Spencer and Benefits Reports NetNews – January 16, 2015


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January 16, 2015


Employee premium costs, deductible growth outpaced income in every state after ACA implementation

Between 2010 and 2013, following passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), employer-sponsored health insurance premiums grew more slowly in 31 states and the District of Columbia, according to a new Commonwealth Fund report. Unfortunately, wages grew even more slowly over this period, so that average annual premiums, including both the employer and employee contributions, represented 20% or more of household income in 37 states by 2013, compared to just two states in 2003. States that experienced a slowdown in premium growth since 2010 include:

    • Twelve states with at least a three-percentage-point decline: Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The District of Columbia had a similar decline.


    • Louisiana, where premiums went from seven percent average annual growth to a decline of 0.1 percent in 2013. However, premium growth rates over this period remained high—six percent per year or more—in Alaska, Colorado, Indiana, Maryland, New Hampshire,

New Jersey, Ohio, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming. . . .

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


Massachusetts parental leave expansion bill becomes law

A bill that will allow Massachusetts parental leave laws to be applicable to both men and women has finally become law after being passed on the last day of the legislative session. Outgoing Governor Deval Patrick signed the bill into law on the day prior to his leaving office on January 7, 2015. . . .

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


January 15, 2015


House Passes Bill Repealing PPACA’s 30-Hour Rule

House lawmakers on January 8 approved, by a vote of 252 to 172, the Save American Workers Bill of 2015 (HR 30), which would alter the calculation under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) (P.L. 111-148 ) of the number of full-time equivalent employees for the purposes of determining which employers are subject to penalties. The Senate is expected to soon take up a companion measure but the fate of the measure is uncertain as President Obama has issued a veto threat if the bill comes to his desk.. . . .

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


IRS Provides 2015 Maximum Values for Employer-Provided Vehicles Subject to Cents-per-Mile and Fleet-Average Valuations

The IRS has released the maximum allowable value of certain employer-provided automobiles, including trucks and vans that are first made available to employees for personal use during calendar year 2015. The maximum value of vehicles for which the cents-per-mile valuation rule of Reg. §1.61-21(e) may apply is $16,000 for a passenger automobile and $17,500 for a truck or van. The maximum value for vehicles for which the fleet-average valuation rule of Reg. §1.61-21(d) may apply is $21,300 for a passenger automobile and $22,900 for a truck or van.. . . .

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


January 14, 2015


15 Percent Of U.S. Population Now Enrolled In CDHPs

About 15 percent of the U.S. population, representing 26 million individuals with private insurance, is currently enrolled in a consumer-driven health plan (CDHP), according to recent research from the Employee Benefit Research Institute. The 2014 EBRI/Greenwald & Associates Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey (CEHCS) found that about 11 percent was enrolled in a high-deductible health plan, and 74 percent was enrolled in more traditional health insurance coverage.. . . .

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


Millennial Workers Not Saving Enough To Receive Company Matching Contributions

While participation in employer-provided 401(k) plans is strong among younger workers, many workers in their 20s and 30s are not saving enough to take full advantage of their employer’s 401(k) match—potentially leaving thousands of dollars on the table and negatively impacting their long-term financial health, according to recent research from Aon Hewitt. The analysis of more than 3.5 million employees eligible for defined contribution plans, shows that while the average participation rate of young Millennial workers (age 20 to 29) is 73 percent—and slightly higher (77 percent) for older Millennials (age 30 to 39)—many are saving at a low rate. Nearly 40 percent of 20 to 29 year olds and 31 percent of 30 to 39 year olds are saving at a level that is below the company match threshold.. . . .

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

January 13, 2015


Onsite Clinics Can Reduce Costs, Improve Employee Productivity

Employers are increasingly finding the use of onsite and near-site clinics as a successful strategy in controlling health care costs, enabling easy access to medical services, improving employee health, enhancing engagement in worksite programs – and ultimately increasing productivity, according to a survey of 255 employers by the non-profit National Association of Worksite Health Centers (NAWHC), with support from PwC US. NAWHC conducts an annual survey of employer sponsors of onsite clinics to enable them to benchmark their operations and policies. . . .

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


Coverage, Use Of Preventive Services Has Spiked Among Those 19-26

The expansion of dependent coverage to young adults up to 26 years of age under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has substantially improved the coverage of individuals between 19 and 26 years old, according to the results of a study published as a letter to the editor in the New England Journal of Medicine. According to the study, the utilization of certain preventive services has increased substantially, as well. . . .

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

January 12, 2015


IRS Issues Guidance On Transportation Fringe Benefits

The IRS has issued guidance related to the enactment of section 103 of the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 (TIPA), Pub. L. 113-295, which increased the monthly transit benefit exclusion under Code Sec. 132(f)(2)(A) from $130 per participating employee to $250 per participating employee for the period of January 1, 2014, through December 31, 2014. To address employers’ questions regarding the retroactive application of the increased exclusion for 2014 and to reduce filing and reporting burdens, the IRS is clarifying how the increase applies for 2014 and providing a special administrative procedure for employers to use in filing Form 941, Employer’s QUARTERLY Federal Tax Return, for the fourth quarter of 2014 to reflect changes in the excludable amount for transit benefits provided in all quarters of 2014 and in filing Forms W-2, Wage and Tax Statement (IRS Notice 2015-2, January 8, 2014). . . .

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


Field Directive Highlights IRS Concern With 411(b) Compliance By PEPs

The IRS has issued a Field Directive to EP employees, stressing the need for pension equity plans (PEPs) to expressly include language ensuring compliance with the accrued benefit requirements of Code Sec. 411(b)(1)(G). Accordingly, in reviewing determination letter requests submitted by PEPs, reviewers are instructed to focus on whether the plan effectively allows a participant’s accrued benefit to be reduced because of an increase in age or service. . . .

        (Read Intelliconnect) »