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September 26, 2006
Today's sponsor: Benefit Software Inc.

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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)

Kaiser/HRET Employer Health Benefits 2006 Annual Survey
Excerpt: "This annual survey of employers provides a detailed look at trends in employer-sponsored health coverage, including changes in premiums, employee contributions, cost-sharing policies, and other relevant information. This year the survey also documented the prevalence of high-deductible health plans associated with a savings option, including the percentage of employers offering these plan types and the percentage of workers covered by them." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Enrollment In Consumer-Directed Health Plans Remains Modest in 2006, Premium Increases Moderate
Excerpt: "This paper reports detailed findings from the eighth annual Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research and Educational Trust (Kaiser/HRET) Survey of Employer-sponsored Health Benefits. The 2006 survey has several major findings." (Health Affairs)

Text of Present Law and Analysis Relating to the Tax Treatment of HSAs and Other Health Expenses (PDF)
19 pages. Excerpt: "The Subcommittee on Health Care of the Senate Committee on Finance has scheduled a public hearing on September 26, 2006, on health savings accounts. This document, prepared by the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, provides a description of the present-law provisions relating to health care expense and health savings accounts and a discussion of issues." (U.S. Congress, Joint Committee on Taxation)

Perspectives on Financial Management -- Health Care Costs (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "This issue of Perspectives, one of a three-part series exploring each of these areas, focuses on how successful companies manage their health benefit program's financial performance as part of a broader approach to building a culture of health." (Towers Perrin)

Overview: New Guidance on 'Tiebreaking' Rule for Two or More Taxpayers Claiming Qualifying Child
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: This guidance provides welcome clarification on these complex tax rules. Important for DCAP administrators is the reminder that only the custodial parent may take the DCAP exclusion." (Employee Benefit News)

Progressive Employers Starting to Offer Foster Care Assistance As Employee Benefit
Excerpt: "[Maureen Corcoran of Prudential] expects foster care assistance to improve retention, productivity and employee morale just as other work-life benefits do. . . . 'These things increase employees' job satisfaction. We also believe that it increases their discretionary effort toward us,' she says. 'It's good for them. It's great for us. If people feel their work-life needs are being met by the company, they are 15% to 20% more engaged.'" (Employee Benefit News)

New State Law Requires New York Employers to Provide Leaves of Absence for Military Spouses
Excerpt: "On August 16, 2006, a new state law went into effect (which has been codified as Section 202-i of the New York Labor Law) that requires certain employers to provide employees who are married to members of the armed forces with up to ten days of unpaid leave upon request." (Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC)

Under Old Rules, Termination of COBRA for Post-Election Entitlement to Medicare Required No Notice
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: As noted, the DOL's final COBRA notice regulations (generally effective January 1, 2005) now require plan administrators to provide a written notice of termination of COBRA coverage to any qualified beneficiary whose coverage terminates before expiration of the maximum coverage period. This new requirement underscores the need for plan administrators to determine when a qualified beneficiary first becomes entitled to Medicare after electing COBRA." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Employee Who Learned of Termination from COBRA Notice May Not Have Been Given Timely Notice
Excerpt: "As the court explained, COBRA requires a COBRA election notice to be provided within 44 days of a termination of employment, so that, if the termination date on the employee's COBRA notice was correct, the notice sent to the employee was 75 days late." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Health Plan Beneficiary Denied Compensation of Attorneys' Fees
Excerpt: "The US District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia ruled that a plan beneficiary is not entitled to attorneys' fees and costs associated with litigation, even though she was found in related proceedings to be entitled to benefits." (PLANSPONSOR.com; one-time registration required)

Pharmacy Benefit Managers Revenue Source Changing as Generic Drug Use Grows
Excerpt: "The use of generic drugs is at an all-time high, according to second-quarter earnings reports from the three largest PBMs -- Express Scripts, Medco and Caremark Rx. All reported increased revenue compared with a year ago. 'They figured it out,' says Edward Kaplan, a consultant with the Segal Co. 'They can make more money with generics than they can with rebates.'" (Workforce Management; one-time registration required)

Grace-Marie Turner Answers Two Studies on Consumer-Directed Health Care
Excerpt: "The GAO found that: . . . 51% of the people enrolling in HSA-eligible insurance plans had incomes of $75,000 or more, appearing to buttress the argument that HSAs are only for the wealthy. But that also means that 49% of the purchasers had incomes of less than $75,000." (Galen Institute)

Workers Often Turn to Managers for Information on Consumer-Driven Health Insurance Plans
Excerpt: "The Wall Street Journal [yesterday] examined how, although consumer-driven health plans have 'motivated some workers to research what they are paying for medical care,' the 'employees' research often consists of going' to their managers for help." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Hewitt Offers Tips to Employees for Open Enrollment
Excerpt: "[The first tip offered is that e]mployees should carefully review benefits selections from last year and assess how they utilized those benefits - looking at all of the employer offerings - including health, financial and work/life benefits." (PLANSPONSOR.com; one-time registration required)

Opinion: Illinois Health Care Justice Act
Excerpt: "The ideal solution to our health-financing problem is a federal single-payer system. Realistically, that is not going to happen for a while. A state-by-state approach is not optimal. There could be 50 different systems." (Peoria Journal Star via Physicians for a National Health Program)

America's Health Insurance Plans Board Prepares Health Insurance Legislative Package
Excerpt: "The package, which could appear in November, would include proposals for state legislation as well as federal legislation, and it would be far different from proposals to create one giant, government-funded, universal health insurance program, AHIP President Karen Ignagni said here today." (National Underwriter Life & Health; free one-time registration or paid subscription required)

Text of Description of H.R. 6134, the 'Health Opportunity Patient Empowerment Act of 2006' (PDF)
12 pages. Excerpt: "The House Committee on Ways and Means has scheduled a markup of H.R. 6134, the 'Health Opportunity Patient Empowerment Act of 2006' for September 27, 2006. This document, prepared by the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, provides a description of H.R. 6134." (U.S. Congress, Joint Committee on Taxation)

Awards Boost University Career Flexibility to Include Work-Life Balance Programs
Excerpt: "The awards aim to promote the idea that universities, like businesses, need to revise an outdated model of work that assumed scholars would have a spouse to take care of the home front. While such issues are particularly critical for women's careers, flexibility advocates say, both men and women are increasingly wanting a better work-life balance." (The Christian Science Monitor)

Lawsuits Looming for Companies Blind to Family Responsibility Issues
Excerpt: "Flextime, telework options and compressed workweeks seem adequate for employees with family responsibilities; however, companies need to be concerned about how policies on these benefits are applied. The number of family responsibilities discrimination (FRD) lawsuits has grown from a total of eight in the 1970s to 358 in the first half of the 2000s." (Employee Benefit News)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Overview of New Legal Challenges to Employee Waivers and Releases (PDF)
6 pages. Excerpt: "This LawFlash briefly describes the most recent legal challenges to waiver and release agreements and provides a summary of the most important legal requirements affecting the enforceability of waiver and release agreements." (Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP)

New York City Trying to Ease Rule on Military Veterans' Pay Reimbursement
Excerpt: "New York City officials said yesterday that they were working to spare more than 1,600 recent veterans some of the financial strain they face from the requirement that they reimburse part of their military or city pay on returning to their city jobs. The requirement calls for the return of the lesser of their military pay or their city pay, which continued during their service." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

David Walker Offers Some Observations on the Stock Option Backdating Scandal of 2006
Excerpt: "This essay contributes to our understanding of the backdating phenomenon by analyzing the economics of backdating and the characteristics of the firms under investigation." (Boston Univ. School of Law Working Paper via Social Science Research Network)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Aging Workforce Forum: How Prepared is your Organization for the Retirement of the Baby Boomer Generation?
in Illinois on October 19, 2006
presented by CCA Strategies LLC

Annual Conference
in District of Columbia on October 22, 2006
presented by American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA)

Annual Conference
in District of Columbia on October 25, 2009
presented by American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA)

Annual Conference
in District of Columbia on November 7, 2010
presented by ASPPA (American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries)

ASPPA 401(k) Summit
in Florida on February 10, 2008
presented by American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA)

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

Pension Protection Act Seminar St. Louis KAnsas City
in Missouri on October 9, 2006
presented by Executive Benefits Design Group

The 2006 Pensions and Retirement Conference
in New York on November 6, 2006
presented by Conference Board, The


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

How To Set Up A Retirement Plan: A Practical Guide for the Small Business Owner
(Benefit Publications, LLC)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Employee Benefits Specialist/ID Theft Risk Consultant
for First Priority Resource
in ANY STATE

Policy Master Analyst
for Great-West Healthcare
in CO

Benefits Analyst IV
for UC Davis Health System
in CA

Actuarial Test Consultant
for Fidelity Investments
in MA, NC

Marketing Administrators - Austin, Dallas, Houston and Tampa
for Benefits Systems, Inc.
in FL, TX

Employee Benefit Client Manager
for Willis
in FL, GA, NC

Sr Compliance Analyst
for T. Rowe Price
in CO, MD

Client Data Management Administrator
for The Online 401(k)
in CA

Pension Analyst
for Platinum Pension Group, LLC
in MA

Retirement Services Specialist
for Administaff
in TX




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