6 Top Benefits Articles for 2016

A year-end look at some of our most-read items about employee benefits

By Stephen Miller, CEBS Dec 21, 2016
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From the Affordable Care Act to the Department of Labor's looming fiduciary rule, regulatory compliance tips were a big draw this year, along with practical steps to control costs and improve benefit offerings and administration.

As the year winds down, here's a look back at six of the most-read benefit stories on SHRM Online, describing developments and trends that will have continuing impact in 2017.

Farewell Mandates? ACA Likely to Change Substantially Under Trump Administration
It's not too soon for employers to start thinking about the implications that a repeal of the employer coverage mandate or a revision of the definition of full-time employee would have on their benefits strategy. In the meantime, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is still the law of the land, and employers should continue to comply with its coverage and reporting requirements.

'Where's My 1095?' Addressing Tax Filing Confusion
Many employees are confused over how to report that they received health coverage from their employer when filing their income tax returns. Here's a primer on the different Affordable Care Act tax forms and what to do with them.

How the DOL Fiduciary Rule Will Affect Plan Sponsors
The Department of Labor's (DOL's) fiduciary rule, scheduled to take effect in April 2017—it's unclear if that might change under the Trump administration—could increase liability for defined contribution plan sponsors and their advisors. Employers should continue to move forward with compliance preparation, and an important step is to ask plan advisors, "Are you a fiduciary to my plan?" and document the question and the response.

Employers Project Health Premium Hike of 6% in 2017
While employers have been able to keep health plan cost increases in check for the past few years, premiums are still rising at more than twice the rate of inflation and general wage increases. Here's a look at the benefit design tactics that employers are using to control rising health benefit costs.

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Managing Health Care Costs]

Open Enrollment Tips for the Coming Season
The fall open enrollment season is a time that some HR professionals dread as an administrative nightmare. Others see open enrollment as an opportunity to personally engage with employees and help them make choices that will safeguard their health and financial well-being. Here are some suggestions for avoiding the former and achieving the latter.

Labor Demand Gives Push to Paid Time Off Benefits
Employers are increasing the amount of paid time off (PTO) given employees—especially for parental leave—and changing how paid leave is structured. For instance, the use of PTO banks that combine vacation, sick and personal days into one allotment has continued to increase steadily since 2002. But PTO banks aren't right for every organization.

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