Spencer’s Benefits NetNews – July 21, 2017


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Featured This Week

New Reports


July 21, 2017

New SHRM survey reveals most common employee travel perks

In June, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) released the results of its 2017 Employee Benefits Survey, which showed that the most common travel perks were allowing employees to keep hotel points (66 percent) and frequent flyer miles (65 percent)….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

IRS issues August 2017 AFRs

The August 2017 short-term, mid-term, and long-term applicable federal interest rates (AFRs) have been issued by the IRS. The August mid-term 175 percent AFR (Annual) rate, used to calculate interest charged to the funding standard account for underpayments of quarterly contributions under Code Sec. 412(m), is 3.43 percent….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Report reveals status of reinsurance and risk adjustment for 2016

The transitional reinsurance and permanent risk adjustment programs continued to protect against high risk in the 2016 benefit year, according to a recent Center for Consumer Information and Insurance (CCIIO) report. The CCIIO review determined that the transitional reinsurance and permanent risk adjustment programs were stable or improved when compared to the 2015 benefit year….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

July 20, 2017

BCRA may be gone, but AHCA, ACA repeal efforts continue

After four Republican Senators announced their opposition to the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 (BCRA), the Senate’s draft bill that would end some of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) requirements and taxes while reforming Medicaid, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) announced that BCRA would not proceed. Rather, McConnell said, the Senate will take up the House of Representative’s bill, titled the American Health Care Act (H.R. 1628), and amend it to mirror a reconciliation bill that passed both Houses in 2015 but was vetoed by President Barack Obama (H.R.3762)….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Few participants use HSAs as investment vehicles

Most health savings account (HSA) owners use the account as a specialized checking account, rather than investment vehicles, according to recent research from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). The survey found that average total contributions (combined individual and employer contributions) increased from $2,348 to only $2,922 between 2011 and 2106. This average was just above the minimum allowable deductible amount for family coverage, but less than one-half the allowable contribution maximum for family coverage….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

July 19, 2017

Eliminate group health plan “footprint” rule, allow standalone FSAs, ECFC urges HHS

Stressing the importance of consumer-directed health arrangements, the Employer Council on Flexible Compensation (ECFC) urges the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to review the excepted benefits regulations and eliminate the group health plan “footprint” requirement so that health flexible spending arrangements (FSA) are allowable for employees even if there is no group health plan coverage offered to them through an employer….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Premiums the big factor in health plan enrollment

For employers looking to drive more workers to sign up for health savings account (HSA)-eligible health plans, one of the biggest financial incentives they can offer is to reduce or even eliminate the annual premiums, according to recent research from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). EBRI examined the administrative data from the health plans of two large employers from 2011 to 2014 to determine the extent to which financial incentives, such as $0 premiums, encouraged enrollment in an HSA-eligible health plan, and whether the incentives affected risk selection in the plans….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Veteran could proceed with claim employer reduced his salary by disability benefits amount

Refusing to dismiss a former marine’s USERRA discrimination claim, a federal district court in Florida found that he sufficiently alleged that the employer reduced his pay by the amount of disability benefits he received from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which was the same as claiming that military service was the “motivating factor” for the adverse decision. The employee’s FLSA overtime claim also advanced. As to both claims, the court rejected the owner’s assertion that he could not be individually liable, because the employee claimed the owner exercised control over the terms of employment and was the individual who made the adverse pay decision….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

July 18, 2017

Challenges to ACA final rule involving gender identity halted

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been granted a stay on proceedings involving a final rule it issued pursuant to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) that prohibits discrimination on the basis of “gender identity” and “termination of pregnancy.” Staying the case and resuming consideration of all pending motions when HHS completes reconsideration of the rule will promote judicial efficiency and impose no undue prejudice on the plaintiffs, a federal district court in Texas ruled….

        (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) »

Alaska’s State Innovation Waiver approved

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the IRS have approved Alaska’s Sec. 1332 State Innovation Waiver application. Alaska sought a Sec. 1332 waiver to implement the Alaska Reinsurance Program (ARP) for 2018 and future years in an effort to stabilize the individual health care market….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

July 17, 2017

Cheaper plans, fewer benefits with revised Senate’s ACA replacement bill

Noting an additional $70 billion in funds for states to use to reduce premiums, hold down out-of-pocket costs, and improve the general affordability of health care, the Senate issued a revision draft of the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) (H.R. 1628), which would repeal and replace parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148). The revised bill’s funding additions for states are on top of the $100 billion already earmarked in the previous bill. The revised bill also includes provisions known as the Cruz Amendment, as introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), which allows for cheaper insurance plans in exchange for plans with benefits that do not meet current ACA requirements. The draft of the revised bill is expected to be scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) shortly….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

House IRS budget bill limits ACA individual mandate enforcement

While Senate Republicans try to find common ground on a Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal and replace bill, House Republicans are also looking to limit IRS enforcement of the ACA individual mandate provision through the budget process. The House Appropriations Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee approved an IRS budget bill that would both cut IRS funding as well as limit IRS enforcement of Internal Revenue Code Sec. 5000A….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

PBGC issues August 2017 interest rates for valuing terminating pension plans

For single-employer pension plans terminating July through September 2017, and for multiemployer plans involved in a mass withdrawal, the interest rate established by the PBGC for calculating immediate annuities is 2.44 percent, up from the 2.15 percent rate that applied in April through June 2017….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »