American Benefits Council
Benefits Byte


September 16, 2015

The Benefits Byte is the American Benefits Council’s regular e-mail and online newsletter for members only, providing timely reports on legislative, regulatory and judicial developments, along with updates on the Council’s activities in support of employer-sponsored benefit plans.

The Benefits Byte is published by the American Benefits Council, based on staff reports and edited by Jason Hammersla, Council director of communications. Contact information for Council staff related to specific topics can be found at the end of each story.

Click here to read past issues on the Benefits Byte Archive page.

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Update: HHS Confirms Maximum Out-of-Pocket Limits for Essential Health Benefits Under ACA

As we reported in the September 15 Benefits Byte, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has reaffirmed a controversial policy stance with regard to embedded maximum out-of-pocket (MOOP) limits under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The HHS letter to the Council is now available on the Council website. For more information, contact Katy Spangler, senior vice president, health policy, or Kathryn Wilber, senior counsel, health policy, at (202) 289-6700.

Council Letter to ERISA Advisory Council Urges Focus on Employer-Employee Engagement

In a September 15 letter to the ERISA Advisory Council (EAC), the American Benefits Council provided additional input and suggestions regarding  “Model Notices and Plan Sponsor Education on Lifetime Plan Participation.”

As we reported in the June 5 Benefits Byte, this year the EAC is examining model notices and plan sponsor education on lifetime plan participation, with an eye toward encouraging employees to keep retirement plan assets within the employer-sponsored retirement system. The EAC is a group of benefits experts established by Congress and appointed by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to identify emerging benefits issues and advise the Secretary of Labor. (For more information on the composition of the 2015 EAC, including Council members on the panel, see the December 17, 2014, Benefits Byte.)

An EAC working group is gathering input on model notices, so the Council provided written comments for the group’s consideration.

“It is important to note … that experience shows that one notice is very unlikely to impact lifetime plan participation to any significant degree,” the Council wrote. “What does and will further encourage lifetime plan participation is the engagement of the employer with their employees, education and targeted messaging support at key life stages (generally from service providers), use of  well-designed automatic features, and appropriate encouragement from knowledgeable financial professionals to retain retirement savings.”

More specifically, the Council suggested that the EAC provide input to the DOL which it could use to prepare a brief “Know Your Retirement Savings Options” document that employers could choose to provide to participants summarizing the employee’s choices with regard to retirement plan assets, along with the advantages and disadvantages of each option.

The EAC is expected to release its final reports before the end of the year. For more information, contact Jan Jacobson, senior counsel, retirement policy, at (202) 289-6700.

PBGC Issues Final Rules for Multiemployer Plan Electronic Filing

In final regulations to be published on September 17, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) set forth the requirements for multiemployer pension plans filing informational notices electronically with the agency.

Multiemployer defined benefit plans will be required to file the following notices with PBGC:

  •          Notices of termination
  •          Notices of insolvency and of insolvency benefit levels (including after mass withdrawal)
  •          Applications for financial assistance following mass withdrawal

The final regulations will be effective October 17. They apply only to filings with the PBGC and do not apply to filings with any other agency or notices to participants. For more information, contact Jan Jacobson, senior counsel, retirement policy, at (202) 289-6700.

The American Benefits Council is the national trade association for companies concerned about federal legislation and regulations affecting all aspects of the employee benefits system. The Council's members represent the entire spectrum of the private employee benefits community and either sponsor directly or administer retirement and health plans covering more than 100 million Americans.

Notice: the information contained herein is general in nature. It is not, and should not be construed as, accounting, consulting, legal or tax advice or opinion provided by the American Benefits Council or any of its employees. As required by the IRS, we inform you that any information contained herein was not intended or written to be used or referred to, and cannot be used or referred to (i) for the purpose of avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code, or (ii) in promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein (and any attachment).