Spencer’s Benefits Reports NetNews – June 26, 2015


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Featured This Week


New Reports




June 26, 2015


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 June 29 through July 3. Publication will resume on July 6, 2015. Happy Independence Day to all of our subscribers…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

IRS expands pre-approved program to include cash balance plans and ESOPs

The IRS has updated procedures for requesting opinion and advisory letters for master and prototype (M&P) and volume submitter (VS) plans to include procedures for defined benefit (DB) plans with cash balance features and defined contribution plans with employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) features…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Video communications highly effective for employee benefits enrollment

Aggregate results of 18 large employer case studies compiled by Flimp Media reveal exceptionally high employee engagement and response rates to video communications regarding benefits enrollment. The 18 employers utilized video email postcards which were sent to 126,390 employees announcing 2013 and 2014 annual benefits open enrollment…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

June 25, 2015


Exempting HRAs from ACA limits would expand coverage for employees, CPAs say

The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) has written to top tax lawmakers in Congress urging them to enact legislation to exempt certain types of health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) from group health insurance requirements so that employers can offer health insurance coverage to more employees. An HRA is an employer-funded arrangement that reimburses an employee for medical care expenses, including premiums for health coverage, and the reimbursements can be made on behalf of the employee’s spouse and dependents. HRAs fall under the rubric of employer payment plans, which are formal or informal arrangements under which the sole benefit to the employee is direct payment or reimbursement by the employer of the employee’s premiums for health coverage…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Employers are aggressively increasing deductibles

In 2015, 29 percent of all employer-sponsored health plans are high-deductible health plans (HDHPs), according to recent research from HighRoads. The
2015 Medical Trends and Observations report noted that this is up from 22 percent in 2014—a 32 percent increase…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Questions on timing, content of FMLA certification lead to remand

Finding issues of fact on whether an FMLA certification form indicated an employee’s knee injury was a serious health condition; whether the employee gave proper notice of the need for leave, considering it was unforeseeable; and whether the employer granted her an extension for providing certification, when a vice president told her to provide it “as soon as possible,” the Eleventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals reversed summary judgment on her FMLA interference claim. The fact that her doctor estimated she would be incapacitated for 13 weeks did not disqualify her from reinstatement—that was only an estimate and was contradicted by evidence that she could have returned within the protected 12-week-period. Her retaliation claim was also revived…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

June 24, 2015


Repealing ACA would increase federal budget deficits

A report summarizing the budgetary and economic effects of a repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was issued by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT). The report explains that a repeal of the ACA would increase federal budget deficits by $137 billion over the next 10 years…

(Read Intelliconnect) »


Employers consider unconventional strategies to manage double-digit drug cost increases

Although the vast majority of employers (88 percent) still rely on traditional plan designs (co-pays and coinsurance), many are ready to focus on new and novel approaches to managing specialty drugs costs. That’s according to the Midwest Business Group on Health’s (MBGH) fourth annual employer survey on specialty drug management…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Minnesota encourages residents to weigh in on 2016 insurance rate proposals

The Minnesota Commerce Department is seeking input from state residents on 2016 rate proposals submitted by Minnesota health insurers for individual health insurance plans…

(Read Intelliconnect) »


June 23, 2015


Implementing FSA carryover increased employee participation: ECFC

Of employers that offered a flexible spending account (FSA) to employees, 89 percent have implemented the newly-allowed carryover option, and of these employers, 73 percent said participation in the FSA increased, according to recent research from the Employers Council on Flexible Compensation (ECFC)…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

One-third of employees would quit if employer failed to sponsor health benefits

Employers who fail to fully sponsor their employees’ health benefits would face widespread employee dissatisfaction, lower employee productivity and the loss of nearly a third of their employees within one year, according to recent research by Accenture…

(Read Intelliconnect) »


DOL offers $1.25M to study paid leave programs

The Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau is going to administer $1.25 million for research and analysis on how paid leave programs can be developed and implemented across the country. This latest funding opportunity from the DOL builds upon a 2014 Women’s Bureau grant program that awarded a total of $500,000 to support paid leave feasibility studies in three states and the District of Columbia…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

June 22, 2015


Small firms are not self-insuring to avoid ACA compliance

After the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed into law, there was some speculation that small firms might start self-insuring to avoid some of the costs of complying with the law. However, recent research from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) has found that so far (up to 2013, the latest data available), there is no evidence that they are doing so. Although the instance of self-insured plans is growing, it is not among small employers…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Subsidy recipients unaware of pending case that could cause aid to disappear

Although the King v. Burwell case currently before the Supreme Court is receiving lots of news coverage, perhaps not everyone is paying attention. According to a survey of eHealth customers, only 7 percent of survey respondents receiving subsidies to help them pay for their major medical health insurance were aware of the case…

(Read Intelliconnect) »


Pennsylvania’s contingency plan for Supreme Court ruling includes creation of state exchange

A contingency plan involving a switch to a state-based Marketplace, from a federally-based one, is being put in place at the urging of Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf, in an effort to keep 382,000 Pennsylvanians from losing health care premium subsidies, according to information released on the Pennsylvania Insurance Department website. Pennsylvania currently has a federally-run exchange, and, if the U.S. Supreme Court rules in
King v. Burwell that premium subsidies are only available through state-run exchanges, Wolf is concerned that the cost of health insurance will make health care out of reach for citizens of his state…

(Read Intelliconnect) »