Spencer's Benefits Reports NetNews™

September 24, 2012 - September 28, 2012

Featured This Week

New Reports

  • Court Cases: Employees’ Entitlement To Group Term Life Insurance Coverage, 9/12 (341.3.-19)
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  • Text: 2012 PBGC Interest Rates, 8/12 (619.5.-49)
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  • Survey: IRS Monthly Segment Rates, 8/12 (101.2.-9)
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  • Analysis: Interest Rates For Funding Calculations, 8/12 (101.2.-7)
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    September 28, 2012

    Electronic Delivery Of Employee Health Plan Communications Continues To Grow

    Employers are increasingly using electronic distribution and relying on outside assistance as existing and new federal regulations are requiring stepped up health plan communications, according to the findings of the fourth annual Compliance Communications Survey from HighRoads…

    (Read Intelliconnect) »

    Insurance Coverage Improves In 20 States

    The percentage of people without health insurance fell in 20 states last year with Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont seeing the biggest decreases, according to recent research released from the Census Bureau. The American Community Survey (ACS), which is based on responses from 200,000 individuals, found that among states with highest uninsured rates, Texas saw its rate drop slightly from 23.7 percent in 2010 to 23 percent in 2011, and Florida’s rate fell from 21.3 percent to 20.9 percent…

    (Read Intelliconnect) »

    September 27, 2012

    Americans Still Confident About Health Care, But Concerned About Cost, EBRI Reports

    When asked to rate the health care system, 28 percent of Americans consider it to be “good,” according to recent research from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). The report, 2012 Health Confidence Survey: Americans Remain Confident About Health Care, Concerned About Costs, Following Supreme Court Decision, found that 28 percent rated the health care system as “fair,” and 26 percent rated it as “poor.” Only 12 percent rated it “very good” and 5 percent said it is “excellent.” However, EBRI noted that the percentage of Americans rating the health care system as poor doubled between 1998 and 2004 (rising from 15 percent to 30 percent)…

    (Read Intelliconnect) »

    FEBHP Rates Increase 3.4 Percent For Federal Workers In 2013

    The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has announced that the average premium for the 8.2 million people covered by the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) will increase by 3.4 percent in 2013, which is slightly lower than the 2012 increase of 3.8 percent. On average, FEHBP enrollees with self-only coverage will pay $2.75 more per bi-weekly pay period, and enrollees with family coverage will pay $6.39 more. The OPM also announced that there are no significant benefit changes for 2013…

    (Read Intelliconnect) »

    Employer Must Employ 75 Or More Employees Within State To Come Within Scope Of Connecticut Leave Law, Connecticut Supreme Court Rules

    Although an employer employed more than 1,000 employees nationwide, because it did not employ 75 or more employees within the state of Connecticut, it was not subject to the provisions of the Connecticut Family and Medical Leave statute, ruled the Connecticut Supreme Court in Velez v. Commissioner of Labor (SC 18683 and SC 18684). Contrary to the determination of the trial court, the Connecticut high court agreed with the state’s labor commissioner and employer that Sec. 31-51qq-42 of the regulation was dispositive of the meaning of Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 31-51kk (4) because agency regulations are presumed to be valid and have the force and effect of a statute…

    (Read Intelliconnect) »

    September 26, 2012

    IRS/Treasury Discuss Shared Responsibility Payment Guidance And Safe Harbors

    During the September 20 ALI-CLE seminar Retirement, Deferred Compensation, and Welfare Plans of Tax-Exempt and Governmental Employers, Stephen Tackney, special counsel in the IRS Office of Division Counsel/Associate Chief Counsel, Tax Exempt and Government Entities (TE/GE), and Rachel Levy, attorney-advisor in the Treasury Office of Benefits Tax Counsel, discussed the latest guidance implementing applicable employers’ shared responsibility payment under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). “The IRS and Treasury are trying to provide employers [potentially subject to the Code Sec. 4980H assessed payment] as much flexibility as possible within the range that we can get to,” said Tackney…

    (Read Intelliconnect) »

    2012 Looks To Be Another Challenging Year: Mercer

    The overall financial health of defined benefit (DB) pension plans declined in 2011 and 2012 is shaping up as another challenging year, according to a recent report released by Mercer. The report, How Does Your Retirement Program Stack Up?—2012, found that the funded status of pension plans sponsored by companies in the S&P 1500 declined from 81 percent on Dec. 31, 2010, to 75 percent on Dec. 31, 2011. Funded status continued to decline in 2012, as these plans hit a record low of 70 percent as of July 31, representing a shortfall of $689 billion. Mercer based its analysis primarily on information contained in the 10-K reports filed by the companies in the S&P 1500 for the 2011 fiscal year…

    (Read Intelliconnect) »

    Employer Entitled To Make “Reasonable Modifications” To Retiree Health Care Benefits, Sixth Circuit Rules

    An employer was entitled to make “reasonable modifications” to its retiree health care benefits, the Sixth Circuit ruled, reversing a district court’s grant of summary judgment to the retirees finding that the employer lacked the ability to modify any benefits except with the approval of the union that once represented them. The Sixth Circuit majority concluded that whatever else vesting in the health care context means, it does not mean that beneficiaries receive a bundle of services fixed once and for all. Judge Bernice Donald filed a separate dissenting opinion. The case was Reese v. CNH America, LLC (Nos. 11-1359, 11-1857 and 11-1969)…

    (Read Intelliconnect) »

    September 25, 2012

    Workplace Wellness Programs Can Significantly Reduce Health Risks, Study Finds

    Participants in comprehensive workplace wellness programs can achieve a significant reduction in health risks in as little as 18 months, according to recent research from the Principal Financial Group. The study shows the greatest impact in reducing health risks is among participants who also received personalized health coaching. This reduction in health risks can reduce health care costs, Principal noted…

    (Read Intelliconnect) »

    Massachusetts Provider Settles HIPAA Case For $1.5 Million

    Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and Massachusetts Eye and Ear Associates, Inc. (MEEI) has agreed to pay the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) $1.5 million to settle potential violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Security Rule. MEEI also agreed to take corrective action to improve policies and procedures to safeguard the privacy and security of its patients’ protected health information, the HHS has announced….

    (Read Intelliconnect) »

    September 24, 2012

    6 Million Will Face Tax Penalty In 2014: CBO

    According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), 6 million Americans will face a tax penalty for being uninsured in 2016. The 6 million figure in report, Payments of Penalties for Being Uninsured Under the Affordable Care Act, is a 50 percent increase than a previous projection from the CBO in April 2010. The earlier estimate found that 4 million individuals would be affected by the tax penalty in 2016, when the penalty fully goes into effect. The CBO now estimates that total collections from the penalty will be about $7 billion in 2016 and average about $8 billion per year over the 2017–22 period…

    (Read Intelliconnect) »

    Enrollment Reaches 82,000 In Health Reform’s Temporary High-Risk Pool

    The Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight has noted that 82,000 individuals have enrolled in the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) as of July 31, 2012, the temporary high risk health insurance pool established under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act…

    (Read Intelliconnect) »

    Sixth Circuit Declines To Apply Presumption Of Prudence At Pleadings Stage

    The presumption of prudence generally applicable to investments in employer stock could not be applied at the pleadings stage to dismiss a claim for fiduciary breach, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in Griffin v. Flagstar Bancorp, Inc. In addition, the court found that the factual allegations in the participants’ complaint went beyond documenting a simple drop in stock price to establish a plausible claim for fiduciary breach…

    (Read Intelliconnect) »

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