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July 19, 2006
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Are you achieving your important employee benefits objectives?

According to a recent survey, most employers are falling short of their benefits objectives. We can help.

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From employee enrollment to carrier notification, our team will deliver & support 24/7 communication solutions that improve employee morale while reducing administrative costs.

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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)

Mental Health Care: Diagnosis & Treatment Ensure Healthier Bottom Line for Employer-Sponsored Plans (PDF)
8 pages. Excerpt: "In contrast to other medical conditions, the indirect costs . . . associated with mental illness and substance abuse disorders commonly meet or exceed the direct costs of treatment." (Buck Consultants)

Medical Record E-Devices Get Government Approval
Excerpt: "The first electronic medical records products to win government approval were announced [yesterday], a step toward encouraging doctors to switch from paper systems. The certification of 19 companies' products -- by a national group funded by the government last year -- means doctors buying the software can expect it to collect certain data, secure that data and work with other products so that records can eventually transfer among doctors, clinics and hospitals and other entities." (USA TODAY)

San Francisco OKs Universal Health Plan
Excerpt: "San Francisco moved closer [yesterday] to becoming the nation's first city to provide health care coverage for all its residents. The city's Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a plan that would give adults access to medical services regardless of immigration or employment status. The plan's estimated cost is $200 million a year." (AP via The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Overview: IRS Guidance on Debit Card Use for FSAs, HRAs, Dependent Care Plans
Excerpt: "The IRS has provided further guidance on the use of debit cards, credit cards, and stored valued cards . . . to reimburse participants in health flexible spending arrangements (FSAs) and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs)." (CCH Pension & Benefits)

Insurers Battle Michigan Proposed Discretionary Clause Ban
Excerpt: "Insurance groups are attacking a proposed rule in Michigan that would bar use of discretionary clauses in all lines of consumer and personal insurance policies." (National Underwriter Life & Health; free one-time registration or paid subscription required)

Survey: Vacation Days Earned by Country
Excerpt: "See how [the United States rates] compared with the rest of the world-- according to the 6th annual Vacation Deprivation (tm) survey by" (

Battle Brewing Over Health ID Cards?
Excerpt: "The Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange is proposing a standard for health care identification cards based on two-dimensional bar code technology. But some payer organization executives attending a recent WEDI public forum in Chicago insisted that magnetic stripe technology must be used to enable ID cards to be used for financial transactions." (Health Data Management)

WellPoint Moves to Digitize Medical Records
Excerpt: "WellPoint, the nation's largest health insurer, says its 34 million members will be able to access their health records online in one of the largest private-sector efforts to move personal medical information into the digital age." (Workforce Management; one-time registration required)

Health Cost and Quality Tool Offers Data to Consumers, Survey Finds
Excerpt: "Forty percent of 93 health plans examined by eValue8, a request-for-information tool created by the Washington-based National Business Coalition on Health, make at least some information on the cost of health services available to plan members." (Business Insurance)

Employers Are Using Account-Based Plan Designs to Engage Employees in Health Care (PDF)
5 pages. Excerpt: "In the never-ending pursuit of competitive advantage, many organizations are rethinking their health benefit designs to both control costs and provide attractive benefits to employees and potential recruits. One approach is to combine a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) with an employee-directed health care account -- either as a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) or health savings account (HSA)." (Towers Perrin)

Commentary: Single Payer Not Only Way for Universal Health Care
Excerpt: "How do . . . nonsingle payer nations provide such excellent care? These nations employ a system that blends a flexible mixture of public and private, with most doctors, nurses and other professionals working for private medical groups, not for the government as in the Canadian or British-style single payer systems." (The Contra Costa Times; one-time registration required)

Hewitt Federal Legislation Quick Guide Updated as of July 18, 2006, for Health and Welfare Plans (PDF)
26 pages. This Federal Legislation Quick Guide provides short updates on federal legislation that is currently under active consideration by Congress or has recently been enacted into law regarding health and welfare benefit plans. (Hewitt Associates)

Charles B. Rangel Writes: Health Savings Accounts -- A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
Excerpt: "[Republicans] are proposing additional tax benefits for people who open an HSA, such as increasing the annual contribution limits, allowing balances in IRAs and flexible-spending accounts to be rolled into HSAs and allowing HSA funds to pay for high-deductible health-plan premiums. These proposals will drain billions of much needed revenue from the federal treasury but do nothing to bring down the rising cost of medical care." (The Hill via BlueCross BlueShield Association)

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) Writes: Health Savings Accounts Put Consumers in Control
Excerpt: "Congress must take action to make HSAs an even more affordable, accessible, and consumer-friendly healthcare option. First, individuals and families should be put on an equal footing with employers when purchasing coverage." (The Hill via BlueCross BlueShield Association)

Pensioners Battle Over Health Insurance
Excerpt: "Retiree health care benefits helped several generations of Americans deal with the ills that come with aging. Now a growing number of retirees are seeing their benefits cut or eliminated as companies struggle to contain health care expenses. Meanwhile, fewer companies are offering retiree health care coverage to their current workers." (AP via The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Hewitt Federal Legislation Quick Guide As of July 18, 2006, on Human Resources and Employment Law (PDF)
8 pages. This Federal Legislation Quick Guide provides short updates on federal legislation that is currently under active consideration by Congress or has recently been enacted into law regarding human resources and employment law. (Hewitt Associates)

Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Controlled Groups - Basics and Beyond
Nationwide on August 10, 2006
presented by SunGard Corbel

Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

National 401(k) Day Reminds Workers To Take Charge Of Their Future
(Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America (PSCA))

PBGC Assumes Pension Plan Of Plymouth Rubber Co.
(Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC))

Milliman Survey Foresees Lowest Health Insurance Rate Increase in 7 Years
(Milliman USA)

401kLoans LLC Announces Efficient New 403(b) Loan Origination and Documentation Solution
(Metrics Partners)

NBCH 2006 eValue8(TM) Results Offer Nationwide Analysis of How Health Plans are Helping Consumers Manage their Health
(National Business Coalition on Health)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Administration Specialist (Lincoln, NE and Cincinnati, OH)
for Ameritas Life Insurance Co. and Union Central Life Insurance Co.
in NE, OH

Defined Contribution Retirement Plan Administrator
for Loren D. Stark Company, Inc.
in TX

Institutional Client Services Manager
for Bank of America
in NJ

Senior Plan Administrator/Operations Manager
for Compass Pension Partners
in WA

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