Spencer Benefits Reports NetNews – April 24, 2015


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New Reports




April 24, 2015


Underlying Cost Trend For Large Employers Remains Modest Despite ACA Concerns

Despite concerns over mandates in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), large U.S. employers have been fairly effective in managing overall health care costs, according to the
2015 ADP Annual Health Benefits Report from the ADP Research Institute….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Revised FMLA Definition Of “Spouse” Not Being Enforced In Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska

Consistent with a preliminary injunction imposed by federal court in Texas on March 26, the Department of Labor has confirmed that it will not be enforcing in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Nebraska its final rule revising the definition of “spouse” under the FMLA to include employees in same-sex marriages…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

April 23, 2015


Workplace Wellness Programs Are Prevalent, But May Not Save Employers Money In The Long Run

About four-fifths of the largest employers (those with more than 1,000 employees) offer worksite wellness programs, but while these programs did reduce cardiovascular events, the savings that resulted did not come close to offsetting the cumulative costs of participation. This is according to a recently released report from the RAND Corporation…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Uninsured Rate Dips, Especially For Those With Lower Incomes

According to a recent Gallup report, the rate of U.S. adults without health insurance dropped to 11.9 percent in the first quarter of 2015. This is the lowest uninsured rate since Gallup began tracking in 2008. Since the end of 2013, the uninsured rate among households making less than $36,000 per year has dropped 8.7 percent. Hispanics had the highest uninsured population of subgroups prior to the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), but significant headway has been made as the rate of uninsured Hispanics has dropped 8.3 percent. Despite these gains, these groups still have higher uninsured rates than other categories…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


April 22, 2015


RDS Amounts And Medicare Part D Benefit Parameters For 2016 Are Issued By CMS

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued the Cost Threshold and Cost Limit amounts for Retiree Drug Subsidy (RDS) plan years ending in 2016, for plan sponsors participating in the RDS program. The Cost Threshold amount is $360 and the Cost Limit amount is $7,400…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


ACA Forcing Employers To Change Business Practices And Health Care Benefits, SHRM Tells U.S. House Subcommittee

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is challenging employers by increasing the costs of providing health care coverage and restricting the ability to offer benefits that best meet the needs of employees, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recently told a U.S. House subcommittee…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


LTD Plan Complied With ERISA’s ‘Hold In Trust’ Requirement

Neither the manager nor the administrator of a long-term disability plan breached its duty under ERISA to hold plan assets in trust, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled in
Barboza v. California Association of Professional Firefighters (No. 11-15472). Applying the common law of trusts, the court concluded that, under the “hold in trust” requirement, a person (legal or natural) must hold legal title to the assets of an employee benefit plan with the intent to deal with those assets solely for the benefit of the members of that plan. That person is the “trustee,” and the resulting relationship between the trustee and the plan participants with respect to a plan’s assets is a “trust” for purposes of ERISA. In this case, the plan complied with the requirement that “all assets of an employee benefit plan shall be held in trust by one or more trustees…”

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


April 21, 2015


EEOC Proposed Rule Allows Financial Incentives For Workplace Wellness Plans

Emphasizing confidentiality and allowing employer incentives, the EEOC has published a proposed rule describing how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to employer wellness programs that are part of group health plans. However, the proposed rule does not address the extent to which Title II of GINA affects an employer’s ability to condition incentives on a family member’s participation in a wellness program, which the agency said it will address later. The proposed rule was published in the April 20
Federal Register

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Recession More Likely Cause Of Spending Growth Reduction, Not ACA

Even with the savings from reductions in Medicare and Medicaid payments, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its coverage expansions were originally predicted to add $577 billion to national health expenditures (NHE) between 2014 and 2019. However, since those predictions were made, health spending in the U.S. has grown at historically low rates, according to a recent report from the Urban Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. As a result, the current NHE prediction for 2014 to 2019 is $21 trillion—$2.5 trillion less than the original forecast…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


April 20, 2015


DOL, HHS, And Treasury Answer Questions On Wellness Program Design

The Department of (DOL), Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Treasury (the Departments) have jointly issued Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) addressing issues triggered by the publication of wellness regulations issued in accordance with the Public Health Service Act (PHS Act) in June 2013. The FAQs address the concept of “reasonable design” of health-contingent wellness programs…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


IRS Adds Easier Correction Methods For Automatic Contribution Elective Deferral Plans

In Rev. Proc. 2015-28, the IRS has modified its Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS) procedures to include new safe harbor correction methods relating to automatic contribution features (including automatic enrollment and automatic escalation of elective deferrals) in 401(k) and 403(b) plans, and special safe harbor correction methods for plans (including those with automatic contribution features) that have short-term elective deferral failures…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


Expansion And State Exchanges Boost Coverage Rates In California, New York

In 2014, there were higher percentages of uninsured adults in Florida and Texas, which are using the federal Health Insurance Marketplace and declined to expand Medicaid, compared with California and New York, which are operating their own Marketplaces and did expand Medicaid, according to a recent report from the Commonwealth Fund analyzing the results of its
Biennial Health Insurance Survey. The report also showed that adults in Florida and Texas were more likely to report not getting necessary care because of cost and to report having problems paying bills…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »