Spencer’s Benefits Reports NetNews – August 12, 2016

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August 12, 2016


Mercer survey highlights expansion of parental leave policies

As the definition of families continues to evolve, more organizations are expanding leave policies to include fathers, part-time employees and caregivers of parents to help ensure inclusivity among their workforce. This is according to Mercer’s 2016 Global Parental Leave report, which also shows that while almost two-thirds (64 percent) of companies worldwide provide maternity leave for only the birth mother, 24 percent of companies provide this leave to the primary caregiver—regardless of gender….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Despite ACA expansions, gaps in women’s health coverage persist

Since the enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), more women have health insurance than before the law, but gaps in women’s health coverage persist. According to a recent report from the National Women’s Law Center and the Commonwealth Fund, insurers often exclude health services women are likely to need, leaving women vulnerable to higher costs and denied claims….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

DOL announces new grant program to create retirement benefits portability

The Department of Labor has announced the establishment of a new grant program to help workers—especially low-wage workers—adapt to the changing nature of America’s workplace through retirement benefits portability. The grant program, entitled “Our Portable Retirement Benefits Planning,” is designed to help workers who traditionally lack access to employer-provided retirement benefits, including independent contractors, or those less likely to have income from pensions or assets. Administered by the Women’s Bureau, this program is especially important for low-wage workers and women, who face a higher risk of poverty in their retirement years due to inadequate retirement savings, lower average lifetime earnings, lower likelihood of working full-time, greater likelihood of taking unpaid time off for caregiving, and longer lifespans….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

August 11, 2016


Employers should get an early start on new ACA requirements, experts agree

Employers should begin preparing now for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) tax requirements for 2016 and onward, according to experts at a recent webinar held by Deloitte Tax LLP,
Tax Reporting for the Affordable Care Act: Clearing the higher bar in 2016. The speakers stressed the difference employers will see between the 2015 and 2016 tax years….

(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) »

Use of non-recordkeeper target date funds in DC plans is growing, according to SEI survey

Non-recordkeeper or off-platform target date funds (TDFs) continue to grow in popularity among plan sponsors, according to an SEI survey of 231 defined contribution (DC) plan sponsors with plans ranging in size from $25 million to over $5 billion. The survey, which was recently released by SEI’s Institutional Group, is the second of its three-part study looking at the management of DC retirement plans in the United States. The poll was conducted by SEI’s Defined Contribution Research Panel in December 2015….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

August 10, 2016

With data up for ransom, OCR offers guidance

Hackers throughout the world are kidnapping data and holding it for ransom, requiring the lawful data holders to pay large sums of money—often in cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoins—if they want it back. Attacks have increased from 1,000 per day in 2015 to 4,000 per day in early 2016. HHS, in conjunction with the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security and Justice, recently disseminated a “Dear Colleague” letter about protecting networks from ransomware and responding to attacks. An attack on protected health information (PHI) can have particular ramifications for covered entities (CEs) and business associates (BAs) pursuant to HIPAA Security and Breach Notification rules. As a result, the HHS Office for Civil Rights issued its own guidance fact sheet on the intersection of ransomware and HIPAA, and ways CEs and providers can protect themselves and mitigate damages….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Benefits costs increased 0.5 percent in second quarter 2016

Benefits costs for civilian workers increased 0.5 percent for the three-month period ending June 2016, according to the most recent Employment Cost Index from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In the second quarter 2016, benefits costs rose slightly less than salaries, which increased 0.6 percent….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Employer stock purchase arrangement not an ERISA plan

An employer’s stock rights arrangement, which entitled the employer to repurchase from a retiring employee shares of the employer’s stock owned by the employee, was not an ERISA plan, according to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Thus, a district court did not err when it dismissed a former employee’s ERISA claim….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

August 9, 2016


Appeal request form available for employers who received Marketplace notice

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued instructions and a form for employers who have received a Marketplace notice stating they may be subject to the Employer Shared Responsibility Payment. Employers can request an appeal by submitting the form or mailing a letter that includes the information requested on the form. The appeal request form must be submitted within 90 days of the date of the notice….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Massachusetts businesses relax for another year, rate setting waiver extended

In an effort to keep small business health insurance premiums low, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has applied for and received an HHS waiver allowing to it use state small group rating factors. These factors, used to determine how rates should be set, are not aligned with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), but continued use is likely to preserve the current status of the market and avoid disruption….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

August 8, 2016

ACA significantly increased health coverage in California

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) significantly increased health coverage for historically uninsured groups in California, such as young adults, lower-income, Hispanics, and small business and self-employed workers between 2013 and 2014, according to recent research from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). The research compares health insurance coverage trends in California from 2013 and 2014 because 2014 was the first year for which many of the ACA’s key coverage expansions were effective….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

IRS requires DB determination letter applications to provide lump-sum risk transfer information

The IRS has announced that applicants requesting determination letters for their defined benefit (DB) plans should identify whether the plan has lump-sum risk transfer language in either the cover letter to their application or an attachment. Plans that have the language should provide the appropriate plan section and state whether the plan satisfies one of the conditions in IRS Notice 2015-49. The IRS explains that it will request this information from the plan sponsors of DB plan applications it has already received….

(Read Intelliconnect) »