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June 8, 2006
Today's sponsor: ASPPA • Working for America's Retirement™

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Don't miss the 2006 Western Benefits Conference!

The famed Bellagio Hotel is the site of this year's WBC, held July 16-19. Sponsored by the Western Pension & Benefits Conference and ASPPA, there are more than 50 educational sessions on retirement, health, welfare, fiduciary issues and more plus networking activities such as an exhibit hall, golf outing, Sunday reception and entertainment on Monday evening.

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

Health Care Cost Comparison Tools: A Market Under Construction (PDF)
19 pages. Excerpt: "[Related to the report titled: 'Consumers in Health Care: Creating Decision-Support Tools That Work,'] Health Care Cost Comparison Tools: A Market Under Construction, examines the potential for using online tools to compare the cost of health products and services. Through an analysis of survey data, and interviews with nine health plans and vendors, it finds limited availability and functionality of online cost comparison tools." (California HealthCare Foundation; one-time registration may be required)

Consumers in Health Care: Creating Decision-Support Tools That Work (PDF)
34 pages. Excerpt: "In response to the trend of increasing consumer involvement in health care decision making, Consumers in Health Care: Creating Decision-Support Tools That Work examines the various forms and functions of tools available to help consumers make more informed choices. It summarizes evidence regarding the effectiveness of these tools, and offers possible strategies for overcoming limitations to their widespread use." (California HealthCare Foundation; one-time registration may be required)

Federal Report Calls for National Health Insurance
Excerpt: "A federal report calling for a national health insurance program was issued last week by a committee created by the Republican-led Congress. The proposal for universal coverage has stirred a panic among advocates of consumer-driven health care initiatives favored by President Bush." (Workforce Management; one-time registration required)

Survey Helps Brokers Make Disability Case to Vacation-Minded Workers
Excerpt: "Nearly three-quarters of workers can afford to take one month or less of unpaid leave before expenses would demand they go back to work, according to a recent survey from the LIFE Foundation." (The Advisor)

Some Companies Pay Employees to Save Gas
Excerpt: "Driving a hybrid car already means free parking at meters in New Haven, Conn., and reserved parking spots near the front door of a New Hampshire company. Now, some Bank of America employees will receive $3,000 cash if they buy one of the fuel-efficient vehicles." (AP via The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Finding a Life Between Jobs
Excerpt: "Many young people in the workplace are finding that quitting their job is becoming the satisfying new alternative to the standard, entry-level benefit for vacation. As they found out, the two weeks allowed to most young employees is barely enough time to visit their parents for Christmas, go to a friend's wedding and take a long weekend." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Coveted Benefits -- Especially the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program
Excerpt: "In a number of competitive races for the 2006 midterm elections, candidates are pointing to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program as a model solution to yet another seemingly intractable domestic problem: health care." (

New Bill Boosts HSAs by Bypassing Guaranteed Issues Rules
Excerpt: "A Republican lawmaker from Michigan has introduced a new bill that could further stoke business interest in health savings accounts while giving insurance carriers relief from guaranteed issue requirements for small groups. The way to do this, however, is to reverse a key HIPAA provision." (The Advisor)

New Ranking Allows Doctors and Brokers to Measure Payer Performance
Excerpt: "A new ranking of how well carriers pay physicians promises to improve the overall efficiency of the health care system while also giving brokers yet another tool to evaluate health offerings and anticipate employee frustrations." (The Advisor)

Opinion: What We Have Learned about Health Risk in the Last 50 Years-- and Aren't Using (PDF)
Excerpt: "It is true that the job and tools for health risk assessment have remained relatively stagnant over the last 50 years. Now is a time for change. Armed with mounds of clinical literature, proven statistical correlations and a barrage of new data sources, it is time to incorporate lifestyle-based parameters into the evaluation of health risks." (Society of Actuaries via Milliman)

More Health Plans Are Focusing on Cost Management of Injectables
Excerpt: "Two recently released reports show that managed care organizations (MCOs) are focusing many of their cost-management tactics on injectables. The Zitter Group's Managed Care Injectables Index: Spring 2006 finds that cost sharing for injectables is increasing slowly, but that some MCOs are expanding these efforts into new drug categories." (SPECIALTY PHARMACY NEWS via

Benefit Leaders Tout Consumer-Directed Care Success Despite Low Enrollment
Excerpt: "Benefits managers from several companies shared their consumer-directed health (CDH) implementation experiences during separate sessions at the Consumer-Directed Health Care Conference and Expo (CDHCC) held in San Francisco May 8-10." (INSIDE CONSUMER-DIRECTED CARE via

Fuel Expenses Fuel Increasing Interest in Telecommuting
Excerpt: "The escalating price of gas is reviving interest in telecommuting as a way for employees to curb the growing cost of commuting to the office." (USA TODAY)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Treasury Delays Release of Section 409A Regulations
Excerpt: "A Treasury official said Tuesday that the government will not be able to complete the tax code Section 409A's final regulations by its original end-of-the-month deadline, but set a new release date for late summer, according to the Bureau of National Affairs." ( one-time registration required)

Stock Option Probe Biggest Since Abusive Fund Trading Cases
Excerpt: "The probe into firms illegally awarding stock options to executives at artificially low prices is the biggest corporate wrongdoing investigation since the probe into illegal/abusive mutual fund trading." ( one-time registration required)

Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Department of Labor Update
in Massachusetts on June 22, 2006
presented by ASPPA Benefits Council (ABC) of New England

Funding Reform Webcast Series
Nationwide on June 7, 2006
presented by Society of Actuaries

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Product Manager - Retirement Services
for MassMutual Financial Group
in MA

Retirement Plan Administration
for Pension Specialists, Inc.
in CA

Pension Plan Administrator
for Pension Specialists, Inc.
in CA

Pension Services Consultant, ESG
for CUNA Mutual Group
in WI

Regional Director
for HEREIU Trust Funds
in NJ

DC/401(k) Administrator
for The Parker Group
in NY

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