Spencer Benefits NetNews – February 14, 2014

 

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News

February 14, 2014

Text: IRS, Final Regulations, Shared Responsibility For Employers Regarding Health Coverage

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Final Regulations On Employer Mandate Delay Compliance For Medium-Sized Employers

The Internal Revenue Service has issued final regulations implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) employer shared responsibility provisions (employer mandate), giving medium-sized employers (50-99 full-time employees) until 2016 to comply with the mandate and providing significant transition relief for both medium-sized and larger employers (100 or more full-time employees). The final regulations apply to periods after December 31, 2014. Employers may rely on them prior to that. The final regulations were published in the February 12
Federal Register

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Counting Hours Is Crucial To Comply With ACA’s Employer Shared Responsibility Provisions

While the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) employer shared responsibility provisions have been delayed until Jan. 1, 2015 (and for some plans, 2016), a recent article has emphasized the importance of beginning to count employee hours to determine which employees are considered full-time under the law….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

February 13, 2014

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) »

Non-Compliant Health Plans Are Available In Many States And Through The ACA Marketplaces During 2014

Although the number of states that allow people to purchase health insurance plans that are not compliant with the requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) will continue to decrease as 2014 progresses, people in all states will be able to purchase a non-compliant insurance plan from the health insurance marketplace under an expansion of eligibility for catastrophic coverage approved by the Obama administration in late December 2013. Currently people in 28 states can purchase health insurance plans not in compliance with the ACA up until Oct. 1, 2014, according to the Commonwealth Fund. Prior to January 1, 2014, people in 45 states were able to purchase or renew their existing health insurance coverage for 2014 even if it was not compliant with the ACA according to the trade organization America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP). President Obama, state legislatures, and insurance companies all have had a role in determining if people whose plans are not compliant with the ACA could be renewed or if people could purchase a non-compliant plan in 2014…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Accidental Overdose Of Prescription Medicine Is Not “Intoxication”

An insurer failed to establish, by objective evidence, that an insured’s death was not accidental, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled in
Nichols v. Unicare Life and Health Insurance Co., (No. 12-4047). Therefore, the insurer was required to pay the plan’s accidental death benefit…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

February 12, 2014

ACA Exchange Plans Have Some Advantages Over Employer Plans

Health insurance plans offered this year on the ACA’s exchanges in some ways represent a better value than similar employer-based plans, according to survey results obtained by PwC’s Health Research Institute (HRI). Prices for plans on the exchanges are, on average, lower than those for comparable employer plans, HRI reports, and the exchanges tend to offer a wider variety of plans than employers offer their employees. HRI points out that there is a tradeoff, however, because the exchange plans tend to have narrow provider networks. In addition, employer plans often come with financial incentives for various wellness activities. Data for the survey included information on employer-sponsored premiums of 156 million individuals in 2013…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Benefits Costs Increased 0.6 Percent In Fourth Quarter 2013

Benefits costs for civilian workers increased 0.6 percent for the three-month period ending December 2013, according to the most recent
Employment Cost Index from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In the fourth quarter 2013, benefits costs rose at the same rate than salaries, which also increased 0.6 percent…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

February 11, 2014

DOL Updates Expiration Date On ACA’s Notice Of Coverage Options

The Department of Labor (DOL) has updated the expiration date on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)-required notice of coverage options. The new copies of the notices now contain an expiration date of Jan. 31, 2017. While the DOL updated the expiration date, the DOL did not change the substance of the notice…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Majority Believe ACA Should Be Accepted, But Improved

Opponents of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) should accept that it’s the law and work to improve it, according to 55 percent of respondents to the January
Kaiser Health Tracking Poll. On the other hand, 38 percent of respondents would like opponents to continue efforts to repeal the law…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

ERISA Preempts State Health Care Information Reporting Law Due To Effect On Uniform Benefit Administration

ERISA preempts a Vermont statute and regulation that requires health insurers, including self-insured plans, to file reports containing claims data and other health care information with the state, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled in
Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. v. Donegan. The reporting requirements have a “connection with” ERISA plans, and reporting is a core ERISA function that is to be protected against multiple, possibly inconsistent, state requirements. As such, the court reversed the district court’s ruling and remanded the case with instructions to enter judgment for the insurance company…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

February 10, 2014

Insured Expatriate Health Plans Get Expanded Reprieve From ACA Compliance

When Congress debated and enacted the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), most likely, it did not consider the international impact the law would have, such as its effect on expatriate employees, many commentators believe. Since the ACA’s enactment, the Department of Labor, the Treasury Department, and the Department of Health and Human Services (the Departments) have been largely silent on the subject of expatriate employees as well, with just a few relatively narrow exceptions. In March 2013, the Departments released a frequently asked question (FAQ) that temporarily excused insured expatriate health plans from the ACA’s requirements if they met specified rules. In January 2014, in an updated FAQ, the Departments further clarified, and extended, the transition relief for insured expatriate health…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Information Requested On Continually Delayed SHOPs

House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R- Mo.) has expressed concern over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Small Business Health Options Program (SHOPs) which is still not fully up and running. In a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and its accompanying press release, Graves requested enrollment data for the federal and state SHOPs Exchanges, along with the anticipate date that the SHOPs online enrollment system will be fully operational…

(Read Intelliconnect) »