benefits header


August 2012

From the editors of CCH's BENE and BAN products, here are hot topics from recent Employee Benefits Management Directions newsletters as well as recent explanatory updates in Employee Benefits Management. Also included are recent explanatory updates to the Benefits Answers Now product.

If you have any comments/suggestions concerning the information provided or the format used, we'd like to hear from you. Please contact


Hot Topics in Employee Benefits Management:

Post-Supreme Court decision webinars focus on Medicaid expansion, Cadillac tax, Employee Benefits Management Directions newsletter, Issue No. 520, July 24, 2012 — One provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) that seems to be causing employers to lose sleep is the so-called “Cadillac Tax” on high cost health health plans, even though this tax isn’t scheduled to take effect until 2018. The topic came up at recent webinars conducted by the law firms of Drinker, Biddle & Reath ( Health Care Reform & the Supreme Court Decision, July 12, 2012) and Trucker Huss ( Health Care Reform After The Decision – What Should Employers Be Doing NOW?, July 11, 2012).

Expert offers advice in wake of ACA ruling, Employee Benefits Management Directions newsletter, Issue No. 520, July 24, 2012 – In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision regarding the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, experts are attempting to assess its resulting impact on employer responsibilities. One such expert, Benjamin Lupin, director of compliance for Corporate Synergies Group, LLC, has some suggestions.

Employers responding to survey on Supreme Court decision expect ACA to increase health plan costs, Employee Benefits Management Directions newsletter, Issue No. 520 July 24, 2012 – According to a survey conducted by The Chelko Consulting Group, six out of ten employers are now more confident regarding their future plan management direction. Yet, most employers expect additional changes to result from the upcoming fall elections, though only 10% of employers expect those to be big changes.

Employers increase benefits that improve employee health and wellness annual SHRM survey reveals, Employee Benefits Management Directions newsletter, Issue No. 520, July 24, 2012 — More employers are offering benefits that encourage employees to improve their health in 2012, according to a survey released by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) at its 2012 Annual Conference and Exposition in Atlanta. 


What's New in Employee Benefits Management:

Supreme Court ruling on ACA — The Supreme Court’s ruling on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been reflected at ¶10,097. The full text of the case can be found at ¶906,579.

Limit on health FSA contributions — The IRS has issued guidance on the effective date of the $2,500 limit on salary-reduction contributions to health flexible spending arrangements under Code Sec. 125(i) and on the deadline for amending plans to comply with that limit. Notice 2012-40 is discussed at ¶39,060.

2012 SHRM survey results — The results of the annual SHRM benefits survey (see story above) have been reflected in various explanations, including ¶20,050, ¶68,030, ¶68,130, ¶68,140, ¶68,160 and ¶68,170

FMLA interference and retaliation claims — An employer was not entitled to summary judgment on a former employee’s interference and retaliation claims under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) because the former employee presented evidence of instances where the employer apparently interfered with her attempts to exercise her FMLA rights and evidence of a factual dispute with regard to whether or not her termination was based on a legitimate business reason, according to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division. The court’s decision in White v. Telcom Credit Union is discussed at¶68,058.

Glossary of Benefits Terms The glossary has been updated at ¶2120.


What's New in Benefits Answers Now (BAN):

Sectors react differently to ACA ruling, but most will provide health coverage. Despite the differing reactions among U.S. business sectors to the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), 77 percent of surveyed organizations are very likely to provide health coverage in 2014, according to the International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans’ Supreme Court ACA Decision Reaction Survey. By contrast, only two percent will not provide coverage in 2014. More information on the ACA and employer reactions to the Supreme Court ruling can be found at ¶20,010.

Benefits offerings remained relatively stable from 2011 to 2012: SHRM. Benefits offerings remained relatively stable from 2011 to 2012, despite the fact that 73 percent of HR professionals reported that the economic downtown negatively impacted employee benefit offerings (11 percent to a large extent and 62 percent to some extent), according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) 2012 Employee Benefit Survey. This is more or less the same as in 2011, when 77 percent said the economy negatively affected benefits to some or a large extent. The survey contains responses from 550 HR professionals, and examines benefits in eleven categories, including health care, paid time off, family-friendly, flexible working, among others. To learn more about the results of the SHRM survey, see the discussions at ¶20,690, ¶31,260, ¶32,000, ¶70,740, ¶81,150, ¶81,440, and ¶81,550.

IRS would provide limited exception to anti-cutback rules for plan sponsor in bankruptcy. The IRS has issued proposed regulations that would provide an additional limited exception to the anti-cutback rules to permit a plan sponsor that is a debtor in a bankruptcy proceeding to amend its single-employer defined benefit plan to eliminate a single-sum distribution option (or other optional form of benefit providing for accelerated payments) under the plan if certain specified conditions are satisfied. The proposed regulations would apply to plan amendments that are adopted and effective after August 31, 2012. Find out more about the ERISA anti-cutback rules at ¶10,150.

User forums among five best social media tools for employee benefits communication. Increasingly HR and benefits managers are turning to social media to enhance their benefits communications. Yet, despite social media’s ease of use and popularity with employees across multiple generations, some companies have yet to use any of the various social media tools available. According to Jennifer Benz, founder and chief strategist of Benz Communications, companies that aren’t using social media are missing out on an easy and free way to communicate with employees throughout the year. To find out more about the best social media tools for employee benefits communication, see ¶40,340


What's New in Spencer’s Benefits Reports:

Health Reform: Essential Benefits. This report describes the essential benefits that qualified health benefit plans in a state-based health benefits exchange must provide under the health reform law (Report 541.-1).

HSAs: IRS Guidance. Provisions of IRS notices that contain guidance on health savings accounts in question-and-answer formats and address such issues as eligible individuals and establishing an HSA are reviewed in this report (Report 356.-51).

Health Flexible Spending Arrangements. IRS guidance to implement health reform limits on health FSA reimbursements to $2,500 per year starting in 2013 is included in this report (Report 351.-21).

HSAs Questions And Answers. This report includes subscribers’ questions, and editors’ answers, reflecting specific, real-world problems in dealing with HSAs (Report 356.-65).

ERISA: Potential Breaches Of Fiduciary Duty. The applicable ERISA fiduciary standards for Sec. 401(k) plans and DOL views of a development that subverts the purposes of the law by shielding fiduciaries from liability for actions that could constitute breaches of fiduciary duty are reviewed in this report (Report 605.06.-5).


New Pension/Benefits Titles Added:

Benefits Law Journal (Autumn 2012)
Employee Benefit Plan Review (August 2012)
401(k) Advisor (August 2012)
457 Answer Book (2013 Cumulative Supp to the 5th Ed)
Journal of Pension Planning and Compliance (Fall 2012)
Pension Benefits (August 2012)
Quick Reference to HIPAA Compliance (2012-2013 Ed)