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September 22, 2006
Today's sponsor: BeneCom Associates, LLC

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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)

Health Care Consultants Paid Fees from Those They Evaluate
Excerpt: "Aetna gives brokers a 'retention bonus' for staying loyal. If a broker keeps 90% of his Aetna clients with the insurer for another year, he gets a bonus equal to 0.75% of the clients' total premiums. If 100% stay, the bonus rises to 1.25% of total premiums. Though employers typically put their health-insurance contracts up for bid every few years, such bonuses are one factor encouraging brokers to keep their clients on the same plan." (Wall Street Journal via Physicians for a National Health Program)

Taxes Pose Legal Problems with Disease Management Plans, According to John Hickman
Excerpt: "Tax issues are the most common problems with disease management and wellness programs, John Hickman, a partner with Alston & Bird law firm, told attendees at the Benefits Management Forum & Expo earlier this week. Non-health incentives for doing things like completing health risk assessments or joining a gym are what most often cause tax issues." (BenefitNews Connect)

Reminder: Creditable Coverage Notices Must Be Provided before November 15 (PDF)
1 page. Excerpt: "Plan sponsors must notify Medicare Part D-eligible individuals who receive prescription drug coverage under their plans whether their coverage qualifies as creditable drug coverage prior to the start of the annual Medicare Part D enrollment period for the upcoming calendar year. Thus, these notices must be provided before November 15, 2006." (Buck Consultants)

11th Circuit Decides Employer's Involvement with Disability Insurance Gave Rise to ERISA Plan
Excerpt: "[T]he employer created and distributed the employee handbook, which referenced the plan in question as an available benefit for all its full-time employees. A review of the facts, according to the court, indicated that employees who signed and read the enrollment form and the employee handbook could have reasonably believed that the employer was offering the plan." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)

Overview: FMLA Leave Does Not Count Toward Hours-Based Bonus Pay (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "[A] recent employer-friendly decision confirms that the ability to reduce a bonus award because of absences due to FMLA leave depends on the terms and conditions of the bonus pay program i.e., the plan must include some type of hour requirement as a component of the benefit determination. Sommer v. Vanguard Group, No. 05-4034, 2006 WL 2441970 (Pa. Ct. App. Aug. 24, 2006)." (Gardner Carton & Douglas LLP)

Pan Am to Pay Ex-Workers After 15 Years for Accrued Vacation and Back Pay
Excerpt: "In July, a federal bankrup.tcy judge authorized the Pan Am Corp. to distribute the money it had secured in a settlement with the government of Libya. Sending out those checks marks the end of a long process of winding down Pan Am." (AP via The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Sixth Circuit Rules That ERISA Permits Declaratory Judgment Action In Subrogation Case
Excerpt: "Following a personal injury settlement by . . . a plan participant, his group health plan sought to recover, through reimbursement, some of the $116,666 in payments [the participant] had recovered from third-party insurers as a result of the accident. . . . [The participant] then filed suit in federal district court [seeking declaratory relief and to collect fees for his attorney]." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)

Overview of the 2007 Medicare Premiums, Deductibles and Coinsurance
Excerpt: "At the time this Capital Checkup was published, final rules regarding administration of the income-based indexing had not been published, but proposed rules would require CMS to notify each high-income beneficiary of their revised Part B premium before the beginning of each year." (The Segal Company)

Brief Analysis: Why Are Health Costs Rising?
Excerpt: "Prices for medical services have been rising faster than prices of other goods and services for as long as anyone can remember. But not all health care prices are rising. Although health care inflation is robust for those services paid by third-party insurance, prices are rising only moderately for services patients buy directly." (National Center for Policy Analysis)

Employees Pay More as Companies Cope with Health Care Cost Increases
Excerpt: "A federal study shows significant increases in worker co-pays and maximum out-of-pocket expenses required by employer-sponsored health-care plans. An expert says such trends show no signs of changing absent major transformations in health-plan designs." (Human Resource Executive Online)

Government Pays Private Health Insurance Industry 11% Subsidy for Alternative to Medicare
Excerpt: "The $7 billion that Medicare will pay private industry this year to provide this fee-for-service coverage is at least $770 million higher than the government would spend covering those patients itself, based on the 11 percent calculation." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Opinion: The Individual Health Insurance Market Is Vibrant Despite Regulatory Pressures
Excerpt: "Last week the Commonwealth Fund issued 'Squeezed: Why Rising Exposure to Health Care Costs Threatens the Health and Financial Well-Being of American Families,' a report decrying the plight of American families purchasing insurance in the individual market. The report, based on an opinion survey of American families, perpetuates the myth that individual coverage is largely unavailable to American consumers." (Council for Affordable Health Insurance)

Consumers Gaining Health Care Cost Data; Insurers Want More Comparisons on Pricing and Quality
Excerpt: "Health insurance companies are working on programs to shine some light on cost and quality information that traditionally has been kept out of sight. But consumers may need professional advice on how to mine the data coming their way." (Houston Chronicle via BlueCross BlueShield Association)

Overview: Medical Expense Reimbursements for Non-Dependent Beneficiary
Excerpt: "In Revenue Ruling 2006-36, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) held that payments under a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) that provided for reimbursement of medical expenses for a non-spouse, non-dependent beneficiary of an employee were not excluded from the employee's gross income under Section 105(b) of the Internal Revenue Code (the Code)." (McDermott Will & Emery)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

National Compensation Survey: Employee Benefits in Private Industry in the United States, March 2006 (PDF)
Excerpt: "In addition to presenting data on access to and participation in benefit plans, the tables in this release include data on days of paid vacations and holidays; provisions of life insurance plans; and employee contributions to costs of medical care premiums, the allocation of medical plan costs between employees and employers, and employer premiums." (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Military Financial Services and Products Sales Bill Heads to White House
Excerpt: "Members of the House [September 21] voted 418-13 to send President Bush the Senate version of a bill that would change the rules governing sales of life insurance and other products to military service members on military bases." (National Underwriter Life & Health; free one-time registration or paid subscription required)

Overview, Discussion, and Analysis on Executive Compensation and Related Person Disclosure (PDF)
10 pages. Excerpt: "To appropriately address the issues the SEC recommends addressing in the CD&A, companies should begin reviewing and analyzing their approach to compensation now. This process should begin by identifying all compensation programs, plans and arrangements currently in place. The company should review each element of compensation in each program, plan and arrangement, including both equity and non-equity awards . . . ." (Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP)

France to Curb Executive Stock Options
Excerpt: "French Finance Minister Thierry Breton outlined plans Wednesday to tighten restrictions on the exercise of employee stock options in the wake of a series of scandals over executive pay and questionable share deals. The new rules will require company bosses and staff to refrain from cashing in a proportion of their options for as long as they remain in their jobs, Breton said in a radio interview." (AP via Human Resource Executive Online)

Society of Actuaries Issues Request for Proposal--Experience Analysis on Exercising of Stock Options
Excerpt: "One of the key factors in determining the value of employee stock options is the early exercise behavior of each company's employees. Only limited academic research is currently available on the question of what motivating factors contribute to employee exercise behavior. Consequently, the Society of Actuaries' (SOA) Pension Section is initiating an experience analysis of the exercise of stock options to explore this question." (Society of Actuaries)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

HIPPA and Health Laws Compliance Assistance Seminar
in South Dakota on October 18, 2006
presented by U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

Pension Protection Act 2006
in Texas on October 2, 2006
presented by Executive Benefits Design Group


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

IRS Announces New Leadership Positions in Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division
(Internal Revenue Service (IRS))


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Consultant
for Louis Kravitz & Associates
in CA

Human Resources-Generalist
for Capital Group Companies
in VA

Manager of Sales and Marketing
for Established Northern California Third-Party Administration Firm
in CA

Employee Benefits Attorney
for Chuhak & Tecson, P.C.
in IL

Project Manager - Human Resources and Retirement Outsourcing
for Fidelity Investments
in NC

Plan Administrator
for Retirement Planning Services, LLC
in FL

Director of Retirement Services
for McCamish Systems, LLC
in GA




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