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August 28, 2006
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Since 1992, BeneCom has provided one-stop benefit communications for organizations large and small, nationwide. Staffed by people who know benefits, we write, design and produce effective media, including SPDs, enrollment materials, newsletters, benefit statements and more. So whether you're an employer, plan administrator or consultant in need of traditional or online capabilities, we're here to help. Call (860) 674-2626 today.

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

Overview: Debit Card Use Expanded to Medical and Dependent Care Claims (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "The rules do not apply to Health Savings Accounts . . . ." (The Segal Group, Inc.)

More U.S. Companies Offering Patient Advocate Services in Their Health Care Plans
Excerpt: "The Philadelphia Inquirer on Sunday examined patient advocates, who 'navigate the labyrinthine health care system, identifying specialists, translating doctorese and negotiating insurance claims' for patients." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Percentage of Workers Enrolled in Employer-Sponsored Health Plans at Large Companies Drops
Excerpt: "Large companies that employ 1,000 or more workers are experiencing a decline in participation in employer-sponsored health plans because of increases in out-of-pocket costs, the Wall Street Journal reports." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Arguing No 'Evidence of Insurability,' Insurer Defeats ERISA Life Insurance Lawsuit
Excerpt: "The federal district court in Louisiana first considered the plan language regarding insurability. The plan defined 'evidence of insurability' as a 'statement of your . . . medical history which Unum will use to determine if you . . . [are] approved for medical coverage.'" (ERISA on the web; posted by John Wood)

States Immune from FMLA Self-Care Claims
Excerpt: "States are immune from claims brought under the self-care leave provision of the Family and Medical Leave Act, according to a 7th Circuit ruling reversing a district court decision. [Toeller v. Wisconsin Department of Corrections, 05-4064]" (Pensions & Benefits Weblog)

Life at Work: Too Often, Family Leave Leaves Much To Be Desired
Excerpt: "There is no nationwide policy that promises all parents time off after the birth of a child for care, recovery or bonding purposes. And there is no nationwide policy that provides paid leave for new parents." (The Washington Post; one-time registration required)

Opinion: Cap Sick Time Cash-Outs
Excerpt: "State workers in New Jersey who never take a sick day or never go on vacation can cash in all that unused time when they retire, but only up to $15,000. Most county and municipal governments, however, have no such limits." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Overview: HHS's Final Regulations to Facilitate Donations of Health Information Technology (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "The Federal government has recently issued regulations that will have the effect of encouraging the dissemination and use of HIT among health care providers. Specifically, certain donations of information technology relating to electronic prescribing and electronic health records will now be protected." (Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP)

Perspective: Getting Full Value from Our Health Care System
Excerpt: "Americans spend nearly $2 trillion a year on health care, but that's about $1 trillion more than what Americans should be spending for what they're getting in return. That's the bold assertion of Paul O'Neill, former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury . . . and currently a chairman of the Value Capture Policy Institute, an organization that seeks to improve the value of health care." (RAND)

Christian Science Provision Sought in Massachusetts Health Care Law
Excerpt: "Officials of the Christian Science Church are worried that the state's healthcare law will exclude faith healing as a recognized health benefit for its employees who do not receive traditional medical care because of their religious beliefs." (The Boston Globe)

Call for Papers: Prescription Drug Cost Sharing Theme Issue (PDF)
1 page. Excerpt: "The American Journal of Managed Care seeks original research for its upcoming theme issue on prescription drug cost sharing. This theme issue will examine the ways in which prescription drug copayments: (1) affect patient health status, (2) influence drug utilization, adherence, and persistency for prescribed therapies, and (3) impact the use of the full range of health services and total healthcare costs." (American Journal of Managed Care)

Ban on Outdoor Smoking at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine Campus Starts Sept. 5
Excerpt: "The medical school prohibited indoor smoking in 1987. SIU is going totally smoke-free on the grounds of buildings it owns or leases to send a message to the public about the nation's No. 1 cause of preventable death, said Penny McCarty, the school's assistant director of human resources." (The State Journal-Register)

Working Paper Abstract: Employment and Adverse Selection in Health Insurance
Excerpt: "[The authors] construct and test a new model of employer-provided health insurance provision in the presence of adverse selection in the health insurance market. In [the] model, employers cannot observe the health of their employees, but can decide whether to offer insurance. Employees sort themselves among employers who do and do not offer insurance on the basis of their current health status and the probability distribution over future health status changes." (National Bureau of Economic Research; paid subscription or individual purchase required to retrieve full-text)

Overview: Final IRS Rules on Comparable Contributions to HSAs (PDF)
2 pages. (The Segal Group, Inc.)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

What Items Should Be Included in an Employee Benefit/Compensation Statement?
Excerpt: "First, worry about whether this practice even makes sense for your organization. Total compensation statements should fit into long-term human resources objectives." (Pathfinder’s Group via Workforce Management; one-time registration required)

Overview: Milofsky v. American Airlines Inc. -- A Breach of Fiduciary Duty Class Action Lawsuit
Excerpt: "On March 2, 2006, the Fifth Circuit en banc rejected an extremely employer-friendly and short-lived opinion holding that a breach of fiduciary duty lawsuit must benefit the entire plan, not just a subset of plan participants." (Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP)

Suits in Tennessee May Be Benefit Plan Red Flag
Excerpt: "Although none of the suits spelled out how many payments had been missed or what amount of money was owed, the suits could be significant early warnings of possible trouble with a health or pension plan, benefit experts say." (The Tennessean)

Who Signed Off on All Those Stock Options at Mercury?
Excerpt: "Mercury . . . appears to have had years of practice backdating options it awarded employees. From 1994 to March 2005, there were 54 options grants -- including 24 grants approved by Mercury's board or compensation committee -- that were backdated, according to the company's earnings restatement in early July. In almost every instance, the company concluded, backdating the grants made the options more valuable. The maneuvers also let Mercury bolster its earnings and lower its taxes." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

ASPPA's DC-1, DC-2, DC-3, DB, PFC-1 and PFC-2 Fall 2006 Webinar Courses - Registration Closes September 8 so register today!
Nationwide on August 28, 2006
presented by ASPPA (American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries)

ASPPA's Fall PFC-1 & PFC-2 Webinars
Nationwide on September 11, 2006
presented by ASPPA (American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries)

IRA and Qualified Plan Distributions After the Pension Protection Act of 2006
Nationwide on September 5, 2006
presented by CCH Incorporated

Roundtable: Leadership - New SEC Rules on Executive Compensation
in Illinois on September 20, 2006
presented by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

The Todd Organization Appoints Ward Russell President
(Todd Organization)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Employee Benefit Consulting Champion
for Clifton Gunderson LLP
in IL

Pension Assistant
for R.J.L. Pension Services, Inc.
in FL

Benefits Project Manager
for The Paragon Consulting Group
in IN

Sr HR Specialist
for Amtrak
in DC

OMNIPLUS Recordkeeping Professionals
for SunGard OMNI
in ANY STATE

Benefits Manager
for Resources Global Professionals
in CA

Primary Administrator for Qualified Retirement Plans
for Kidder Benefits Consultants, Inc.
in IA

Retirement Plan Administrator / Consultant
for The MandMarblestone Group llc
in PA

Retirement Plan Administrator
for FM International
in NY




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