Spencer’s Benefits NetNews – June 2, 2017

 

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News

June 2, 2017

Employees want flexible schedules and summer Fridays, but fewer companies offer them

Workers surveyed by staffing firm OfficeTeam said they’d like to see flexible schedules (39 percent) and the ability to leave early on Fridays (30 percent) this Summer. But companies have cooled off on providing these benefits. Sixty-two percent of human resources (HR) managers reported their organization offers flexible schedules at this time of year, down from 75 percent in a 2012 survey. About three in 10 employers (29 percent) relax their dress codes in the summer months, compared to 57 percent five years ago. Companies with shorter hours on Fridays also fell to 20 percent, a 43-point decline from 2012….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

AHCA high-risk pool funding may fall short

The current version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) allots approximately $128 billion in federal and state-matching funds over a nine-year period for high-risk pools, but researchers have calculated that the cost for all states to set up the pools would be $359 billion over ten years. The Urban Institute, supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, released a brief describing the researchers’ estimate titled High-Risk Pools Under the AHCA: How Much Could Coverage Cost Enrollees and the Federal Government? The $359 billion estimate is the figure associated with the least expensive approach with the lowest enrollment, leaving the highest number of uninsured individuals….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

June 1, 2017

CDHPs continue to gain popularity

Consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) are continuing to gain market share in the U.S., and are having the intended effect of making people more involved in their own health care, according to recent research from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and Greenwald & Associates. The Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey found that 14 percent of privately insured adults were enrolled in a CDHP (defined as enrollment in a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) combined with a health savings account (HSA) or health reimbursement arrangement (HRA)). An additional 14 percent were enrolled in an HDHP not linked to an HSA or HSA….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Extrinsic evidence indicated that retiree health care benefits vested for life

Finding that the language in a collective bargaining agreement was ambiguous, a divided Sixth Circuit concluded that extrinsic evidence indicated that an employer and union intended for the healthcare benefits of retirees to vest for life. Because a general-durational clause carved out life insurance and health care insurance, and stated that those coverages ceased at a time different than other provisions of the CBA, the appeals court examined extrinsic evidence to determine the parties’ intent. However, the matter was remanded to the district court because it failed to properly weigh the costs and the benefits of the employer’s proposed changes to the retirees’ current plan. Judge Donald filed a separate opinion concurring in the result. Judge Sutton filed a separate dissenting opinion….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

May 31, 2017

Nurse fired for violating dual employment policy while on extended leave can’t advance FMLA claims

A nurse who was granted extended medical leave after her FMLA leave expired but was discharged when the hospital learned that she violated the leave policy’s prohibition against dual employment by working elsewhere without permission failed to defeat summary judgment on her FMLA interference and retaliation claims. A federal court in Maryland determined that the hospital’s denial of light duty did not constitute FMLA interference, she could not have reasonably considered herself to have been terminated at that point, and she failed to present evidence suggesting the decision to fire her due to her dual employment while on leave was pretextual….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

States seek to intervene, parties ask for more time in ACA subsidies case

On the heels of democratic attorneys general (AGs) of fifteen states and the District of Columbia filing a motion to intervene in an Obama era case brought by the House of Representatives challenging the subsidy payments made to insurers to help make monthly insurance premiums more affordable for consumers, the parties requested another 90 day delay in the case. The case has been under abeyance since December 2016 after the court granted the House of Representatives’ motion requested to hold the proceedings in abeyance until after the Trump Administration was in place. A motion to lift the abeyance to consider the motion to intervene was also filed by the AGs….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

May 30, 2017

AHCA amendments won’t save coverage for 23M or lower premiums for unhealthy Americans, says CBO

The version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) (H.R. 1628) that passed the House of Representatives on May 4, 2017, would reduce the federal budget by $32 billion less than an earlier draft of the bill, and would cause 14 million Americans to lose health insurance next year. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) issued their third cost estimate of the bill, this time taking into account the amendment from Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich) and Billy Long (R-Mo) that ensured passage of the bill in the House. Despite the Upton-Long amendment, the agencies project that the health insurance markets in one-sixth of the country would be unstable beginning in 2020, with many individuals being unable to purchase affordable coverage. Compared with the agencies’ estimates of previous versions of the AHCA, the version passed by the House would cause slightly fewer people to lose their health insurance, and individuals purchasing nongroup insurance would see lower average premiums, though some people would likely purchase policies that would not cover major medical risks….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Premium levels directly related to number of insurers in the area, study finds

Rating regions with fewer health insurers in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) nongroup marketplaces have higher premiums in 2017, concluded a study by the Urban Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This data demonstrates that premium levels are directly related to the number of insurers in a rating region, according to the brief. In addition, regions with one or two insurers are sparsely populated and concentrated in the Southern states. The numbers in 2018, however, could be “quite different” considering the uncertainty created by replace-and-repeal efforts….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Restriction on revenue sharing did not allow for fiduciary breach suit against recordkeeper

A recordkeeper was not subject to liability, as a fiduciary, for adopting an undisclosed policy that prohibited revenue sharing, authorized under a custodial services agreement, from being paid to third-party recordkeepers, according to a federal trial court in New York. The restrictive policy, by preventing a plan from obtaining more competitive fees, could enable the recordkeeper to receive excess fees, but it did not constitute an exercise of discretion over plan assets sufficient to allow for fiduciary liability….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »