Spencer Benefits Reports – November 21, 2014

 

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November 21, 2014

New Analysis Reveals Slight Uptick In Employer Health Care Costs

In 2014, U.S. companies and their employees saw a slight uptick in the rate of U.S. health care cost increases, according to recent research from Aon Hewitt. After plan design changes and vendor negotiations, the average health care premium rate increase for mid-size and large companies in 2014 was 4.4 percent, up from 3.3 percent in 2013. In 2015, Aon Hewitt projects average health care premium increases will be 5.5 percent after plan design changes and vendor negotiations…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Employees Offered Financial Incentives Were 33 Times More Likely To Participate In Wellness Programs

When employers offered financial incentives, employees were 33 times more likely to participate in telephone health coaching, and did so sooner, than employees without incentives, according to recent research from The Obesity Society (TOS). Telephone health coaching (one-on-one phone calls with a personal health coach) is one of myriad employee wellness programs that employers and insurers can offer. With all that goes on in the workplace, employee wellness programs can sometimes go unnoticed; however the study shows that adding an incentive can drastically change participation numbers, thus leading to a potential increase in overall health and a decrease in costs for health plans…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Society of Actuaries Releases New Mortality Tables

The Society of Actuaries has released updated mortality tables to help retirement plan sponsors more accurately estimate the financial obligations associated with their plans. The updated tables, which show that longevity in the U.S. is increasing, establish a new benchmark for mortality rates of private pension plan participants in the U.S. and were produced as two reports that include both new mortality tables and an updated mortality improvement scale…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

November 20, 2014

PBGC Deficit Widens Due To Deterioration In Multiemployer Program

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) has released its annual report, showing that the PBGC’s deficit increased to about $62 billion in fiscal year 2014, largely due to the declining condition of a few multiemployer plans. The financial condition of the single-employer program improved with a deficit of about $19.3 billion, down from $27.4 billion in the previous year…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Many Factors Contribute To Low SHOP Enrollment: GAO

After studying the operation of the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found that enrollment is much lower than expected, and several unrelated factors combined to discourage enrollment. It is estimated that 76,000 individuals enrolled in coverage through the 18 state-based SHOPs. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) does not have the data on enrollment through the 33 federally facilitated SHOPs (FF SHOPs). The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) originally estimated that 2 million people would enroll in coverage through the SHOPs. Although enrollment could grow in the future, extension, and perhaps expansion, of the small employer tax credit would probably be necessary, according to GAO Report No. GAO-15-58…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

D.C. Circuit Delays Hearing Of Health Insurance Subsidy Challenge

The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has postponed a hearing in a challenge to IRS regulations extending the Code Sec. 36B premium assistance tax credit to individuals in state-run Health Insurance Marketplaces as well as federally facilitated Marketplaces. The court announced that its scheduled December 17 en banc review of
Halbig v. Burwell will be delayed pending review of a similar case,
King v. Burwell, by the U.S. Supreme Court…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

November 19, 2014

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) »

Experts Review ACA Small Business Provisions

At a recent ADP webinar entitled What Small Businesses Need to Know About the ACA, health reform expert Liz Mazza, senior counsel for ADP’s Small Business Services, reviewed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) provisions that impact small businesses. Mazza noted that the ACA “is designed to help small employers by lowering premium cost growth, and increasing access to quality, affordable health insurance.” The topics addressed at the webinar included the small business health care tax credit (HCTC) and the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace, among others…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Reinsurance Program Enrollment Count Deadline Extended

The Department of Health and Human Services has extended the deadline for contributing entities to submit their 2014 enrollment counts for the transitional reinsurance program until December 5. Enrollment counts were originally supposed to be submitted by November 15…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

November 18, 2014

What To Expect For 2015 Exchange Open Enrollment, 2014 Tax Season

General statistics of, changes to, and tax implications of the open enrollment period under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) were discussed in a recent
Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) Issue Brief. According to the brief, during this year’s open enrollment session, which began on Nov. 15, 2014, and will run through Feb. 15, 2015, participants in the Health Insurance Exchanges under the ACA can expect a certain degree of change. Further, since the first tax season after the implementation of the ACA will directly follow this open enrollment period, KFF also explained what consumers of health coverage under the ACA will be required to file and consider during this highly anticipated tax season…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Employers Scaling Back Health Coverage For Spouses And Dependents

To better control rising health care costs and minimize the risk of triggering the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) excise tax over the next three years, a growing number of employers will make significant changes in how they subsidize health care coverage for their employees’ spouses and dependents, according to the
Towers Watson 2014 Towers Watson Health Care Changes Ahead Survey. The survey found that by 2017, 63 percent of employers will add surcharges or exclude spouses from coverage when employer-sponsored health coverage is available elsewhere…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

November 17, 2014

PBGC Issues December 2014 Interest Rates For Valuing Terminating Pension Plans

For single-employer pension plans terminating October through December 2014, and for multiemployer plans involved in a mass withdrawal, the interest rate established by the PBGC for calculating immediate annuities is 3.10, down from the 3.43 percent rate that applied in July through September 2014. The interest rate for calculating immediate lump sums in December 2014 is 1.00 percent, down from the 1.25 percent rate that applied in November 2014.

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Number Of Self-Insured Group Plans Remained Stable from 2010 To 2011: DOL

The proportion of group health plans that self-insured or had a mixture of self-insurance and insurance, remained relatively stable from 2010 to 2011, according to a recent report from the Department of Labor (DOL). The fourth
Annual Report to Congress on Self-Insured Group Health Plans found that 19,400 self-insured plans filed Form 5500s in 2011, only down 400 from the 19,800 that filed a Form 5500 in 2010. Self-insured plans covered approximately 31 million participants in 2011 and held assets totaling about $63 billion…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Tax Treatment Of Reinsurance Contributions Clarified By IRS

The IRS has clarified in an updated set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) that required contributions paid by health insurance issuers toward the transitional reinsurance program may be treated as ordinary and necessary expenses paid or incurred in carrying on a trade or business or as a reduction to taxable income, as provided under Subchapter L. Similarly, sponsors of self-insured group health plans may treat reinsurance program contributions as ordinary and necessary business expenses, subject to disallowances or limitations under the Internal Revenue Code…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »