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September 21, 2006
Today's sponsor: Benefit Software Inc.

(Click on company name or banner to learn more.)
Banner ad for Benefit Software Inc.

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.

Benefit Software is a leading provider of employee self-service benefits communication solutions.

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

Email sales@bsiweb.com or call 800-533-1388 to request more info.


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

Firms Help Employers, Work-at-Home Moms
Excerpt: "Workplace biases, increasing child care costs and a genuine desire to spend more time with their children are leading greater numbers of women to opt out of the workforce. Helping them along are several up-and-coming companies, founded specifically to aid working and stay-at-home mothers find the flexibility and benefits they need." (Employee Benefit News)

Government Studies How to Promote Digital Health Records
Excerpt: "Many health payers and employers have started programs that create patient-based electronic health records . . . . That could make patients uncomfortable with the concept of PHRs (patient health records), said Paul Tang . . . . Citing data from the non-profit Markle Foundation, Tang said that patients want their doctors to host and access their PHRs, and do not want their employers, insurance companies or governments to maintain their personal health records." (eWEEK.com)

Retiree Benefits for Maine State Employees Not Adequately Funded
Excerpt: "Starting next year, the state has to disclose its unfunded obligations for health insurance for retired state employees, teachers and now some police and firefighters. It also has to start figuring out a way to pay for it the liabilities -- a sum that is expected to easily surpass a three-year-old estimate of $1.2 billion." (Statehouse Reporter via Village Soup)

Overview: Updates for Open Enrollment Materials
The target page summarizes updates on Debit Cards, Dependent Care FSAs, and Annual Health Plan Notices to review as plan sponsors prepare for the 2007 open enrollment period. (Ice Miller LLP)

Workers Misunderstand Income Needs During Disability, According to Recent Study
Excerpt: "A whopping 97% of workers think leaving the job for a disability should require some level of income replacement, but only 37% have disability coverage. What's more, among those who are covered, 37% do not understand that the insurance would replace part of their income and assist with monthly expenses." (BenefitNews Connect)

Federal Workers to Get Their Pick of Dental and Vision Plans
Excerpt: "The new dental and vision benefit program for federal employees and retirees tries to fill a gap in their health-care coverage by offering a mix of national and regional plans that vary in cost and enrollment options." (The Washington Post; one-time registration required)

Physicians Slow to Adopt Patient E-mail, According to Tracking Study
Excerpt: "The American Health Information Community (AHIC), a recently formed federal commission, identified secure online communication between physicians and patients -- especially those with chronic conditions -- as one of a limited number of 'breakthrough' information technologies targeted for rapid development." (Center for Studying Health System Change)

Results from a National Scorecard on the U.S. Health Care System Performance
Excerpt: "Created by the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System, the National Scorecard on U.S. Health System Performance is the first-ever comprehensive means of measuring and monitoring health care outcomes, quality, access, efficiency, and equity in one report." (The Commonwealth Fund)

U.S. Health System Performance: A National Scorecard -- U.S. Not Reaching Benchmark Rates
Excerpt: "This paper presents the findings of a new scorecard designed to assess and monitor multiple domains of U.S. health system performance. The scorecard uses national and international data to identify performance benchmarks and calculates simple ratio scores comparing U.S averages to benchmarks." (Health Affairs)

Bush Administration to Increase Health Care Cost and Quality Transparency to Beneficiaries (PDF)
2 pages. (The Segal Group, Inc.)

Only 34% of Workers Polled Track Their Current Health Care Expenses
Excerpt: "Despite continuing efforts by employers to offer consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs), a new Hewitt Associates poll found that most workers still are not managing their own treatment and are looking to their employer for guidance." (PLANSPONSOR; one-time registration required)

Wal-Mart to Test Price Cuts on Range of Generic Drugs
Excerpt: "The giant discount chain . . . will sell generic versions of about 300 widely prescribed drugs for as low as $4 for a standard prescription . . . ." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Part D Sponsors Are Urged to Prepare Now for 2007 Audits
Excerpt: "CMS will begin auditing Part D plans in early 2007, experts say, with a focus on claims filed from August 2006 up to the time of the audit. This leads to 'six months of major scrutiny,' . . . ." (Medicare Part D Compliance News via AISHealth.com)

75% of Cancer Drugs Are Covered under Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Plans, Study Finds
Excerpt: "[The study was] conducted by Avalere Health and published in the September/October issue of Health Affairs . . . ." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Consumer-Directed Plans Are Now Key Product for Many Blues Plans
Excerpt: "According to a midyear analysis of enrollment data, nearly 2 million lives are covered by a Blues-based CDH plan. That puts the Blues on even footing with UnitedHealth Group, which also says its account-based plans cover about 2 million lives." (The AIS Report on Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans via AISHealth.com)

Federalism, Federal Regulation, or Free Market? An Examination of Mandated Health Benefit Reform
Excerpt: "The issue of state mandated health insurance benefits involves several of the core debates regarding our system of health coverage: dual federal and state regulation, the proper role of ERISA, the proper role of the market, and the benefits of federalism. [Download the 58-page PDF from the target page.]" (U of Missouri-Columbia School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper via Social Science Research Network)

Major Coalition of Businesses Gave Generally Low Rankings to Florida's Major Health Insurers
Excerpt: "The in-depth report ranked the state's six largest insurers. [The target page provides links to an audio interview with Becky Cherney, head of the Florida Health Care Coalition, and to the text of the Florida Purchasers Health Plan Evaluation report.]" (The Miami Herald; one-time registration required)

WSJ Opinion Piece Calls for Examination of Tax Breaks for Employer-Based Health Insurance
Excerpt: "The problem with the U.S. health care system is that it gives 'the biggest tax breaks for employer-provided insurance to those in the highest brackets' and makes 'everyone over 65 eligible for taxpayer-funded medical care regardless of financial need and, more insidiously, regardless of past opportunity to save,' columnist Holman Jenkins writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Comparing Long Term Care Insurance Inflation Options
Excerpt: "Despite warnings from in-the-know benefits brokers, a majority of employees purchasing long-term care insurance opt for the future purchase option (FPO) form of inflation protection, which allows people to periodically buy additional benefits, instead of the automatic benefit increase (ABI), which automatically compounds benefits 5% annually and is considered the preferred choice." (Employee Benefit News)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Overview: Accounting Rule Change May Be Required for Adjustments under Stock Plans (PDF)
4 pages. Full title: 'Stock Compensation Accounting Rules May Require Compensation Accounting Charge for Discretionary Capitalization Adjustments under Stock Plans" (Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP)

Educator's Work Exposed Stock Option Timing Business Scandal
Excerpt: "From his second floor office at Iowa's Tippie College of Business, [University of Iowa finance professor Erik Lie] spent months analyzing data to demonstrate how companies were illegally and retroactively timing stock option grants to fatten bonuses paid to top executives. His work is widely credited with exposing the latest scandal to rattle corporate America." (The Washington Post; one-time registration required)

SEC Requests Comments on Proposed Expanded Executive Compensation Disclosures
Excerpt: "The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has requested additional comments on a proposed extension of the disclosure requirements for executive and director compensation to include compensation disclosure for three additional highly compensated employees." (CCH Pension and Benefits)

Appellate Court Reinstates Jury Award in USERRA Case, Wallace v. City of San Diego
Excerpt: "The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a district court's dismissal of a jury award to a police officer who claimed he was retaliated against for exercising his rights under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)." (PLANSPONSOR; one-time registration required)

Ford Offers 3 Buyout Plans with Goal to Reduce Salaried Ranks Without Layoffs
Excerpt: "At the same time, Ford is offering retention bonuses to a small number of employees to prevent the loss of vital skills." (The Detroit News)

Data Integration Capabilities Creating Next Level in HR Self-Service Technology
Excerpt: "The latest workforce technology developments are proving what a large part software innovation can play in how human resources and benefits professionals do their job." (Employee Benefit News)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

CDH Premiums: Are They The New Benchmark?
in California on October 12, 2006
presented by Healthcare Web Summit

Paying for Tomorrow: Tackling the Public Pension Crisis
Nationwide on October 5, 2006
presented by Deloitte

Performance Benchmarking for Competitive Advantage
in California on October 11, 2006
presented by Healthcare Web Summit


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Hewitt Study Finds Employees Struggling to Effectively Manage Their Health Care
(Hewitt Associates LLC)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Life & Health Sales Representative for Insurance Carrier
for Great-West Healthcare
in CA, IN, MI

Defined Benefit Analyst
for The Paragon Consulting Group, Inc.
in MD

Pension Consultant
for Preferred Pension Planning Corporation
in NJ

Pension Benefit Calculator
for 1199SEIU Benefit and Pension Funds
in NY

Pension Counselor
for 1199SEIU Benefit and Pension Funds
in NY

Pension Administrator
for Benefit Systems, Inc.
in TX

Pension Administrator/Client Account Representative
for Tax Sheltered Compensation, Inc. (TSC)
in MN

Benefits and Special Projects Manager
for Coty & Bruce Benefits, Inc.
in CA

401(k) Administrator
for MBM Advisors, Inc.
in TX

Employee Benefits Producer, Special Accounts
for ABD Insurance and Financial Services
in CA

Sr Pension Analyst
for T. Rowe Price
in MD

Branch Sales Manager- 401(k) and Pension Solutions
for Schloss & Co., a BenefitStreet company
in NY

Director, Retirement Services
for SEIU Building Service 32BJ Funds
in NY

Employee Benefits Attorney
for Frost Brown Todd LLC
in OH

Retirement Plan Consultant
for Charles W. Cammack Associates
in NY

Claims Examiner
for Great-West Corporate
in KS

Litigation Attorney
for Slevin & Hart, P.C.
in DC

Customer Service Representative
for Great-West Healthcare
in KS




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