Spencer Benefits Reports Netnews – September 18, 2015

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Featured This Week


New Reports




September 18, 2015


Health insurance covers 7M more in 2015

More Americans are covered by health insurance than at any time since 1999, according to a recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC survey analyzed data from the first three months of 2015, which revealed that the number of Americans choosing to forgo health insurance due to the expense is currently as low as 4.4 percent. That number is the lowest it’s been since 1999, when it was 4.3 percent, and the first time since 2002 that the number has been below 5 percent….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

IRS Pays $11 Billion in Advance Premium Assistance Tax Credits

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has released its interim report on the IRS’s administration of premium tax credit claims during the 2015 filing season. In the report, TIGTA reviewed the IRS Code Sec. 36B premium assistance tax credit (PTC). TIGTA reported that the IRS made almost $11 billion in advance payments of the PTC to insurers in fiscal year (FY) 2014….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

HR groups search for employer-driven solutions to Cadillac tax

With little hope of any upcoming legislative action, the HR Policy Association and the American Health Policy Institute (AHPI) have been working together on possible employer-driven solutions to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Cadillac tax on high-cost plans. “As employers continue to wrestle with rising health care costs because of the ACA’s looming excise tax on high-cost plans, new benefit mandates, and cost shifting from federal health care programs, it is becoming increasingly clear that the private sector, not government, must lead the way to a more sustainable future,” noted the HR Policy Association….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Court sticks to its guns, overturns injunction for non-profit employers

An Indiana-based group of religiously affiliated nonprofit organizations must comply with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) provision allowing their employees to get insurance coverage for contraception, despite their religious objections. However, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the organization does not have to comply for a sixty day period to provide time for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana to address additional arguments in support of the injunction on remand. The appeals court found that the contraceptive mandate did not substantially burden the non-profits’ free exercise of religion under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

September 17, 2015


Just over half of employers implemented FSA rollover rule

When flexible spending account (FSA) plan changes became effective for plan year 2014, just over half of employers (51 percent) adopted the rollover option, versus 49 percent that elected to offer a 2 1/2-month grace period for using FSA funds, according to the
2014 Flexible Spending Account Trends Study from the Healthcare Trends Institute….

(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) »

IRS issues regs on administration of participant voting on multiemployer plan benefit suspensions

The IRS has issued temporary and proposed regulations under Code Sec. 432(e)(9) providing detailed guidance on the administration of participant voting prior to the suspension of benefits by the sponsors of multiemployer defined benefit plans in critical and declining status. The text of the temporary regulations also serves as the text of the proposed regulations. The temporary regulations are effective September 2, 2015. They apply on or after June 17, 2015 and expire on June 15, 2016….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Regardless of gender, work-life benefits are important part of overall job fit

Contrary to popular belief, work-life balance and work flexibility issues are not primarily women’s issues. In fact, in some cases it is men who use work-life benefits more frequently and are more likely to say that their work is interrupted for personal or family reasons, according to survey results from the American Psychological Association’s Center for Organizational Excellence. The survey was conducted online on APA’s behalf by Harris Poll from July 14-16, 2015, among 902 adults who are employed either full time or part time….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

September 16, 2015


Avoid market disruptions by passing PACE Act, witnesses say

Market disruptions and increased premiums could occur if the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) definition of small employer is allowed to take effect. That’s according to testimony at the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health’s hearing entitled “Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees….”

(Read Intelliconnect) »


PBGC issues October 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. The interest rate for calculating immediate lump sums in October 2015 is 1.25 percent, the same rate that applied in September 2015….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Large employers continue to launch worksite clinics despite ACA uncertainties

The percentage of large employers (those with more than 5,000 employees) that offer onsite or near-site worksite clinics offering primary care services grew from 24 percent in 2013 to 29 percent in 2014, according to consultant Mercer. In a recent targeted survey on worksite clinics, Mercer found that of the 134 respondents, 72 percent of those whose clinics provide general medical services said that managing employee health risk and chronic conditions is an important objective for the clinic….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

September 15, 2015


ACA reporting, excise taxes may confront HRAs

Recently released draft instructions for some new information reporting requirements under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) have generated questions about health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) and the scope of reporting. At the same time, employers with stand-alone HRAs face potential excise taxes unless Congress provides relief….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Standing arguments can’t bring down the House in ACA appropriations lawsuit

A district court held the House of Representatives can proceed with a lawsuit challenging the Obama Administration’s implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The court held that the House had standing to challenge the manner in which Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew (the Secretaries) paid for subsidies under the health care law because the Secretaries funded the program without receiving appropriation from Congress. On a separate issue, the court held that the House lacked standing to challenge Secretary Lew’s delay of the ACA’s employer mandate because, unlike the spending issue, the employer mandate challenge was a statutory argument and was not premised on constitutional grounds. The court did not reach the merits of the case, explaining that they would “await another day….”

(Read Intelliconnect) »


Benefits were 31.5 percent of total compensation in June 2015, BLS finds

Employer-provided benefits costs for civilian workers in private industry and state and local governments in June 2015 averaged $10.47 per hour worked, accounting for 31.5 percent of total compensation costs, which averaged $33.19 per hour worked. The cost of benefits as a percentage of compensation has risen over the past several years from 27.4 percent of total compensation. These are among the findings of the June 2015
Employer Costs for Employee Compensation report, produced quarterly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)…

(Read Intelliconnect) »


September 14, 2015


CMS publishes limited relief for health insurance issuers having problems posting policies

For issuers encountering difficulties posting individual coverage policies and group certificates of coverage to websites, as is generally required for this fall, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has stated that it will not take enforcement action as long as the necessary documents are posted by November 1, 2015. The CMS cautions, however, that the relief is only for the requirement to post the individual coverage policy or group certificate of coverage, so a summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) must still be provided in accordance with the timeframes set forth in final rules published on June 16, 2015….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Alliance to Fight the 40 ready to rumble with the Cadillac tax

Labor unions and health insurance companies are joining forces to push to Congress to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) “Cadillac tax,” contending that the tax will inevitably hurt workers by causing their employers to reduce or eliminate health insurance coverage. The newly formed lobby, “Alliance to Fight the 40” a self-described “broad-based coalition of private and public employers and employees, is committed to protecting employer-sponsored health coverage that safeguards over 150 million Americans….”

(Read Intelliconnect) »


Highway funding law will impact 5500 deadlines

The recently-enacted legislation, the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015 (P.L. 114-41), has directed the IRS to modify the maximum automatic extension period for employee benefit plans that file Form 5500 (Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan). The maximum extension for the returns of employee benefit plans filing Form 5500 shall be an automatic 3½-month period ending on November 15 for calendar year plans….

(Read Intelliconnect) »