Spencer’s Benefits Reports NetNews – January 8, 2016

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Featured This Week


New Reports




January 8, 2016


Half of surveyed insurance execs think health care reform has had positive impact on sales

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) has had a “very positive” (7 percent) or “positive” (43 percent) effect on voluntary health insurance sales, according to insurance executives set forth in the
Voluntary/Worksite Marketing: An Executive Perspective report, by Eastbridge Consulting Group. Eastbridge adds that carriers with higher voluntary sales in 2014 had more positive responses about the impact of the ACA than did carriers with lower sales numbers. Thirty-nine carriers were unsure of the ACA’s impact, and only 11 percent said that the ACA’s impact had been negative.

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Healthcare reconciliation act savings upped $42B by 2016 appropriations act

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) have updated their estimate of the budgetary effects of H.R. 3762, the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act, as passed by the Senate on December 3, 2015. The update is based on the December 18, 2015, enactment of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, which contained several provisions that affected the CBO and JCT estimates for H.R. 3762….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

PBGC study finds risk transfer pension plan events significant

The amount of pension plan risk transfer (or “de-risking) events in recent years is significant because more than one million participants left plans as a result of the events, according to a study completed by Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) actuaries. The PBGC explained that risk transfer enables companies to eliminate their pension benefit obligations either by paying off participants with a lump sum or by buying annuities from insurance companies to replace the company pension. The PBGC is interested in risk transfer events because, among other things, lower insurance premium payments could affect its long-term financial condition, and past activity can help project future activity and allow the PBGC to plan for the activity’s effects….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

January 7, 2016


After exhausting leave, employee unable to maintain FMLA suit

A registered nurse (employee) who brought suit against her former employer after she was terminated after exhausting her leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) (29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq.) was unable to make a submissible case of discrimination, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in affirming the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the employer. The record showed that, at the time of her firing, the employee had already received more than three times the amount of leave as required by the Act and that she was physically unable to return to her job after her leave expired….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Pension fund’s “alter ego” theory against employer fails

A pension fund failed to demonstrate that one employer should be treated as the “alter ego” of another employer in order to increase the total amount of contributions to the pension fund, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

January 6, 2016


Trade group that fought for reporting delay is pleased with transition relief

The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) is pleased that the U.S. Treasury Department is providing employers and employees with a 60-day delay for the 2015 information reporting requirements. ERIC, a national trade association advocating for the employee benefit and compensation interests of the country’s largest employers, called for the delay in a December 17, 2015, letter to the Treasury Department….

(Read Intelliconnect) »


IRS explains how to claim health care tax credit and interaction with premium tax credit

The IRS has issued guidance on the health coverage tax credit (HCTC), including the amount, relevant procedures, and who may claim it. Also included in the guidance is information for taxpayers who enrolled in a qualified health plan (QHP) through the health care exchanges in tax years 2014 or 2015, who are also eligible for the HCTC, but who claimed or are eligible for the premium tax credit (PTC)….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

2016 standard mileage rates released

The IRS has released the 2016 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) »

January 5, 2016


Benefit reduction reasonable without proof of appeal to Social Security

An insured under an employer-sponsored long-term disability insurance policy could not recover amounts the plan administrator had reduced based on its estimate of what the insured was eligible to recover from social security because she failed to comply with the policy requirement of pursuing an administrative appeal of her denied claim, a federal district court in Pennsylvania ruled. Although the policy’s “cannot be further appealed” language was found to be ambiguous, under the deferential standard of review, the plan administrator’s interpretation was reasonable….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Health coverage information reporting deadlines for employers and other providers extended

The IRS has provided transitional relief from the information reporting requirements applicable to insurers, self-insuring employers and certain other providers of minimum essential coverage under Code Sec. 6055 and to applicable large employers under Code Sec. 6056, and has provided guidance to individual taxpayers who may be affected by the extended deadlines provided to coverage providers and applicable large employers….

(Read Intelliconnect) »


Cost-sharing under gold marketplace plans equivalent to employer-sponsored plans

Cost-sharing under the typical gold plan on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) marketplaces is roughly equivalent to that under employer-sponsored health plans, according to recent research from the Commonwealth Fund. However, the study,
Consumer Cost-Sharing in Marketplace vs. Employer Health Insurance Plans, 2015, found that cost-sharing is greater under catastrophic, bronze, and silver marketplace plans than under employer-based coverage….

(Read Intelliconnect) »


January 4, 2016


Millennials are less interested in, less knowledgeable about health insurance than other generations

Millennials are less interested in and knowledgeable about their work place benefits than are other generations, and they prefer life insurance over health insurance, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), reporting on findings from the 2015 EBRI/Greenwald & Associates Health and Voluntary Workplace Benefits Survey (WBS). Because “Millennials are the largest age group to emerge since the Baby Boom generation,” according to Paul Fronstin, director of EBRI’s Health Research and Education Program and co-author of the report, “employers will have to make adjustments to how they engage them….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Awareness of SHOP higher for small employers that already offer coverage

Small employers that already offer health insurance coverage are much more likely to say they are aware of the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) than those who do not offer coverage (69 percent versus 37 percent), according a recent survey from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). In addition, the study found that small business owners like SHOP’s features—with the top-testing features being the tax credit and the ability to set their own contribution amount. These features also were the main reasons for small employers to use SHOP the next time they need insurance for their company….

(Read Intelliconnect) »


Retirement plans are not enough: Mercer advises employers to expand offerings to meet workforce’s changing needs

Defined contribution (DC) plan sponsors are advised to move beyond a retirement focus for their plans and meet the broader financial needs of employees, according to Mercer. Mercer conducted a survey,
Inside Employees’ Minds, which highlights that younger employees are more concerned with current financial challenges and making ends meet rather than saving for retirement. A mere 10 percent of millennials are worrying about retirement, whereas nearly 30 percent of baby boomers are worried about retirement savings. Many approaching retirement have debt levels that will be a drag on their retirement income….

(Read Intelliconnect) »