Spencer’s Benefits NetNews – January 12, 2018

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Featured This Week

New Reports

  • Analysis: Top-heavy plans must provide minimum benefits, 12/17 (110.01.-1)

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  • Analysis: ACA, Sec. 125 and HRAs, 12/17 (562.-1)

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  • Analysis: Healthy San Francisco plan, 12/17 (509.-9)

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  • Analysis: Sec. 125 sample written plan, 12/17 (352.-5)

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  • News

    January 12, 2018

    Survey shows 66 percent of companies offering more health and wellness programs than five years ago

    In a recent survey from staffing firm OfficeTeam, two-thirds of HR managers (66 percent) reported their organization has expanded their health and wellness offerings in the past five years. And these efforts haven’t gone unnoticed: 89 percent of workers said their company is supportive of their wellness goals….

            (Read Intelliconnect) »

    Employer not liable for withdrawal liability after it stopped using laborers’ union members

    An employer that discontinued contributions to a union pension fund after it ceased using employees who were members of the Laborers’ union was not liable for withdrawal liability from a multiemployer pension plan, ruled the Seventh Circuit. After first finding the pension fund waived its argument that the arbitrator misinterpreted Sec. 1383(b)(2)(B)(i) of ERISA, the appeals court found that the arbitrator properly looked to the parties’ historical practice, so that her conclusion that contributions to the fund were not “previously required” by the parties’ CBA was not clear error. Finally, the appeals court rejected the employer’s contention that the district court abused its discretion in denying the employer’s motion for attorney’s fees….

            (Read Intelliconnect) »

    January 11, 2018

    Despite letter referencing FMLA leave, employee was not eligible for leave under the Act

    An administrative assistant who was not allowed to return to work after taking multiple leaves of absence related to her multiple sclerosis (MS) was not eligible for FMLA leave because she did not dispute that the defendants employed fewer than 50 employees within 75 miles of her worksite and, even though the employer referenced the exhaustion of her “FMLA” leave by letter, she did not show that she detrimentally relied on the misrepresentation so estoppel did not apply. The federal district court in New York therefore granted summary judgment against her FMLA claims. Her ADA and state law discrimination and non-accommodation claims failed because her frequent absences rendered her unable to perform essential job functions….

            (Read Intelliconnect) »

    Fiduciaries’ failure to adopt other actions to mitigate foreseeable stock drop did not satisfy do more good than harm standard

    The failure of plan fiduciaries to mitigate the effects of a foreseeable drop in a company’s stock price by failing to disclose the financial status of a subsidiary prior to divestiture, discontinue trading in company stock, or purchase a hedging product was not an actionable fiduciary breach under ERISA because the plan participants failed to establish the inference that a reasonable fiduciary would not have concluded that the proposed corrective action would have done more harm than good to the plan, according to a U.S. district court in New York….

            (Read Intelliconnect) »

    January 10, 2018

    ERISA final rule on new disability benefits claims procedures will apply April 1

    On January 5, the Department of Labor announced that April 1, 2018, will be the applicability date for employee benefit plans to comply with a final rule under ERISA that will provide new procedural protections for workers dealing with plan fiduciaries and insurance providers who have denied their disability benefits claims….

            (Read Intelliconnect) »

    Financial health of large corporate pension plans improved modestly in 2017

    The funded status of the nation’s largest corporate pension plans improved modestly at the end of 2017 compared with the end of 2016, according to recent research from Willis Towers Watson. This improvement was due to strong market returns and larger-than-expected employer contributions….

            (Read Intelliconnect) »

    January 9, 2018

    Text: EBSA, proposed rule, definition of “employer” under Sec. 3(5) of ERISA–association health plans

            (Read Intelliconnect) »

    DOL proposed regulation would allow association health plans

    The Department of Labor (DOL) has issued a proposed rule that would allow employers to join together as a single group to purchase insurance in the large group health insurance market. Employers could offer this employment-based health insurance via small business health plans, also known as association health plans (AHP)….

            (Read Intelliconnect) »

    PBGC final regs expand its missing participant program to DC, multiemployer DB, and other DB plans

    The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) has issued final regulations that expand its existing missing participants program to cover terminated 401(k) and most other defined contribution (DC) plans, multiemployer defined benefit (DB) plans, and certain DB plans that are not currently covered by the program. The PBGC has revised the existing program to establish programs for these plans that are similar to the existing missing participant program as well as to simplify procedures and remove unnecessary rules. The regulations are effective January 22, 2018, and are generally applicable for plans that terminate on or after January 1, 2018. The PBGC is also creating new forms for the various types of plans….

            (Read Intelliconnect) »

    January 8, 2018

    Employers received approximately $344 million in rebates in 2016 due to ACA’s MLR provision

    In 2016, employers in the small group market received approximately $153 million in rebates, and employers in the large group market received $191 million in rebates due to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) medical loss ratio (MLR) provision, according to a report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Consumers in the individual market received approximately $103 million in rebates. In 2016, health insurance companies paid approximately $447 million in rebates….

            (Read Intelliconnect) »

    403(b) plan fiduciaries did not breach ERISA by locking-in investment options with investment companies

    Fiduciaries to a university 403(b) plan did not breach their fiduciary duties under ERISA by “locking-in” plan investment options with two investment companies and allowing the companies to earn greater fees by serving as their own recordkeepers, according to a federal trial court in Pennsylvania. The participants’ complaints, including that the fiduciaries retained underperforming funds, allowed asset-based fees, and authorized expensive retail funds as investment options, were negated by the fact the plan offered a reasonable mix and range of investment options….

            (Read Intelliconnect) »