 2016 premium rates

Growing health care costs, the phase out of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) transitional reinsurance program, and assumptions regarding the composition of the 2016 risk pool are among the major factors driving changes in health insurance premium rates for 2016, according to an issue brief by the American Academy of Actuaries’ Health Practice Council, “Drivers of 2016 Health Insurance Premium Changes.” The paper focuses primarily on the individual market, but some factors that will particularly affect the small group market are highlighted as well…

(Read Intelliconnect) »


Federal interest rates announced for pensions

The following interest rates have been announced for use in the operation and administration of qualified pension plans…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Benefits costs increased 0.6 percent in second quarter 2015

Benefits costs for civilian workers increased 0.6 percent for the three-month period ending June 2015, according to the most recent Employment Cost Index from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In the second quarter 2015, benefits costs rose slightly less than salaries, which increased 0.6 percent…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

August 11, 2015


Chicago ready to include gender reassignment services in health care benefits

The City of Chicago is ready to do away with its current exclusion of gender reassignment services from its health care benefits coverage for all non-union employees. The change, which would apply to current city employees and their dependents, would be effective October 1, 2015. The city is working with labor partners to also remove the exclusion for union members. The policy change comes after the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois brought to the city’s attention the denial of health insurance coverage for a transgender city employee…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Failure to file 2014 tax returns will prevent advance payments of premium tax credit in 2016

The IRS is reminding individuals who received advance payments of the Premium Tax Credit (PTC) in 2014 to file their 2014 tax return as soon as possible. Individuals who fail to file a 2014 tax return will not be eligible to receive advance payments of the PTC in 2016. Individuals who are not eligible for advance payment of the PTC will be responsible for the full cost of the monthly premiums and all covered services. In addition, nonfilers may need to pay back some or all of their 2014 advance payments…

(Read Intelliconnect) »


August 10, 2015


House bill protects companies that employ vets from the ACA’s employer mandate

President Obama has signed a bill exempting individuals from being counted by employers as employees for purposes of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) employer mandate for any month that such individual has medical coverage under Tricare or the Veterans Administration (VA). The exemption will be applied retroactively for months beginning after December 31, 2013. The bill, known as the “VA Budget and Choice Improvement Act,” is contained in Title IV of the “Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015” (the Highway bill) (H.R. 3236), which was signed by President Obama on July 31, 2015. Section 4007 of the Highway bill amends section 4980H(c)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code to effect the veteran exemption…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

PBGC issues proposed regs on annual financial and actuarial reporting to codify MAP-21 and HATFA changes

The PBGC is proposing to amend its regulations on annual financial and actuarial reporting under ERISA Sec. 4010 to codify provisions of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act ( P.L. 112-141; MAP-21) and the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014 (HATFA; P.L. 113-159) and related guidance. In addition, the proposed regulations would modify the existing reporting waiver for companies with total underfunding of less than $15 million in all their plans and add two new reporting waivers in order to better balance the burden of reporting with the PBGC’s need for information. Also, the proposed regulations make some technical changes. The proposed regulations would be applicable to information years beginning after December 31, 2015…

(Read Intelliconnect) »


CMS says Part D premiums not changing for 2016

The average premium for a basic Medicare Part D prescription drug plan in 2016 will be $32.50 per month, unchanged from the average 2015 premium, according to a projection from CMS. Although total Part D costs per capita grew by almost 11 percent in 2014, driven largely by high cost specialty drugs and their effect on spending in the catastrophic benefit phase, growth in per-Medicare enrollee spending continues to be historically low, averaging 1.3 percent over the last five years. Acting CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt said, “While this is good news, we must ensure that Medicare Part D remains affordable for Medicare beneficiaries so that they can have access to the prescription drugs that they need….”

(Read Intelliconnect) »