Spencer’s Benefits NetNews – September 29, 2017

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Featured This Week

New Reports

  • Court cases: Fiduciary breach, 9/17 (605.06.-15)

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  • Court cases: Exhausting administrative remedies, 9/17 (602.12.-1)

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  • Analysis: Preventive care services, 9/17 (514.1.-1)

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  • Overview: Prescription drug coverage, 9/17 (325.6.-1)

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  • News

    September 29, 2017

    Nearly one-third of employers offer vacation time donation

    The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) has released results from a new report, “Paid Leave in the Workplace: 2017 Survey Results.” The report shows that: 30% of employers with paid vacation allow workers to donate paid vacation days; 28% of employers offering paid-time-off (PTO) plans allow workers to donate paid time off; and 22% of employers who provide paid sick leave allow workers to donate sick leave….

            (Read Intelliconnect) »

    Remaining CO-OPs may not be viable, sustainable

    The HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) examined the viability and sustainability of new consumer-governed, nonprofit health insurance issuers, known as Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans (CO-OPs), that had been operating as of January 1, 2016, and evaluated the CMS’s oversight of the CO-OP program. The OIG concluded that CMS oversight must continue because all remaining CO-OPs were not profitable and may not be viable and sustainable….

            (Read Intelliconnect) »

    September 28, 2017

    Expert reminds calendar year plans to implement new SBC requirements during this year’s open enrollment

    While “not a lot has changed from last year, from a compliance standpoint, when it comes to open enrollment,” the new Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) template and uniform glossary need to be implemented during this year’s open enrollment for calendar year plans, according to Mike Sinkeldam, a principal for Mercer’s Health and Benefits practice. At a recent Mercer webinar, he reminded plan sponsors that “2018 will be the first plan year that we have to use the new template….”

            (Read Intelliconnect) »

    Employer-provided benefit cost varies sharply by industry

    The cost of employer-provided health care and retirement benefits, measured as a percentage of pay, varies greatly by industry, with retirement benefit costs experiencing the greatest variation, according to research by Willis Towers Watson. Overall, health care benefit costs averaged nearly 70 percent more than the cost of retirement benefits in 2015….

            (Read Intelliconnect) »

    September 27, 2017

    Kraft retirees had no vested right to health care benefits beyond termination of CBAs

    Kraft did not violate ERISA when it terminated retiree health care benefits for retired hourly workers, ruled a federal district court in Wisconsin. The employer argued that no language in a collective bargaining agreement (CBA), memorandum of agreement (MOA), or summary plan description (SPD) promised to provide medical benefits to retirees that would continue beyond the termination of the CBA in effect when they retired. Here, the court agreed with the employer that under binding ERISA caselaw, the retirees had no vested right to health care benefits upon retirement. Accordingly, it granted the employer’s motion for summary judgment….

            (Read Intelliconnect) »

    Direct impact of ACA’s individual mandate is hard to measure

    A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) panel recently discussed the difficulty in determining the precise impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, noting that other factors such as federal subsidies, the relative convenience of purchasing insurance through health care marketplaces, and increased awareness of healthcare options have also contributed to higher levels of insurance coverage since the law was passed….

            (Read Intelliconnect) »

    September 26, 2017

    City manager fired while she was on leave—behind her back—not because she was on leave

    Even assuming that a city manager had notified the city council that she was going on FMLA leave when she told them she was having foot surgery and would be able to work from home while recovering, her employer could fire her without unlawfully interfering with the FMLA as long as the reason for her termination was not because she was on leave. This it did, said the Sixth Circuit in affirming summary judgment for the city, because the employer demonstrated a legitimate reason for terminating her—it cited her role in “causing political strife in the community.” Moreover, it was questionable that she had provided FMLA notice since there was evidence she refused to take and complete the city’s FMLA forms, and it was suggested that she was only going to take a few days off and work from home. She also had no evidence of pretext….

            (Read Intelliconnect) »

    Annual family premiums averaging $18,764 in 2017

    Annual family premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance rose an average of 3 percent to $18,764 this year, continuing a six-year run of relatively modest increases, according to the benchmark Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET) 2017 Employer Health Benefits Survey….

            (Read Intelliconnect) »

    September 25, 2017

    Most HSAs rolled over money at the end of 2016

    The vast majority of health savings account (HSA) owners rolled over money at the end of last year, retaining HSA funds to cover future health expenses, according to new findings by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI)….

            (Read Intelliconnect) »

    Dem leaders push for quick Graham-Cassidy CBO assessment; hearing scheduled

    Democrats in both the House and Senate reacted quickly to the Graham-Cassidy legislation in requesting a full assessment from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The office stated that it is working on a preliminary assessment for the week of September 25, 2017, as early as possible. However, the CBO warned that point estimates on several matters will be unavailable for at least a number of weeks….

            (Read Intelliconnect) »

    Divestment was prudent as fiduciaries not required to anticipate unforeseeable rebound in efficiently valued stock

    The elimination of a company stock fund from a plan six months after a corporate reorganization was objectively prudent, even though the stock subsequently greatly increased in value, because a prudent fiduciary, acting on the public information available at the time, would have made the same divestment decision, according to Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. In affirming the trial court’s ruling that the fiduciaries acted in accord with efficient market theory, the Fourth Circuit stressed that a prudent fiduciary is not required to anticipate events or facts that are not foreseeable….

            (Read Intelliconnect) »