eBRIEFS Masthead

January 2012


Featured Article

The always challenging benefits arena grew a bit more challenging and complicated this past year, as HR leaders coped with continuing issues of costs and coverage, on top of potential issues resulting from the healthcare reform law.  Click here  to continue.
In This Issue
CLASS Dismissed
Companies Shake Up 401(k) Plans
A Perfect Storm for Estate Planning
Best of 2011: Risk and Compliance
Risk Managers Favor Banning Cellphone use in Autos
Global Benefits: Healthcare News

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 Legislative/Regulatory Update

EBSA Makes 2011 5500 Information Available


Although it is probably not high on the list of priorities for plan administrators, the end of a calendar year usually means the start of the process of preparing 5500s. They may not be due right away, but it is always good to know what information you will have to provide when you eventually file them. The Employee Benefits Security Administration has made an informational copy of the 2011 5500 available, with instructions, on its website. Click here to continue.

IRS Updates Guidance on W-2 Reporting of Health Care Costs


The IRS has updated guidance on employer reporting of group health care costs via form W-2.  Click here to continue.

State Benchmarks to Define "Essential Health Benefits" Under Affordable Care Act


In a surprising move, the Department of Health and Human Services will not impose a uniform definition of "essential health benefits"

(EHB) that individual and small group health insurance plans must provide in order to be offered on state exchanges starting in 2014. Click here to continue.

Health FSA Dollar Limit for 2013 Impacts Some Fiscal Year Plans Now


The Affordable Care Act limits salary deferrals that may be made under a health flexible spending account (FSA) to $2,500 in "taxable years" beginning on or after January 1, 2013. However Section 125 cafeteria plans that include health FSAs subject to the dollar limit, and that follow a fiscal rather than calendar plan year, need to take steps now to apply the dollar limit over their 2012 - 2013 plan year.  Click here to continue.

Make Sure Employees Understand FMLA Calendar


The FMLA was created to allow em­­ployees time off to deal with their own serious health conditions or those of family members who need medical care.  But the law carefully balances the rights of employees to keep their jobs while facing temporary hardships with the rights of employers to run their businesses.  That's one reason the statute and the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) FMLA regulations give employers several options for calculating how much leave employees are entitled to at any given time.  Click here to continue.


 Benefit Trends

Class Dismissed

Arranging and financing long term care is an issue everyone will face yet no one wants to talk about it. However, following the Health Department's move to table the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act (CLASS), planning for long term care is becoming part of the national conversation - and that presents opportunities and challenges for employers.  Click here to continue.

Finding Success with Progress-Based Health Incentives


There is broad acceptance and understanding among employers that the health of their workforce can have an impact on the productivity and performance of the organization. That's why allowing higher financial incentives to promote employee health earned a prime spot in the landmark Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Click here to continue.

Reducing the Cost of Retiree Health Care


Companies that provide health benefits to retirees have understandably become ever more cognizant of the costs involved in recent years.  According to the U.s. Department of Health and Human Services, the cost of health care for a person over age 565 is, on average, 3.3 times higher than the cost of health care for a working-age person.  Click here to continue.


 Retirement Plans

Companies Shake Up 401(k) Plans, Cut Fees


Companies are shaking up their 401(k) retirement plans, trimming lists of mutual fund offerings and shaving the fees workers pay as they prepare for new federal rules that will put more plan information in front of employees.  Click here to continue.

Will 2012 be the Year of the 401(k) Fiduciary?


Between the new definition of "fiduciary" coming from the Department of Labor to the new Fee and Performance Disclosure Rules scheduled to go into effect this spring, 2012 is shaping up to be the Year of the 401(k) Fiduciary.  How will this all turn out? Click here to continue. 

Retiring Minds Want to Know: Technology Helps Assess Retirement Benefits


Interactive online tools such as videos, chats and blogs designed to encourage employees to invest more than the default minimum in their 401(k) plans have become increasingly common.  Click here to continue.


 Financial Services

Protecting Your Business Starts with Key Employee Life Insurance


Key employee plans cover the life of an employee who is critical to the success and profitability of your business.  These plans are a simple, efficient way to help protect your business.  Click here to continue.

Americans Want to Save for Retirement and Survivors


According to the new MetLife Survey of Baby Boomers and Members of Generations X and Y, nearly four in five survey respondents believe there is an obligation to provide for a surviving spouse if one dies unexpectedly.  More than half believe  inleaving something for younger children, typically enough to carry them through at least part of college.  Click here to continue.


 Risk Management

Best of 2011:  Risk and Compliance


How to prepare for the risk of turmoil?  This past year gave companies plenty of opportunities to think about the unthinkable. Click here to continue.

Security Risks in 2012 Run Gamut, Hacktivism to Spam


It sounds straight out of some old cyberpunk novel: In the year 2012 terrorists scheme how to crash the electric grid, a cottage industry of malcontents thrives tapping out petty thievery commands and hackers in a rival nation get root inside U.S. networks.  And yet, here we are.  Click here to continue. 

New Mandatory Posting by NJDOL


The NJ Department of Labor and workforce Development has issued a six-page notice that employers are required to post in areas accessible to employees. Click here to view a copy of the notice.


 Personal Lines

Risk Managers Favor Banning Cellphone Use in Autos


Even though the National Transportation Safety Board's recommendation that all cellphone use be banned in automobiles has been nixed by the U.S.transportation secretary, the suggestion is applauded by some corporate and public-entity risk managers.  Click here to continue.

As Winter Sets In, Concerns Grow About Fires From Heating Sources


The early-morning Christmas fire that killed three children and their grandparents in Stamford was the deadliest blaze in a single-family home in decades in Connecticut, a grim marker for a time of year when house fires spike as people try to stay warm.  Click here to continue.


 Of Interest

Aetna Global Benefits: Healthcare News


Click here to read a report on healthcare issues around the world. 

2011/2012 Compensation, Retirement and Benefits Trends Survey


This annual survey is designed to uncover key trends across the broad spectrum of retirement, benefits and employee rewards programs.  The result is a comprehensive view of firms' total employee reward programs that is rarely available from a single source.  Click here to continue.