Spencer’s Benefits Reports NetNews – March 4, 2016

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Featured This Week


New Reports




March 4, 2016


Text: CMS, final rule, notice of benefit and payment parameters for 2017

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Consumer-friendly changes coming to marketplace plans

Changes are coming to the health insurance marketplaces for the 2017 enrollment period. In addition to the annual update to cost sharing limitations and the parameters for risk adjustment, risk corridors, and reinsurance, CMS’ advance release of the Final rule announced plans to make the information displayed on the marketplace more useful to consumers and easier to understand and expanded the types of assistance that navigators must offer to consumers. The Final rule will appear in the Federal Register on March 8, 2016.

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Small employers can retroactively claim Small Business Health Care Tax Credit for years prior to 2014, says IRS

Small employers may still be eligible to claim the Patient’ Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) Small Business Health Care Tax Credit for tax years prior to 2014, according to a recent tax tip from the IRS. Employers that were eligible to claim this credit for prior years, but did not do so, should determine if they are still eligible to amend prior year returns in order to claim the credit….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

March 3, 2016


Employees don’t understand benefits because most aren’t reading communication materials, says IFEBP

Only 19 percent of employers report that their employees have a high level of understanding their benefits, according to recent research from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP). According to the IFEBP’s
Benefits Communication Survey Results, the reason employers say benefits understanding is so low is because most participants do not open/read communication materials (80 percent of employers reported this), almost half do not understand the materials, and participants do not perceive value in their benefits (31 percent)….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Emergency rooms still packed, despite ACA coverage gains

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that emergency room (ER) usage changed little between 2013 and 2014, despite the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and increases in the number of insured adults. The number of U.S. adults (about 20 percent) who seek ER care has remained mostly stable over the last decade. This report supports last year’s emergency physician polling results indicating that ER visits were increasing….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

March 2, 2016


Departments finalize SBC and related documents, request comments

The Department of Labor (DOL) and the Department of the Treasury are requesting comments on revisions to the Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) template and associated documents….

(Read Intelliconnect) »


Four in 10 workers lack paid sick days; inequality among those who have it

New analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) finds that four in 10 workers in the United States lack access to paid sick days, and among those who do have access, only 55 percent of workers actually used any sick days in the previous year. Inequality in access to paid sick days exists within and across occupations, with supervisors more likely to have paid sick days than non-supervisors. Hispanic, low-wage, and food service and personal care workers are least likely to have access to this important benefit, according to the analysis….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

March 1, 2016


SIFL rates issued for first half of 2016

The Department of Transportation has released the applicable terminal charge and standard industry fare level (SIFL) mileage rates for January 1, 2016, through June 30, 2016. These rates will be used by the IRS to determine the value of noncommercial flights on employer-provided aircraft….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

HSAs surpass $33 billion

HSAs have grown to an estimated $30.2 billion in assets and 16.7 million accounts at year-end 2015, according to recent research from Devenir. The 2015 Year-End HSA Survey also noted that HSAs have grown to over $33 billion in assets during the month of January….

(Read Intelliconnect) »


February 29, 2016


With Cadillac tax delayed, employers are not rushing to end health benefits

Employers competing for skilled labor will continue to provide health benefits to their employees as long as health care costs continue to remain under control and favorable tax treatment exists. So says Dr. Robert Galvin, Chief Executive Officer of Equity Healthcare, in an article appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine. This situation could change, according to Galvin, if and when employers get hit with the 40 percent nondeductible excise tax on health plans that exceed a maximum dollar value (the Cadillac tax), as contained in section 9001 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACAs) (P.L. 111-148). Even then, however, he does not believe there will be a big rush by employers to discontinue benefits….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

DOL proposed rule implements paid sick leave requirements for federal contractors

The Department of Labor has published proposed regulations implementing President Obama’s Executive Order 13706, which requires federal contractors (and subcontractors, including lower-tier subcontracts) to offer their employees up to seven days of paid sick leave each year, including paid leave allowing for family care. Under the EO, employees of federal contractors and subcontractors will earn a minimum of one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked….

(Read Intelliconnect) »


ERISA Advisory Council to meet March 16

The Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans, also known as the ERISA Advisory Council, will hold a meeting on March 16, in Washington, D.C., in Room S-2508, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue NW….

(Read Intelliconnect) »