Spencer’s Benefits NetNews – October 4, 2019

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Featured This Week

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  • News

    As open enrollment nears, NBGH identifies six trends for 2020

    In the coming weeks, millions of employees and their families will be making important decisions about their health care and other employee benefits for 2020. The National Business Group on Health (NBGH), using data from its annual Large Employer Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey, has unveiled six trends employees can expect to see in their open enrollment packages.

            (Read Cheetah) »

    Average family premiums now top $20,000: KFF

    Annual family premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance rose 5 percent to average $20,576 this year, according to the 2019 benchmark KFF Employer Health Benefits Survey. Workers’ wages rose 3.4 percent and inflation rose 2 percent over the same period. On average, workers this year are contributing $6,015 toward the cost of family coverage, with employers paying the rest.

            (Read Cheetah) »

    Proposed regulations provide affordability safe harbors for individual coverage HRAs

    The IRS has issued proposed regulations that clarify the application of the employer shared responsibility provisions and certain nondiscrimination rules to health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) and other account-based group health plans integrated with individual health insurance coverage or Medicare (individual coverage HRAs). The regulations also provide certain safe harbors with respect to the application of those provisions to individual coverage HRAs. Employers generally are permitted to rely on the proposed regulations.

            (Read Cheetah) »

    Controlling health care costs remains employers’ top benefits strategy challenge

    The primary benefit strategy challenges that employers expect to face over the next three years are rising benefits costs (82 percent), followed by difficulties communicating benefit choices to employees (53 percent) and the differing wants and needs of a multigenerational workforce (50 percent), according to recent research from Willis Towers Watson. The 2019 Benefits Trends Survey noted that 47 percent cited lack of employee engagement with their benefit programs as a primary challenge. The survey found employers are looking to place greater emphasis on employee wellbeing, broader benefit packages and use of new technologies to support employee decision making.

            (Read Cheetah) »

    Employee who sang in rock band on days he had taken FMLA leave can’t advance retaliation claim

    Though he may have just been a singer in a rock and roll band, a county maintenance worker who was terminated after his employer found that he had performed on nights he had taken FMLA leave for a throat condition, could not establish a triable issue of fact on his claim that his termination was in retaliation for exercising his FLMA rights, a federal district court in Pennsylvania held. The court granted summary judgment to the county, dismissing the employee’s claims under the FMLA, ADA, and Pennsylvania law.

            (Read Cheetah) »

    Employers expect health benefit costs to rise 3.9 percent in 2020: Mercer

    Total health benefits cost per employee is projected to rise 3.9 percent in 2020, according to preliminary results from Mercer’s National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans. Based on responses from 1,511 U.S. employers, Mercer found that cost-shifting to employees will be less of a factor than in recent years, with just 43 percent of responding employers raising deductibles or otherwise cutting benefits to hold down cost in 2020. Since 2014, the underlying medical trend, the amount costs would rise if employers renewed plans without making changes, has decreased from 8 percent to 5 percent, easing some of the pressure on employers to make short-term cost cuts. During this time, employers have been adopting tactics that seek to reduce cost via improved health outcomes, such as targeted support for specific health conditions and steering plan members to higher-quality providers.

            (Read Cheetah) »