Spencer Benefits Reports NetNews – October 16, 2015

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October 16, 2015


Your employees want financial wellness programs, even if they won’t use them

Employees apparently really like financial wellness programs, according to a survey of 1,000 adults employed at companies with at least 2,000 employees, conducted by Harris Poll for Jellyvision Lab, Inc. Eighty-six percent of respondents whose employers did not offer any kind of financial wellness programs thought that it was either very or somewhat important for employers to offer them. What confused the survey-takers was the finding that, even though 70% of employees whose employers did not offer resources to help employees plan their financial futures thought it was very or at least somewhat important for employers to offer those resources, only 38% of those employees whose companies offer those particular kinds of financial wellness programs actually utilize them….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

PBGC issues November 2015 interest rates for valuing terminating pension plans

For single-employer pension plans terminating October through December 2015, and for multiemployer plans involved in a mass withdrawal, the interest rate established by the PBGC for calculating immediate annuities is 2.46 percent, up from the 2.32 percent rate that applied in July through September 2015….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

CMS offers enrollment guidance, including SHOP instructions for employers

Qualified individuals (QIs) who wish to purchase coverage in a qualified health program (QHP) must enroll either during the open enrollment period or qualify for a special enrollment period. The effective date for coverage depends on when the plan is selected: plans selected before December 15, 2015, will go into effect January 1, 2016, while plans selected later in the open enrollment period go into effect either February 1 or March 1, 2016. In light of the upcoming open enrollment period, CMS’ Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) has provided guidance for enrollment activities related to federally-facilitated marketplaces (FFMs) and federally-facilitated small business health option programs (FF-SHOPs) established under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

October 15, 2015


IRS releases 2016 PCORI fee

The IRS has provided the adjusted applicable dollar amount to be multiplied by the average number of covered lives for purposes of the fee imposed by Code Secs. 4375 and 4376 on the issuer of a specified health insurance policy for policy years and plan years that end after September 30, 2012, and before October 1, 2019. The fee helps to fund the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI)….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Creative strategies needed to avoid, or at least minimize, Cadillac tax exposure

By 2022, Mercer has estimated that 51 percent of current plans will trigger the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) excise tax on high-cost health plans, otherwise known as the “Cadillac” tax. At a recent Mercer webcast, Joe Badalementi, an actuary who leads consulting engagement for Mercer, noted that “it’s not a question of if your health plan will hit the excise tax threshold; it is a question of when and by how much.” The most popular strategies to avoid the excise tax are to add or increase enrollment in a consumer-driven health plan (CDHP), or to make plan design changes that “basically shift costs to employees,” said Tracy Watts, Mercer’s U.S. leader for health care reform. Employers should think more creatively for solutions to avoid, or at least minimize, Cadillac tax exposure, the speakers at the webcast emphasized….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Court again declines to decide whether equitable estoppel applies under FMLA

Even assuming, without deciding, that equitable estoppel is available in the FMLA context, a hearing center worker did not rely to her detriment on her employer’s representation that she was eligible for FMLA leave, held the Eleventh Circuit in an unpublished decision. Because the worker’s employer did not meet the 50-employee threshold for coverage under the statute, the court affirmed dismissal of her FMLA interference and retaliation claims on summary judgment….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

October 14, 2015


Some employees would rather clean toilet, do taxes instead of research health care benefits

As employers continue to load more health care expenses onto workers, more than half (53 percent) of employees are still choosing a major medical plan based on factors that may have little to do with the total cost of health care for which they are increasingly responsible. According to the
2015 Aflac Open Enrollment Survey, most workers (75 percent) at least somewhat agree that even with their health insurance coverage, their medical copays and other out-of-pocket costs are more than they can afford at times. In spite of this, however, a significant number of consumers lack the desire to research their insurance benefits….

(Read Intelliconnect) »


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) »

October 13, 2015


ERISA procedures unavailable to preferred providers not within ‘beneficiary’ definition

Medical providers in contract with an insurer failed to qualify as “beneficiaries” under ERISA definition and, thus, were not entitled to procedures under ERISA concerning payments, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled, reversing the lower court’s ruling….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

U.S. employers expect rate of increase in health care costs in 2015 to remain low but well above inflation

Employers expect a 4.1 percent rate of increase in the cost of employer-sponsored health care benefits in 2015 — the lowest in 15 years but well above inflation, according to an annual survey by Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health (NBGH). The survey of 487 large U.S. employers also found that while employers remain concerned about the cost and effectiveness of their programs, they are more committed to providing some form of health care coverage to employees over the next 10 years than they have been in recent years. Employer confidence in offering health care coverage 10 years from now has nearly doubled to 44 percent today, from 25 percent in 2014….

(Read Intelliconnect) »


October 12, 2015


IRS gives employers some key points on reporting requirements

The IRS has published what it considers to be key points for employers to keep in mind about upcoming reporting requirements. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148), employers with 50 or more full-time employees in the preceding year are considered to be applicable large employers, or ALEs, and they must report certain health coverage information on returns filed with the IRS and included in statements furnished to full-time employees….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Asset purchaser may owe pension plan $662K in withdrawal liability

An engineering and construction company that entered into an asset purchase agreement with another contractor that was party to a collective bargaining agreement may be liable under a theory of successor liability to the pension plan for almost $662,000 in withdrawal liability, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled. Reversing the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the successor company, as well as the denial of the plan’s motion for summary judgment, the court concluded that notice of contingent withdrawal liability, without knowledge of the exact extent of that liability, satisfies the successor liability notice requirement under ERISA’s withdrawal liability rules; and that, in this case, the purchaser had such notice….

(Read Intelliconnect) »


Economists stand firm on unpopular opinion: Cadillac tax is necessary

The controversial Cadillac tax just received overwhelming support from a group of health economists. This group addressed senators and representatives, stating that the tax will provide an incentive for employers to limit the cost of health plans to the tax-free amount. According to a letter the group sent October 1, the tax ultimately encourages consumers and providers to choose cost-effective care options….

(Read Intelliconnect) »