eBRIEFS Masthead

January 2013


Featured Article

Obamacare Carries On...
What's Next?

Leaving legal and political hurdles behind, employers still worry there's no clear-cut path to health care reform.  Click here to continue.  




In This Issue
Healthcare Benefits Keep Evolving
Non Union Employers Should Heed Recent NLRB Rulings
A Compliance Guide for Plan Sponsors
Why Few Sandy Victims are Tapping Government Loansfor Superstorm Sandy
Personal Insurance Newsletter

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 Legislative/Regulatory Update

Congress Passes NFIP Borrowing Authority Increase Amid Calls for Reforms


Congress passed legislation that increases the borrowing authority for the National Flood Insurance program by one-third.  Click here to continue. 

Proposed Regulations on Employer Shared Responsibility  


The IRS and Treasury Department recently issued proposed regulations on the employer coverage mandate ("employer shared responsibility" rules), which was added as part of the Affordable Care Act. Click here to continue.  

HHS Proposes Rules on Employee Wellness, Essential Health Benefits


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced a series of proposed rules under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act governing employee wellness programs and essential health benefits for certain employers. Click here to continue.

HHS Provides Guidance to Self-Funded Health Plans Regarding the Transitional Reinsurance Program


Eagerly awaited proposed rules issued last week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services detail how much employers with self-funded medical plans will have to pay to fund the health care reform law-created Transitional Reinsurance Program, and answer many other questions employers have raised about the program. Click here to continue.

Form 5500 for 2012 Plan Year Released by DOL


The DOL has issued the 2012 Form 5500, Schedules, and Instructions. Click here for a summary of changes affecting 401(k) and health and welfare plans.

IRS Issues Final Regulations on PCOR Fees


The IRS has issued final regulations implementing the fees on health insurers and self-insured plan sponsors to fund the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (sometimes referred to as CER, PCOR, or PCORI fees). These fees apply to policy and plan years ending after October 1, 2012 and before October 1, 2019 (i.e., for seven full policy or plan years). Click here to continue.

HHS Defines Essential Health Benefits under PPACA


The Department of Health and Human Services has issued two sets of proposed regulations issued under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that will affect the design, availability and cost of health insurance plans, primarily in the individual and small group markets. Click here to continue.

HHS Announces Health Insurance Exchanges


Eighteen states and the District of Columbia intend to set up health insurance exchanges in 2014 where the uninsured, among others, will be able to obtain coverage, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Click here to continue.

 Benefit Trends

Healthcare Benefits Keep Evolving


Employers are keeping their healthcare costs down, in part by continuing to shift more costs to their employees. Private healthcare exchanges represent the next step in this approach.  Click here to continue.

Experts Question Employees' Readiness for Consumer-Driven Health Care


As private exchanges expand and companies consider a future beyond the traditional employer-sponsored health care system, benefits experts weigh in on consumers' readiness for 'defined contribution health'. Click here to continue.

Vision Loss Uncorrectable by Glasses on the Rise


In a testament to the importance of both vision benefits and wellness programs, new research shows that the number of Americans with vision loss not correctable by glasses is rising, caused in part by increasing diabetes rates, a study found.  Click here to continue.


 HR and Payroll Issues

New Tax Law Affects HR, Benefits, Payroll 

On January 2, 2013, President Obama signed the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA), extending many programs that expired at the end of 2012. Click here for a summary of the major provisions affecting employers. 

Non Union Employers Should Heed Recent NLRB Rulings 

A number of recent National Labor Relations Board rulings focusing on social media, class action waivers, confidentiality of workplace investigations, and at-will employment policies relate equally to the union and nonunion workplace, according to John E. Higgins, moderator of a Nov. 28 American Bar Association webinar. Click here to continue.  

Keeping Key Leaders


Encouraging executives from acquired companies to stay on and help with the transition involves more than compensation and perks. Cultural and role considerations are also essential.  Click here to continue. 

EEOC Targets Employment Discrimination of Domestic Violence Victims


The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently weighed in on the possible application of Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to employees who are victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.  Click here to continue.  

Want to Ban Smoking? Watch Out for State Laws

Employers hoping to cut health care costs naturally look to reduce unhealthy behaviors, and perhaps none is more preventable than smoking. And few are more expensive - a smoker costs a company $12,000 more a year than a nonsmoker, with an annual medical pricetag of more than $95 billion. Add on another $97 billion a year in lost productivity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it's easy to see why CFOs and benefits managers would want to implement smoking-cessation programs and smoke-free policies. Click
here to continue. 


 Retirement Plans

A Compliance Guide for Plan Sponsors  

With the U.S. Department of Labor stepping up its enforcement efforts, plan sponsors need to make sure they are in compliance with every rule and regulation when it comes to their retirement plans. It isn't enough to just be prepared. When January rolls around, plan sponsors need to know whether they are eligible for an audit and if they are, they need to submit an independent plan audit with their IRS Form 5500. Click here to continue.  

IRS Announcements for Plan Sponsors


The IRS has posted important information for employer sponsored retirement plans regarding Form 5500 Proposed Penalty Notices and a list of plan qualification requirements for 2012.  Please click on the links below for more details:


The New 401(k)


A rise in corporate 401(k) balances and contributions reveals that the new design of retirement plans is working. Financial experts think companies can do even better in helping their workers to realize retirement readiness. Click here to continue. 


 Financial Services 

Understanding Life Insurance: Your Earning Power


Your earning power -your ability to earn an income - is your most valuable asset. Few people realize that a 30-year-old couple will earn 3.5 million dollars by age 65 if their total family income averages $100,000 for their entire careers, without any raises. Click here to continue.


 Risk Management

Why Few Sandy Victims Are Tapping Government Loans


Is there a federal agency that businesses affected by Hurricane Sandy can tap for inexpensive loans? That's a question that surfaces after every major disaster. The answer hasn't changed: the Small Business Administration, which has lent billions since Katrina through its direct lending programs for disaster victims. This time around, 30-year, 4 percent loans up to $2 million are available to business owners in federally declared disaster areas in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. They are available to owners whose property was damaged, as well as those whose property wasn't. Trouble is, few are applying. Click here to continue.  

Top 5 Trends in Workplace Safety Management for 2013

For safety managers and directors, 2013 will hold a mix of continuing challenges and new opportunities. As these professionals are tasked to do more with less, find and use reliable safety information sources, address safety on a holistic level and maintain a consistent approach to safety across borders, they must be diligent in keeping current with their profession's trends and changes. Click here to continue.  

Top Cybersecurity Trends and Risks for 2013


ThreatMetrix, a provider of integrated cybercrime prevention solutions, announces the most threatening cybersecurity trends and risks businesses and consumers must keep top of mind in 2013. These include cyberwarfare, data breaches, migrating malware, bring-your-own-device (BYOD), cloud computing, and mobile and social media fraud. In today's threat environment, the reach of cybercriminals expands to more industries each year, with financial services, insurance, retailers, enterprises and government agencies especially vulnerable to new threats.  Click here to continue.  

Limiting Social Host Liquor Liability


A bartender is legally liable for serving alcohol to a patron who becomes intoxicated and then injures a third party. Does a business face a similar exposure when it hosts a social event where alcohol is served, such as an open house or employee picnic?  Click here to continue.  


 Personal Lines

Personal Insurance Newsletter


Click here to read the December issue of our Insurance Chatter newsletter.

Volume of Claims Delays Sandy Settlements at the NJ Shore


Hopes of getting the hardest-hit stretches of the Jersey Shore rebuilt by next summer are fading, as delays in insurance settlements mount and uncertainty hangs over federal aid.  Click here to continue.  

Properly Cover Those Incidental Farming Exposures

America has countless numbers of "gentleman farmers."
Webster's Dictionary defines a gentleman farmer as "a man who farms mainly for pleasure rather than profit." A "gentleman farmer" typically has an independent source of income but still has incidental agriculture-related loss exposures that may not be covered by a standard, unendorsed homeowners policy. Click here
to continue.