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August 3, 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)

Overview: Guidance on Use of Debit/Credit Cards with HRAs and Health and Dependent Care FSAs (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "Notice 2006-69 (the 'Notice') expands the methods by which an employer may automatically substantiate Card transactions to include situations in which an individual pays multiple co-payments at the same time for up to five times the maximum dollar amount of the co-payment for that service provider (for example, purchasing five prescriptions at one pharmacy)." (Haynes and Boone, LLP)

New IRS Debit-Card Rule Is 'Good News, Bad News' for Industry
Excerpt: "New guidance from the Internal Revenue Service on the use of health-benefit cards (e.g., debit cards) could save time and reduce paperwork for health plans and employers. However, a clarification in the notice could require retailers -- and other parties that accept the cards -- to retain claims data for several years." (INSIDE CONSUMER-DIRECTED CARE via

Overview: IRS Expands Categories of Coverage In Final HSA Comparability Rules
Excerpt: "The Internal Revenue Service has released final regulations for making comparable contributions to health savings accounts (HSAs). These rules amend and finalize proposed rules issued in August 2005. The final regulations appeared in the July 31 Federal Register." (Spencer's Benefits Reports)

Overview: CMS Provides Additional Guidance on Model Medicare-Eligible Notices (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "The guidance and updated model notices are for use after May 15, 2006, and provide clarification regarding the content of communications to Medicare-eligible individuals, the definition of an 'integrated' plan for purposes of the creditable coverage determination, and the ability to arrange for notices to be sent by a third party (e.g., an employer plan's third party administrator)." (Dechert LLP)

Company Perk-- St. Louis Contractor Keeps Them Down on the Farm
Excerpt: "In spring and fall, the company stages staff training at Echo Valley Ranch. Departments might hold the occasional retreat or long-range planning session. Sometimes ARCO executives entertain clients there. Most of the time, though, Echo Valley is up for grabs to the employee who reserves it first for themselves, friends and family." (Employee Benefit News)

Health Plans Experience Stable Medical Cost Trends
Excerpt: "Publicly traded health insurers continued to see stable medical cost trends in the second quarter, although insurers didn't fully allay investor concerns over the potential for rising medical cost trends." (MANAGED CARE WEEK via

More Americans See Hiking Health Costs for Unhealthy as Fair, According to Survey
Excerpt: "According to, 53% of adults in the US think it is fair to raise the premiums, up from 37% who thought the same thing in 2003. Thirty-two percent of respondents to the survey said it was unfair, down from 46% in 2003." (; one-time registration required)

States and Businesses Snuffing Out Smoking
Excerpt: "[S]ome cities in states where a smoking ban already exists have passed their own, more restrictive laws. At the same time, the number of private employers cracking down on smoking continues to mount. In fact, 36% of employers offer a smoking cessation program, while 20% prohibit smoking at the worksite and 7% charge smokers higher medical premiums, according to the Society for Human Resource Management." (Employee Benefit News)

Opinion: Bush's Health Savings Accounts Are Badly Flawed
Excerpt: "Such so-called first-dollar insurance coverage plays a central role 'in dulling the incentives for consumers to shop carefully for cost-effective health care,' Bush's Council of Economic Advisers said in its annual report last February. The problem is that the most common high-deductible insurance policies that qualify someone to have a health savings account don't actually increase most consumers' health-care cost- sharing." (John M. Berry via Bloomberg News)

Narrated Slide Tutorial on Private Health Insurance
Excerpt: "In this new narrated slide tutorial, Karen Pollitz, research professor at Georgetown University, provides an overview of the private health insurance system. She discusses basic concepts that are important in understanding private health insurance and how it works, such as risk spreading/risk selection, pluralism, costs, coverage, and regulation. Tutorial slides can be downloaded." (

WSJ Examines Health Insurers' Processes for Keeping Online Doctor Directories Updated
Excerpt: "The Wall Street Journal . . . examined how online health provider directories often include incorrect or outdated information and how 'policies for updating network directories vary from insurer to insurer.'" (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Overview: Court Holds Maryland Health Care Law Is Preempted by ERISA
Excerpt: "While the immediate result of the Maryland District Court's ruling would only be that Wal-Mart is not subject to the Fair Share Act, the parties have agreed to expedited handling to get the appeal of the decision to the Fourth Circuit before the Act's scheduled January 1, 2007 effective date. Thus, the ultimate outcome remains uncertain. What is certain is that other states considering enactment of similar 'fair share' laws are watching this case with interest." (Faegre & Benson LLP)

Framework for a High Performance Health System for the United States
Excerpt: "In this consensus statement, the [The Commonwealth Fund's Commission on a High Performance Health System] defines 'high performance' and outlines its vision of a uniquely American, high performance health system. It then identifies the most critical sources of our current system's failures and offers a strategic framework for addressing them through specific actions." (The Commonwealth Fund)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Proposed FASB Staff Position, No. FAS 123(R)-F: Technical Corrections of FASB Statement No. 123(R) (PDF)
5 pages. Excerpt: "This FASB Staff Position (FSP) addresses certain technical corrections of FASB Statement No. 123 (revised 2004), Share-Based Payment." (Financial Accounting Standards Board)

Comment Letter Sent to FASB Regarding EITF Issues 06-4
Excerpt: "[The letter comments on] Accounting for Deferred Compensation and Post-Retirement Aspects of Split Dollar Arrangements]." (Executive Benefit Solutions)

Court Rejects Safe-Harbor Argument, Says ERISA Applies to Benefit Dispute
Excerpt: "Lawyers handling employee-benefit cases understand the broad preemptive power of ERISA. The statute governs virtually all benefit claims where the employer is directly involved in providing benefits to its employees. As a result, the statute usually preempts state-law claims, including breach of contract and bad faith. There are some notable exceptions, though, . . . ." (erisa on the web; Posted by John Wood)

Overview: GAO Survey on Nonprofit Hospitals' Executive Compensation (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "The survey sample was of 100 hospital systems throughout the United States, each of which is recognized as tax exempt under IRC §501(c)(3). Of the 100 hospital systems surveyed, 65 responded. The survey was carried out from June 2005 through June 2006." (Powell Goldstein LLP)

'Rolling Vesting' May Remain Viable for Ineligible Section 457 Plans Notwithstanding Section 409A
Excerpt: "Executives and physicians employed by hospitals, universities and other tax exempt entities have frequently used 'rolling vesting' with regard to their 'ineligible' Section 457 deferred compensation plan accounts to defer the date on which the executive or physician will vest in (and become taxable on) his or her deferred compensation account." (Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC)

Employment Arrangements: Improved Outreach Could Help Ensure Proper Worker Classification
66 pages. Excerpt: "GAO was asked to update [a June 2000] report by describing (1) the size and nature of the contingent workforce, (2) the benefits and workforce protections provided to contingent workers, and (3) the actions that DOL takes to detect and address employee misclassification. [Highlights of the report are at]" (U.S. Government Accountability Office)

Overview: IRS Clarifies When Form 5558 Requires Signature
Excerpt: "The IRS has clarified when Form 5558 (Application for Extension of Time To File Certain Employee Plan Returns) requires a signature. If Form 5558 is used to file an extension for Form 5500 . . . a signature is not required. . . . A signature is required if the extension request concerns the filing of Form 5330 (Return of Excise Taxes Related to Employee Benefit Plans)." (CCH Pension & Benefits)

Advisory Opinion 2006-05A: Whether Federal Reserve System Plans Are 'Governmental'
Excerpt: "[DOL was asked w]hether certain employee benefit programs of the Federal Reserve System are excluded from the requirements of Title I under section 4(b)(1) of ERISA as 'governmental plan[s]' within the meaning of section 3(32) of ERISA." (U.S. Employee Benefits Security Administration)

Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Pension Bill Falls Short for Workers
(Pension Rights Center)

The SPARK Institute Files SEC Comment on the Pilgrim Baxter Proposed Fair Funds Distribution Plan
(SPARK Institute)

Al Otto to Present to Louisville Employee Benefits Council on 401(k) Fees
(White Horse Advisors, LLC)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Retirement Plan Administrator
for Wells, Lamoriello, LLC
in CT

Participant Services Counselor
for AFTRA Health & Retirement Funds
in NY

Key Account Manager
for ING
in MA

Client Relationship Manager
for The Newport Group
in FL

401(k) Compliance Manager
for PENCO, Inc.
in OH

Retirement Services Plan Manager
for Wachovia
in PA

Communications Strategist
for CitiStreet (a State Street and Citigroup Company)
in MA

Investment Client Reporting Analyst
for CitiStreet (a State Street and Citigroup Company)
in MA

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