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June 2, 2006
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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)

Five Tips for Surviving High-Deductible Healthcare
Excerpt: "These programs get employees more involved in healthcare decision making -- whether workers like it or not. A March survey of 10,000 U.S. workers by the staffing and consulting firm Hudson showed employees have distinctly mixed feelings about health savings accounts, with only 37 percent of workers having a favorable opinion of them and the rest either unfavorable or unsure. Here are some ways to make the best of a consumer-directed health plan: ...." (U.S. News & World Report)

Companies Often Establish Formal Vacation Policies that May Harm Employee Morale
Excerpt: "Employers need to be proactive and ask employees early on in the year when they are planning vacation days, says Jerry Glass, a managing partner at F&H Solutions Group, a human resources consulting company. 'Being proactive is important because there are two things that will upset an employee,' he says. 'One is if a company tells them they can take a vacation and then says they can't. The other is not allowing them to take the days when they want to.'" (Workforce Management; one-time registration required)

Top 30 Elective Inpatient Hospital DRGs and Other Inpatient Hospital DRGs of High Utilization
Excerpt: "Medicare payment and volume information is now available for common elective procedures and other common admissions for all hospitals. Information includes the volume and typical ranges of Medicare payments, by county, for 30 diagnostic related groups (DRGs), .... CMS expects that these and future data will be used to help consumers compare price, and with other available tools, quality, of common medical treatments." (U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services)

Medicare Posts 30 Procedures' Prices
Excerpt: "How much Medicare pays for hip replacements, cardiac surgery and 28 other procedures in each of the nation's counties went online Thursday, in the government's first effort to post hospital price information for consumers. The move comes as employers and others who pay the nation's $1.9 trillion health care tab encourage patients to be more like savvy shoppers when it comes to medical care, ...." (USA TODAY)

Overview: U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Sereboff Case Clarifies Question about Subrogation
Excerpt: "This decision settles a question that has divided federal courts: whether ERISA allows plans to seek reimbursement out of funds in the participant's possession." (The Segal Company)

Tread Cautiously When Denying ERISA Claims
Excerpt: "A recent case decided by the United States Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has possibly opened the door to a new realm of risk for group health plans. Though not a published or binding precedent, United States of America ex rel. Will and Courtney Morton v. A Plus Benefits, Inc. and Everest Administrators, left unclear whether group health plans and group health plan administrators can be sued in certain circumstances under the False Claims Act (FCA), ...." (Employee Benefit News)

Overview: Supreme Court Weighs Health Plan Rights
Excerpt: "A June 2000 car crash in Southern California has reverberated all the way to the portico of the U.S. Supreme Court, and one way or another, employee health insurance plans will soon feel the aftershocks. Argued on March 28, Joel Sereboff et ux v. Mid-Atlantic Medical Services, Inc. portends a sweeping impact on the payment of health care claims in any case where beneficiaries seek damages from a third party." (Employee Benefit News)

LTC Insurance Price Index Announced
Excerpt: "The average annual cost of private long term care insurance is $772 for a 55-year-old and $1,456 for a 65-year-old, a trade group says. The American Association for Long Term Care Insurance, Westlake Village, Calif., has published those figures in a report on its 2006 LTC Insurance Price Index." (National Underwriter Life & Health; free one-time registration or paid subscription required)

Health Care Costs in California Spur Calls for Limits on Profits
Excerpt: "Rising medical costs are sparking efforts to cap profits of California's health insurers in the same way that surging gasoline prices are fueling proposals for a windfall oil profit tax. Two bills in Sacramento seek to limit insurers' profits as well as cap consumers' out-of-pocket payments for medical treatment. The state Department of Insurance has a separate plan to limit profits." (Los Angeles Times; one-time registration required)

Canadian Firms Want Health Costs Shift Protection
Excerpt: "Major changes being proposed in Can.ada's publicly funded health care system could potentially result in some shifting of health care costs to employers. For example, Quebec is conducting a public consultation on its proposal to pay private health care providers to perform certain medical procedures for which there is a long waiting list in the public system and allow private insurance to cover these procedures." (Business Insurance)

Podcast: A Critical Look at Health Savings Accounts featuring Michael F. Cannon
6 minutes. (The Cato Institute)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

'Options Backdating' Issues Heat Up (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "This LawFlash updates developments in the controversy, proposes initial steps general counsel and other senior corporate managers might wish to consider taking in response, ...." (Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP)

Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao Announces Former U.S. Rep. Vincent K. Snowbarger as PBGC Acting Executive Director
(U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA))

Despite Ongoing Double-Digit Rates, Healthcare Costs Begin to Moderate, Says Aon Consulting
(Aon Consulting)

Metrics Partners Announces New Electronic Marketing Service
(Metrics Partners)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Plan Administrator
for LBA Retirement Planning Services
in FL

Retirement Services Provider Consultant
for Deloitte Consulting LLP
in MA

Retirement Services Provider Consultant
for Deloitte Consulting LLP
in NY

Retirement Services Provider Consultant
for Deloitte Consulting LLP
in MN

Associate Plan Administrator
for ePlan Services, Inc.
in CO

Implementation Specialist ~ Financial Services
for CitiStreet
in NJ

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