Spencer’s Benefits Reports NetNews – December 19, 2014


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December 15, 2014 – December 19, 2014    |    Products    |    Catalog


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December 19, 2014


A Brief Break At Spencer’s Benefits Reports

Spencer’s Benefits Reports is taking a brief break. Spencer’s news and reports will not be issued December 22 through January 1. Publication will resume on January 2, 2015. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to all of our subscribers.…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


President Signs Act That Shores Up Troubled Multiemployer Plan System

President Obama has signed the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015, which contains provisions designed to shore up multiemployer plans by, among other things, permitting trustees of financially-troubled multiemployer plans to reduce the vested benefits of certain participants and retirees. The package of changes to the multiemployer plan system was attached to the large “cromnibus” spending legislation approved by the House on December 11, 2014 and by the Senate on December 13, 2014…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


Senate Passes One-Year Tax Extenders Bill With Pension Provisions; President To Sign

The Senate on December 16 approved, by a vote of 76 to 16, tax extenders legislation, including provisions affecting pensions and employee benefits, prior to adjourning for the year. The Tax Increase Prevention Act (H.R. 5771) provides a one-year extension of tax extenders, plus technical corrections to recent tax acts, including some provisions affecting pensions and employee benefits. The House voted to approve the measure earlier in December 2014. The President is expected to sign the measure…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


Hybrid Plan Transition Rules Would Not Mandate That Prior Plan Designs Be Treated As Improper, Treasury Officials Say

Final and proposed regulations on hybrid pension plans do not require that prior plan designs be treated as improper, according to Treasury Benefits Tax Counsel George Bostick, in remarks to the American Bar Association’s Joint Committee on Employee Benefits…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


December 18, 2014


EBSA, IRS, PBGC Release Advance Copies Of 2014 Form 5500 Annual Report, Final Version Form M-1

The Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), the IRS, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) have released advance informational copies of the 2014 Form 5500 annual return/report and related instructions…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


Potential Risk Is Too High For Small Firms Wanting To Self-Insure

While the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was created to increase access to health care, it also provides several incentives for small firms to self-insure their health plans, according to a recent article from the nonprofit public policy organization Brookings Institution. However, Robert C. Pozen, nonresident senior fellow of economic studies at the Brookings Institution, concludes that the potential risks of self-insuring will still be too high for many small health plans…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


December 17, 2014


IRS Issues 2014 Cumulative List Of Changes In Plan Qualification Requirements

In Notice 2014-77, the IRS has issued its 2014 Cumulative List of Changes in Plan Qualification Requirements. The 2014 Cumulative List is to be used by plan sponsors and practitioners submitting determination letter applications for plans during the period beginning February 1, 2015 and ending January 31, 2016. These plans will primarily be single-employer individually designed defined contribution plans and single-employer individually designed defined benefit plans that are in Cycle E. Generally an individually designed plan is in Cycle E if the last digit of the employer identification number of the plan sponsor is 5 or 0, or if the plan is a Code Sec. 414(d) governmental plan (including governmental multiemployer or governmental multiple employer plans) for which an election has been made by the plan sponsor to treat Cycle E as the second remedial amendment cycle for the plan…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


ACA Has Not Changed Americans’ Perception Of Shopping For Health Insurance

Despite the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and efforts to improve the Health Insurance Exchanges for this year’s open enrollment, most Americans still dread shopping for health insurance, according to new research from Bankrate. The majority (82 percent) who recently shopped for health insurance said that it is just as bad, or even worse, than doing your own taxes. Even having a tooth filled is better than health plan shopping for some Americans—23 percent of those who recently shopped for a plan said it was less enjoyable than facing the dentist’s drill and 45 percent said it’s just as bad (for a total of 68 percent who say it’s the same or worse)…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Consumer Health Care Costs Rise, While Access To Doctors and Prescription Drugs Fall

While the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has helped increase the number of insured Americans to the highest levels since 2008, a new study from Radius Global Market Research shows that health care costs have shifted to consumers and this is resulting in new behaviors…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

December 16, 2014


PBGC Issues January 2015 Interest Rates For Valuing Terminating Pension Plans

For single-employer pension plans terminating January through March 2015, and for multiemployer plans involved in a mass withdrawal, the interest rate established by the PBGC for calculating immediate annuities is 2.89, down from the 3.10 percent rate that applied in October through December 2014. The interest rate for calculating immediate lump sums in January 2015 is 1.00 percent, the same rate that applied in December 2014…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


EBSA Seeks Comments On Revisions To Procedures For Contraceptive Coverage Requirements

The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has published a request for public comment on a proposed extension of the revision of a currently-approved collection of information regarding notification to the government of an entity’s religious objection to providing coverage of certain preventive services otherwise mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The information collection request (ICR), set to expire on February 28, 2015, reflects interim final regulations published on August 27, 2014, in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s July 3, 2014 interim order in Wheaton College v. Burwell stating that it is not necessary to use EBSA Form 700 in order for an employer to receive an accommodation protecting it from enforcement by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of the ACA’s contraceptive requirement…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Benefits Were 31.3 Percent Of Total Compensation In September 2014, BLS Finds

Employer-provided benefits costs for civilian workers in private industry and state and local governments in September 2014 averaged $10.07 per hour worked, accounting for 31.3 percent of total compensation costs, which averaged $32.20 per hour worked. The cost of benefits as a percentage of compensation has risen in the past three years from 27.4 percent of total compensation. These are among the findings of the September 2014 Employer Costs for Employee Compensation report, produced quarterly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

December 15, 2014


IRS Releases 2015 Standard Mileage Rates

In Notice 2014-79, the IRS has released the 2015 optional standard mileage rates that employees, self-employed individuals, and other taxpayers can use to compute deductible costs of operating automobiles (including vans, pickups, and panel trucks) for business, medical, moving and charitable purposes…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


Employers Unfamiliar With Health Plan Quality Information

Most employers that offer health insurance are unfamiliar with objective data and ratings of health plan quality, according to recent research from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The study found that only 7 percent of employers who offer health insurance use objective quality information; 89 percent do not use or are unfamiliar with any of the objective sources tested by the survey…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


More People Insured, But Fewer Seek Treatment, Gallup Reports

In its annual November poll, Gallup found that 33 percent of all U.S. citizens delayed seeking health care in the last 12 months due to cost despite the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) positive impact on the uninsured rate. The uninsured were the most likely of all surveyed groups to indicate putting off care because of fear of costs…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »






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About this Newsletter

Spencer’s Benefits Reports NetNewsTM contains the latest news and developments in the employee benefits field for both health care and retirement plans. Taken from the daily news updates in Spencer’s Benefits Reports on the Internet, the items include legislative and regulatory actions, court case summaries, industry news, and analysis of new trends such as health savings accounts (HSAs) and Roth 401(k) provisions — anything that can affect the design, implementation and administration of an employee benefits plan.


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