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February 16, 2006
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Overview: Retiree Health Subsidies -- Key Element in Determining OPEB Charges
Excerpt: "In this article, [CCA Strategies reviews] GASB's approach to recognizing a subsidy for retiree health benefits that are being 'fully charged' to retirees." (CCA Strategies, LLC)

Overview: Changes to the Definition of Dependent As Related to Benefit Plans
Excerpt: "On December 21, 2005, President Bush signed the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act of 2005 (Public Law 109-135). One of changes provides technical corrections to the Working Families Tax Relief Act of 2004, which itself made a number of clarifying and corrective changes to the definition of the term 'dependent' under the Internal Revenue. As a result of the technical corrections, more individuals will be treated as dependents for HSAs and dependent care plans." (CCA Strategies, LLC)

Working Paper: How to Integrate Disability Benefits into an Individual Acct. System: A Chilean Model (PDF)
61 pages. Excerpt: "Chile offers an innovative approach to disability insurance within a multi-pillar social security system. The individual's retirement savings account is used as part of his disability insurance, but if he becomes disabled the account is topped up enough to finance a defined benefit annuity that pays 70% of the reference wage." (University of Michigan Retirement Research Center)

Blog: Benefit Rights during FMLA Leave Depend on Established Policy
Excerpt: "If an employee loses rights to employer-provided housing during other forms of leave under established employer policy, then the employer may require an employee to vacate employer-provided lodging during leave taken under the Family Medical Leave Act." (BeneBlog)

Massachusetts Lawmakers Still Not in Agreement on Health Plan
Excerpt: "Massachusetts lawmakers have not reached a compromise between two competing health plans, three months after they were separately approved by the state House and Senate, 'putting Massachusetts at risk of losing $385 million in federal Medicaid money the state receives under a special waiver' and 'creating a bottleneck for other bills,' the Boston Globe reports." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

HHS Publishes Final Rule for HIPAA Administrative Simplification Penalties (PDF)
45 pages. (Health and Human Services Department)

Employee Health Data Bucks Classic 80/20 Split
Excerpt: "Research from Buck Consultants shows that the oft-cited 80/20 rule, which stipulates that the sickest 20% of participants account for 80% of the claim costs, is wildly inaccurate." (The Adviser)

Issue Brief: Designing Health Benefits with Evidence in Mind (PDF)
16 pages. Excerpt: "This Issue Brief explores whether an old concept (benefit design) and a newer concept (evidence-based clinical information) can be more explicitly linked in order to better focus care on health improvement, and to discourage services and costs that do not result in improved health." (Employee Benefit Research Institute)

Take Control: An Employer's Guide to Consumer-Driven Health Care (PDF)
24 pages. Excerpt: "The ... report discusses the essential components of a comprehensive, consumer-driven health care (CDHC) solution. .... This report outlines ways employers can take control of their health care costs by increasing employee participation in the health care decision-making process." (Hewitt Associates)

The U.S. Health Care System: Where Is the Incentive for Making the Needed Changes? Who Will Pay?
Excerpt: "The Health Savings Account (HSA) has been elevated to a regular State of the Union feature, which may cause many people to conclude that the high-deductible health plan is the salvation for our health care cost problems. That's a pity." (BenefitNews.com)

Kentucky Health Care Bill Targets Wal-Mart: Lawmakers Want to Recoup Workers' Medicaid Costs
Excerpt: "Lawmakers chastised retailing giant Wal-Mart ... yesterday, threatening to pass legislation that would force the world's largest company to take better care of its 32,249 Kentucky employees. The measure would require companies with more than 25,000 employees to spend at least 10 percent of their payroll on employee health insurance." (Lexington Herald-Leader via BlueCross BlueShield Association)

New Hampshire House Rejects Health Insurance Bill Aimed at Large Employers
Excerpt: "The New Hampshire House soundly rejected a bill Wednesday that would make the state's largest employers spend 8 percent of their payroll on health insurance." (AP via The New York Times; one-time registration required)

The Rate of Increase in the Cost of Providing Health Care Benefits to U.S. Workers Slowing
Excerpt: "For the fourth consecutive year, the rate of increase in the cost of providing health care benefits to US workers slowed as companies stepped up their efforts to control rising costs, according to the forthcoming results of a survey conducted by Watson Wyatt Worldwide and the National Business Group on Health." (PLANSPONSOR.com: one-time registration required)

Bush Economic Adviser Attributes Rising Health Care Costs to 'Perception' Care Is Free
Excerpt: "Allan Hubbard, director of the National Economic Council, on Tuesday said that the largest factor behind increased health care costs is the public 'perception that health care is free,' CQ HealthBeat reports." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Sen. Santorum Introduces Bill to Help Individuals Save for Long-Term Care Insurance
Excerpt: "Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) on Tuesday introduced a bill (S 2281) that would establish tax incentives to help U.S. residents save funds for long-term care insurance, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. The legislation would establish tax-free, 'long-term care accounts' similar to health savings accounts for individuals who might have problems with access to long-term care insurance because of pre-existing medical conditions or cost issues." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Reforming Health Care for the 21st Century (PDF)
20 pages. Excerpt: "[The] Administration has developed policies that will improve the Nation's health care system by making it more affordable, transparent, portable, and efficient. We will strengthen Health Savings Accounts and continue to call on Congress to pass Association Health Plans, so all Americans can have the same advantages when buying insurance. We will do more to make insurance coverage portable, ...." (The White House)

Findings Brief: Bridging the Gap -- The Role of Individual Health Insurance Coverage (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "By analyzing SIPP data to determine the characteristics of individual health insurance purchasers, in combination with a longitudinal analysis of their coverage patterns, [the authors] were able to provide a descriptive analysis of the market." (Changes in Health Care Financing & Organization)

Sixth Circuit Upholds Injunction Reinstating Health Benefits for Case Corp. Retirees and their Spouses
Excerpt: "The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld, January 17, an injunction issued by a federal district court that required employer-paid health insurance benefits be restored for thousands of Case Corp. workers who retired prior to Oct. 3, 1993 (Yolton v. El Paso Tennessee Pipeline Co., 6th Cir., No. 04-1182, 1/17/06)." (The ERISA Industry Committee)

Background Paper: Health Benefits in Retirement -- Set for Extinction? (PDF)
33 pages. Excerpt: "This background paper describes recent developments in retiree health benefits, possible future trends, and policy options for slowing the erosion of coverage or providing alternative ways for retirees to meet their expected medical expenses." (National Health Policy Forum)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Request for Comment -- Multiemployer Pension Plan Funding: Moody's Analytical Approach
Excerpt: "In this Request for Comment, [the authors] discuss Moody's analytic approach to evaluate the impact of under-funding in multiemployer defined benefit pension plans on the issuers of debt that participate in multiemployer plans." (Moodys.com; lengthy registration process required to access this document)

Blog: NYC's Equal Benefits Law Preempted
Excerpt: "From 365G.ay.com via Workplace Prof Blog comes word that lower state court dismissal of New York City's Equal Benefit Law has been upheld by the New York Court of Appeals." (BeneBlog)

New York City Domestic Partner Law Unenforceable, According to Court
Excerpt: "New York state's highest court has ruled New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg does not have to enforce a city ordinance that would have required certain city contractors to provide domestic partner benefits to their workers." (Business Insurance)

Substantial Risks of Forfeiture -- Mintz Levin Deferred Compensation Advisory Series Issue No. 6
Excerpt: "The new rules, which are set out in 409A of the Internal Revenue Code ..., generally provide that, unless certain requirements are met, amounts deferred under a non-qualified deferred compensation plan will be includible in gross income in the year the amounts are no longer subject to a substantial risk of forfeiture and to the extent not previously included in gross income. Accordingly, what constitutes a 'substantial risk of forfeiture' is a matter of critical importance." (Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in Montana on March 1, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in Ohio on March 2, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in Washington on March 2, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in Washington on March 3, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in Texas on March 7, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in California on March 7, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in Indiana on March 7, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in California on March 8, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in Louisiana on March 8, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in Texas on March 8, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in California on March 9, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in Texas on March 9, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminars
in Kentucky on March 1, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

DataPath Introduces Fully-Automated, Electronic Substantiation of FSA-Eligible Items at Walgreens
(DataPath, Inc.)

Labor Department Unveils Resource to Help Americans Plan for Retirement
(U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration)

Benefit Resource's New Beniversal(TM) MasterCard(R) Adds Convenience to Consumer Driven Healthcare
(Benefit Resource, Inc.)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Employee Benefits Tax Senior or Manager
for Deloitte
in CA

Compliance Specialist
for Retirement Benefit Solutions, LLC
in VA

Compliance Manager
for The Retirement Plan Company, LLC
in TN

Assistant Director Member Programs
for 1199SEIU Benefit and Pension Funds
in NY

Investment Advisor And Enrollment Specialist
for American Pensions, Inc.
in SC

Accounting Administrator
for Jocelyn Pension Consulting, LLC
in CA

Product Marketing Senior Manager
for Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.
in CA




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