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April 20, 2006
Today's sponsor: The Center for Tax Law and Employee Benefits at The John Marshall Law School

(Click on company name or banner to learn more.)
Banner ad for The Center for Tax Law and Employee Benefits at The John Marshall Law School

Presents Two Programs on the Current State of Employee Benefits:

Please join us for "Employer-Sponsored Health Plans: Problems, Choices and Solutions" on April 28, 2006 from 9 a.m. 4 p.m. at the law school, 315 S. Plymouth Ct. in Chicago. For more information or to register, e-mail 6winicza@jmls.edu or click above for more information.

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

Fact Sheet: Massachusetts Health Care Reform Plan (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "Massachusetts' law to cover their uninsured population combines an individual mandate on the purchase of health insurance with government subsidies to ensure affordability. Full implementation of the plan is expected by July 1, 2007. This fact sheet summarizes the plan and its implications." (The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured)

Vote Set to Override Veto of Massachusetts Health Care Fee
Excerpt: "Massachusetts lawmakers are expected to vote early next week to override a vetoed provision -- imposing a new fee on some employers not offering health care coverage -- that is part of a recently passed landmark universal health care reform measure." (Business Insurance)

Lawmakers Say Employer Mandate Key to Massachusetts Health Reform Law
Excerpt: "While the individual mandate has been 'widely perceived as the key to the political breakthrough ... to adopt a plan for virtually universal health care coverage,' the employer requirement is a 'key part of the mix,' according to CQ HealthBeat." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Health Plans Use New Strategies to Control the Soaring Costs of Oncology
Excerpt: "The same medical advances that are transforming cancer from a life-threatening acute condition to a chronic issue are challenging health insurers and other payers struggling to pay for the soaring costs of treatment." (MANAGED CARE WEEK via AISHealth.com)

2 Studies Show Relationship of Medical Problems Associated with Obesity to Businesses' Bottom Lines
Excerpt: "Medical costs for obese employees outweigh those of healthy weight employees by 77%, according to a new white paper by Michigan-based health coaching company Leade Health. Medical costs associated with obesity cost U.S. businesses about $8,720 per patient per year." (BenefitNews Connect)

Health Care Credit Cards Curb Costs, But Increase Debt
Excerpt: "As consumer-driven health plans gain traction, banks and health plans are teaming up to develop health care credit cards that they hope will reduce the increased out-of-pocket costs for employees that go along with CDHPs, often as much as $2,000 or more a year." (Employee Benefit News)

Coverage for Part-Timers Creates Few Ripples
Excerpt: "An experiment by employers to give part-time and temporary workers access to health insurance has attracted less than sterling participation in its first year." (Employee Benefit News)

Why Double-Digit Health Insurance Premium Increases Might Be Good for Employers
Excerpt: "[Helen] Darling is certain that with overall health care costs topping out at nearly $2 trillion annually, a few favorable ticks in this or that trend line won't cause employers to take their foot off the gas. 'You still feel as much or more pressure as you've ever felt,' she says. Employers have no room to absorb additional increases. At this point, 5% is too much, let alone the 10% rate of last year." (Employee Benefit News)

Tallying the True Cost of Absenteeism -- A New Study Measures Health-Related Absenteeism
Excerpt: "The study, 'How to Present the Business Case for Healthcare Quality to Employers,' finds that the actual cost of health-related absenteeism could be as much as 35 percent higher than conventional estimates." (Workforce Management; one-time registration required)

Maryland Employee Health Care Law 'Ridiculous,' Wal-Mart CEO Says
Excerpt: "The president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. yesterday called 'ridiculous' the Maryland law that requires his company to spend more on employee health care but said it wouldn't deter Wal-Mart from expanding in the state or anywhere it deems fit." (The Baltimore Sun; one-time registration required)

Sleep Deprivation Brings Lower Productivity and Higher Health Care Costs
Excerpt: "Sleep deprivation increases people's risk of serious health problems and costs U.S. businesses billions of dollars each year in lost productivity, medical costs and other expenses, according to a new report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM). The report also finds that 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders that adversely affect daily functioning, health and longevity." (Society for Human Resource Management)

Many Employers Offer Basic Wellness Initiatives, But Few Track Results
Excerpt: "The majority of organizations surveyed by the International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans do offer some type of wellness initiative, at least basic education programs, but many don't know if the efforts are paying off." (Employee Benefit News)

Employers Eye New Fitness Carrot
Excerpt: "Until now, most employers have had to settle for an employee's word that he is actually working out at the gym, thereby earning a wellness bonus or discounted membership rate. But new technology enables employers to better manage their health and wellness programs." (BenefitNews Connect)

Target Corp. Adding a Consumer-Driven Health Plan to 2006 Options; CDHP Won't Stop State Mandates
Excerpt: "With its large, nationwide workforce, Target adds considerable momentum to the consumer-driven groundswell. With exorbitant health care costs plaguing virtually all employers, the mantra 'evolve or dissolve' reverberates ever more loudly in the realm of employment-based health insurance these days, prompting many employers to embrace consumer-driven health care." (Employee Benefit News)

The Pioneers of Consumer-Directed Health Care: Where Are They Now?
Excerpt: "In this issue, [the authors] talk with the human resources directors who helped introduce this new brand of coverage to find out what has changed since they pioneered consumer-directed health care (CDH)." (INSIDE CONSUMER-DIRECTED CARE via AISHealth.com)

Competition in Health Insurance: A Comprehensive Study of U.S. Markets -- 2005 Update (PDF)
38 pages. Excerpt: "The study's purpose is two-fold: first, to identify problem markets where competition is diminished and second, to prompt discussion about the long-term impact of consolidated health insurance markets on the health care system. This year's study demonstrates that competition is undermined in hundreds of markets across the country." (American Medical Association)

Blues Plans Target New Products at Small Groups and Individuals
Excerpt: "The strategies include waiving administrative fees, negotiating lower provider reimbursement and partnering with local chambers of commerce to offer lower-cost products to these groups." (The AIS Report on Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans via AISHealth.com)

Opinion: Health Literacy Missing Link in Health Care Consumerism
Excerpt: "In the new health care consumerism, employers, health plans and other benefit plan sponsors have overwhelmingly supported the provision of information and choice for employees as consumers." (Employee Benefit News)

Employers and Insurers Tack Toward ERM
Excerpt: "[E]mployers are taking steps of their own to more fully integrate risks associated with worker health, disability and absence. Research from the Integrated Benefits Institute (http://www.ibiweb.org/) shows that employers finally are abandoning 'silo-based' benefits administration, integrating their programs for better results." (The Advisor)

Lightening Workload Heightens Job Satisfaction and Productivity
Excerpt: "So what's the next step in the work-life balancing act? Some experts think that 'reduced-load work' - working less than full-time in traditional full-time positions for a commensurate cut in pay and benefits - may be the next rung on the evolutionary ladder of the modern workplace." (Employee Benefit News)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Overview: FASB's Exposure Draft with Proposed Changes to Postretirement Plan Accounting (PDF)
6 pages. Excerpt: "On March 31, 2006, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) released an Exposure Draft of proposed amendments to Statements 87, 88, 106, and 132(R), titled Employers' Accounting for Defined Benefit Pension and Other Postretirement Plans. The Board expects to issue a final statement by September 30, 2006, ...." (Hewitt Associates)

New FASB Rules Could Cut Shareholder Equity by 10%, According to Study
Excerpt: "New pension and other post-employment benefits (OPEB) accounting rules proposed by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) could cut shareholders' equity of Fortune 1000 companies by 10%, according to an analysis from Watson Wyatt Worldwide." (PLANSPONSOR.com: one-time registration required)

Nonqualified Programs Becoming Part of TRO 'Package'
Excerpt: "Increasingly, companies are looking for providers that can handle not only the full range of qualified plans, but also their nonqualified plans. The acceleration in interest seems a natural outflow of a shift in how nonqualified plans are designed today. Years ago, companies adopted nonqualified plans that offered richer benefits for key employees than those offered to the rank and file." (PLANSPONSOR.com: one-time registration required)

Overview: GAO Examines Executive Compensation Issues at Tax-Exempt Hospitals (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "As you know, the U.S. Government Accountability Office ('GAO'), an independent Congressional agency, is examining issues related to executive compensation at tax-exempt hospital systems. The GAO has reported that it initiated this project at the request of the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. The project includes an ongoing GAO survey of the country's largest nonprofit hospital systems regarding: ...." (Gardner Carton & Douglas LLP)

Audio: SEC Prepares to Shine Light on Executive Perks
Excerpt: "The Securities and Exchange Commission is considering a plan that would force companies to be more explicit about how they compensate top executives. The rules, which are expected to take effect this year, would shine a light on many of the hidden perks senior managers receive." (Morning Edition via National Public Radio)

Most Employers Like HR Outsourcing, Aon Says
Excerpt: "Aon Consulting reports that for small companies with fewer than 500 employees, retirement plan administration is the most popular task to outsource, with 87% doing so. FSA administration follows with 77%, followed by COBRA/HIPAA admin (70%), payroll (66%) and, finally, health and welfare admin (39%)." (The Advisor)

Lawmakers Never Faced with Losing Benefits
Excerpt: "Members of Congress occasionally lose elections, but they never lose retirement and health benefits that most Americans can only envy. A lawmaker who retires at 60 after just 12 years in office can count on receiving an immediate pension of $25,000 a year and lifetime benefits that could total more than $800,000." (AP via The Washington Post; one-time registration required)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Webcast: Forum on Health Care Expansion Bill in Massachusetts
Nationwide on April 19, 2006
presented by Kaiser Family Foundation


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

New FASB Rules Likely to Cause 10 Percent Drop in FORTUNE 1000 Shareholders' Equity, Watson Wyatt Finds
(Watson Wyatt)

Labor Department Updates Voluntary Fiduciary Compliance Program
(U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA))

Employee Benefits Security Administration Issues Guidance on Distributions of Mutual Fund Late Trading and Market-Timing Settlement Proceeds
(U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA))

Gilsbar, Inc. Co-Presents with Weight Watchers(r) at the HR Executive Summit in CA
(Gilsbar, Inc.)

UNIFI Companies Retirement Plans Adopts Comprehensive Participant Education Program
(Newkirk Products, Inc.)

Harris, Rothenberg International to Provide Health & Wellness Resources to AMS Benefits
(Harris, Rothenberg International (HRI))

Alliance Benefit Group Releases Quarterly Business Report
(Target Marketing Solutions, Inc.)

Outdated Laws Cause Employee Benefit Gap; New Book Shows Inflexible Labor and Benefit Laws Present Challenge for Modern Families
(Rowman & Littlefield)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Key Accounts Manager - Broker/Dealer and Bank Channels
for Diversified Investment Advisors, Inc.
in MA, NC, NY

HR, Finance & Accounting Manager
for Bank of the West
in CA

Corporate Manager, Employer Benefits
for West Penn Allegheny Health System
in PA

Sr. Benefits Assistant
for Raley's
in CA

Pension Administration Professional
for PFS
in GA

Pension Administrator
for Preferred Pension Planning Corporation
in NJ




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