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January 31, 2006
Today's sponsor: Benefit Software Inc.

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(Please visit our sponsors. We try to make sure their products and services will be of interest to you. Thanks! --Editor)

Executive Summary: The Principal Financial Well-Being Index -- Fourth Quarter 2005
Excerpt: "The Principal Financial Well-Being Index is a quarterly study to identify trends in consumer financial well-being, retirement planning, employee benefits, and workplace trends." (Principal Financial Services, Inc.)

NYC Mayor Plans a Trust Fund for Retirees' Health Benefits
Excerpt: "Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg expects to announce today that his administration will seek to set aside $2 billion over the next two years to create a trust fund to pay health benefits for retired city employees, as part of a plan to prepare the city for choppy fiscal waters on the horizon, his aides said yesterday." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Overview: Final HIPAA Portability Regulations Clarify Existing Rules & Provide Model Language (PDF)
5 pages. Excerpt: "Although most benefit practitioners and plan sponsors have recently spent a considerable amount of time addressing the privacy and security requirements under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 ..., the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Health and Human Services have issued Final Regulations for Health Coverage Portability for Group Health Plans and Group Health Insurance Issuers ...." (Snell & Wilmer L.L.P.)

Working Paper Abstract: The Health Care Safety Net and Crowd-Out of Private Health Insurance
Excerpt: "[The] results provide mixed evidence on the extent of crowd-out. Hospital uncompensated care does not appear to crowd-out health insurance coverage and health center uncompensated care appears to crowd-out private coverage for adults and, in some specifications, children." (National Bureau of Economic Research; paid subscription or individual purchase required to retrieve full-text)

Study Shows Health Increases Drive Rate Increases
Excerpt: "New treatments, new technology, provider consolidation and increased demand for medical care may be responsible for about 4.3 percentage points of the 8.8% increase in health coverage [cost] rates between 2004 and 2005." (National Underwriter Life & Health; free one-time registration or paid subscription required)

Working Paper Abstract: Health Insurance and the Wage Gap
Excerpt: "Estimates of labor market inequality usually focus only on wages, even though fringes account for almost one-third of total compensation. Using data from the Current Population Survey, [The author analyzes] coverage by own-employer health insurance coverage among full-time workers for women versus men, blacks versus whites and Hispanics versus whites." (National Bureau of Economic Research; paid subscription or individual purchase required to retrieve full-text)

Working Paper Abstract: Health Insurance Take-Up by the Near Elderly
Excerpt: "This study examines the effect of price on the demand for health insurance by early retirees between the ages of 55 and 64. The analysis is based on administrative data from a medium sized employer and takes advantage of a natural experiment created by the firm's health insurance contribution policy." (National Bureau of Economic Research; paid subscription or individual purchase required to retrieve full-text)

Issue Brief: The Wage Squeeze and Higher Health Care Costs
Excerpt: "According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 47% of workers did not participate in employer-provided health care benefit plans in 2005 (see Figure B). Thus, there is no health care squeeze that would explain the wage losses of nearly half the workforce. In addition, the BLS data show that among workers whose average wage was less than $15 per hour last year, only 39% participated in employer-provided health plans." (Economic Policy Institute)

Shifting Health Expense: Business Groups Fight Mandates that Could Benefit Taxpayers
Excerpt: "Wal-Mart Stores Senior Public Affairs Manager Nate Hurst said the company hopes other state legislatures will realize that the fair share health care bills are harmful to working families and drop the actions." (Detroit Free Press via BlueCross BlueShield Association)

Will PBMs Drive Up or Curb Medicare Drug Costs?
Excerpt: "Pharmacy benefit managers seldom are in the public spotlight, working as they do behind the scenes to negotiate drug prices between large purchasers and manufacturers. But these low-profile middlemen will play a pivotal and powerful role in the Medicare drug plan. Suddenly, the practices of PBMs are coming under scrutiny -- and raising red flags." (California HealthCare Foundation; one-time registration may be required)

The Pres.cription Infrastructure: Are We Ready for ePrescribing? (PDF)
30 pages. Excerpt: "This CHCF-funded report provides a comprehensive overview of the prescribing process, including the organizational, financial, and technical elements that influence how pres.criptions are handled today. It examines the issue of ePrescribing (eRx) -- currently practiced by only 15 percent of physicians -- including the opportunities it presents to streamline information management and the potential payoffs for both clinicians and pharmacies." (California HealthCare Foundation: one-time registration may be required)

Interview: Why Tom Daschle Believes That the Country Is Ready for Comprehensive Health Reform
Excerpt: "With his deep understanding of the inner workings of Congress, Daschle breaks from the prevailing belief that incrementalism is the right approach; comments on the novel use of budget reconciliation to pass reform; and argues that the country, including some business leaders, is ready for comprehensive change with a bigger role for government." (Health Affairs)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Overview: The SEC Proposes Changes to the Executive and Director Compensation Disclosure Rules (PDF)
7 pages. Excerpt: "The proposed amendments would however, require companies to provide more detailed disclosure concerning the total compensation received by executive officers and directors (including information concerning equity awards, perquisites, and retirement benefits) in a new format intended to be more easily understood. The proposed amendments would impact the disclosure provided in proxy statements, annual reports and registration statements." (Sutherland Asbill and Brennan LLP)

MetLife Employee Benefits Benchmarking Report (PDF)
136 pages. Excerpt: "The MetLife Employee Benefits Benchmarking Report is based on findings from MetLife's 2004 Study of Employee Benefits Trends, and covers benefits-related topics from the perspectives of both employers and employees." (Metropolitan Life Insurance Company; registration may be required)

Principal Guide Offers Benefits Excellence Benchmarks
Excerpt: "A new guide published by the Principal Financial Group offers benefits managers a quick way to compare their own lineup with those offered by the 10 firms named to Principal's top 10 list for benefit programs." (PLANSPONSOR.com; one-time registration required)

Welcome to BenefitsLink advertiser Polycomp Administrative Services, Inc.
Excerpt: "Polycomp is a California-based consulting leader in providing customized retirement plans and benefit administration with personalized service since 1974. Our services include Qualified Plans, Self-directed IRAs, Cafeteria Plans, Automatic Rollover IRAs and Association Trust Plans." (BenefitsLink.com)

ICI and Other Financial Industry Associations Comment on Labor Department Proposal
Excerpt: "On behalf of the Investment Company Institute, the American Council of Life Insurers, the Investment Adviser Association, and the Securities Industry Association, [the authors] are writing to comment on proposed amendments to Form LM-30 and related issues concerning Form LM-10." (Investment Company Institute)

Working Paper Abstract: The Value of Stock Options to Non-Executive Employees
Excerpt: "This study empirically investigates the value employees place on stock options using information from the option exercise behavior of individuals." (National Bureau of Economic Research; paid subscription or individual purchase required to retrieve full-text)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Disciplining Health Care Costs by Demanding Better Value
Nationwide on February 1, 2006
presented by Kaiser Family Foundation

Recent ERISA Preemption Cases
Nationwide on February 7, 2006
presented by Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

PBGC To Meet With United Airlines Pension Participants In Chantilly, Va.
(Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC))

Changing The Employee Mindset From Entitlement to Engagement: It Can Be Done! New Guide Features Tips To Motivate Workers To Make Critical Benefits Decisions
(Principal Financial Group)

New Fiduciary Tools Available for Concerned Retirement Plan Sponsors' Checklist, Sample Documents Help the Principal Financial Group Clients Play by the Rules
(Principal Financial Group)

Health Coaching Propels Leade Health to Strong Growth, Lowers Employer Medical Costs
(Leade Health)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Pension Administrator
for Northwest Plan Services, Inc.
in WA

401(k) Administrator
for Robert Grathwohl Associates, Inc.
in CT

Senior Relationship Manager
for DailyAccess Corporation
in AL

Supervisor - Eligibility/COB (mid to upper $40K)
for 1199SEIU Benefit and Pension Funds
in NY

Sr. Benefits Systems Administrator (HRIS)
for Twentieth Century Fox
in CA

ERISA Paralegal/Plan Document Specialist
for Milliman, Inc.
in TX




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Copyright 2006 BenefitsLink.com, Inc.; except that you may reprint this newsletter in full (including this sentence) without obtaining our permission.

Published by:

BenefitsLink.com, Inc.
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Editor and Publisher: David Rhett Baker, J.D.

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