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December 6, 2007

Here are the Web's best new links about compliance and cost aspects of plan operation, design and policy.


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Complete Benefits Law Guidance from Law Journal Press

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(a) New Guidance Documents

(None today.)

(b) News

UnitedHealth to Put Customer Service First
Excerpt: "UnitedHealth officials outlined changes aimed at improving its service reputation: It will show doctors and patients on the day of a doctor's visit how a claim will be paid. Doctors will be paid more quickly. UnitedHealth employees will be given incentives for quality and patient advocacy first, and productivity second." (CNNMoney.com)

(c) Summaries of Guidance; Filed Comments

Deduction for Premiums Paid to Welfare Benefits Fund Disallowed to S Corporations
Excerpt: "Life insurance premium payments made by several S corporations to a partnership were distributions to the owners of the S corporations and neither those payments nor the partnership's subsequent contributions to a welfare benefit fund were deductible as ordinary and necessary business expenses under Code Sec. 162(a). . . . V.R. DeAngelis M.D.P.C. & R.T. Domingo M.D.P.C., TC Memo. 2007-360 . . . ." (CCH Incorporated)

(d) Trends, Surveys, Research

Flexible Work Schedules Benefit Employees and Employers
Excerpt: "From Spencer's Benefits Reports: Telecommuting is successful for both employees and employers, resulting in higher morale and job satisfaction and lower employee stress and turnover. These were among the conclusions of psychologists who examined 20 years of research on flexible work arrangements." (Wolters Kluwer Financial Services)

The New Fashion in Retiree Health Benefits -- the VEBA
Excerpt: "What makes the use of VEBAs in this fashion, such as with the GM deal, different? 'There is a change in how they are being used,' says Derek Guyton, a Chicago-based principal at Mercer. 'The VEBA is being spun off from the company, and that is definitely new, and the amount these employers are putting into the trust is new. The employers essentially are eliminating the benefit entirely, and they are able to put in an amount of money that is less than the liability they are holding.'" (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)

(e) Policy, Opinion, Advocacy

The Impact on Employers and Employees of Taxation on Domestic Partner Benefits
Excerpt: "The Williams Institute at the UCLA Law School and the Center for American Progress have published a new study on the impact of taxation of domestic partner benefits on both employees and employers." (Workplace Prof Blog)

Maine's Initial Experience in Expanding Coverage Through Dirigo Health Reforms
Excerpt: "Is Maine leading the way toward universal coverage? This study examined interim indicators of Maine's progress in providing affordable health insurance coverage after two years of program implementation, midway between the legislation's adoption and its 2009 goal." (The Commonwealth Fund)

Chart: Can.ada's Health System Beats U.S. in Cost and Results
Excerpt: "As the chart . . . reveals, the cost gap between the United States and Can.ada has only widened since 1993, and per capita health care expenditures in the United States are now almost double those in Can.ada ($6,401 vs. $3,359). Can.ada's per capita health expenditures rose about 65% from 1993 to 2005, while costs in the United States rose by over 90%." (Economic Policy Institute)

CRS Report for Congress: Electronic Personal Health Records (PDF)
6 pages. Excerpt: "Electronic personal health records are controversial among privacy advocates and patients, who are concerned about health information privacy and security, and misuse of individually identifiable health information. The extent to which electronic personal health records are protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy Rule is discussed herein. This report will be updated." (U.S. Congressional Research Service)

The Future of Employment-Based Health Benefits: Have Employers Reached a Tipping Point? (PDF)
20 pages. Excerpt: "There have been numerous references in recent reports to the death of employment-based health benefits. This Issue Brief examines the notion that employers have reached a 'tipping point' where they will stop offering health benefits." (Employee Benefit Research Institute)

Marketing State Insurance Coverage Programs: Experiences from Four States (PDF)
8 pages. Excerpt: "This issue brief examines marketing and enrollment strategies in four states that have implemented coverage initiatives. It attempts to draw some conclusions on 'best practices.'" (AcademyHealth)

Will Consumer-Directed Health Care Change Enrollee Behavior, or Is It Merely a Cost Shifting Plan?
Excerpt: "Consumer-directed health (CDH) plans are little more than a cost-shifting strategy for employers, according to Alain Enthoven, Ph.D., professor of public and private management at Stanford University Graduate School of Business. But CDH guru Greg Scandlen, president and CEO of Consumers for Health Care Choice, argues that account-based health plans are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing -- changing behaviors of enrollees." (INSIDE CONSUMER-DIRECTED CARE via AISHealth.com)

Newspapers Examine Presidential Candidates' Health Care Proposals
Excerpt: "Presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) 'is right' that a health care proposal announced by presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) likely would leave millions of U.S. residents without health insurance, but 'she is being misleading in implying that her own plan covers everyone,' the New York Times reports." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Harvard Experts Offer Recommendations to Address Problems with U.S. Health Care System
Excerpt: "The latest issue of Newsweek includes comments from seven experts from Harvard University on specific problems with the U.S. health care system and recommendations to address the issues." (Kaiser Family Foundation)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Audio Files: Who Will Hire Me When I'm 64? Challenges in Increasing the Employment of Older Workers
Listen to the opening remarks and presentations of the December 4th event. (Urban Institute)

Longer Lives Mean Higher Retirement Ages
Excerpt: "Faced with citizens who are living longer and higher social security costs, governments around the globe have instituted a 'broad increase' in social security retirement ages, according to a new Mercer report." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)

Overview: Correction Program for Nonqualified Deferred Compensation Plans (PDF)
5 pages. Excerpt: "On December 3, 2007, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Notice 2007-100 (Notice), which gives taxpayers a limited ability to correct certain operational failures of a nonqualified deferred compensation plan to comply with Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code (Code) and applicable Treasury and IRS guidance (Section 409A)." (Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP)

Listing of IRS Published Guidance for January-November 2007
The target page links to guidance published by the Service relating to retirement plans: Treasury Regulations; Revenue Rulings; Revenue Procedures; Notices; and, Announcements. (Internal Revenue Service)

The IRS Federal, State and Local Governments Newsletter, January 2008 (PDF)
17 pages. Excerpt: "This is the semiannual newsletter of the office of Federal, State and Local Governments (FSLG) of the Internal Revenue Service. Our mission is to ensure compliance by federal, state, and local governmental entities with federal employment and other tax laws through review as well as through educational programs." (Internal Revenue Service)

Human Resources Technology and Employer Satisfaction
Excerpt: "Web-based technology has revolutionized HR delivery capabilities for most employers, especially in administering health and retirement benefits. Overall, companies are satisfied that 21st century technology has allowed them to improve efficiency and increase transparency with the delivery of those benefits." (Employee Benefit News; free registration required)

CEO/Compensation Consultant 'Conflicts' Slammed by Congress
Excerpt: "Some of the largest companies in the U.S. use outside compensation consultants with 'significant conflicts of interest' to determine CEO pay, according to a report released today by California Rep. Henry Waxman, the Democratic chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform." (Financial Week; free registration required)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

403(b) Guidance - IRS Rev Proc 2007-71 Webinar
Nationwide on December 11, 2007
presented by Convergent Retirement Plan Solutions, LLC

FMLA: Fundamentals and More Teleweb
Nationwide on December 18, 2007
presented by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Big Employers Still Committed to Health Benefits, but Employer Groups Pushing for Fundamental Changes
Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI)

New Aetna Rx-Savings(SM) Program Cuts Cost for Medications Used to Treat Chronic Health Conditions
Aetna

CIGNA International Introduces New Expatriate Benefits Information Web Site
CIGNA Corporation

MassMutual Announces New Thought-Provoking PBS Series on Retirement
MassMutual

New Report Reveals Diabetes a Greater Problem in Chicago Than Other Communities
Midwest Business Group on Health

Multiple Consumer Needs Lead to More Product Choices in the Retirement Income Market
Diversified Services Group, Inc. (DSG)

Accor Services USA Launches New Web Site
Accor Services North America

A Powerful Combination - SASI and TruPay have partnered together to offer their respective services to businesses looking for intelligent, cost-effective approaches to their payroll and employee benefit needs.
SASI

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation Addresses Offline Tape Liability with Index Engines Enterprise eDiscovery Platform
Index Engines


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Compliance Research Consultant
for Diversified Investment Advisors
in NY

Pension Paralegal/Specialist and Administrator
for J.P. Schlachter & Associates, Inc.
in OH

401k Manager
for Paycor
in OH

Compensation & Benefits Senior Manager
for Deloitte Tax, LLP
in DC, VA

Sr. Benefits Analyst
for Futurestep, a Korn/Ferry Company
in NY

Regional Sales Consultant, Kansas City, MO area
for Gallagher Retirement Services
in MO

Account Executive -- DC Plans
for Retirement Management Services, LLC
in KY

Defined Benefit Plan Administrator
for Rosenfeld/Tortu Retirement Planning Co., Inc.
in NY

Senior Relationship Manager
for AST Capital Trust Company
in AZ

Client Services Manager
for AST Capital Trust Company
in AZ

Omni BA
for Group H, Inc.
in ANY STATE, CO

Team Leader I - Standard Retirement Services
for Standard Retirement Services
in OR

Team Leader - New Business - Standard Retirement Services
for Standard Retirement Services
in OR

Employee Benefits - Tax Senior
for Deloitte Tax, LLP
in GA, NC

Employee Benefits - Tax Senior Manager
for Deloitte Tax, LLP
in GA, NC

401k Plan Manager
for George Weston Bakeries
in PA

Pension Consultant Manager
for Prudential Financial
in IA

Compliance Specialist
for Merrill Lynch
in NJ

Global Benefits Specialist
for Oxfam America
in MA

ERISA Specialist
for King & Spalding
in GA




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