Spencer’s Benefits NetNews – September 1, 2017


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Featured This Week


New Reports


September 1, 2017


Survey suggests HR missing the mark when it comes to open enrollment

As many HR departments prepare for open enrollment, Namely, an HR platform for mid-sized companies, has released the results of its open enrollment survey and identified what is most important to employees in a top-notch benefits experience. Key among the survey findings is that 36 percent of employees give their HR department a “C” or lower when it comes to open enrollment. While 57 percent of respondents said their employer prepared them “pretty well,” only 27 percent give them an “A.” The biggest causes of open enrollment frustration are 1) constant changes in plans, 2) collateral that’s hard to understand, and 3) the rushed process….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Contributing employer lacked remedy to challenge underfunded multiemployer plan’s rehab effort

An employer that contributed to an underfunded multiemployer pension fund in critical status lacked a remedy under ERISA to challenge actions taken by the fund’s trustees pursuant to the fund’s rehabilitation plan, the Eleventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled in a case of first impression….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

August 31, 2017


Small businesses not only offer health plans, but are containing costs better than larger employers

Most people believe that small employers (those with less than 100 employees) do not offer health insurance benefits to employees that are competitive with larger employers, but a recent survey from United Benefit Advisors found that they are keeping pace with larger employers, and actually doing a better job of containing costs. The survey, Small Businesses Keeping Pace with Nationwide Health Trends, found that employees across all plan types pay an average of $3,378 toward annual health insurance, while the employer picks up the rest of the total cost of $9,727. Among small groups, employees pay $3,557, with their employer picking up the balance of $9,474—only a 5.3 percent difference, according to UBA….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Question remained whether employee was prejudiced by leave denial

A hospital medical staff coordinator was allowed to continue with her claim that her employer violated the FMLA by denying one request for leave and terminating her after she returned from another instance of leave. At issue: whether she was prejudiced by the leave denial, given that she was provided a flexible schedule instead, which allowed her to attend medical appointments with her spouse and care for him as needed. However, her federal and state law disability claims were dismissed….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

August 30, 2017


Guidance reminds health insurers they cannot deny coverage based on gender identity

The New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) has sent a circular letter to health insurers in New York stressing that they cannot discriminate or deny coverage based on gender identity. New York Governor Cuomo said the action is aimed at making sure that transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals receive coverage regardless of whether they present as the gender to whom the service is typically or exclusively provided. The letter instructs health insurers to take reasonable steps, including requesting additional information, to determine whether the insured is eligible for the services prior to denying a claim….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

U.S. workers poised to spend an average of $5,200 in health care costs in 2018

Recent upticks in medical inflation, coupled with continued increases in out-of-pocket cost sharing, is likely to boost U.S. employees’ health care cost increases in 2018 to the highest levels in three years, according to a new actuarial analysis by Aon….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

August 29, 2017


Text: IRS, Notice 2017-44, model amendments to add bifurcated distribution options to defined benefit plans

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

EEOC’s wellness regs arbitrary and capricious, but left standing

The EEOC’s wellness regulations under the ADA and GINA are arbitrary and capricious, the federal court in the District of Columbia ruled, granting the AARP’s motion for summary judgment on its Administrative Procedure Act challenge to the regulations. The regulations provide that the use of a penalty or incentive of up to 30 percent of the cost of self-only coverage does not render “involuntary” a wellness program (either participatory or health-contingent) that seeks the disclosure of ADA- or GINA-protected information. The EEOC failed to adequately explain its decision to construe the term “voluntary” in the ADA and GINA to permit the 30-percent incentive level, the court said. However, the court noted that its “serious concerns” about the EEOC’s reasoning were outweighed by the “disruptive consequences” likely to result from vacatur. Thus, it remanded the rules to the EEOC for reconsideration without vacatur….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

IRS provides model amendments to add bifurcated distribution options to DB plans

Based on stakeholders’ requests, the IRS has released model amendments that a defined benefit (DB) plan sponsor may use to amend its plan document to offer bifurcated benefit distribution options to participants in accordance with final regulations issued under Code Sec. 417(e)….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

August 28, 2017


New 403(b) retirement plan survey shows auto-plan design features on the rise

Results from a recent survey on 403(b) plans by the Plan Sponsor Council of America (PSCA) show noticeable improvements for non-profit organizations in investment selections and auto-plan design features, such as increased default deferrals. The survey, sponsored by the Principal Financial Group®, received responses from 608 non-profit organizations that currently sponsor a 403(b) plan for employees and range in size and industry from small community-based organizations to large hospital and university systems….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

CMS pushes rate submission deadline to September 5, 2017

In light of changes to CMS’ risk adjustment methodology, CMS is giving insurers until September 5, 2017, to submit final 2018 rates for individual marketplace plans. According to a Center for Consumer Information and Insurance (CCIIO) report, CMS decided to alter its risk adjustment methodology because state departments of insurance (DOIs) have permitted issuers to increase their 2018 rates to account for uncompensated liability arising from the government’s inability to make cost sharing reduction (CRS) payments to issuers….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »