Spencer’s Benefits Reports NetNews – August 22, 2014

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August 22, 2014

How SHOP Exchanges Could Be So Much Better This Year

Participation by small employers in the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) has gotten off to a slow start, but a recently-released report from the Urban Institute provides ideas for improvement in the program that could boost enrollment numbers. The reasons for its sluggish performance are consistent across the states, the report says, and lend themselves to some across-the-board improvements…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

401k Plan Fees Continue To Decrease

Participants in 401(k) plans incurred lower expenses investing in long-term mutual funds (equity, hybrid, and bond funds) in 2013 than in 2012, an Investment Company Institute (ICI) study has found. The decline in 401(k) plan fees is consistent with the downward trend of the past decade, the ICI said…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

August 21, 2014

Satisfaction With CDHPs Gradually Rising

The overall satisfaction rate among consumer-driven health plan (CDHP) enrollees is gradually increasing, while satisfaction is gradually decreasing among traditional plan enrollees, according to recent research from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). The 2013 EBRI/Greenwald & Associates Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey (CEHCS) did note, however, that significantly more people in traditional plans are satisfied with their health coverage than are those in CDHPs, and out-of-pocket costs may explain some of the variation in overall satisfaction rates…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

FMLA Claims Reinstated Because Employer Couldn’t Prove Employee Received FMLA Notice

Reviving an employee’s FMLA interference claim that she was unfairly discharged for exhausting her FMLA leave—since she did not know that her extended absence had been deemed FMLA leave—the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held that her insistence she had never received the employer’s letter designating her leave as FMLA rebutted the presumption of receipt under the “mailbox rule.” Her FMLA reprisal claim also was reinstated since she presented sufficient evidence of pretext. The district court’s dismissal of her claims on summary judgment was reversed and remanded. The case is Lupyan v. Corinthian Colleges, Inc…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

August 20, 2014

Midsize Employers Are Still Required To Do Sec. 6056 Reporting In 2015, IRS Says

Even though midsize employers (those with 50-99 employees) have been provided with another year to comply with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) employer mandate, they will still be required to complete information reporting under Sec. 6056 in 2015, according to speakers at an August 14 IRS webinar entitled IRC Section 6056: Information Reporting by Applicable Large Employers on Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage. Speaker Stephen Tackney, of the Office of Division Counsel/Associate Chief Counsel (Tax Exempt and Government Entities), said, “This is very important. Even though there is relief for employers with 50 to 99 full-time employees from [the provisions of] Sec. 4980H, they are still have to do the reporting under Sec. 6056 on the offers of coverage they make to employees….”

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Consistent 401k Participants Have Higher Account Balances

For workers who participated consistently in a 401k plan from 2007 to 2012, the average account balance was 67 percent higher than the average account balance among all 401k participants, according to recent research from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and the Investment Company Institute (ICI). The study, What Does Consistent Participation in 401(k) Plan Generate? Changes In 401(k) Account Balances, 2007-2012, found that the average account balance of consistent 401k participants increased at a compound average annual growth rate of 6.8 percent from 2007 to 2012, despite a 34.7 percent drop in that group’s average 401k balance in 2008. The increase in account balances reflects several factors, including employer and employee contributions, investment returns, withdrawals, and loans, EBRI noted…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

August 19, 2014

Skinny Plans Increasingly On The Health Benefits Menu At Large Employers

More employers (16 percent) are planning on offering low-benefit “skinny” plans to employees in 2015, according to a recent survey from the National Business Group on Health (NBGH). Skinny plans let workers and employers avoid the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) penalties, but usually do not provide substantial health coverage to workers. Eighty-one percent of large employers will offer employees skinny plans along with one plan that does meet the ACA’s standards for value and affordability…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Employers Offering Telemedicine Expected To Increase In 2015

Telemedicine could potentially deliver more than $6 billion a year in health care savings to U.S. companies, according to recent research from Towers Watson. An illustration of the program’s possibilities, achieving this level of savings, would require all employees and their dependents to use the technology-enabled interactions available today in place of face-to-face visits to the doctor, urgent care center or emergency room (for appropriate medical problems)…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

August 18, 2014

PBGC Issues September 2014 Interest Rates For Valuing Terminating Pension Plans

For single-employer pension plans terminating July through September 2014, and for multiemployer plans involved in a mass withdrawal, the interest rate established by the PBGC for calculating immediate annuities is 3.43, slightly down from the 3.47 percent rate that applied in April through June 2014. The interest rate for calculating immediate lump sums in September 2014 is 1.25 percent, the same rate that applied in August 2014…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Register On Pay.gov, Start Collecting Information Now, CMS Advises Reporting Entities

Have you heard of Pay.gov? If your organization is a reporting entity for purposes of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) transitional reinsurance program, you might want to become familiar with that website. That’s because it will be used to report annual enrollment information and pay reinsurance contributions, according to a recent Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) webinar about the reinsurance program. The webinar, which is one in a series about the program, provided detailed information on the Supporting Documentation requirements…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Illinois Opens Health Rate Records To Consumers

Health insurance consumers in Illinois will now have online access to insurance company records, such as health insurance rate increases, according to the Illinois Department of Insurance (DOI). The product filings are available through the online tool SERFF Filing Access (SFA)…

(Read Intelliconnect) »