eBRIEFS Masthead

September 2012


Featured Article


With Telemedicine, Medical Help is Just a Phone Call Away

Companies and employees are finding that the service offers benefits: Employers can cut health care costs, and workers can get issues addressed quicker. But telemedicine isn't a substitute for a face-to-face doctor visit. "It doesn't replace the times you need to see a doctor or you need to go to a hospital," the CEO of the American Telemedicine Association says. Click here to continue. 


In This Issue
Foreign Language Assistance Duties for SBCs and SPDs
Walgreens, Express Scripts End War
U.S. Workforce Illness Costs $576B Annually From Sick Days To Workers Compensation
After the Deluge: Common FLSA Questions in the Wake of Disaster
Lifetime Income Options in 401(k) Plans
Top 10 Risk-Management Stories of 2012's First Half
Clothes Dryer Fires Cost $35 Million a Year
Aetna Enters Into Agreement to Acquire Coventry Health Care, Inc

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 Legislative/Regulatory Update

IRS Adopts Safe Harbors for Employer Play or Pay Purposes 


The Internal Revenue Service has released Notice 2012-58 (the "Full-Time Employee Guidance"), which describes safe harbor methods that employers are permitted to use for purposes of determining full-time employee status under the Affordable Care Act's "pay-or-play" mandate.   Employers may, but are not required to, rely on the safe harbors contained in the Full-Time Employee Guidance.  As described in more detail below, employers may rely on that temporary guidance at least through the end of 2014. Click here to continue.

Deadlines Looming for 2012 W-2 Reporting of Employer-Sponsored Group Health Plan Coverage


If your company provides employees with group health plan coverage and you issued 250 or more Internal Revenue Service Form W-2s in 2011, your company will need to begin reporting the aggregate cost of each employee's coverage starting with W-2s that you issue in January 2013 for the 2012 calendar year. Most public employers, such as federal, state and local governmental entities, churches and other religious organizations, are also required to comply with this requirement. Click here to continue.

Agencies Issue Temporary Guidance on Health Care Reform's 90-Day Waiting Period Limitation

The IRS, DOL, and HHS (the agencies jointly tasked with implementing certain health care reform requirements) have issued substantially identical guidance on what initially will be considered compliance with health care reform's prohibition on excessive waiting periods for coverage. (As background, effective for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2014, group health plans and insurers are prohibited from applying a waiting period that exceeds 90 days.) Click here
 to continue.

San Francisco Ups Employers' Health Care Spending Requirement for 2013


Employers with workers in San Francisco will have to pay more next year to comply with the city's health care spending law. Click here to continue


 Health Care Reform

Foreign Language Assistance Duties for SBCs and SPDs


Many of you are aware that the Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) required to be distributed under the Affordable Care Act must be provided in a "culturally and linguistically appropriate manner," and that this standard encompasses offers of assistance in foreign languages as well as other language assistance duties. Click here to continue.

 Benefit Trends

Walgreens, Express Scripts End War


The bitter pricing clash between Walgreen, the country's largest pharmacy, and Express Scripts, now the largest pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) following its acquisition of Medco this year, ended with Walgreen capitulating, an industry analyst tells CFO. Click here to continue.

Employers Save Big with Wellness Programs


Employers betting on wellness programs seem to be making the right call. They're seeing $1 to $3 decreases in their overall health care costs for every dollar spent, finds a report from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. Click here to continue.

Satisfaction Levels Up for CDHPs, Down for Traditional Plans

Concerning Americans' overall satisfaction with employer-provided health coverage, traditional-plan enrollees were more likely than consumer-directed health plan (CDHP) enrollees to be extremely or very satisfied with the overall plan. However, satisfaction levels have been trending up among CDHP enrollees, and trending down among traditional-plan enrollees, according to a new report by the nonprofit Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). Click here to continue.

The Benefits of an Employee-Centric Enrollment Experience


In order to create a successful employee benefits offering, employers must balance the cost of managing benefits and meeting employee needs. Click here to continue.


 HR and Payroll Issues

Be Careful Out There

For companies that want to learn more about their job candidates' online activity without risking a lawsuit, using a third party to filter this information can be an effective method. But even when using a third party, experts warn, legal landmines remain afoot. Click here to continue.

U.S. Workforce Illness Costs $576B Annually From Sick Days To Workers Compensation


From absenteeism due to illness to the cost of disability and workers' compensation, poor health costs the U.S. economy more than a half a trillion dollars a year, according to a new study by a nonprofit research organization. Click here to continue.

After the Deluge: Common FLSA Questions in the Wake of Disaster


Many areas of the country are just drying out from the effects of Hurricane Ike and other nasty storms - and companies are trying to deal with payroll headaches from lost work records to whether they must continue to pay workers when the organization is temporarily shut down. Click here to continue.

Testing Employees for Legally Prescribed Medications Must be Done Carefully


A recent settlement announced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission points out the risks that exist if you include lawfully prescribed medications in your drug testing programs. Click here to continue.

 Retirement Plans

Lifetime Income Options in 401(k) Plans 


As part of an initiative by the U.S. Department of Treasury and the Department of Labor to expand lifetime income choices, the Treasury Department and the IRS recently issued two revenue rulings and two proposed regulations that will make it easier for plan sponsors to offer certain lifetime income options to 401k and other DC plan participants. Click here to continue.


7 Keys to 401(k) Engagement


Offering a 401(k) plan to employees is only half the benefit; sponsors need to design plan features to maximize enrollment and communicate the advantages of the plan. Click here to continue.

A November Surprise?


New 401(k) disclosure regulations could cause a stir in November. Click here to continue.

 Financial Services

Chances Are, You Need Life Insurance


Life insurance is a simple answer to a very difficult question: How will my family manage financially when I die? It's a subject no one really wants to think about. But if someone depends upon you financially, it's one you cannot avoid. Click here to continue.

Long Term Care Benefits Not Just for Older Workers         

The American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance is challenging the idea that long-term care insurance is purchased by or benefits only older individuals. While the numbers may skew toward the elderly, the AALTCI hastens to point out that conditions associated with aging are only a portion of the reasons claimants use their policy. Click
here to continue.

 Risk Management

Top 10 Risk-Management Stories of 2012's First Half

Thus far, 2012 has been a revealing year for risk managers with regard to what the C-Suite expects of them and their ever-evolving (mostly expanding) roles. Click here to continue. 

Managing Risks Must Include Taking Them


Baseball great Yogi Berra once said: "If you come to a fork in the road, take it." For the practitioners in the art and science of risk management, the fork in the road is at hand. One directional sign says ERM, while the other says GRC. ERM is the acronym for enterprise risk management and GRC is the acronym for governance, risk, and compliance. Click here to continue.

Companies Swimming in Water Risks


With at least 60% of the United States now experiencing drought conditions, companies are focusing more than ever on intelligent water usage. They are opting to conserve and to work with their watershed stakeholders to keep costs down and avoid potential compliance and reputational problems. Click here to continue.

 Personal Lines

Clothes Dryer Fires Cost $35 Million a Year


An estimated 2,900 clothes dryer fires in residential buildings are reported to U.S. fire departments each year and cause an estimated $35 million in property losses, according to a new government report.

The report by the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) said that 84 percent of clothes dryer fires took place in residential buildings. Click here to continue.

Don't Forget Insurance with College Bound Kids


Insurance needs are often overlooked in the last-minute scramble. But relying on existing coverage - or a lack of it - can end up costing families during the college years and perhaps beyond. Click here to continue.

Do You Have a Hurricane Deductible?


Many homeowners in Louisiana who were affected by Hurricane Isaac are probably getting familiar with an aspect of their insurance policies known as a hurricane deductible. Deductibles are the portion of damage the homeowner pays out of pocket before insurance kicks in. For most "perils," as the industry calls them, the standard deductible is a flat amount - say, $500 or $1,000. But coastal states from Maine to Texas have special rules for hurricanes, put in place to limit insurance losses after catastrophic storms. Click here to continue.

Verify Your "Other Structures" are Properly Covered


Your homeowners policy covers "other structures" that are either (a) separated by a clear and distinct space from your dwelling or (b) connected to the dwelling by a fence, wall, wire, or similar type of connection. The limit of insurance for other structures is typically 10 percent of your dwelling limit. Sometimes, however, this limit may be quite inadequate, creating unwanted coverage gaps.  Click here to continue. 

 Of Interest

Aetna Enters Into Agreement to Acquire Coventry Health Care, Inc.


Aetna (NYSE: AET) and Coventry Health Care, Inc. (NYSE: CVH) today announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement pursuant to which Aetna will acquire Coventry in a transaction valued at $7.3 billion, including the assumption of Coventry debt.(1) Coventry is a diversified managed health care company that offers a full portfolio of risk and fee-based products, including Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D programs, Medicaid managed care plans, group and individual health insurance, coverage for specialty services such as workers' compensation, and network rental services.  Click here to continue.

Changes to Cigna Global Health Benefits' Timely Filing Limit


Cigna Global Health Benefits continues to evaluate our administrative practices to ensure they are reflective of the current environment and conditions. Based on a recent review, Cigna is making changes to the requirements for filing international claims beginning January 1, 2013. Click here to continue.