About this Newsletter
The Spencer’s Benefits Reports is a summary of the week’s news items posted
in the WHAT’S NEW pages of Spencer’s Benefits Reports
For questions regarding this email service, contact Customer Service at (800)449-9525.
Want to receive these Newsletters via E-mail?
About Links in this Newsletter
To access the IntelliConnect™ full text documents you must be a subscriber
to the Spencer’s Benefits Reports IntelliConnect product
(depending on the link*).
Links within news stories display full text documents including legislation, regulations,
court decisions, rulings and government reports.
The first time you click on a link you will be taken to the IntelliConnect login page, where you will need to enter your ID and password. Subsequent links will take you directly to the desired document.
If you aren’t a subscriber call 800-449-9525, or let us contact you about,
Contact us by sending an e-mail to
- Analysis: Health Coverage Reporting Under ACA, 8/15 (522.-1)
- Analysis: Compliance Challenges After DOMA Fails, 8/15 (327.4.-15)
(Read Intelliconnect) »
- Analysis: Plans Subject To And Exempt From Minimum Funding Standards, 8/15 (130.1.-1)
(Read Intelliconnect) »
- Analysis: Preventive Care Services Under The ACA, 8/15 (514.1.-1)
(Read Intelliconnect) »
San Francisco issues 2016 employer health care spending rates
The City of San Francisco has announced the 2016 rates for its employer health care spending law, whereby employers must either contribute a specified amount toward their employees’ health care costs on a regular basis or pay into a city health care fund for San Francisco residents. Beginning January 1, 2016, the health care expenditure rate for employers with 100 or more employees will be $2.53 per hour, and the rate for medium-sized businesses with 20-99 employees will be $1.68 per hour….
PSCA survey shows steady growth in 403(b) plan participant contributions
Nonprofit organizations that sponsor 403(b) plans experienced steady growth in participant contributions, which leads to higher average account balances, according to the seventh annual benchmarking
2015 403(b) Plan Survey from the Plan Sponsor Council of America (PSCA). Sponsored by the Principal Financial Group, the survey also found a significant growth in the number of plans offering employer contributions. Up to 96.6 percent of plans offered employer contributions in 2014 as compared to 82.7 percent in 2013….
Plan fiduciaries subject to liability for imprudent investment in artificially inflated company stock
Plan fiduciaries may be subject to suit under ERISA if they authorize company stock as plan investment option with the knowledge that it is being sold at an artificially inflated price, according to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. The court expressly rejected the suggestion that the Supreme Court has established a higher pleading standard of particularity or plausibility for allegations of fiduciary breach….
SHOP’s operational problems must be addressed for program to be a success
Since the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) exchanges opened to enroll eligible employees on October, 1, 2013, the program has been plagued with operational difficulties, and as a result, lower-than-expected enrollment numbers. According to a recent study by the Commonwealth Fund, these operational problems must be addressed before the program can become a success….
Uninsured rate continues to drop
The nationwide uninsured rate continues to drop overall, with the greatest decline being seen in states that have implemented major reforms enacted by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to the findings of a Gallup poll. The survey found that the nationwide uninsured rate decreased from 17.3 percent in 2013 to 11.7 percent during the first half of 2015, with the most significant declines occurring in states that have expanded Medicaid and have established either a state-based marketplace or a state-federal partnership….
8th Cir.: Fired employee’s FMLA win affirmed on liability but $160K award vacated for jury trial on damages
Although the Eighth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for an employee as to liability on her FMLA entitlement and retaliation claims, in which she alleged that she was terminated after giving her employer notice of her need for a reduced schedule during her pregnancy, the court vacated and remanded the award of $49,769 in back pay, $30,876 in pre-judgment interest on the back pay, and $80,645 in liquidated damages. Because fact disputes existed, the district court abused its discretion by not permitting a jury to determine damages….
ACA not a job-killer after all
Investigators at the Urban Institute, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, studied the effects of the implementation of Medicaid expansion and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) on employment, and found no support for the proposition that people who can get insurance through Medicaid will quit their jobs. Looking closely at labor force participation, number of hours worked, and numbers of people working full time compared to part time, the investigators also found no support for the argument that many employers would hire more people for fewer hours to avoid the application of the “employer mandate,” the obligation to provide access to qualified health insurance to employees who work at least 30 hours per week….
Marketplace considered successful at increasing competition between issuers
The availability of multiple issuers on the health care marketplaces increased between 2014 and 2015 in most areas. HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) studied the level of competition achieved by the marketplaces established by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and found that premium growth rates between the two years were low overall, and that more individuals had access to at least three issuers in 2015. The analysis was limited to the 35 states using the federal marketplace, as detailed county information for state-based marketplaces is not available….
Value of transit pass excludable from employee’s income
A city’s employees could exclude the value of a Smart Card, in essence a transit pass, from their gross income. The city provided Smart Cards to its employees, both full- and part-time, for use with the local transit authority. This allowed the employee to ride on all parts of the transit authority’s buses and rapid transit systems….
Employees unaware of workplace wellness programs
Only 34 percent of U.S. workers said they have a health and wellness program at work, even though 70 percent of employers say they offer this type of program, according to recent research from communications company Brodeur Partners….
Chamber of Commerce urges Congress to pass PACE Act
Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), in 2016, the small group health market in all states will be defined as the market of group health plans offered by employers with 1 to 100 employees. Historically, businesses with 51 to 100 workers have been included in the large group market, and according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, making this change will impose additional mandates, increase premiums, and provide these firms with less flexibility….
Employers keep health care cost increases at bay with changes to benefit programs
Health care benefit cost increases at large employers are expected to hold steady in 2016, due in large part to changes employers are making to their benefit programs. At the same time, nearly half of large employers say if they don’t take additional measures to control costs, at least one of their health plans will reach the threshold that triggers the “Cadillac tax” under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) in 2018, according to an annual survey by the National Business Group on Health….
PBGC issues September 2015 interest rates for valuing terminating pension plans
For single-employer pension plans terminating July through September 2015, and for multiemployer plans involved in a mass withdrawal, the interest rate established by the PBGC for calculating immediate annuities is 2.32 percent, down from the 2.71 percent rate that applied in April through June 2015. The interest rate for calculating immediate lump sums in September 2015 is 1.25 percent, down from 1.50 percent that applied in August 2015….
Issuers meet risk corridor program deadlines, CMS postpones results
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) announced that most issuers of qualified health plans (QHPs) met the proscribed deadlines for the risk corridors and medical loss ratio (MLR) forms for the temporary risk corridor program. Yet the agency’s memorandum also indicated that it would not publish these results to the public at the anticipated date of release, August 14, 2015, due to the need for additional data validation….