About this Newsletter
The Spencer’s Benefits Reports is a summary of the week’s news items posted
in the WHAT’S NEW pages of Spencer’s Benefits Reports
For questions regarding this email service, contact Customer Service at (800)449-9525.
Want to receive these Newsletters via E-mail?
About Links in this Newsletter
To access the IntelliConnect™ full text documents you must be a subscriber
to the Spencer’s Benefits Reports IntelliConnect product
(depending on the link*).
Links within news stories display full text documents including legislation, regulations,
court decisions, rulings and government reports.
The first time you click on a link you will be taken to the IntelliConnect login page, where you will need to enter your ID and password. Subsequent links will take you directly to the desired document.
If you aren’t a subscriber call 800-449-9525, or let us contact you about,
Contact us by sending an e-mail to
- Analysis: Wellness plans, 9/16 (326.-1)(Read Intelliconnect) »
- Analysis: Suspension of trading under a blackout period, 9/16 (231.-1)
(Read Intelliconnect) »
- Analysis: DOL’s Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program, 9/16 (603.1.-1)
(Read Intelliconnect) »
- Analysis: Civil monetary penalties, 9/16 (602.1.-9)
(Read Intelliconnect) »
More workers are enrolling in high-deductible health plans with HSAs, premiums rise modestly
The average annual workplace family health premium rose a modest three percent to $18,142 in 2016, and the average deductible for high-deductible health plans rose 12% to $1,478 annually, according to figures recently released by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser further reports that, at small firms, average deductibles now top $2,000. Furthermore, few employers reported changing workers’ hours due to the ACA’s employer requirements, and those that did were more likely to shift workers to full-time status….
PBGC issues October 2016 interest rates for valuing terminating pension plans
For single-employer pension plans terminating October through December 2016, and for multiemployer plans involved in a mass withdrawal, the interest rate established by the PBGC for calculating immediate annuities is 1.98 percent, down from the 2.50 percent rate that applied in July through September 2016. The interest rate for calculating immediate lump sums in October 2016 is .50 percent, the same rate that applied in September 2016….
Benefits were 31.4 percent of total compensation in June 2016, BLS finds
Employer-provided benefits costs for civilian workers in private industry and state and local governments in June 2016 averaged $10.70 per hour worked, accounting for 31.4 percent of total compensation costs, which averaged $34.05 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 June 2016
Employer Costs for Employee Compensation report, produced quarterly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)….
Cost growth projected to remain stable at 4 percent for 2017
Employers are predicting that health benefit cost per employee will rise by 4 percent on average in 2017, according to early responses from Mercer’s
National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans 2016. Employers have held cost growth to about 4 percent or less each year since 2011. Prior to that, cost rose by about 6 percent a year for seven years, Mercer noted. These preliminary results are based on 1,277 employers who responded by August 11….
Organizations expanding employee leave offerings to include “family care” and adoption
More and more organizations are expanding their parental leave policies to accommodate the needs of their workforce. As a result, they are considering “non-traditional” types of leave that include family care leave and adoption leave. This is according to Mercer’s 2016 Global Parental Leave report….
California lawmakers pass bill to extend family leave to new parent bonding
The California Legislature sent a bill to Governor Jerry Brown on September 9 that would bar covered employers from refusing to permit an employee (with more than 12 months and at least 1,250 hours of service with the employer during the previous 12-month period) to take parental leave for up to six weeks to bond with a new child within one year of the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement. The New Parent Leave Act, S.B. 654, would also prohibit covered employers from refusing to maintain and pay for coverage under a group health plan for an employee who takes that leave….
Voters trust Clinton over Trump on health, rank ACA low on importance
The majority of voters say they trust Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton over Republican nominee Donald Trump to deal with issues like access and affordability of health care, the future of Medicare and Medicaid, prescription drug costs, the Zika outbreak, and the future of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) analysis of Kaiser health tracking poll data. When voters were asked about which health care issues presidential candidates should discuss, the ACA ranked relatively low, below Medicare, Medicaid, prescription drug costs, and access and affordability of care….
Mere presence of ‘psychiatric component’ not enough to limit LTD benefits
An ERISA plan administrator abused its discretion in capping an insured’s long-term disability benefits at 12 months under the plan’s “mental disorder” limitation after finding that her disability included a “psychiatric component,” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled, reversing the district court. In addition, the administrator’s determination that the insured’s physical ailments did not prevent her from working was not based on substantial evidence. Accordingly, the case was remanded to the district court for further consideration regarding whether the insured’s physical disabilities, apart from any alleged mental component, rendered her “totally disabled” after the initial 12 months of benefit payments….
New IRS self-certification procedure helps people making late IRA and retirement plan rollovers
The IRS has provided a self-certification procedure designed to help recipients of retirement plan distributions who inadvertently miss the 60-day time limit for properly rolling these amounts into another retirement plan or individual retirement arrangement (IRA). The procedure is effective August 24, 2016….
$100K will settle suit over employee discharged after returning from medical leave
The EEOC announced that Apria Healthcare Inc. has agreed to pay $100,000 to resolve allegations that it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it fired an employee a week after she returned from medical leave to remove a 23-pound tumor. Although the Albuquerque medical equipment and services provider asserted that the termination was due to a reduction-in-force, the employee was not given notice of the impending layoff, and another warehouse clerk’s position was not considered for elimination, the EEOC said….
Survey shows financial advisors on track to implement new DOL fiduciary standards
The new Department of Labor (DOL) fiduciary rule (at 81 FR 20946, April 8, 2016) has most advisors considering changes to their business model as they wait to learn their firm’s new compliance procedures, according to findings from a recently-released Nationwide Retirement Institute® survey….
ERISA safe harbor carved out for state payroll deduction IRA programs in EBSA final regs
The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has released final regulations to assist states that create individual retirement arrangement (IRA) programs for workers who do not have access to workplace savings arrangements by providing a safe harbor from ERISA coverage for the programs. Also, in response to public comments, a proposed rule has been issued that could facilitate the creation of these programs by a limited number of cities and other local governments, by expanding the safe harbor. The final rule will go into effect October 31, 2016, while the proposed rule will be open for public comment until September 29, 2016….
Exchange enrollment is down, analysis says privatization is the way up
The individual mandate penalty may be too low and exchange coverage may be too expensive to incentivize enrollment in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces, according to an analysis of exchange enrollment figures by the Council for Affordable Health Coverage (CAHC) and Avalere Health. The analysis was conducted to explain why ACA exchange enrollment projections for 2016 predict that only 10 million individuals will enroll in exchange plans in 2016 when the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected in 2010 that 21 million individuals would enroll in the exchanges by 2016. The analysis concludes by suggesting that privatization of exchange functionality could be the solution to increased enrollment….