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September 27, 2006
Today's sponsor: Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

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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)

2004-2006 State Legislation on Health Savings Accounts and Consumer-Directed Health Plans
This resource page was updated September 26, 2006. (National Conference of State Legislatures)

Wal-Mart Confirms That It Will Drop Traditional Plans for New Hires Beginning January 1
Excerpt: "Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will stop offering traditional low-deductible health plans for new hires next year in favor of low-premium plans with higher deductibles, a move it says will put more health care money and choices in the hands of its more than 1.3 million U.S. workers." (AP via Chicago Sun-Times)

Opinion Pieces Address Wal-Mart's Generic Prescription Drug Pilot Program
Excerpt: "Several newspapers recently published editorials and an opinion piece related to a new pilot program under which 65 Wal-Mart Stores pharmacies in the Tampa, Fla., area will sell 30-day prescriptions of some generic medications for $4 . . . ." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

LTD Plan that Pays Less than Full Salary Can Qualify for ERISA's Payroll Practice Exemption
Excerpt: "The court noted that payroll practices are those 'more closely associated with normal wages or salary' and stated that the LTD plan payments came in regular paychecks, in an amount tied to an employee's salary, and that the payments ended upon termination. The Ninth Circuit returned the case to the trial court to consider whether the LTD plan was in fact a payroll practice exempt from ERISA." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Separating Public Employee Health Care System from Pension System May Be One Way to Save Costs
Excerpt: "Back in the 1980s, health costs were a small portion of all pension costs . . . . But with health-care increasing yearly by double-digit percentages, a pension system consultant recently predicted 'the liability for health insurance is going to exceed the pension by the year 2011,' . . . ." (NKY.com)

Opinion: The Employee Health Insurance Coverage Purchasing Merry-Go-Round
Excerpt: "The ride starts when organizations facing daunting annual price increases look to market their programs in hope of lowering costs - which they often do, thanks to a competitive marketplace that encourages carriers to under-price their programs in the name of winning new business. Two years later, however, the reality of health care cost increases forces carriers to raise rates and sends employers to the marketplace again." (Richard E. Stephens via Employee Benefit News)

Survey on Consumers' Views of Patient Safety and Quality Information
Excerpt: "The Kaiser Family Foundation and the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality released an updated survey capturing the public's views and knowledge of medical errors and their experiences with improving the quality of their care." (Kaiser Family Foundation/U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality)

Presentation: Consumer-Driven Health Plans, HSAs & Tax-related Strategies to Control Health Costs (PDF)
13 pages. Outline of presentation: Health cost facts and trends; Growth of Tax Exempt HSAs & HRAs; Tax credits: business & individuals -- Reforms in KY, GA, AZ, MT, MA; and, Conclusions. (National Conference of State Legislatures)

Health Insurance Brokerage Firm Demonstrates HSA Model With Its Own Employees
Excerpt: "By dropping the employee-paid premiums to virtually nothing, The Rains Group made its high-deductible health plan (HDHP) a far more attractive option than the company's traditional PPO. Those who enroll in the new plan (employee-only coverage) pay just $20 a month in premiums -- a savings of $106 a month versus the more traditional PPO option . . . ." (INSIDE CONSUMER-DIRECTED CARE via AISHealth.com)

Opinion: The Relationship of Health Care Costs and the Benefits Gained
Excerpt: "There is no question that the American medical system does suffer from a lot of waste, be it insurance industry bureaucracy or expensive procedures that haven't been proven effective. But the No. 1 cause of the cost increases is still the one you can see at the hospital and in your medicine cabinet -- defibrillators, chemotherapy, cholesterol drugs, neonatal care and other treatments that are both expensive and effective." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Generous Benefits Lure Workers to Take Age-Appropriate Health Assessment Tests
Excerpt: "Employers and insurance carriers are dangling financial incentives in front of workers, hoping they will rush to the doctor to take age-relevant tests, such as prostate examinations, mammograms and colonscopies. The incentives reflect a growing trend among companies and carriers to take a broader approach in enticing workers to take health risk assessments." (Employee Benefit News)

Placing Settlement Funds in Special Needs Trust Doesn't Defeat Plan's Reimbursement Rights
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: After Knudson, many benefits professionals thought that placement of settlement proceeds in a special needs trust would bar a plan's reimbursement claim. This case indicates that, for some courts, the existence of a trust is not, in itself, sufficient to defeat a plan's reimbursement claim if the trustee is named as a defendant and recovery is sought from the trust." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Concept of Health Coaching Melds with Financial and Other Incentives Influencing Consumer Behavior
Excerpt: "Is health coaching a euphemism for utilization review and case management from the managed care days? It could be, depending upon the health plan or company doing it. Ideally, health coaching takes on various forms to assist consumers with the plethora of information available in the health care and wellness marketplace today." (Employee Benefit News)

Description of Chairman's Amendment to H.R. 6134, Health Opportunity Patient Empowerment Act (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "The Chairman's amendment in the nature of a substitute makes the following modifications to H.R. 6134. A. Modification of Cost-of-Living Adjustment The Chairman's amendment provides that the provision of H.R. 6134 relating to cost-of-living adjustments is effective for adjustments made for taxable years beginning after 2007." (U.S. Congress, Joint Committee on Taxation)

Overview: Health Plan Relief in the PPA
Excerpt: "One of the more obscure provisions of the Pension Protection Act is Section 843, which amends IRC 419A(c) by adding new subsection (6). The new provision permits a health benefit plan sponsored by a 'bona fide association' (as defined in 42 U.S.C. 300gg-91(d)(3)) to maintain a reserve of up to 35% of current operating costs. Prior to the amendment no reserve was permitted." (BNA Pension & Benefits Blog)

Employers Reduce, Drop Retiree Health Benefits
Excerpt: "Retiree health benefits first took a big hit more than a decade ago, when new accounting standards required companies to more clearly disclose those costs -- prompting many employers to trim their offerings. More recently, the benefits are falling victim to rising healthcare expenses and corporate cost cutting." (Los Angeles Times; one-time registration required)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

FASB to Issue Final Standards for Pensions and OPEB
Excerpt: "The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has issued a project update announcing that FASB Statement No. 158 Employers' Accounting for Defined Benefit Pension and Other Postretirement Plans is expected to be issued on September 29, 2006." (PLANSPONSOR.com; one-time registration required)

Overview: Disclosing Corporate Governance Information under the New Executive Compensation Regs
Excerpt: "For the past few years, issuers have been required to disclose in filings with the SEC certain information regarding director independence and other corporate governance matters. The commission has recently consolidated these requirements under a new Item 407 of Regulation S-K." (Thelen Reid & Priest LLP)

Overview: Disclosing Related Party Transactions under the New Executive Compensation Regulations
Excerpt: "For many years, issuers have been required to disclose in their proxy statements the existence of transactions between the issuer and parties related to it. The SEC has recently amended Item 404 of Regulation S-K to broaden both the class of persons and the class of transactions requiring this disclosure." (Thelen Reid & Priest LLP)


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Most Workers Fear Higher Costs, Reductions In Health Benefits, Watson Wyatt Surveys Find
(Watson Wyatt)

PSCA Announces the 2006 Signature Award Winners
(Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America (PSCA))

U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao Announces Proposed Rule On Default Investment Alternatives for Participant-Directed Plans
(U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA))

Assistant Secretary of Labor Ann L. Combs to Leave Post at Employee Benefit Security Administration in October
(U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA))

Council Supports Legislative Efforts To Improve HSAs
(American Benefits Council)

Investor Protection Trust Launches New, Free Teaching Guide On Investor Education
(Investor Protection Trust (IPT))


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Pension Administrator
for Qualified Pension Services, Inc.
in MO

401K Plan Administrator/Recordkeeper (fun lover)
for Advisors Plan Administrators, LLC
in OK

Benefits Consultant Sr
for Nevada Power
in NV

Pension Administrator
for AKT Retirement Plan Services LLC
in OR

Assistant Pension Administrator (Defined Benefits)
for Qualified Benefits, Inc - QBI (a wholly owned subsidiary of BenefitStreet, Inc.)
in CA

Sr. Relationship Manager-Defined Contribution Services
for Bank of America
in MA, RI

Retirement Plan Communication Associate, #0602844
for John Hancock
in MD

ESOP Administrator
for Blue Ridge ESOP Associates
in VA

Senior Employee Relations Consultant (Reference # JP25378-JN)
for Southern California Edison
in CA




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