Spencer’s Benefits Reports NetNews – June 24, 2016

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June 24, 2016


Text: IRS, final regulations, modification of treatment of certain health organizations

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2014 saw rise in general health care spending for people with diabetes

A study just released by the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) shows that, in 2014, health care spending for people with diabetes covered by employer-sponsored insurance (ESI) rose at almost six percent, compared to 3.2 percent for people without diabetes. For that year, spending on people with diabetes reached $16,021 per capita, which was over $10,000 higher than per capita spending for people without diabetes….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

IRS final rules clarify the calculation of MLR for certain organizations

The IRS has reissued final regulations to incorporate subsequent technical corrections and thereby avoid possible confusion. In final regulations issued in January 2014, Reg. Sec. 1.833-1 provided that an organization’s medical loss ratio (MLR) should be calculated over a three-year period, with a transition rule that—for the first tax year beginning after December 31, 2013—an organization’s MLR is only calculated on a one-year basis and, for the first tax year beginning after December 31, 2014, its MLR is only calculated on a two-year basis. For all succeeding tax years, an organization’s MLR is based on amounts reported under Sec. 2718 of the Public Health Service Act (PHSA) for that tax year and the preceding two tax years….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

PBGC issues proposed regs that would facilitate mergers of multiemployer plans

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) has released proposed regulations that implement Section 121 of the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 (MPRA), which clarified the PBGC’s authority to facilitate the merger of two or more multiemployer plans under Title IV of ERISA. Specifically, the proposed regulations would provide guidance on the process of requesting a facilitated merger under ERISA Sec. 4231(e), including a request for financial assistance under ERISA Sec. 4231(e)(2). In addition, the regulations would reorganize and update the existing regulatory requirements applicable to mergers and transfers between multiemployer plans….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

June 23, 2016


Ten steps to designing successful wellness programs

At the recent webinar, Winning with Wellness, from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Mercer, experts provided 10 essential steps to designing successful workplace wellness programs….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

House Dems look to expand FMLA coverage, rights

House Democrats have introduced a legislative package to amend the FMLA to extend coverage to employers with 15-49 employees, to include part-time workers within the statute’s reach, and to allow employees to take protected “parental involvement leave” from work. Representatives Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Frederica S. Wilson (D-Fla), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill) sponsored the legislation seeking to update the FMLA “to help workers balance work and family life….”

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2.8M uninsured children remain eligible for Medicaid, CHIP coverage

CMS has awarded a $32 million grant to fund community outreach efforts to increase the enrollment of children in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The agency encourages all states to take advantage of tools available to help aid in enrollment of eligible children, as well as help those aging out of eligibility to find other available coverage. These combined efforts are intended to reach the remaining uninsured children qualified for such coverage….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

June 22, 2016

Telecommuting, bonuses and professional development opportunities on the rise, SHRM annual survey finds

Over the past 20 years, employers have increased and decreased benefits strategically in response to the needs of the workplace and employees as well as to economic and technological changes, according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM’s) 2016 Employee Benefits Survey report released June 20. Employers are responding to workers’—especially Millennials’—demands for better work/life balance with increased telecommuting, flextime and other accommodations. Since 1996, the percentage of organizations offering telecommuting has increased threefold (from 20 to 60 percent), and the percentage offering telecommuting on an ad hoc basis has increased from 45 percent in 2012 to 56 percent in 2016….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

CMS announces risk adjustment proposals

CMS plans to propose two changes to the risk adjustment program established by section 1343 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) in future rulemaking. To more accurately account for the costs of short-term enrollees in the ACA-compliant risk pool, it will propose including an adjustment factor for partial-year enrollees beginning with the 2017 benefit year. It will also propose the incorporation of prescription drug utilization data, beginning with the 2018 benefit year, as an additional source of information about individuals’ health status and the severity of their conditions….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Millennial generation reshaping path to retirement

The perspective of Millennials, a generation defined as comprising those individuals who were born during the period from the early 1980s to 2000, on their later years and how to get there hints at a possible redefining of retirement, according to the latest Merrill Edge Report. According to the Merrill Edge report, nearly half (41 percent) of the Millennials surveyed expect to retire when they hit a certain financial milestone or savings goal. This is unlike their older counterparts, who are focused on leaving the workforce when they hit a certain age or can no longer work due to health concerns….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

June 21, 2016


Not clear that building contractor had to contribute to fringe benefit fund when contracting with nonunion subcontractors

A building contractor that subcontracted work to nonunion businesses did not necessarily violate its duty to pay contributions to a carpenters’ union’s fringe-benefit funds, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (CA-7) ruled. With regard to cabinetry work, the nonunion business that was awarded the subcontract appeared to be a “single employer” with a union signatory that ultimately performed the work, so the work was effectively done by a union business. Also, stainless steel kitchen equipment installation work appeared to be within the jurisdiction of a sheet-metal workers’ union, thus excusing the payment of fringe benefits to the carpenters’ funds….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

IRS issues July 2016 AFRs

The July 2016 short-term, mid-term, and long-term applicable federal interest rates (AFRs) have been issued by the IRS. The July mid-term 175 percent AFR (Annual) rate, used to calculate interest charged to the funding standard account for underpayments of quarterly contributions under Code Sec. 412(m), is 2.51 percent….

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Benefits were 31.5 percent of total compensation in March 2016, BLS finds

Employer-provided benefits costs for civilian workers in private industry and state and local governments in March 2016 averaged $10.70 per hour worked, accounting for 31.5 percent of total compensation costs, which averaged $33.94 per hour worked. The cost of benefits as a percentage of compensation has risen over the past several years from 27.4 percent of total compensation. These are among the findings of the March 2016
Employer Costs for Employee Compensation report, produced quarterly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

June 20, 2016

EEOC issues wellness notice to assist with ADA compliance

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has published a sample notice to help employers comply with ADA regulations published May 17, 2016 that contain requirements for employers offering wellness programs. Specifically, for those employers offering wellness programs that collect employee health information, a notice must be provided to employees telling them what information will be collected, how it will be used, who will receive it, and what will be done to keep it confidential. In an accompanying questions and answers document, the EEOC advises that employers do not have to use the precise wording in the sample notice, but any notices provided must contain all of the information required by the May 2016 regulations….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Experts weigh in on legislation designed to improve the ACA

Health care experts from the Commonwealth Fund, the American Action Forum, and the Galen Institute recently provided testimony regarding some common sense solutions to improve the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The experts testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health on proposed legislation regarding: (1) the grace period for non-payment of premiums, (2) verification for eligibility for enrollment during special enrollment periods (SEPs), (3) the adjustment of the age-rating ratios for health care pricing, (4) allowing enrollment in stand-alone dental plans outside of exchanges, and (5) an audit process requiring states with failed exchanges to return grant money given to them to establish state exchanges….

(Read Intelliconnect) »