Spencer’s Benefits Reports NetNews – May 15, 2015

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May 15, 2015

 

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) »

Lack of consumer awareness over contraceptive coverage ‘unacceptable’

At a time when more information is coming to light over misinformation provided to the public about contraceptive coverage, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash), finding the misinformation “unacceptable,” sent a letter to eight health insurance companies currently offering coverage on the Health Insurance Exchange in Washington. In the letter, she expressed her concern that the insurers were failing to cover forms of contraception approved by the FDA and failing to provide women with accurate information about the services available to them under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). At the same time, the National Women’s Law Center released two companion reports identifying “violations” of the ACA’s contraceptive coverage requirements…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Widow’s bid for “preretirement spouse pension” barred by prior court win

The widow of a pension fund participant who died soon after winning his lawsuit for retirement benefits could not thereafter claim that her husband had in fact not retired before his death, which would have entitled her to a “preretirement surviving spouse pension” under the plan, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled in Board of Trustees of the Plumbers and Pipefitters National Pension Fund v. Fralick. Under the principles of judicial estoppel the widow could not challenge the outcome of the earlier proceeding…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

May 14, 2015

 

Plans must cover the full range of FDA-approved contraceptive methods with no cost-sharing

To be compliant with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), health care plans must cover, without cost sharing, the full range of Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved methods for contraception, according to recently-released frequently asked questions from the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and the Treasury (the Departments). The FAQs about Affordable Care Act Implementation (Part XXVI) specified that there are currently 18 distinct methods of contraception for women…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Net gain of 16.9M insured Americans thanks to ACA

Almost 17 million individuals gained health insurance as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to a new study from the RAND Corporation. The study, titled Trends In Health Insurance Enrollment, 2013–15,” shows that most newly insured individuals obtained health coverage through an employer, though gains also came from Medicaid expansion, enrollment through the Health Insurance Exchanges, and other sources. Lead author Katherine Carman said, “The law has expanded coverage to more Americans using all parts of the health insurance system….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

May 13, 2015

 

Employees like wellness programs but don’t stay engaged

While most individuals enrolled in wellness programs like them and believe they help them manage their health, a majority report that they do not stay engaged in their programs throughout the year, according to a recent survey of 1,929 employees from HealthMine. The survey also found that many appear to be unsure if their wellness programs are helping lower their health care costs…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

 

Trade association joins growing movement to repeal the ‘Cadillac’ tax

The National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) has officially joined the growing movement of trade associations, employers and legislators that would like to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) excise tax on high-cost health plans…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

 

ER visits grew since coverage mandate took effect

Despite high hopes that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) might decrease emergency room visits, three-quarters of emergency physicians report that such visits are going up, according to a poll from the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). This represents a significant increase from just one year ago when less than half reported increases…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

 

May 12, 2015

 

Small business workers rate their benefits poorly

Employees at the smallest companies (those with less than 10 employees) are much less likely to have benefits than other workers and even when those employees do have benefits, they are more likely to rate their benefits packages poorly, according to recent research from Colonial Life and Unum. The 2014 U.S. Worker Survey found that only 44 percent of employees at the smallest companies have benefits at work, compared with 82 percent of all employees. Very small businesses are falling short on their benefits even compared to slightly larger firms with 10 to 99 employees: 75 percent of those workers are offered benefits. Nearly all (96 percent) of employees at larger companies with 1,000 or more workers have benefits…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Benefits costs increased 0.7 percent in first quarter 2015

Benefits costs for civilian workers increased 0.7 percent for the three-month period ending March 2015, according to the most recent Employment Cost Index from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In the first quarter 2015, benefits costs rose at the same pace as salaries, which also increased 0.7 percent…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Blue Cross was not obliged to send COBRA notice to insureds where Hostess Brands was plan administrator

A federal district court in Pennsylvania (DC PA) has ruled that an insurer could not be sued for failing to send notice to a terminated employee of the right to continuing health insurance coverage because the employee’s former employer, not the insurer, was the plan administrator. The court granted the insurer’s motion for summary judgment. The case is Corrigan v. Local 6, Bakery, Confectionary and Tobacco Workers (No. 14-1073)…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

May 11, 2015

 

Majority of employers with FSA now offer carryover option

Of employers that offered a health care flexible spending account (FSA), the majority (60 percent) stated that they opted to provide employees with the carryover option for contributions, up from 49 percent last year, according to a recent survey from WageWorks and Visa. In addition, the number of employers offering FSAs that incorporate the grace period instead has fallen from 57 percent in 2013 to 23 percent in 2015…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

 

Pioneer ACOs save $384M in two years and meet criteria for expansion

Medicare’s Pioneer accountable care organization (ACO) model generated over $384 million in savings in the program’s first two years. The savings were achieved while maintaining high-quality patient care, according to an independent evaluation report released by the Department of Health and Human Services. As a result of the program’s success, the CMS independent Office of the Actuary has certified that the Pioneer model is the first to meet criteria for expansion to a larger number of Medicare beneficiaries…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

 

 

 

 

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About this Newsletter

Spencer’s Benefits Reports NetNewsTM contains the latest news and developments in the employee benefits field for both health care and retirement plans. Taken from the daily news updates in Spencer’s Benefits Reports on the Internet, the items include legislative and regulatory actions, court case summaries, industry news, and analysis of new trends such as health savings accounts (HSAs) and Roth 401(k) provisions — anything that can affect the design, implementation and administration of an employee benefits plan.

 

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