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October 4, 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)

Tracking Health Care Costs: Continued Stability But at High Rates in 2005
Excerpt: "Health care spending per privately insured person increased 7.4 percent in 2005, marking the third year that the cost trend hovered between 7 and 8 percent following double-digit trends in 2001 and 2002. Data for the first quarter of 2006 suggest continued stability." (Health Affairs)

Health Plans Try New Tactics to Spur Generic Drug Utilization
Excerpt: "As blockbuster medications lose patent protection this year, some insurers are employing a variety of strategies to boost generic drug uptake -- such as waiving copayments for specific drug categories or moving medications that are about to get generic equivalents onto preferred formulary lists with lower copays." (MANAGED CARE WEEK via AISHealth.com)

Michigan's Governor Signs Two Group Health Coverage Wellness Incentive Bills
Excerpt: "Michigan employers who want to give rewards to workers for their healthy behavior like stopping smoking and losing weight can now do so with the signing of two bills into law." (PLANSPONSOR.com; one-time registration required)

Health IT Legislation Fails to Pass -- Will Have to Wait Until Lame-Duck Session
Excerpt: "Congress adjourned last week after failing to pass several healthcare-related bills, including one that aims to expand the use of electronic health records. House and Senate conferees failed to mesh components of two different health information technology bills before they adjourned early Saturday morning." (Modern Healthcare; one-time registration required)

Landscape of Local Medicare Prescription Drug Plans -- State-by-State Breakdown
The Landscape of Local Plans lists all plans available in your area, providing important information on: Cost (premiums, deductibles and payments); Coverage (important issues around what and how drugs are covered); and, Convenience (pharmacy and mail-order options). (U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services)

Opinion on the Little Guy Navigating the Shark Infested Waters of ERISA
Excerpt: "When the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) was passed in 1974 it went on the books with little fanfare. Thirty years later, ERISA has become the insurance industry's best friend, eliminating for the employee their seventh amendment trial by jury, emotional distress and punishment damages, says Frank N. Darras, the nation's leading disability, life and long term care insurance lawyer." (PRNewswire via Forbes.com)

Overview: IRS/DOT Standard Industry Fare Level Rates for Second Half of 2006
Excerpt: "The IRS and the Department of Transportation (DOT) have released the applicable terminal charge and standard industry fare level (SIFL) mileage rates for July 1, 2006, through December 31, 2006. These rates will be used by the IRS to determine the value of noncommercial flights on employer-provided aircraft." (CCH Pension and Benefits)

Employers Beef Up Perks to Lure Moms Back to Work
Excerpt: "The mommy drain has become serious enough that a few companies are embracing some real innovations to stop it. These employers, from Bank of America and Accenture to Booz Allen Hamilton and DuPont, are going beyond flexible work arrangements to find solutions to nitty-gritty problems for mothers on leave such as loss of pay, bonuses and career prospects." (The Wall Street Journal Online via CareerJournal.com)

Creating Win-Win Flexible Work Arrangements
Excerpt: "The traditional view that flextime is only for working mothers is an anachronism, as employers are expanding their flexible work programs to include all employees, regardless of age, gender or parental status." (Law.com)

Telecommuting May Soon Become a Standard in the Workplace
Excerpt: "In a press release, Yoh Services LLC, a provider of talent and outsourcing services, said its survey found that 81% of companies already have remote work policies in place. Additionally, 67% of HR managers surveyed said it is likely telecommuting will increase over the next two years." (PLANSPONSOR.com; one-time registration required)

Blues Database May Increase Competition; Health Plans See More Database Projects
Excerpt: "Insurers nationwide are boosting their ability to use health insurance claims data and other information to help employers and consumers analyze health care trends and evaluate care. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) recently announced plans to create such a database of information, a move that some analysts say could make its licenses more competitive with large, national plans." (Managed Care Week via AISHealth.com)

The Commonwealth Fund's 'Chart Cart'
Excerpt: "Chart Cart is an online resource that offers free and convenient access to Commonwealth Fund charts. This rich collection of graphical data is available for you to use in your own research and presentations. You can browse the charts in a variety of ways: individually by title, by predefined 'collection,' or by area of interest. You can also create your own collection by selecting charts to save or print with the 'My Chart Cart' feature . . . ." (The Commonwealth Fund)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Solving Late 5500 Filing Problems Through DFVC
Excerpt: "In many instances brought to [the author's] attention, the plan sponsor may not have all of the information needed to fully complete Form 5500 for certain years. Further, some filings may require auditor's reports in order to be complete. These issues are exacerbated when the late filings go back to the 1990s! [Scroll down to find the notes on late filing problems.]" (Form5500help.com)

Employees Concerned About Benefits and Employers Underestimate Retention Risk
Excerpt: "More than half of U.S. workers are worried their health care benefit costs will increase and the scope of their benefits will decrease over the next few years, and employers are underestimating the role that such benefits play in retaining top employees, according to two studies by Watson Wyatt Worldwide." (Watson Wyatt Worldwide)

Institutional Shareholder Services 2007 Policy Change Public Comment Period (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "For the first time, Institutional Shareholder Services ('ISS') is making use of a public comment period as it considers certain policy changes for 2007. The two topics that are most relevant to compensation professionals are (1) the corporate performance test in evaluating the effectiveness of directors and (2) options backdating and springloading policies. The public comment period ends on October 11, 2006; comments may be provided via the ISS website [www.issproxy.com]." (Frederic W. Cook & Co., Inc.)

French Govt Introduces a New National Employment Plan for Employment of Workers Age 55 and Older
Excerpt: "The two new decrees . . . will provide incentives for individuals to work past the retirement age of 65, and for employers to keep older people at work." (Watson Wyatt Worldwide)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Journey deep into the world of IRAs
in Montana on November 8, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Journey deep into the world of IRAs
in Texas on November 9, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Journey deep into the world of IRAs
in Florida on November 9, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Journey deep into the world of IRAs
in Washington on November 9, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

U.S. Department of Laborís ERISA Advisory Council Working Groups to Hold Teleconferences
in District of Columbia on October 20, 2006
presented by U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

PBGC Assumes Pension Plan Of Furniture Retailer Levitz
(Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC))

National Business Group On Health Issues Recommendations For Employers To Improve Health Care Quality And Safety
(National Business Group on Health)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

OmniPlus Consultants
for Chesapeake Benefit Partners
in ANY STATE

401(k) Plan Administrator
for Benefits Consulting Group, LLC
in CT, MA

Retirement Plan Communication Associate (Bi-Lingual), #0604135
for John Hancock
in PA

Retirement Plan Communication Associate (Bi-Lingual), #0604137
for John Hancock
in NE

Retirement Plan Communication Associate (Bi-Lingual), #0604138
for John Hancock
in CO

Retirement Plan Communication Associate (Bi-Lingual), #0603542
for John Hancock
in AZ

Retirement Plan Communication Associate (Bi-Lingual), #0603681
for John Hancock
in KS

Product Operations Supervisor
for Fiserv Investment Support Services
in CO

Conversion Team Analyst
for Administaff
in TX

Pension Compliance Specialist
for Laiken Associates, Inc.
in NY

Trust Representative I
for AST Trust Company
in AZ

Retirement Plan Analyst - Invesmart
for Standard Insurance Company
in OR

Retirement Plan Consultant - Invesmart
for Standard Insurance Company
in OR

Fund Administrator - Taft-Hartley Funds - New York
for The Segal Company on behalf of a client
in NY

Pension Supervisors
for 1199SEIU Benefit and Pension Funds
in NY

Client Service Representative
for Sentinel Benefits Group - Providence - Rhode Island Office
in RI




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