Newsdash Insight on Plan Design & Investment Strategy from PLANSPONSOR
February 5th, 2014
Second Opinions
SECOND OPINIONS: ACA Employer Reporting Requirements
In this column and a later column, experts from
Groom Law Group answer some of the frequently asked questions received about
the large employer, employer mandate reporting obligations under Code section
6056. Code section 6056, as enacted by the Patient Protection and Affordable
Care Act (ACA), requires “applicable large employers” subject to the employer
“shared responsibility” mandate (Code section 4980H) to report to the Internal
Revenue Service (IRS) information about their compliance with the  mandate and any health care coverage offered
to employees. Section 6056 also requires those employers to furnish related
statements to employees so that the employees may use the statements to help determine
eligibility for the ACA premium tax credit.
Benefit Briefs
Thinking “Small” About Plan Design
For smaller plan sponsors, there’s a range of
plans to consider. From the employer’s perspective, says Andrew Oliphant, vice
president of Retirement Services at The Newport Group, the type of industry
they are in (professional services, or a more technical business) and the
makeup of the workforce are primary drivers in choosing a retirement plan.
Next, what is the sponsor trying to accomplish with a retirement plan? Is the
plan merely a savings vehicle, or is it part of a benefit package that is being
used for retention and recruitment?
Investment management firm Vanguard reports that
the average account balances for 401(k) plan participants reached a record high
of $101,650 at year-end 2013. That figure is 18% higher than 2012 and the
highest average balance recorded since Vanguard began tracking such figures in
1999. Preliminary data from Vanguard shows several key trends for 2013 in its
401(k) and other defined contribution retirement plans.
How Are 403(b)s Ahead in the Game?
403(b) plan sponsors are often told to take
lessons from their 401(k) plan counterparts. But, in some ways, 403(b)s are
ahead in the game. According to the 2013 PLANSPONSOR Defined Contribution (DC)
Survey, 61.4% of 403(b) plans offer income-oriented products and services to
plan participants. Only 19.8% of DC plan sponsors of all types, including
403(b)s, do so.
Members of Generation X, those born between the
early 1960s and the mid-1980s, have seen their retirement readiness degrade
since the start of the Great Recession. Members of Generation X across all
income levels have seen earnings slip since peak years in the early and
mid-2000s, according to new research from the Insured Retirement Institute
(IRI). Income loss is most pronounced at the lowest end of the scale, where incomes
have fallen nearly 16% for workers earning wages near the poverty line.
Economic Events
New orders for manufactured goods in December
2013, down two of the last three months, decreased $7.2 billion or 1.5% to
$489.2 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau reported. This followed a 1.5% November
increase. Excluding transportation, new orders increased 0.2%.
Market Mirror
Tuesday, the Dow was up 72.44 points
(0.47%) at 15,445.24, the NASDAQ increased 34.56 points (0.86%) to 4,031.52,
and the S&P 500 closed 13.31 points (0.76%) higher at 1,755.20. The Russell
2000 gained 8.29 points (0.76%) to finish at 1,102.86, and the Wilshire 5000
rose 142.10 points (0.76%) to 18,785.20. On the NYSE, 3.2 billion shares traded,
with advancing issues outnumbering declining issues more than 2 to 1. On the
NASDAQ, 2.7 billion shares changed hands, with 1.6 advancers for every
decliner. The price of the 10-year Treasury note declined 13/32,
bringing its yield up to 2.626%. The price of the 30-year Treasury bond fell 1
4/32, increasing its yield to 3.594%.
The Feeling’s Mutual
Funding levels of pension plans sponsored by
S&P 1500 companies fell 6% in January, according to data from Mercer. This
resulted in a funded ratio (assets divided by liabilities) of 89% at the end of
the month. The collective deficit of $232 billion as of January 31, 2014, is up
$129 billion from the estimated deficit of $103 billion as of December 31,
The funded status of U.S. corporate pension
plans fell 4.2% during January to reach 91%, according to the BNY Mellon
Investment Strategy & Solutions Group (ISSG).
Rules & Regulators
Lawsuit Doesn’t Free Employers from ACA Mandate
A federal court has decided an argument which
could have possibly exempted employers in certain states from federally
mandated employee health insurance coverage. Under the Patient Protection and
Affordable Care Act (ACA), large employers who do not offer affordable health
insurance coverage to their full-time employees are subject to an “assessable
payment” or tax under 26 U.S.C. Section 4980H. Imposition of the Section 4980H
assessment is triggered when a full-time employee purchases subsidized coverage
on an exchange. A lawsuit filed by a group of individuals and employers
residing in states that have declined to establish state-run exchanges—lead
plaintiff is Jacqueline Halbig, who was a senior policy adviser to the
Department of Health and Human Services under George W. Bush—attempted to
invalidate the provision of subsidies in states that chose not to establish a
state-run health insurance exchange.
Sponsored message from Russell Investments
Adaptive Retirement Accounts Discussion with Russell Investments See Josh Cohen, Russell Investments’ Defined Contribution Practice Leader, discuss Adaptive Retirement Accounts.
Small Talk
Employees Feel Pressed to Work When Sick
Nearly 90% of office workers come to work even
when they know they are sick, according to the fourth annual Flu Season Survey
from Staples. This is up from 80% in last year’s survey and 60% in the 2011
survey. The survey indicates workers have a better understanding of flu
contagion, even though more are showing up sick.
1883, the Southern Pacific Railroad
completed its transcontinental “Sunset Route” from New Orleans to
California, consolidating its dominance over rail traffic to the Pacific. In 1917, with more than a two-thirds
majority, Congress overrode President Woodrow Wilson’s veto of the previous
week and passed the Immigration Act. The law required a literacy test for
immigrants and barred Asiatic laborers, except for those from countries with
special treaties or agreements with the United States, such as the Philippines.
In 1919, Charlie Chaplin, Mary
Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith joined forces to create their own
film studio, which they called the United Artists Corporation. In 1994, white supremacist Byron De La
Beckwith was convicted in the murder of African-American civil rights leader
Medgar Evers, more than 30 years after the crime occurred.   WEDNESDAY
 “The way to get things done is not to mind
who gets the credit for doing them.”—Benjamin Jowett, English theologian   Share the good news with a friend! Pass the Dash along – and tell your
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Employer Health Benefit Costs to Rise 6.5% in 2020

Editorial: Alison Cooke Mintzer


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