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October 6, 2006
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New Web Site: elaws -- Health Benefits Advisor
Excerpt: "The Health Benefits Advisor is designed to help workers, their families, and employers better understand their rights and responsibilities concerning health care coverage under federal law. It was developed by the U.S. Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) and features two distinct sections: Employee and Employer." (U.S. Employee Benefits Security Administration)

Delta Agrees to Pact on Non-Pilot Retiree Benefits
Excerpt: "According to an announcement released [October 5], reduced health care subsidies will be available to tens of thousands of employees who left Delta under early retirement programs and for retirees who are 65 and older." (PLANSPONSOR.com; one-time registration required)

Pet Health Insurance -- Risk-Management Tool to Defray Cost of Vet Care If the Unexpected Happens
Excerpt: "An estimated 1,300 companies, including Chipotle, Viacom and Ford Motor Co., offer pet insurance to their employees." (The News-Press)

Opinion: Poor U.S. Scores in Health Care Don't Measure Nobels and Innovation
Excerpt: "American health care has many problems. Health insurance is linked too tightly to employment, and too many people cannot afford insurance. Insurance companies put too much energy into avoiding payments. Personal medical records are kept on paper rather than in accessible electronic fashion. Emergency rooms are not always well suited to serve as last-resort health care for the poor. Most fundamentally, the lack of good measures of health care quality . . . ." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Business Health Care Advocacy Group Calls for New Medical Safety Standards
Excerpt: "A group of large employers, among them Wal-Mart, IBM and Microsoft, announced Thursday, October 4, that they will no longer allow hospitals and doctors into their preferred provider networks if those medical providers do not meet a series of safety standards aimed at reducing costs and avoidable death and injury." (Workforce Management; one-time registration required)

German Chancellor Forges Accord on Financing Health Care
Excerpt: "At the heart of the system are 252 public health insurance companies, which are financed through a premium paid by employers and employees that amounts to roughly 14 percent of workers' annual salaries.Conservatives in Mrs. Merkel's party originally pushed for a flat-rate premium, which would cut the link between income level and health care payments. This, they said, would lower Germany's labor costs and encourage companies to hire again. But the Social Democrats balked." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

A Safety Net for Insurers Could Put an End to Entrepreneurs' Precariously High Health Premiums
Excerpt: "Reinsurance would essentially provide catastrophic coverage for all small-business employees and dependents -- a government-sponsored plan could cover 90 percent of all annual health expenditures above $50,000, for instance. It would not be cheap; it could cost as much as $20 billion a year to provide reinsurance to the small-business and individual markets." (FORTUNE Small Business Magazine via CNNMoney.com)

Opinion: The Rationale for a Statewide Health Insurance Exchange
Excerpt: "Short of congressional action to reform the tax code, the burden to improve health coverage rests with state officials. The best way to enable individuals and families to buy, own, and keep health insurance from job to job -- without losing the tax advantages of the employment-based coverage -- is to transform the balkanized and dysfunctional state health insurance market into a single health insurance market." (The Heritage Foundation)

Ergonomics Offers Preventive Approach to Musculoskeletal and Vision Problems
Excerpt: "The best medicine for musculoskeletal and vision problems could be prevention. There's evidence that ergonomically designed workplaces can improve productivity, help retention, lower claims and insurance and even work as a recruitment tool in some industries." (Employee Benefit News)

New Report from Mercer Health & Benefits Outlines the Framework for Effective Wellness Campaigns
Excerpt: "'Rewards for Healthy Lifestyles' by Steven Noeldner, PhD discusses a model developed by Mercer to help employers promote employee behavior change. The model includes three phases: Awareness-Commitment, Skill Building, and Maintenance, the report said." (PLANSPONSOR.com; one-time registration required)

CDHPs May Save Money and Maintain Quality of Care
Excerpt: "Consumer-directed health plans result in lower medical costs, maintained or improved levels of chronic and preventive care and increased usage of generic medications and consumer tools, according to a new study from Aetna, which sells consumer-directed health plans." (BenefitNews Connect)

HSAs and High Deductible Health Plans: Are They An Option for Low-Income Families? (PDF)
23 pages. Excerpt: "This brief, based on analyses of available data and research, suggests that most low-income families would not benefit from the use of such plans due to an already low level of tax liability, the amount of overall income that such plans consume, and that such plans reduce the use of preventive and primary health care services." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Women More Likely to Buy Voluntary/Supplemental Benefit Plans
Excerpt: "New research shows that women are more likely to purchase disability and critical illness policies than men. According to UnumProvident's first voluntary benefits buyer's study shows women account for 69% of supplemental disability sales and 61% of critical illness policies." (The Advisor)

Benefits Adviser Prevails in First Steps of Case Against Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield
Excerpt: "In his David vs. Goliath fight with Anthem, Ohio-based benefits adviser Tom Quigley appears to have won round one. U.S. District Court Judge Michael Barrett has denied the carrier's motion to dismiss Quigley's case. Quigley maintains that Anthem violated antitrust law, defamed and libeled his former firm, Total Benefits Planning Agency, and interfered with efforts to control clients' health care costs." (Employee Benefit News)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Overview: IRS Extension of Compliance Deadline for New Deferred Compensation Rules
Excerpt: "Bowing to the inevitable, the IRS has acknowledged that it will not be able to issue final regulations under Internal Revenue Code ยง409A in time for taxpayers to comply by December 31, 2006, and has extended the compliance deadline to December 31, 2007." (Seyfarth Shaw LLP)

Overview: Deferred Comp Plan, Section 409A, Compliance Period Extended until December 31, 2007 (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "Extended Good Faith Compliance: Plans adopted on or before December 31, 2007 will not be deemed to violate Section 409A so long as such plans are (a) operated in 'reasonable, good faith compliance' with the provisions of Section 409A and applicable guidance issued prior to January 1, 2008 and (b) amended before January 1, 2008 to conform to the provisions of Section 409A and the final regulations." (Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP)

Overview: Treasury Extension of Transition Relief under Section 409A (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "A nonqualified plan maintained pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement in effect on October 3, 2004 is not required to comply with section 409A until December 31, 2009 or, if earlier, the date on which the collective bargaining agreement terminates (without regard to any extensions made after October 3, 2004)." (Miller & Chevalier Chartered)

Overview: IRS Extension of Transition Period under Section 409A (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "According to the Notice, the IRS is attempting to finalize the proposed regulations by the end of 2006 and the regulations will not be effective until January 1, 2008. Compliance with the proposed or final regulations is not required for good faith compliance prior to 2008. However, compliance with the proposed or final regulations will be deemed good faith compliance." (Groom Law Group)

Interview: Advice from an HR Pro
Excerpt: "EBN Associate Editor Leah Carlson Shepherd recently interviewed [HR veteran Elizabeth Ann Bulos] to get her perspective on the challenges in HR and the best approaches to plan design, communication and cost containment." (Employee Benefit News)

Overview of Tax Issues Related to Discounted Stock Options (PDF)
6 pages. (Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

2006 Fall Tour: IRA Essentials
in Maryland on November 9, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2006 Fall Tour: IRA Essentials
in Kansas on November 16, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2006 Fall Tour: IRA Update: A seminar for serious IRA professionals
in Maryland on November 10, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2006 Fall Tour: IRA Update: A seminar for serious IRA professionals
in Kansas on November 17, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Web/Telephone Seminar: Establishing IRAs and IRA Amendments
Nationwide on November 14, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Web/Telephone Seminar: Introduction to 401(k) Plans
Nationwide on November 16, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Web/Telephone Seminar: Introduction to Qualified Retirement Plans
Nationwide on November 14, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Web/Telephone Seminar: Introduction to Roth 401(k)
Nationwide on November 9, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Web/Telephone Seminar: IRA Beneficiary Distributions
Nationwide on November 16, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Web/Telephone Seminar: IRA Compliance
Nationwide on November 9, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Web/Telephone Seminar: IRA Reporting (A)
Nationwide on November 28, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Web/Telephone Seminar: IRA Reporting (B)
Nationwide on November 28, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Web/Telephone Seminar: IRA Required Minimum Distributions
Nationwide on November 7, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Web/Telephone Seminar: Roth IRA Distributions
Nationwide on November 2, 2006
presented by BISYS Retirement Services


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

PSCA Releases 49th Annual Survey of Profit Sharing and 401(k) Plans
(Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America (PSCA))

U.S. Labor Department Launches Interactive Web site to Help Employers Comply with Health Benefit Laws
(U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA))

Delta Settles With Retirees on Benefit Changes
(Delta Air Lines Retirement Committee)

Start of Employee Benefits 'Open Enrollment' Season Opens the Door on Tax Savings for American Workers
(Visa USA)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

401(k) / Defined Contribution Administrator
for Pension Investors Corporation
in FL

Senior Retirement Plan Consultant
for Invesmart, Inc.
in TX

Retirement Services Associate
for Lenox Advisors, Inc.
in NY

Small Business Consultant
for Louis Kravitz & Associates
in CA

Actuary
for Westchester NY Consulting Firm
in NY




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