eBRIEFS Masthead

August 2012


Featured Article

High-deductible health plans have been touted as a savvy behavioral tool to motivate enrollees to more closely scrutinize the price tag of imaging tests, brand-name drugs and more. But at what point does the hefty deductible discourage employees and their families from getting potential health problems checked out or treated? Click here to continue.


In This Issue
The Requirement to Buy Coverage Under ACA
Making the Most of Health Insurance Changes in 2013
Bollinger's HR Newsletter
7 Low or No-Cost Ways to Increase 401(k) Participation
Human Error: The Greatest Risk & Root Cause of Data Security
Practice Sound Risk Management for Your Time-Share Investment
Blue Collar Workers Top Charts for Worst Employee Health

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 Legislative/Regulatory Update

Employers Must Withhold Additional Medicare Tax for High Earners Beginning in 2013


The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released Questions and Answers relating to the Additional Medicare Tax which goes into effect in 2013 as part of Health Care Reform. The Additional Medicare Tax applies to individuals' wages, other compensation, and self-employment income over certain thresholds. Employers are responsible for withholding the tax on wages and other compensation in certain circumstances.  Click here to continue.

Departments Release Guidance on Rebates under ACA's Medical Loss Ratio Rule


Recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ("HHS") released guidance on the Affordable Care Act's medical loss ratio ("MLR") rule, which requires health insurers to spend a certain amount of premium dollars on claims (or activities that improve health care quality) or provide a rebate to policyholders.  Click here to continue.

401(k) Fee Disclosure Rules Clarified


The Labor Department recently issued guidance on rules requiring companies to disclose 401(k) fees to employees that will be welcome news to most employers. But for some small companies with 401(k) plans, the guidance may raise more questions, experts said.  Click here to continue.


 Health Care Reform

The Requirement to Buy Coverage Under the Affordable Care Act


Along with changes to the health insurance system that guarantee access to coverage to everyone regardless of pre-existing health conditions, the Affordable Care Act includes a requirement that many people be insured or pay a penalty.  Click here to view a flowchart that illustrates how the requirement (sometimes known as an "individual mandate") works. 

Health Insurer Refunds May Stall in Employers' Hands


It was the great health insurance giveback: $1.1 billion in premiums returned to policyholders under the Affordable Care Act. But while many people who buy their own insurance found a check in the mail last week, millions insured through employers are still wondering what is happening with the money.  Click here to continue.

Uneven Impact of PPACA Seen


Sometimes lost in the furor surrounding health reform is the fact that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) will affect some employers far more than others. When asked to estimate the cost impact of the key provisions that go into effect in 2014, a new survey of 1,203 employers found that 60% expect some increase in cost; one-third of those expect an increase of 5% or more. The employers that will be hit hardest are those with large part-time populations, which include retail and hospitality services.  Click here to continue.


 Benefit Trends

Make the Most of Health Insurance Changes in 2013


What's going to happen to employer health insurance prices and coverage during open enrollment this coming year? Click here to continue.

How do Consumer Directed Health Plans Affect Medical Care?


From 2006 to 2011, researchers at the Rand Corporation - a nonprofit research organization in Santa Monica, Calif. - conducted the first-ever large-scale, multiemployer study of the effect of consumer-directed health care plans on medical care. Consumer-directed health care plans are an increasingly popular form of health insurance designed to make patients more cost-conscious in their health care choices through the use of higher deductibles coupled with HSAs or HRAs.  Click here to continue.

3 Trends in Benefits Open Enrollment for 2013


Benefits managers, start your engines. For many of you, annual open enrollment is less than 12 weeks away. "We're all adjusting to the new requirements of health care reform, so many companies are focused on compliance and cost containment," said Heather Moran, Health & Welfare solutions consultant for Ceridian. "Achieving both of these goals begins with your open enrollment."  Click here to continue.


 HR and Payroll Issues

Bollinger's HR Newsletter


Click here to read the August edition of HR Newsletter.

NLRB Challenges Long Established Investigation Best Practice


Employers routinely conduct investigations of workplace misconduct or other incidents. When doing so, many will direct employee witnesses or complainants not to discuss the investigation with other employees. There are a number of legitimate reasons for this, all aimed at protecting the integrity of the investigation and facilitating the search for the truth, among other things. A recent decision of the National Labor Relations Board, extending prior Board precedent, has criticized this routine and best practice direction by investigators.  Click here to continue.

New Philadelphia Ordinance Requires Certain Employers to Provide Paid Sick Leave


The City of Philadelphia has passed an ordinance that will require certain employers to provide paid sick leave to full-time, non-temporary, non-seasonal employees, effective July 1, 2012. Under the ordinance, covered employees are entitled to a minimum of one hour of paid sick time for every 40 hours worked in Philadelphia. Click here to continue. 

What are More Employees Doing on Vacation? Working


You give employees vacation time so they can kick back, relax and come back to work refreshed and more productive. Well, that's not what's happening.  More than half (52%) of U.S. adults are planning to work while they're on vacation. That's a troubling stat if you're hoping to get back a revitalized worker following their hiatus. But what may be even more troubling, that number's increased since last year, when it was 46%.
Click here to continue.


 Retirement Plans

7 Low or No-Cost Ways to Increase 401(k) Participation

Sometimes something screaming "can't miss" on paper just doesn't measure up when tried in the real life. The elegantly logical and precise formulae of economics often fall victim to the irrational world. But this story isn't about investment, the usual whipping boy when it comes to the myth of rational behavior, but a simple technique many 401k plan sponsors believe - falsely, it turns out - is guaranteed to help employees improve their retirement.  Click here to continue.

Generation Y Favors Target-Date Funds and Roth 401(k)s


Analysis of Generation Y participants-born between 1979 and 1991-in defined contribution plans revealed stronger selection of target-date funds and Roth 401(k) options compared to other age groups, according to data from Fidelity Investments, a large retirement plan services provider.  Click here to continue. 

Is It Time to Consider a Cash Balance Plan?


By any reasonable measure, traditional defined benefit pension plans are on the decline. Both the number of plans and the number of covered individuals have been declining steadily since their peak in the mid-1980s when there were more than 100,000 plans operating. More recently, that number has declined to about 25,000. Not surprisingly, this decline occurred at the same time as the growing popularity of 401(k) plans. However, some argue that 401(k) plans alone may not be enough to help employees secure their retirement.  Click here to continue.


 Risk Management

Human Error: The Greatest Risk and Root Cause of Data Security


Whether discussing data encryption, network security, or internal data privacy management practices and policies, the most sophisticated IT security protocols, the most learned team of specialists, and the most compliant of data management practices and policies cannot escape, prevent, or remedy what many businesses and organizations have rightly labeled as the root cause of data security failures: human error.  Click here to continue.

Workers Compensation Rates for Employers Likely to Increase


Employers renewing their workers compensation policies likely will pay more for the coverage as claims costs rise and insurers' combined ratios deteriorate, experts say. Click here to continue.

Who Owns Risk Management?


After writing about risk management for more than a decade, I'm well aware of a disconnect often present between risk management and a company's executives and board. The situation has improved as more companies are focusing on risk - all risks, not just financial - in the wake of a number of natural, environmental, and fiduciary disasters. Click here to continue.


 Personal Lines

Practice Sound Risk Management for Your Time-Share Investment


More than 4 million Americans own time-shares in vacation and resort property. A time-share is a form of ownership or right to the use of a property in which multiple parties hold rights to reside in the property for an allotted period of time such as 1 week per year. This concept has attracted numerous resort developers such as Marriott and Disney. But the insurance and risk management implications may not be fully addressed and understood. Click here to continue.

Summer's Record Heat, Drought Point to Longer-Term Climate Issues


Driving by a boat ramp one Saturday morning last month, a local man noticed some white spots on the Des Moines River. He stopped to have a look. Turns out the spots were fish bellies. The undersides of dead sturgeon formed glistening constellations in the muddy brown water. Click here to continue. 

Youth Driving Laws Limit Even the Double Date


It is a rite of American teendom, celebrated in popular culture by "American Graffiti" and "Fast Times at Ridgemont High": a teenager with a driver's license piling as many friends as will fit into the car for a ride.  But increasingly, states are legislating away that carefree cruise, passing laws that restrict when, how and with whom teenagers can get behind the wheel.  Click here to continue. 



 Of Interest

Blue Collar Workers Top Charts for Worst Employee Health


Workers who keep the country running through transportation, construction and other services may also suffer the worst health, according to recent rankings of employees' well-being. The research group Gallup and wellness company Healthways gathered information about employees' health and living through its 2011 Well-Being Index to gain a comprehensive picture of workers' health across occupation groups.  Click here to continue.