March 2012  |  Volume 3, Number 3

Contracts, Compliance and Research Updates
The HSA Minimum Deductible Benchmark

The HSA minimum deductible, a benchmark for comparing HSAs with traditional PPO plans, will rise to $2,500 family and $1,250 individual in 2013, the first increase in the past 3 years, according to former Treasury official Roy Ramthun who makes the annual estimate using near-final government data.


A statutory technical freeze on the rise for three years has resulted in the average employee plan deductible without an HSA rising to virtually the same amount as an HSA minimum deductible. This means people who are offered a choice now often see little difference in deductibles if they pick an HSA. From now on, HSAs will probably rise at closer to the same rates as regular HD plans.


Health reimbursement accounts (HRAs) have no minimums on how much the deductible is or the level of the employer contribution. In real market terms, HRAs typically have lower deductibles and generate less out-of-pocket cost than HSAs. So if anything, the faster-rising minimum HSA deductible will make that difference with HRAs even greater from the consumer point of view.


Ramthun also announced that the maximum contribution to HSAs in 2013 will hit a new high of $6,450 family and $3,200 individuals (self-only), plus $1,000 for those over 55 who will be allowed a total of $7,450. Anybody can contribute up to the maximum regardless of their deductible (combined EE and ER), so a rise in the total allowed makes HSAs more attractive as investments.


Click here to access Rick Joyner's benefit blog.



ERRP Funding Exhausted and Closed to New Claims ---- CMS Provides Update on Payment Processing

On February 17, 2012, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published an update on the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program (ERRP), indicating that as of January 19, 2012, $4.7 billion of the ERRP funds have been disbursed. CMS stated that "ERRP has received requests for reimbursement that exceed the $5 billion in funding." Related to ongoing ERRP requirements, CMS announced its expectation that plan sponsors will use the ERRP reimbursement funds they have received or will receive, as soon as possible, but no later than December 31, 2014. CMS also provided reminders of how the reimbursement process and related operations will continue as ERRP approaches the disbursement of the temporary program's $5 billion appropriation. Additionally, CMS indicated that plan sponsors should keep the following information current with the ERRP program:


  • Responses to application questions;
  • Authorized Representative, Account Manager, and Designee contact information (e.g., email address, phone number, etc.); and
  • Bank account information.


Plan sponsors should also notify the ERRP Center if they have identified inaccuracies or changes to previously submitted price concession amounts (such as rebates) in order to obtain instructions on steps necessary to update their data.


For more information: 


In This Issue
Contracts, Compliance and Research Updates
Wisconsin Updates
BSG Speaking Events


More information regarding Health Care Reform and other benefit resources is available on the HR360 website, available to BSG clients under the "Resources" menu of their HR Express website. HR360 includes new features such as step-by-step interactive guides which make the processes of hiring, termination, COBRA and FMLA so much easier. In addition, there are new online tools such as a job description builder and salary benchmarking tool.

BSG subscribes to this service for your benefit. If you would like more information regarding this resource please contact your account management team at BSG. 
Wisconsin Updates 
Walker: Health Insurance Exchange on Hold Until November Elections

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is waiting to see what happens with the November elections before resuming work on a health insurance exchange, according to Politico. If the law still appears to be on track, he plans to go forward with a market-driven approach.


"Then, we try to find the least restrictive, most market-driven alternative to comply with the law if the legal and political path didn't give us an alternative," Walker told Politico this weekend.


Walker announced in December that he was turning down the state's Early Innovator Grant and halting work on the exchange.


Walker also told Politico that his administration has had a good working relationship with the Department of Health and Human Services as they negotiate the state's waiver from the federal health reform law's maintenance of effort requirements.


"HHS has actually been very good to work with, so I don't have complaints in term of the process," he said. "They've been very responsive. It just begs the larger question of why do you have to go through all these rules in the first place."


To read more, click here and scroll down the page to see the related information.



Hawaii Still No. 1 in Well-being

Hawaiians had the highest well-being in the U.S. in 2011, maintaining their No. 1 status for a third consecutive year. West Virginians again had the lowest well-being.


The Well-Being Index* score for the nation was 66.2 in 2011, down slightly from 66.8 in 2010 and the lowest score Gallup and Healthways have recorded since tracking began in 2008. The decrease in the overall score in 2011 is because of small declines across all six of the sub-indexes that comprise the Well-Being Index. Most of the state-level scores, however, were statistically unchanged in 2011 from 2010. Overall, Western and Midwestern states earned 9 of the 10 highest well-being scores, while Southern states accounted for half of the 10 lowest well-being scores.



Well-Being Index, 2011

Click here to enlarge image.



Well-being across states remains essentially static, reflecting the continuing sluggish economy. While some states are standouts year after year, even those places have yet to see significant improvement in residents' overall well-being since the financial crisis of 2008.


Improving well-being poses a challenge for leaders as many states continue to face severe fiscal problems, reductions in public services, public-sector layoffs or salary cuts, and decreases in federal aid. High unemployment, static or declining salaries, and overwhelming debt burdens ---- all of which have the potential to affect different aspects of well-being ---- continue to challenge residents.


While trying to rebuild America's economy and decrease unemployment, finding resources to fund access to basic services, preventive health care, and quality education can be difficult. A long-term commitment by the public and private sector to focus on job growth and developing the economy may go a long way toward resolving overwhelming costs associated with economic recovery. Additionally, employers who take a holistic approach to employees' well-being, such as offering incentives to quit smoking or regularly attend a gym, can play a vital role in decreasing organizational and societal costs related to poor well-being.


To read the full article, click here


*The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index® is the first-ever daily assessment of U.S. residents' health and well-being. By interviewing at least 1,000 U.S. adults every day, the Well-Being Index provides real-time measurement and insights needed to improve health, increase productivity, and lower health care costs. Public and private sector leaders use data on life evaluation, physical health, emotional health, healthy behavior, work environment, and basic access to develop and prioritize strategies to help their communities thrive and grow. Journalists, academics, and medical experts benefit from this unprecedented resource of health statistics and behavioral economic data to inform their research and reporting.
Upcoming BSG Speaking Events


Mid-Sized Retirement & Healthcare Plan Management Conference

San Francisco, CA ----   March 18-21, 2012

BSG will present the following:

  • Workshop: Seatbelts Save Lives. So Does Health Literacy* (Monday, 1:45 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.) Speaker: Sue Thomas
  • Workshop: Green Light, Yellow Light: Starting a Wellness Program with a Yield for Health Care Reform (Tuesday, 2:15 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.) Speakers: Gerald W. Frye and Michelle Spehr
  • Keynote address: Change with The Power of Data ----   World of Accountability* (Wednesday, 8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.) Speakers: Gerald W. Frye and Peter Garner

*Titles have been updated since brochure was published.


For more information, view the conference brochure or visit the UCS website.



Society of FSP ----   The Central Illinois Chapter 41st Annual Mini-Institute

Peoria, IL ----   April 19-20, 2012

Gerald W. Frye will present: Health Care Reform Update (Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.)

For more information, click here or visit the FSP National website. 



23rd Annual Greater Wisconsin Chapter EAPA Conference

Milwaukee, WI ----   April 26-27, 2012

Gerald W. Frye will present the following on Friday, April 27:

  • Keynote: Health Care Reform as It Stands in 2012 (8:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.)
  • Break-Out Session: Health Care Reform's Continued Effect on Behavioral Health Care (10:15 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.)

For more information, view the conference program or visit the Wisconsin Employee Assistance Professionals website.

Enlighten is published by The Benefit Services Group, Inc., (BSG®) and is provided free of charge to select BSG client representatives and associates.

By providing links to other sites, BSG does not guarantee, approve or endorse the information or products available at these sites, nor does a link indicate any association with or endorsement by the linked site to BSG.

The preceding is not intended to be and is not offered as legal advice. We are prohibited from the practice of law. Compliance is the responsibility of the employer or Plan sponsor and affected employees who should seek their own legal counsel regarding questions about information presented in this newsletter.

Copyright© 2012 The Benefit Services Group, Inc. BSG® is a registered trademark of The Benefit Services Group, Inc.