Spencer Benefits Reports NetNews – April 3, 2015


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New Reports




April 3, 2015


IRS Issues Special Rule To Exclude Expatriate Health Plans From Annual Fee On Health Insurers

In Notice 2015-29, the IRS has provided a special rule to exclude expatriate health plans from the annual fee imposed on insurers of U.S. health risks for the 2014 and 2015 fee years. The fee is imposed by section 9010 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Expatriate policies are defined by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as group health insurance policies that provide coverage to employees, substantially all of whom are: (1) working outside their country of citizenship; (2) working outside their country of citizenship and outside the employer’s country of domicile; or (3) non-U.S. citizens working in their home country….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Supreme Court Grants Review Of “Equitable Relief” Case Involving Dissipated Funds

The Supreme Court has agreed to review the Eleventh Circuit’s ruling in an unpublished opinion regarding the meaning of “equitable relief” under ERISA Sec. 502(a)(3). The petition for certiorari indicates that there is a 6-2 circuit split on the issue and that the question presented “requires a uniform national answer.” The case is
Robert Montanile v. Board of Trustees of the National Elevator Industry Health Benefit Plan (No. 14-723)…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

April 2, 2015


Insurers Likely Won’t Be Required To Use New SBC Templates Until 2017

In December 2014, the Departments of Labor (DOL), Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Treasury (the Departments) proposed new rules regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) required Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC). In addition, the Departments released new proposed SBC templates and other related documents. According to the recently released
FAQs about Affordable Care Act Implementation (Part XXIV), the Departments believe that the new templates and related documents will not be effective until the start of the 2017 plan year…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

MLR Year 3: Consumers Benefit To Tune Of $5 Billion

More than $5 billion in benefits were realized by consumers from 2011 through 2013 under the medical loss ratio (MLR) provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). In a newly issued report by The Commonwealth Fund, researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University and Wake Forest School of Law reviewed insurers’ filings with CMS, finding that the MLR provision did not substantially affect competition in health insurance markets or the choice of insurance plans available for consumers….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


April 1, 2015


EBSA Rule Adds Deadline Flexibility For 401(k) Plans Providing Annual Investment Information To Participants

The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has issued a direct final rule and a companion proposed rule that provide a two-month grace period for participant-directed individual account plans—e.g., 401(k) plans—to furnish annual plan and investment-related information (including fee and expense information) to participants. The final rule and proposed rule were published in the March 19
Federal Register

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


IRS Extends Temporary Nondiscrimination Relief For Closed DB Plans

The IRS has extended for an additional year the temporary relief provided in IRS Notice 2014-5 for certain closed defined benefit (DB) pension plans (i.e., plans that are closed to new entrants as of a specified date, but continue to provide ongoing accruals for existing participants). Closing a DB plan can often coincide with an amendment that provides new or greater contributions under a defined contribution (DC) plan that is intended to replace accruals under the DB plan for new hires or other employees to whom the DB plan is closed…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


March 31, 2015


Wellness Program Incentives On The Rise

Employers will spend an average of $693 per employee on wellness-based incentives in 2015, up from $594 in 2014 and $430 five years ago, according to recent research from Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health (NBGH). However, the survey found that many employees are not taking full advantage of these programs and earning all of their incentives. Fewer than half (47 percent) of employees earned their full incentive amount in 2014, while 26 percent earned a partial amount. Together, this translates into millions of dollars of unclaimed incentives…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

For Some, Affordable Coverage Hard To Find With Or Without Tax Credit

Auditors from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the tax credit for advance payment of premiums (APTC) probably made insurance affordable for many people. Still, in some areas, for some age groups, there was no affordable coverage available, even at incomes well above 400 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) the limit for the credit…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


March 30, 2015


Majority Of Employers Have Not Considered Cutting Employee Hours Due To ACA

The majority of U.S. organizations (72 percent) have not considered reducing employee hours for part-time workers as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandate that employees working 30 hours a week be offered health care coverage, according to recent research from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). However, the
Health Care Reform Survey—2015 Update found that 14 percent of employers have already reduced hours for part-timers and another 6 percent plan to do so….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


Telephonic Beneficiary Designation OK; Written Forms Not “Plan Documents” Under ERISA

Beneficiary designation forms used by a company’s ERISA retirement plans are not “plan documents” governing the plan administrators’ award of benefits under ERISA Sec. 404(a)(1)(D), the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled in
Mays-Williams v. Williams, in a case of first impression. Thus, the district court erred when it determined as a matter of law that an unmarried participant failed to change his named beneficiary from his ex-wife to his son because he used the telephone to make the change, rather than sign and return beneficiary designation forms that had been sent to him…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »