Spencer’s Benefits Reports NetNews – March 18, 2016

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Featured This Week


New Reports




March 18, 2016


ACA was great starting point, but more must be done to improve U.S. health care system

While the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) was a great starting point, more must be done to improve the U.S. health care system, according to a recent article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). According to David Blumenthal, M.D., president of the Commonwealth Fund, if health care costs had increased since 1980 at the rate they did in Switzerland, the U.S. could have saved nearly $15.9 trillion, or enough to retire the national debt. And, if the national rate of health insurance coverage was the same as the average of the five U.S. states with the highest coverage rates (Massachusetts, Vermont, Hawaii, Washington, D.C., and Iowa), an estimated 20 million more Americans would have had health insurance coverage in 2014. Blumenthal examined three areas where the U.S. can make large improvements in the health care system….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

March 17, 2016


Departments addresses application date of proposed SBC template changes

At the end of February, the Department of Labor (DOL) and Department of the Treasury requested comments on revisions to the Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) template and associated documents. The DOL, in conjunction with the Department of Treasury and Department of Health and Human Services, has confirmed that health plans will be required to use the new SBC template and associated documents beginning on the first day of the first open enrollment period that begins on or after April 1, 2017, with respect to coverage for plan years beginning on or after that date….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Federal interest rates announced for pensions

The following interest rates have been announced for use in the operation and administration of qualified pension plans…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Not a joint employer, company didn’t have enough employees for ADEA coverage

A small employer did not have the requisite twenty or more employees for it to be a covered employer under the ADEA, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held, in affirming summary judgment for the employer in a suit filed by a discharged 61-year old employee. While the employee argued that several employees of a commonly owned entity should count toward the defendant company’s minimum-employee threshold, these individuals did not have an employment relationship with the defendant under the economic realities test, and so it was not their joint employer. The appeals court also refused to aggregate the employees of both to satisfy the ADEA’s minimum-employee threshold….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

March 16, 2016


Sixth Circuit must rethink whether ERISA preempts Michigan health-insurance tax law

The U.S. Supreme Court has vacated a federal appellate panel’s holding that a Michigan law designed to generate revenue to pay the state’s Medicaid obligations was not preempted by ERISA. The High Court granted a petition filed by the Self Insurance Institute of America, Inc. (SIIA) and remanded the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit for further consideration in light of the Supreme Court’s recent opinion in
Gobeille v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co….

(Read Intelliconnect) »


PBGC issues April 2016 interest rates for valuing terminating pension plans

For single-employer pension plans terminating April through June 2016, and for multiemployer plans involved in a mass withdrawal, the interest rate established by the PBGC for calculating immediate annuities is 2.77 percent, down from the 2.82 percent rate that applied in January through March 2016. The interest rate for calculating immediate lump sums in April 2016 is 1.00 percent, down from the 1.25 percent rate that applied in March 2016….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Benefits were 31.3 percent of total compensation in December 2015, BLS finds

Employer-provided benefits costs for civilian workers in private industry and state and local governments in December 2015 averaged $10.52 per hour worked, accounting for 31.3 percent of total compensation costs, which averaged $33.58 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 December 2015
Employer Costs for Employee Compensation report, produced quarterly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

March 15, 2016


Non-compliant policies given one more year of transitional relief

Non-grandfathered plans in the individual and small group markets that are not compliant with provisions of the Public Health Service Act (PHSA) will be extended transitional relief through policy years starting on or before October 1, 2017. The Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) advised issuers that non-conforming plans would not be considered out of compliance with section 1312 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) until that date….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

2.4M gained coverage since fall 2015, bringing ACA total to 20M

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has allowed an estimated 20 million people to gain health insurance coverage. The HHS Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) reviewed reductions in the number of uninsured adults, adjusted for non-ACA factors such as employment status and geographic location, finding a steady decline in the uninsured rates since before the ACA’s major provisions were implemented. Additionally, an estimated 2.4 million more adults gained health insurance coverage between September 2015 and February 22, 2016….

(Read Intelliconnect) »


March 14, 2016


Many companies plan to retain domestic partner benefits

The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) today released a new poll on health benefits offered by their members to domestic partners that shows about half of large employers are considering eliminating those benefits. This survey of ERIC members focused on the reaction of large employers to the legalization of same-sex marriage after two important decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court in
Windsor and Obergefell….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Employers continue to invest in technology to promote employee wellbeing

Employers continue to invest in technology to promote employee wellbeing despite challenges measuring impact and return on investment, according to recent research from Xerox Human Resources Services and the National Business Group on Health. The study,
Emerging Technology to Promote Employee Wellbeing, examined the current use and future potential of four key technologies: gamification, mobile technologies, wearable sensors and social media….

(Read Intelliconnect) »