Spencer Benefits NetNews – February 28, 2014


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Featured This Week

New Reports

  • Court Case: Benefit Plan May Include Statute-Of-Limitations, 2/14 (602.12.-11)

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  • Analysis: Employer-Funded Health Reimbursement Arrangements, 2/14 (357.-1)


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  • Analysis: After-Tax Roth Contributions Must Meet Separate Rules, 2/14 (227.-1)


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  • Analysis: Procedures For Requesting A Determination Letter, 2/14 (177.01.-9)


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February 28, 2014

Uncertainty Lingers For The Rising Costs Of The Small Group Market: CMS

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Office of the Actuary estimates that premium rates will increase for approximately 11 million people, but decrease for roughly 6 million people, as an impact of Public Health Services Act (PHSA) Secs. 2701 through 2703, as amended by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). However, CMS acknowledged significant uncertainty with its estimate, as the “mix of firms” that choose to offer health insurance coverage will greatly alter the impact on premium rates…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Heightened Protection Of Mental Health Information Under The HIPAA Privacy Rule

Protecting mental health information is an important privacy right under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy rule. To address this topic, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued guidance to address some of the situations when health plans are either permitted by law to release the information or are required to release the information under a “duty to inform.” The guidance is in the form of a list of the most frequently asked questions organized to address a variety of situations. The guidance also covers heightened protection granted to psychotherapy notes, a parent’s right to access a child’s protected health information, and emergency situations that might require the release of mental health information…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

February 27, 2014

Current Levels Of Social Security Plus 401(k) Savings Could Be Enough For Most Employees: EBRI

Current levels of Social Security benefits, coupled with at least 30 years of 401(k) savings eligibility, could provide most employees with an annual income of at least 60 percent of their pre-retirement pay on an inflation-adjusted basis, according to a recent report from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI)…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Erroneous Arbitration Ruling Could Not Be Vacated Absent Manifest Disregard Of Law

An arbitrator’s ruling, invalidating indemnification agreements, under an erroneous interpretation of ERISA and applicable precedent, could not be vacated, as it did not constitute a manifest disregard of the law, according to the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in
Schafer, et al. v. Multiband Corp. The court stressed the importance of ensuring the finality of arbitral decisions…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

February 26, 2014

Portions Of Employer Shared Responsibility Final Rule Clarified By Experts At Mercer

On February 12, the Internal Revenue Service issued final regulations implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) employer shared responsibility provisions, also known as the employer mandate. While the major takeaway from the final rule is the transition relief provided to employers with 50 to 99 employees (they do not have to comply with the employer mandate until 2016), there are several other important provisions for employers of all sizes in the final rules. At a recent webinar entitled,
ACA Employer Mandate Delay Provides Some Relief, But Challenges Remain, three experts at consultant Mercer reviewed some of the important provisions in the final rule…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Employers Plan To Continue Sponsoring Health Benefits For Active Employees: Aon Hewitt

The vast majority (95 percent) of employers said that they plan to continue to providing health care benefits to active employees for the next three-to-five years, according to recent research from Aon Hewitt. However, the
Health Care Survey found that many believe that they will change the way those benefits are managed and delivered in the coming years…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

February 25, 2014

Text: IRS, HHS, EBSA, Final Regulations, Ninety-Day Waiting Period Limitation and Technical Amendments to Certain Health Coverage Requirements Under the Affordable Care Act

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Text: IRS, HHS, EBSA, Proposed Rules, 90-Day Waiting Limitation

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Final Regulations Implement 90-Day Waiting Period Limitation

The Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Health and Human Services, and Employee Benefits Security Administration (the Departments) have jointly issued final regulations implementing the 90-day waiting period limitation under Public Health Service Act (PHSA) Sec. 2708. PHSA Sec. 2708, as added by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), prohibits group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group coverage from applying any waiting period of more than 90 days before coverage starts. Proposed regulations were issued on March 21, 2013. The final regulations adopt the proposed rules, with some changes. The final regulations were published in the February 24
Federal Register

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Proposed Rules Clarify Orientation Period Calculation Relative To PHSA 90-Day Waiting Period Limit

The Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) have issued proposed regulations clarifying the calculation of the maximum allowed length of an employment orientation period relative to final regulations implementing the 90-day waiting period limitation under Public Health Service Act (PHSA) Sec. 2708. PHSA Sec. 2708, as added by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), prohibits group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group coverage from applying any waiting period of more than 90 days before coverage starts. PHSA Sec. 2708 applies to both grandfathered and non-grandfathered plans. The proposed rules were published in the February 24
Federal Register.

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Illinois Health Marketplace And The Onion Unite To Reach “Young Invincibles” As Enrollment Deadline Looms

As it builds momentum and enrollment leading up to the March 31 federal health coverage deadline, Illinois, through its marketplace Get Covered Illinois, has become the first state to partner with
The Onion to reach the so-called “young invincibles.” Onion Labs, the creative services division of
The Onion, may seem like a surprising partner, but it is known for being geared toward what GCI calls “a hip young audience.”
The Onion audience is comprised of mainly young adults between the ages of 21 and 34, who are influential trendsetters, affluent and highly educated. According to ComScore, more than 60 percent of Onion readers are college and graduate-school graduates…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

February 24, 2014

Employers Plan To Increase Spending On Wellness Incentives In 2014

In 2014, employers plan to spend an average of $594 per employee on wellness-based incentives within their health programs, according to recent research from Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health (NBGH). This is an increase of 15 percent from $521 in 2013—and is more than double the average of $260 reported five years ago. The survey found that the largest increase was among companies with fewer than 5,000 employees, where the per employee average climbed to $595, one-third higher than the average of $444 per employee in 2013…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Interrelated Reforms Are “Three-Legged Stool” That Can’t Stand Without Subsidies, Economic Scholars Argue

Premium subsidies are a crucial component of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) legislative scheme and without them, no health insurance exchange can operate successfully and Congress’ goal of broad, affordable coverage cannot be achieved. That’s what a group of 48 economic scholars argue in an amicus brief filed on Feb. 17, 2014, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in
Halbig v. Sebelius

(Read Intelliconnect) »