Spencer’s Benefits Reports NetNews – January 29, 2016

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January 29, 2016


ERIC critiques EEOC’s proposed GINA regulations

The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) has submitted comments to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) expressing concerns about discrepancies in wellness reward limits as set forth in both the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148). The comments reference a recently-issued EEOC proposed rule that clarifies how the EEOC’s rules will affect employer-sponsored wellness programs. ERIC advocates for employee benefit and compensation interest for some of the country’s largest employers….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Standardized benefit designs may increase coverage, lower out-of-pocket costs

Health insurance benefit designs that standardize cost-sharing features for plans offered on the exchanges could lead to increased coverage of certain services and drugs and lowered out-of-pocket costs for consumers. An analysis performed by Avalere Health that examined the standardized benefit designs recently proposed by CMS found that such plans could lead to savings for some healthier consumers….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

January 28, 2016


HHS, Treasury provide resources for surviving tax season

The Departments of Health and Human Services and the Treasury (the Departments) have released a fact sheet that provides resources for tax filers to help them understand how health care intersects with their taxes. The Departments noted that reporting information about health coverage is still a new process, but it will soon feel like a routine part of tax season….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Wellness programs improved medication adherence for those with high blood pressure, depression

Employer-sponsored wellness programs appear to have a bigger impact on medication adherence for some diseases than others, according to recent research from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). Using health claims data from a large Midwest manufacturer that increased financial incentives to workers participating in its workplace wellness programs, EBRI found improved medication adherence among workers with two of six chronic diseases….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

January 27, 2016


HHS outlines HIPAA requirements for patient information access

Providers must give patients access to their protected health information (PHI) upon request in a timely manner, without requiring the patient to go through unreasonably burdensome steps to obtain it. In an effort to promote patient engagement, HHS has released a fact sheet, including answers to frequently asked questions, to inform patients and providers of access rights under the HIPAA. HHS intends to develop additional guidance and tools for patients on the topic, in conjunction with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the White House, and the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC)….

(Read Intelliconnect) »


Tax 101: ACA compliance, step by step

January 19th was the start of the 2016 tax filing season, and Steven Siegel, J.D., LL.M., president of the Siegel Group, provided step-by-step instructions for preparers assisting individuals and employers in reporting compliance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). In a webinar presented by Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting, Siegel identified forms and offered tips for individuals and employers reporting ACA tax information including information about penalty exemptions and the advance premium tax credit. He cautioned that the ACA is a “moving target,” as the IRS continues to issue notices and frequently asked questions regarding the extension and modification of deadlines and requirements, and that his advice was current as of the presentation of the January 15th webinar….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

January 26, 2016


Supreme Court denies review of artist’s ACA challenge

The Supreme Court has declined to review an Origination Clause challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), on behalf of Matt Sissel, had filed its petition for certiorari in October 2015. The Supreme Court denied the petition on January 19, 2016….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Health care spending to contribute to ballooning deficit as economy expands

The federal budget deficit is expected to grow significantly over the next 10 years and will be “considerably larger” than it has been in the past 50 years, due in part to increases in Social Security and health care spending. The Summary of the Budget and Economic Outlook prepared by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which sets forth projections for the next decade, also anticipates that the economy will expand “solidly” over the next two years, followed by more modest growth….

(Read Intelliconnect) »


Most states have at least three health insurance carriers offering product options, BCBSA study finds

In 2016, consumers in most regions of the country still have multiple options from which to select a health insurance plan, but the types of health plans being offered are changing. That’s according to a study by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) that shows the types of health insurance choices consumers have had through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces from 2015 through 2016….

(Read Intelliconnect) »


January 25, 2016


IRS gives ALEs five important ACA facts

The IRS has published five facts about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) that it believes are important for applicable large employers, or ALEs, to know. An ALE is generally one with 50 or more full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees, and the IRS points out that the vast majority of employers will fall below this threshold number, meaning that they are not be subject to the employer shared responsibility provisions….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Marketplace sees 3M new customers, most enrollees getting financial help

An additional three million new consumers were enrolled in health insurance marketplace plans as of December 26, 2015, bringing the total enrollee count to nearly 11.3 million. The HHS Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) issued a January enrollment report, noting that over half of those re-enrolling in plans actively shopped for and selected a new plan. This information only covers the first eight weeks of the 2016 open enrollment period, which continues through the end of January….

(Read Intelliconnect) »


Employer’s withdrawal attempt enforceable; fund loses bid to collect $1.2 million

A pension fund failed in its bid to recover $1.2 million in unpaid contributions, interest and penalties from an employer the fund claimed had made an ineffective attempt to withdraw from the fund under terms of both the governing collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and the fund’s trust agreement, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled. The union had agreed in writing, in a temporary extension of the CBA, to the employer’s cessation of contributions. This written agreement complied with relevant provisions of the trust….

(Read Intelliconnect) »