Spencer’s Benefits Reports NetNews – March 7, 2014


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Featured This Week

New Reports

  • Analysis: Minimum Loss Ratios Under Health Reform, 2/14 (533.-1)

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  • Analysis: HIPAA Rules On Preexisting Condition Exclusions, Creditable Coverage, 2/14 (501.-15)


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  • Analysis: Five States And Puerto Rico Provide Temporary Disability Benefits, 2/14 (323.-9)


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  • Analysis: Automatic Enrollment In 401k Plans, 2/14 (223.-1)


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March 7, 2014

Health Reform May Push Employers Into Offering Voluntary Benefits

Employers are feeling the increased impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) on various aspects of their employee benefits programs, according to recent research from financial services provider Prudential. In fact, the study,
Health Care Reform: Full Steam Ahead, found that 49 percent of employers report that they are extremely or very likely to make a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) their only health insurance option in the near future. Prudential notes that while employers might have to scale back on employee benefits due to cost considerations, providing voluntary benefits can be a good way to continue to offer attractive employee benefits packages…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

ACA Has Limited Impact On Excluded Medical Services List

While the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has greatly impacted both the individual and group health care markets, its effect upon the most commonly excluded medical services in health plans has been less extensive, according to recent research from Healthpocket.com. In fact, the study found that 80 percent of the excluded medical services in the top ten remained the same when comparing plans from before the ACA was enacted to plans that are available this year—and plans being sold through the health insurance exchanges must provide essential health benefits (EHBs)…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

March 6, 2014

Employer Mandate Final Regs Provide Transitional Relief, Expanded Safe Harbors, Officials Say

During a panel session of the Federal Bar Association Section on Taxation’s 38th Annual Tax Law Symposium in Washington, D.C., Internal Revenue Service officials provided an overview for employers of the safe harbor provisions for determining affordability of offered coverage in the recently released final regulations on the Code Sec. 4980H employer shared-responsibility penalties of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Officials also summarized certain transitional guidance provided in the final regulations; notably, the effective date for the entire statute has been delayed for employers with 50 to 99 full-time employees until 2016…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Many Employers Looking To Save On Benefit Costs Are Leery Of Private Exchanges

Fifty percent of employers have begun to evaluate new private exchange options and 71 percent are looking into adopting a self-insured model, according to recent research from HighRoads, a benefits plan management and health care compliance company. Because of their potential for cost containment and reduction in administrative overhead, both public and private exchanges have received much attention of late as new alternatives to traditional employer self-funded plans, according to Bridget Lipezker, HighRoads’ senior vice president of professional services. HighRoads reports, however, that many employers in the study are choosing to hold off on even evaluating new private exchange options, which may be attributable to employee communications and compliance dynamics of private exchanges…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Retirement Readiness For 2013 Varies By Income And 401(k) Access: EBRI

Last year’s gains in the financial markets and housing values likely means that fewer of these households are likely to run short of money in retirement, according to a recent report from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). Overall retirement income adequacy for Baby Boomers and Generation X households improved last year, though factors like age, income, and especially access to an employment-based 401(k)-type retirement plan, can produce significant individual differences, EBRI found, in applying its proprietary Retirement Security Projection Model (RSPM)…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

March 5, 2014

Five Tips For HR Executives To Consider In Light Of Health Reform: Mercer

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has changed how employers must provide health care to employees. Consultant Mercer has provided the following five tips for human resource executives to consider now about how to continue delivering health care to employees in light of the ACA…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Seventh Circuit Denies Injunctive Relief To Notre Dame In ACA Contraceptive Mandate Challenge

The University of Notre Dame could not show it would suffer irreparable harm were it not granted injunctive relief pending its ongoing challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act;s (ACA) contraceptive mandate provisions—or more precisely, the ACA regulation that requires the Catholic university to submit a form in order to avail itself of the religious exemption from the mandate. Therefore, a divided Seventh Circuit panel affirmed a lower court’s refusal to grant a preliminary injunction in the case. At least for now, the Seventh Circuit held, Notre Dame failed to show the regulations worked a substantial burden on its religious faith. The case is
University of Notre Dame v. Sebelius (No. 13-3853)…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

March 4, 2014

Perceived Value Of Benefits Tied To Out-Of-Pocket Costs

Two recent studies from Mercer and the Guardian Life Insurance Company find that employees value benefits packages, but that the perceived value of benefits packages is decreasing as out-of-pocket costs rise…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Treasury Official Says White House Is Committed To Retirement Savings For Low-Income Workers

The Obama Administration and the Department of the Treasury are committed to expanding and enhancing retirement security and retirement saving, particularly for lower- and moderate-income American workers, but much remains to be done, according to a U.S. Treasury official…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

March 3, 2014

Chamber Of Commerce Recommends Tweaks To Proposed Rules On Excepted Benefits

Eliminating the requirement that participants in self-insured plans pay an additional premium or contribution for limited-scope vision or dental benefits to qualify as benefits that are not an integral part of a group health plan appropriately encourages employers to offer generous limited excepted benefits and facilitates their ability to do so. That’s according to recent comments from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the Department of Labor about proposed regulations that would amend the definition of limited excepted benefits for purposes of complying with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Positive Link Found Between Healthy Employees And Companies With Strong Cultures Of Health

Employees who perceive their organizations as having a strong culture of health are happier, less stressed, and more likely to take control of their well-being than employees in other organizations, according to recent research from Aon Hewitt, the National Business Group on Health, and The Futures Company…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

IRS Provides Health Care Tax Tips for Individuals

The Internal Revenue Service has posted to its website a number of health care tax tips to help individuals understand how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) may affect their taxes and what they need to know when filing their federal individual income tax returns, including information on the premium tax credit and making health care coverage choices. The IRS notes that while many of the provisions included in the ACA went into effect on Jan. 1, 2014, most do not affect individual’s 2013 tax returns…

(Read Intelliconnect) »