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May 2, 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)

Typical Health Benefit Package in Private Industry (PDF)
Pages 6-7 of 8 pages. Excerpt: "The predominant type of health care plan was the PPO, or preferred provider organization type of managed care plan (covering 67 percent of participating workers in 2003), followed by an HMO, or health maintenance organization (covering 24 percent of participating workers). So-called 'traditional' indemnity health plans covered 7 percent of participating workers." (Employee Benefit Research Institute)

The Impact of Hours of Work on Employment-Based Health Benefits (PDF)
Pages 2-6 of 8 pages. Excerpt: "An increasing share of the U.S. labor force is employed part-time: 17.5 percent of workers ages 18-64 were employed part time in 2004, up from 16.3 percent in 2000. The movement of workers from full-time status to part-time status has significant implications for their health benefits: In 2004, 18.6 percent of workers employed part time were covered by employment-based health benefits ... compared with 61.5 percent of full-time workers." (Employee Benefit Research Institute)

2006 Annual Report Federal Hospital Insurance & Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Funds (PDF)
225 pages. Excerpt: "The Boards of Trustees issued their most recent report on May 1, 2006. The Trustees Report is a detailed, lengthy document, containing a substantial amount of information on the past and estimated future financial operations of the Hospital Insurance and Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Funds ...." (U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services)

Reducing Lost Time: The Correlation Between Family-Medical Leave and Short-Term Disability
Excerpt: "The complexity of administering lost-time benefits is not only in the accurate and timely processing of the claim, but also in understanding the influences that extend or minimize the employee's continuation of or return to full productivity." (Employee Benefit News)

Massachusetts Family Leave Plan Worries Businesses
Excerpt: "After months of discussion about reforming the state's health care system, Massachusetts' business and political communities will soon be grappling with another potentially monumental benefits bill. Senate President Robert E. Travaglini this week outlined a plan that would provide employees with as much as 12 weeks of paid family leave, in exchange for a portion of their weekly wages to pay for the insurance program." (

Create an Auto Relocation Policy that Makes Sense for Employees and the Employer
Excerpt: "When employees move, it's not just a matter of boxing up the microwave, transporting the sofa and relocating the bedroom set. Companies need to consider how to get the employee's car to the new location. Unlike household goods, cars are typically the most expensive single item a person will move, and the hardest to get by without." (HR Magazine)

Sabbaticals: Allowing Time for Employees to Refocus
Excerpt: "A sabbatical program can help employees gain perspective and return to work with a stronger commitment to the company." (HR Magazine)

Coordination of Benefits: What Plan Counsel Should Know about Medicare Secondary Payer Compliance (PDF)
9 pages. Excerpt: "The Medicare secondary payer ('MSP') coordination of benefits ('COB') law is codified at 42 U.S.C.A. § 1395y (West Supp. 2005) and implemented by regulations at 42 C.F.R. Part 411 (2005). Stated simply, it prohibits a group health plan through which health insurance coverage is provided for employees and their dependents from 'taking into account' the fact that an individual who has current employment status is entitled to Medicare benefits." (Powell Goldstein LLP via Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association)

Lower OIG Fines Offered to Providers Who Self-Disclose Violations
Excerpt: "Providers who resolve Stark or kickback liability through the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) Self-Disclosure Protocol (SDP) will receive good settlement terms, paying 'near the lower end' of the Civil Monetary Penalty (CMP) fines and penalties they would face in a regular enforcement action, ...." (REPORT ON MEDICARE COMPLIANCE via

Results from a Nationwide Poll on Health Care Price Transparency (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "Results across the board mirror results overall. Among those most likely to say they would shop around for the best price are Hispanics (89%), 20 to 34 year olds (88%), and those earning between $25,000 and $35,000 a year (84%)." (Council for Affordable Health Insurance)

Distribution of Out-of-Pocket Spending for Health Care Services
Excerpt: "The paper breaks out total and out-of-pocket expenditures along several dimensions, including level of spending, service type and poverty level for two population groups -- all people and nonelderly people with private health insurance." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Comparing Projected Growth in Health Care Expenditures and the Economy
Excerpt: "This paper illustrates the magnitude of savings that would be needed in order to bring health care cost growth closer to the rate of national income growth, and suggests that none of the usual policy options raised in health policy or political circles is likely to significantly close the gap between the growth of health spending and income." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Opinion: Death by Insurance
Excerpt: "[M]edicare manages to spend much more of its funds on medicine, as opposed to other things, than private insurers. If you do the math, it becomes clear that covering everyone under Medicare would actually be significantly cheaper than our current system. And this calculation doesn't even take into account the costs our fragmented system imposes on doctors and hospitals." (Paul Krugman, The New York Times via California Nurses Association / National Nurses Organizing Committee)

Consumer Decision Making in the Individual Health Insurance Market
9 pages. Excerpt: "This paper summarizes the results from a study of consumer decision making in California's individual health insurance market." (Health Affairs)

Few U.S. Companies Are Prepared for Bird Flu Outbreak
Excerpt: "[D]isaster planning by definition requires planning for the worst. Consultants that are positioning themselves for bird flu mania, including Deloitte & Touche and Mercer Human Resource, advise companies to use their imaginations. It's easy to imagine corporate buildings as ghost towns; it's just not easy to imagine how to avoid it." (USA TODAY)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Finances of Social Security and Medicare Deteriorate
Excerpt: "The financial condition of Medicare and Social Security deteriorated in the last year, the Bush administration reported Monday, and it warned again that the programs were unsustainable in their current form." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Opinion: Serving Up Social Security and Medicare, Without the Fixings
Excerpt: "Treasury Secretary John W. Snow [announced] the latest on Medicare's financial standing. The 'modernized,' cost-effective program is forecast to go belly-up in 2018 -- two years earlier than previously forecast. .... Snow also announced that Social Security -- reform of which the Bush administration abandoned last year -- will become insolvent in 2040, a year earlier than previously projected." (The Washington Post; one-time registration required)

The 2006 OASDI Trustees Report
Excerpt: "The 2006 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds, was issued on May 1, 2006. The report presents the current and projected future financial status of the trust funds. [The 226-page PDF is at]" (U.S. Social Security Administration)

Total Compensation: Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts
Excerpt: "Employees ranging from the lowest wage earners to seasoned CEOs are rising up and demanding the freedom and flexibility to tend to their family and personal lives. That means looking beyond the size of their paycheck to all the perks and privileges that help strike a happy medium between life and work. The good news for employers is that it all adds up. Virtually any benefit, tangible or intangible, can be assigned a dollar value and included in an employee's total compensation." (Employee Benefit News)

Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Discretionary Clauses in Disability Policies: Is California Starting Another Trend?
Nationwide on May 25, 2006
presented by ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits

Duty to Disclose: A New Frontier in Fiduciary Responsibility?
Nationwide on May 17, 2006
presented by ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits

Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

New Survey Finds 52% of Organizations Have a Disaster Plan
(International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

Treasury Secretary John W. Snow Statement on the 2006 Social Security and Medicare Trust Fund Reports
(U.S. Department of Treasury)

National Business Coalition on Health's Community Coalitions Health Institute Launches First Value Based Purchasing Project
(National Business Coalition on Health)

CAHI Releases Poll Showing Health Care Consumers Want to Know Prices
(Council for Affordable Health Insurance)

Morningstar Announces Retirement Income Education Center for Financial Advisors, Part of Overall Strategy to Serve Investors Nearing Retirement
(Morningstar, Inc.)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Health And Welfare Analyst
for Constantin Control Associates
in NJ

Retirement Plan Administrator
for PensionOne Advisors
in CA

Advisor Relations Center Specialist (Product Penetration Team)
for Merrill Lynch
in NJ

Investment Consultant (Analyst)
for Merrill Lynch
in NJ

Benefits Clerk
for InfoNXX
in PA

Benefits Analyst
for Chugach Alaska Corporation
in VA

Group Employee Benefits Account Manager (Service)
for The Protector Group Insurance Agency, Inc.
in MA

Benefits Advisor (Outside Service)
for The Protector Group Insurance Agency, Inc.
in MA

Relius Administration System Coordinator
for Stephen Eldridge & Company, Inc.
in NH

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

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Editor and Publisher: David Rhett Baker, J.D.