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September 19, 2006
Today's sponsor: Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

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Banner ad for Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

Record Retention Requirements for Health & Welfare Plans

In Record Retention Requirements for Health & Welfare Plans, EBIA's experts analyze record retention requirements for ERISA health and welfare plans as well as other employer-provided health and welfare benefits not subject to ERISA. You'll find answers to your record retention questions for many benefits including cafeteria plans, DCAPs, qualified transportation plans, HSAs, group health plans (like major medical, dental, health FSAs, and HRAs), and other ERISA benefits.

Record Retention Requirements for Health & Welfare Plans is available now at the introductory price of $195.
Please enter priority code BL195. For more information and to order, visit http://www.ebia.com/OtherOfferings/Books/RecordRetention.


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

Health Care Price Transparency Our Way OK -- Association Backs Bill Similar to Its Initial Proposal
Excerpt: "In an unusual step last week, the American Hospital Association endorsed for the first time legislation aimed specifically at promoting price transparency for hospitals and insurers." (Modern Healthcare; one-time registration required)

Opinion: Congress Should Pass a Health Information Technology Bill -- One That Includes Portability
Excerpt: "Congress is considering a bill that would make it harder to allow your information to follow you throughout your health care treatment. The key to digital medicine is portability. Imagine arriving at an emergency room, swiping a security card and having your medical records appear instantly. Health information portability also allows dissatisfied consumers to more easily switch doctors, hospitals or health plans, intensifying the competition to provide good quality care." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Adopting the FSA Grace Period Can Enhance Employers' Cafeteria Plans
Excerpt: "Helping to clarify matters for employers on whether or not to embrace the grace period was IRS Notice 89-111, 1989-2 C.B. 449, amplified, Notice 90-66, 1990-2 C.B. 350, which provided guidelines on how to report the DCAP information when the grace period had been implemented. Following the guidance, 90.2% of the employers felt comfortable with extending the grace period to both the Medical FSA and DCAP, according to eBenefits Administrators." (Employee Benefit News)

Job Sharing Allows Workers to Balance Career and Family
Excerpt: "'There's a lot of cost involved in turnover when you consider that, and also with a job share, you get two different people with expertise so maybe you have a broader skill set then you would have had with just one employee. So I just think it is a win-win for supervisors, managers and also for the employees.'" (Eyewitness News via WorldNow and WTHR)

COBRA Notice Was Adequate and COBRA Benefits Were Not Conditioned on Signing of Release
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: A typical settlement agreement, which is often part of a severance package, will contain a waiver or release of employment-related claims by the employee against the employer. Because this court found that the employer had not, in fact, conditioned receipt of COBRA benefits on signing the release, the court did not discuss the legal merits of the employee's claim in this regard." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Divorced Spouse Entitled to Elect Only 18 Months of COBRA Coverage
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: This case takes us back to COBRA 101. When an individual loses coverage under a group health plan, the first question to ask is whether one of the triggering events listed in the COBRA statute has occurred. The second question is whether the triggering event has caused, or will cause, a loss of group health plan coverage within the maximum coverage period associated with the triggering event." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Several Large Health Insurers Expand Dental Coverage for Members
Excerpt: "Health plans are beginning to expand dental coverage in an effort to reduce spending on medical problems that studies show can result from poor oral hygiene, the Wall Street Journal reports. In March, Aetna and the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine released a two-year study of 144,000 insured patients that finds early periodontal treatment reduces overall medical care costs by 9% for diabetes, 16% for coronary artery disease and 11% for strokes." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

As Companies Struggle with Higher Health Insurance Premiums, They Consider Some Newer Options
Excerpt: "Some options for small business have emerged in recent years, and there could be more on the way. For example, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City offers health insurance coverage for small businesses through a program called ChamberChoice, which is endorsed by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. To qualify, a business must employ more than one and fewer than 50 people. Chamber membership is not required." (The Kansas City Star via BlueCross BlueShield Association)

Many Health Insurance Consultants Do Not Disclose Financial Ties with Clients
Excerpt: "Many consultants hired by businesses to find the best deals on health insurance or prescription drug plans receive 'significant' bonuses, commissions or consulting fees from the companies they are hired to consider, the Wall Street Journal reports." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Insurers Want Patients to Try the Cheaper, Generic Versions of Drugs
Excerpt: "Now private insurers are taking a page out of the brand-name pharma.ceutical industry's marketing playbook. They are showering consumers with free generic drug samples, waiving co-payments and marketing directly to consumers in doctors' offices, where brand-name drug salespeople are omnipresent." (Chicago Tribune: one-time registration required)

Employers Use Incentives to Help Improve Nutrition in the Workplace
Excerpt: "Health benefits experts say employers have moved to improve workplace nutrition during the past three to five years, with large employers, for the most part, taking the lead. The latest emphasis on nutrition follows the focus on workplace smoking cessation programs that began in the 1980s, and the physical fitness and exercise initiatives that followed." (Charleston Daily Mail)

Using Account-Based Plans to Engage Employees in Health Care
Excerpt: "One approach that's drawing a lot of interest is account-based health plans, which combine a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) with an employee health care account . . . . Over a quarter of the respondents to our 2006 Health Care Survey have implemented these programs as options alongside more traditional offerings. A smaller number . . . have replaced their traditional health plans entirely with account-based plans." (Towers Perrin)

Online Discussion: Bill to Improve Insurance Coverage for Addiction, Other Mental Health Diseases
Excerpt: "The bill, called The Paul Wellstone Mental Health Equitable Treatment Act, is supported by Caron Treatment Centers, the Betty Ford Center and U.S. Representatives Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and Jim Ramstad (R-Minn)." (The Washington Post; one-time registration required)

New York State Legislature Passes Sweeping Health Care Fraud Reform Legislation
Excerpt: "Senate Bill No. S8450, which the governor is expected to sign, mandates a reorganization of the state's anti-health-care-fraud system by creating an independent Medicaid inspector general's office that will oversee all Medicaid fraud detection, prevention, and recovery efforts." (Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.)

Overview: Massachusetts Issues Guidance on Employer Health Coverage 'Play or Pay' Assessment
Excerpt: "The Massachusetts Division of Health Care Finance and Policy (DHCFP) has established a formula for determining whether employers are making 'fair and reasonable' contributions to their employees' health insurance plans, and thus exempt from a $295 per full-time employee assessment. . . . A federal district court recently ruled ERISA preempts a similar 'play or pay' mandate in Maryland." (Deloitte)

Hewitt Federal Legislation Quick Guide Updated September 12, 2006, for Health and Welfare Plans (PDF)
10 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)

Overview: IRS Final Regulations on Employer Comparable Contributions to Health Savings Accounts
Excerpt: "[There] are three categories of employees for comparability testing: current full time employees; current part time employees; and former employees (except former employees with coverage under a HDHP because of COBRA)." (Winston & Strawn LLP)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

No Statutory Penalties Where Document Request Was Not Made to Plan Administrator
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: As this case illustrates, it is the plan administrator, which is not necessarily the employer, that will be liable for statutory penalties for failure to furnish requested documents. However, while this court rejected the participant's de facto plan administrator argument, other courts, including those in the First, Seventh, and Eleventh Circuits, have concluded that employers not designated as plan administrators may be subject to statutory penalties . . . ." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Richard D. Quinn on Why Concept Communications Are Critical
Excerpt: "I don't understand why many employers leave employee benefit communications to a few facts, enrollment material, and little more. Is it because that's all they are required to do?" (Employee Benefit News)

New Proxy Disclosure Rules Generating Lots of Questions
Excerpt: "No one ever said the SEC's new proxy disclosure requirements for executive compensation would be easy to implement. The final published rules are 436 pages long, and they're prompting a flood of questions from employers. Here's a summary of . . . responses to eight frequently asked questions dealing with the objectives, effective date and other key aspects of the new rules." (Towers Perrin)

Chart: Comparison of SEC Rules on Compensation Disclosure (PDF)
45 pages. Excerpt: "This chart compares the new final SEC rules on Compensation Disclosure adopted on July 26, 2006 with both the prior rules and proposed rules. This chart has been designed as a companion to Baker & McKenzie's client alert on the final rules (available at http://www.bakernet.com/BakerNet/Resources/Publications/Recent+Publications/USCLBSep06.htm) . . . ." (Baker & McKenzie)

Mistake in Calculation Made by Non-Fiduciary Is Not a Breach of Fiduciary Duty
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: This case illustrates that a mistake isn't necessarily a breach of fiduciary duty, even when large sums of money are at stake. As long as plan fiduciaries choose and monitor any nonfiduciary service providers as required by ERISA, ministerial errors made by those service providers should not result in fiduciary liability." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Federal Court Rulings Identify Employers As Liable Party in ERISA Benefits Action
Excerpt: "In Bernstein v. Citigroup Inc., the U.S. District court for the Northern District of Texas refused to dismiss a claim brought by a retiree under Section 502(a)(1)(B) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act against his former employer, Citigroup Inc." (Employee Benefit News)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

A Legislative Update for Public Sector Retirement Plans - Teleweb
Nationwide on September 27, 2006
presented by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

Flood of Fiduciary Breach Class Actions Challenging Defined Contribution Plan Expenses
Nationwide on October 10, 2006
presented by Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

NIPA Welcomes Martin to Leadership Team as Educational Director
(National Institute of Pension Administrators)

New Research Shows Personalized Education Dramatically Increases Employees’ Perceived Value Of Stock Option Awards
(Ameriprise Financial)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

401(k)/Defined Contribution Valuation Processor
for National Retirement Services, Inc.
in CA, NC

Plan Administrator for Retirement Plan & ERISA Specialists
for Dana Consulting Group
in IL

Tax/Employee Benefits Attorney
for Harter, Secrest & Emery LLP
in NY

401(k) Administrator
for BMI
in MO

EB Trust Administrator
for BB&T (Branch Banking and Trust )
in NC

Employee Benefits Consultant – Become our Daily Valuation Expert!
for Clifton Gunderson LLP
in IL

Daily Operations Clerk - Mail
for Laborers' National Pension Funds
in DC

Defined Contribution Administrator
for Creative Plan Designs, Ltd.
in FL, NY

Qualified Plan Administrator
for Creative Plan Designs, Ltd.
in FL, NY

Defined Contribution Plan Administrator
for W&W Actuarial Services, Inc.
in PA




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