Spencer’s Benefits Reports NetNews – June 6, 2014

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Featured This Week

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June 6, 2014

Wake Forest Law Professor Delivers Positive Review Of ACA’s MLR Provision To U.S. Senate Committee

Health insurance rebates and increased value to consumers are just two of the benefits that so far have resulted from the institution of the medical loss ratio (MLR), which requires insurers to spend a specified percentage of the premium dollars that they receive on medical claims and quality improvement expenses, according to Wake Forest law professor Mark Hall, who testified on May 21 before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), the MLR for insurers in the individual and group market is 80 percent, and for the large group market, it is 85 percent…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Political Party Still Determines If Individual Believes They Have Been Hurt Or Helped By ACA

Six in 10 Americans say neither they nor anyone in their family have been affected by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), with Republicans being more likely to say they have been hurt by the law and Democrats more likely to say their families have been helped, according to a new poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation. More specifically, 37 percent of Republicans reported their families have been hurt by the ACA, with 5 percent of Republicans responding they have been helped by it. Conversely, 26 percent of Democrats believe they have been helped by the law and 8 percent report they have been hurt…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

June 5, 2014

FMLA Tips For Dealing With The DOL, Absence Reporting Policies, And Curbing Leave Abuse

The Department of Labor (DOL) is changing its approach to Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) cases to include more frequent audits and onsite visits, according to Franczek Radelet Partner Jeff Nowak, who co-chairs the firm’s Labor and Employment Practice Group. While the agency has always had the right to make both announced and unannounced onsite visits, this approach in the FMLA context has been “virtually nonexistent”—until now, he said. Addressing attendees at the National Employment Law Institute’s (NELI)
Annual Mid-Year Employment Law Conference in Chicago, Nowak offered several tips to help employers avoid coming up short should the DOL knock on their door. He also shared several good practices regarding absence reporting policies and curbing intermittent leave abuse…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Study Reveals Ways To Help Improve Retirement Outlook Of Workers Around The World

Recent research from Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS), in collaboration with Aegon, highlights opportunities for improving retirement confidence among workers in the United States and around the world. The
Changing Face of Retirement: The Aegon Retirement Readiness Survey 2014 surveyed 16,000 workers and retirees in 15 countries spanning Europe, North and South America, and Asia. “Although economies are improving, continued pressures on retirement systems around the world are driving the need for individuals and families, employers, and policymakers to change the way they view retirement,” said Catherine Collinson, president of TCRS. “We live in a time in which it is vitally important to find ways to help people achieve a financially secure retirement…”

(Read Intelliconnect) »

June 4, 2014

Over Four Years Later, Most Companies Still Do Not Feel Prepared For ACA Changes

It has been more than four years since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) became law, and most companies still do not feel prepared to comply with the employer mandate, excise tax, and other changes on the horizon, according to recent research from Aflac. The
2014 Aflac WorkForces Report found that while 40 percent of companies said that they understand the ACA “extremely” or “very” well, the number drops for businesses with less than 100 employees: only 31 percent of employers with 25 to 49 employees said they understand the ACA “extremely” or “very” well, and even less—27 percent—of those with under 25 employees feel “extremely” or “very” confident in their understanding of the ACA reforms…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Health Centers Advance Their Use Of Technology In Anticipation Of More Patients

Use of electronic health records increased 133 percent in federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), commonly known as community health centers, between 2009 and 2013, according to a recent Commonwealth Fund survey of health center leaders. The Commonwealth Fund found that 85 percent of FQHCs reported they had achieved advanced health information technology (HIT) capabilities in 2013—meaning they could perform at least nine out of 13 key functions, such as electronically prescribing medications. By comparison, the rate in 2009 was just 30 percent. Seventeen percent introduced telemedicine and other technologies that allow patients to access health care remotely. In fact, FQHCs adopted HIT at higher rates than office-based physicians, including large practices and large integrated health care systems. The Commonwealth Fund noted that the FQHCs have been spurred by federal investments and financial incentives to more fully embrace such technology…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Anti-Cutback Rule Precluded Plan Amendments That Reduced Retirement-Type Subsidies For Former Employees

Observing that the definition of a “participant” under ERISA includes former employees who may become eligible to receive a benefit of any type from an employment benefit plan, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that the statute’s anti-cutback rule precluded plan amendments that reduced retirement-type subsidies for former employees who ceased employment without satisfying the pre-amendment conditions for the subsidy, but who could later satisfy the conditions without returning to work. Accordingly, the Second Circuit affirmed a district court’s ruling that the plan amendment at issue violated the anti-cutback rule. The case is
Alcantara v Bakery and Confectionery Union and Industry International Pension Fund Pension Plan

(Read Intelliconnect) »

June 3, 2014

PBGC Final Regs Streamline Certain Multiemployer Plan Reporting Rules

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) has finalized amendments to its multiemployer plan regulations designed to make the disclosure of information to the PBGC and to plan participants more efficient and effective and to reduce the administrative burden on plan sponsors. The final regulations reduce certain requirements for multiemployer plans that are terminated by mass withdrawal and mergers and transfers among multiemployer plans. The final regulations were published in the May 28
Federal Register

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Huge Opportunities For HSAs In Coming Era Of Private Exchanges

Driven by the emerging private health exchange sector, health savings accounts (HSAs) may be poised to quadruple their growth over the next six years, according to a new report published by Consumerdriven, LLC and HSA Consulting Services, LLC. The study,
The Power of Choice: The Game-Changing Combination of Private Exchanges and Health Savings Accounts, contains responses from 33 private exchange vendors to determine if there was a relationship between the method of benefit distribution, the financial incentives used (i.e. defined contribution vs. subsidized premium) and health savings account (HSA) adoption. The study reveals important data on the increasing role of health care consumerism strategies in the future of the U.S. health care system…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

June 2, 2014

Negative Sentiment About ACA Continues, But Law Could Prompt Some To Retire Early

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has failed to make a positive impact on Americans, but it could affect when some people retire, according to Bankrate.com…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

ACA Provides New Health Coverage Options For Those Taking Social Security Benefits Early

Individuals that claim Social Security benefits early, especially those without access to health coverage, may benefit from certain provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to a General Accountability Office (GAO) report titled
Challenges for Those Claiming Social Security Benefits Early and New Health Coverage Option. In addition to demographic and occupational characteristics and early retirement income of early claimers, the GAO examined how the ACA changes health coverage options for early claims. The GAO found that while the ACA provisions should improve the availability of affordable coverage options, it is too early to know the effect of the ACA provisions on individual retirement decisions…

(Read Intelliconnect) »