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February 1, 2006
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Complete Benefits Law Guidance from Law Journal Press

The nation's workforce and health care system are constantly evolving and so are the legal issues. Law Journal Press helps you handle any benefits law question with up-to-date, authoritative books on all aspects of the field. Get legal and practical advice from leading experts on everything from COBRA to ERISA, "contingent" employees to family and medical leave, and more. Browse our product listings for detailed information and special offers.

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

Fear and Loathing on the Benefit Trail: Section 409A and Employer Health Plans
Excerpt: "[B]ecause the Proposed Regulations only exempt health coverage and benefits that are excludable from income under Sections 105 and 106, Section 409A could apply to any health plans that provide taxable coverage or benefits." (Kilpatrick Stockton LLP)

Vermont House Gives First Approval to Public Employee Retiree Health Bill
Excerpt: "A bill giving state police officers a better chance to qualify for state-supported health insurance after they retire has received preliminary approval by the Vermont House. According to news reports, the bill proposes a 'recapture' provision that would permit those state police retirees to qualify for the shared-cost insurance program when they turn 50. The bill also would create a tiered system for other state workers to qualify for health insurance when they retire." (PLANSPONSOR.com; one-time registration required)

The Factors Fueling Rising Healthcare Costs 2006 (PDF)
22 pages. Excerpt: "The purpose of this report is to identify the underlying drivers of rising healthcare costs and to break down how current premium dollars are being spent." (America's Health Insurance Plans)

Insurers Encouraging Members to Ask Physicians about Cost of Treatments
Excerpt: "The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday examined how more health insurers have begun to encourage members to ask physicians questions about the cost of treatments. According to the Journal, a number of insurers have begun 'arming patients with the tools and techniques that the insurers have honed to help them press the point on clinical options and costs.' " (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Rising Out-of-Pocket Spending for Medical Care: A Growing Strain on Family Budgets
Excerpt: "[T]his report examines the components of [out-of-pocket] spending and characteristics of families with high [out-of-pocket] costs, including income level and insurance coverage." (The Commonwealth Fund)

Health Care Costs Top Benefit Concern in the U.S.
Excerpt: "Controlling the spiraling costs of U.S. corporate healthcare benefits is the top concern for benefit specia.lists for the seventh-straight year, according to a survey [released yesterday]. " (Reuters via Yahoo! News)

Working Paper Abstract: The U.S. Health Care System and Labor Markets
Excerpt: "This paper provides a broad and general overview of the relationship between the U.S. health care system and the labor market. The paper first describes some of the salient features of and facts about the system of health insurance coverage in the U.S., particularly the role of employers. It then summarizes the empirical evidence on how health insurance impacts labor market outcomes ...." (National Bureau of Economic Research; paid subscription or individual purchase required to retrieve full text)

Overview: New Guidance Issued on Reporting Creditable Coverage to CMS (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "Although employers are generally familiar with the requirements for notifying Plan participants, they have been waiting for guidance on the requirements for reporting information to CMS. This guidance is now available, and many employers have already been contacted by CMS regarding the new reports." (Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, LLP)

Opponents Say Most Can't Afford Health Savings Plan Proposed by Bush
Excerpt: "President Bush's call for expanding tax-free health savings accounts drew skepticism from labor and consumer advocates, who claim the accounts would do little to help the working poor and middle class. 'Here's a Tennessee saying: You can put your boots in the oven, but that don't make 'em biscuits,' said Chris Clarke of the group Tennesseans for the Constitution." (tennessean.com)

Health Savings Accounts: A Survey of the Survey and Statistics Literature
Excerpt: "[N]ot all of the surveys about HSAs are positive. The Commonwealth Fund and the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) released the results of a survey in December, 2005, reporting that 'individuals with more comprehensive health insurance were more satisfied with their health plan than individuals in high deductible plans' and that people with consumer-directed plans spent more out of pocket and were more likely to forgo care." (Galen Institute)

Bush Touts Health Savings Accounts in State of the Union Speech
Excerpt: "Bush provided few details on the changes he wants to make to health savings accounts. But in a document provided to congressional committees he proposed, for example, that consumers be allowed to put enough money in the accounts to cover all health care costs, not just the deductibles, as provided by current law. This would allow them to set aside more money tax-free." (AP via The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Summary of Survey Results: What's Hot and What's Not in Voluntary Benefits
Excerpt: "Does your employer offer Voluntary Benefits (i.e. benefits other than supplemental group term life insurance that are fully paid by employees through payroll deductions)?" (Aon Consulting)

Boomers and GenXers Share Values in Voluntary Benefits
Excerpt: "An Aon Consulting survey reveals similar values between Baby Boomers and Generation Xers when it comes to choosing voluntary benefits. The survey found that the top voluntary benefit purchased by both groups was disability coverage - 45% of those surveyed say Baby Boomers purchase disability coverage, while 37% say Gen X workers do the same, according to a press release." (PLANSPONSOR.com; one-time registration required)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Overview: FASB Proposals on the Accounting Treatment of Options that May Be Settled in Cash (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "The proposed amendment clarifies FASB's position that options granted under option plans providing for a cash-out election or automatic cash-out contingent on some future event will not be treated as liabilities, and thus subject to variable accounting, until it becomes probable that the event will occur." (Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham)

Age Discrimination and Disability Retirement: Recent Developments (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "On September 19, 2005, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that disability retirement benefits paid to certain Kentucky state and county employees did not violate the Age Discrimination in Employment Act .... The Sixth Circuit covers Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. The case is of interest because it examines two fundamentally different perspectives on what age discrimination means with regard to retirement and disability benefits." (Gabriel, Roeder, Smith & Company)

Overview: Equity Compensation Plans under the New Deferred Compensation Rules
Excerpt: "The [article] provides an overview of the key 409A provisions, including specific requirements relating to the use of equity compensation arrangements." (Leading Companies Online Magazine via Beyster Institute)

Comments on Proposed Rule: Executive Compensation and Related Party Disclosure
Links to comments submitted since January 11, 2006. (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission)

Overview: Getting to Know, and Love, the Short-Term Deferral Rule
Excerpt: "In its efforts to reform the rules governing deferred compensation as a part of the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 (2004 AJCA), Congress chose to legislate broadly and to leave it to the regulators to adopt the necessary exceptions and carve-outs required to arrive at workable rules. The 2004 AJCA's legislative history envisions, and newly enacted Code 409A requires, that the regulators will fill in the particulars of the regulatory scheme." (BNA Tax Management)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Protecting ERISA Fiduciaries, Employers, and Administrators from Benefit Plan Risks and Liabilities: ERISA, Sarbanes Oxley, Circular 230, and Other Hobgoblins
Nationwide on June 29, 2006
presented by ALI-ABA (American Law Institute-American Bar Association)

Three HIPAA Deadlines: Portability (1/1), Privacy (4/14), and Security (4/20)-- What You Need to Do to Comply
Nationwide on February 23, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

PBGC Assumes Pension Plan Of Furniture Retailer Rhodes Inc.
(Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC))

National Employee Benefits Day Is April 3
(International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

Ameriprise Retirement Services Introduces Seminars, Education Tools for Roth 401(k) Plans
(Ameriprise Retirement Services)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Vice President, Training
for New York Life Investment Management LLC
in MA

Business Development Consultant
for RSM McGladrey, Inc.
in AZ

Health and Welfare Benefits Manager
for Hillenbrand Industries
in IN

Senior Account Consultant - Defined Benefit Pension Plans
for Diversified Investment Advisors, Inc.
in MA

401(k) Plan Administrator
for ERP Actuaries & Consultants
in NY




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