The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said it is giving $1.5 billion in grants to 11 states to launch or further develop health insurance exchanges. Those states are California, Delaware, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon and Vermont.
In 2012, the maximum penalty for non-compliance was $105 a month, or $1,260 a year. The maximum penalty this year for those with incomes that exceed 300 percent of the federal poverty level will be $106 for each month that an individual is not covered by health insurance, or $1,272 a year.
Under the governor's plan, the current annual assessment—known as the Fair Share contribution—of $295 per employee on employers not offering coverage would end on June 30.
Atlanta-based Coca-Cola wants to use its Red Re Inc. captive to reinsure life insurance and accidental death and dismemberment policies written by Metropolitan Life Insurance Co.
The massive $2,000-per-full-time-employee penalty will not apply so long as employers offer coverage to at least 95 percent of their full-time employees and their dependents up to age 26, the IRS said.
A provision tucked into the American Taxpayer Relief Act will expand the opportunities for employees to transfer funds from traditional 401(k) plans to Roth 401(k)s. Employees who are in lower tax brackets now compared with when they retire will reap big tax savings from such transfers.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has given tentative approval to applications filed by Minnesota and Rhode Island to launch health insurance exchanges in 2014.
When participants take lump sums and move out of a pension plan, employers can reduce certain fixed costs, such as the payment of sharply rising premiums to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.
Kentucky and New York join the District of Columbia in receiving the latest approvals. In all, exchange applications filed by eight states, plus the District of Columbia, have received tentative regulatory approval.
Pennsylvania is the latest state to declare it will not set up a state health exchange. States have until Dec. 14 to inform federal regulators whether they intend to establish exchanges.
Those six states are Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington.
Much of the $25 billion in assessments—to be paid annually over a three-year period—will be used to partially reimburse commercial insurers writing policies for individuals with high health care costs.
The exchange, which Mercer is offering along with Connextions Inc., a technology solutions company, will provide assistance to retirees during enrollment periods and throughout the year.
American Airlines Inc. parent AMR Corp. has asked a federal bankruptcy court in New York for permission to allow the airline to amend its frozen pilots' pension plan so that retiring pilots cannot receive their accrued benefits as a lump-sum.
Medicare beneficiaries will face higher out-of-pocket expenses next year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The deficit in the PBGC's insurance program for single-employer plans climbed to $29.1 billion in fiscal 2012, up from $23.3 billion the previous year. The deficit in the agency's insurance program that covers multiemployer pension plans climbed to about $5.2 billion, up from $2.8 billion the previous year.
The 4.1 percent increase brought health plan costs to an average of $10,558 per employee in 2012, compared with $10,146 per employee in 2011, according to the survey.
Some health care reform law issues may be discussed during the remaining weeks of the current legislative session as lawmakers look for ways to reduce the federal budget deficit.
For the three-month period ending Sept. 30, employees' average account balances jumped 4.2 percent from the prior quarter, and 18 percent compared with the end of the third quarter of 2011 when account balances averaged $64,300, according to Fidelity Investments.
Republican challenger Mitt Romney said numerous times during the campaign that one of his first acts, if elected, would be to seek repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. But if President Barack Obama is elected for a new term, experts expect an acceleration in the pace at which health care reform regulations are issued.
In the United States, plans sponsored by employers in the S&P 1500 were on average 73 percent funded as of Sept. 30, down from 75 percent as of Dec. 31, while funding for plans sponsored by Canadian employers in the S&P/TSX fell to 83 percent, down from 87 percent as of the end of 2011.
New York-based Verizon became the second major employer in recent months to announce such a pension plan risk-reduction strategy.
Under the arrangement, Verizon will transfer about $7.5 billion in pension plan obligations to Prudential Insurance Co. of America by purchasing the annuity. The agreement covers plan participants who retired and began receiving pension benefits before Jan. 1, 2010.
The maximum contribution that can be made to 401(k) plans will increase next year, as will the maximum benefit that can be funded through defined benefit plans, the Internal Revenue Service announced Oct. 18.
Many questions remain unanswered about the Transitional Reinsurance Program, the Washington-based benefits lobbying group noted in a letter sent this month to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which will enforce the program.
California Law Gives Transit Agencies Authority to Require Bay Area Employers to Offer Commuter Benefits
Under the measure, S.B. 1339, employers in nine Bay Area counties would have six months after the two agencies — the Metropolitan Transit Commission and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District — adopt such a mandate to offer the programs.
For employers, final regulatory guidance has yet to come in a number of areas, including whether employers will be assessed a penalty of $2,000 per full-time employee if they do not offer coverage to all full-time employees, and how much they will have to pay to fund a three-year health care reform law program that will partially reimburse health insurers writing policies for individuals with high health care costs.
In 2012, 65 percent of employers surveyed by Towers Watson & Co. offered an automatic enrollment feature, up from 57 percent in 2011 and 51 percent in 2010.
The average group health care plan cost per employee is projected to rise to $11,188 per employee next year, according to an analysis released Oct. 3 by Lincolnshire, Illinois-based Aon Hewitt.
Just 11 Fortune 100 companies offered a traditional defined benefit plan to new salaried employees as of June 30, down from 14 in 2011, 17 in 2010 and 19 in 2009.
The offer is being extended to those individuals who terminated employment prior to Jan. 1, 2012, but have not yet started to receive benefits.
The average funding level of pension plans sponsored by companies in the S&P 1500 rose to 73 percent in September, up from 72 percent in August and the record-low funded ratio of 70 percent set in July.
Retirement benefits will be provided through a defined contribution plan to new referees immediately and for all officials beginning in 2017.
South Dakota joins several other states, including Texas, whose governors said they will not set up the exchanges.
Archer Daniels Midland Co. has disclosed that it will offer between 7,000 and 7,500 former employees who are eligible for but not yet receiving monthly pension benefits the opportunity to convert their future annuities to a lump-sum benefit.
For those covered by employer plans, spending on health care services increased by 4.6 percent to $4,547 per plan enrollee. By contrast, in 2010, costs rose an average of 3.8 percent, according to the Health Care Cost Institute, an independent Washington-based health research organization.
The increase for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program is down from this year's 3.8 percent average increase and sharply lower than 2011, when premiums rose by an average of 7.3 percent.
Missouri lawmakers on Sept. 12 overrode Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of legislation that would allow employers and insurers to deny contraceptive coverage, setting the stage for yet another legal battle over contraceptive coverage.
Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby Stores, a privately held, self-described Christian-owned and -operated retail chain with more than 500 stores and 22,500 employees in 41 states, says it is the first non-Catholic owned business to challenge the HHS edict.
The survey of more than 2,000 employers found that the premium for family coverage rose an average of 4 percent, increasing to $15,745 this year.
Mitt Romney says that while he would seek to repeal the health care reform law if he were elected, he could keep the provision that bans health care plans from denying coverage of pre-existing medical conditions and perhaps even expand a provision that requires health care plans to provide coverage of employees' adult children up to age 26.
Defined benefit plans offered by the 100 U.S. employers with the largest pension programs were an average of 72.4 percent funded as of Aug. 31, up from 70.9 percent as of July 31, but sharply lower compared with the 78.7 percent funded ratio at the end of 2011.
During her speech, Kathleen Sebelius detailed what she said are some of the achievements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, employers are to be assessed $2,000 per full-time employee if they do not offer coverage to employees in 2014. Regulators have yet to issue definitive guidance on the penalty.
The first-year assessment paid by very large employers—those with at least 100,000 employees—will run into millions of dollars, for which employers will receive no direct benefit.
Eighty-eight percent of employers surveyed by Towers Watson & Co. said they have no plans to terminate coverage in 2014 or after for full-time employees, while 11 percent were not sure. Just 1 percent said they planned to terminate coverage for some employees.