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October 19, 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)

Health Care Costs Projected to Rise 6% in 2007, According to Towers Perrin Survey
Excerpt: "The increase is expected to continue the pressure on businesses striving to maintain adequate coverage for their employees -- and make medical coverage costs increasingly burdensome for all U.S. employees, particularly lower-wage workers and those who retire before becoming eligible for Medicare." (Towers Perrin)

Wal-Mart to Sell $4 Generic Drugs in 14 More States
Excerpt: "Wal-Mart Stores Inc. [today] said it would begin selling $4 generic prescriptions in 14 additional states, including New York and Texas, speeding up the roll-out of a plan that has put pressure on rival retailers." (Reuters)

The 'Long Arm' of ERISA: An Overview of ERISA Venue Provisions
Excerpt: "The expansive reach of ERISA's venue provision, 29 U.S.C. 1132(e)(2), is illustrated by the recent decision in Verizon Employee Benefits Committee v. Jaeger, 2006 WL 2880451 (N.D.Tex.) (September 28, 2006)." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)

Fifth Circuit Rejects Carrier's ERISA Preemption Defense to State Law Claims
Excerpt: "The adequacy of stop loss coverage and the timeliness of submission of claims to the stop loss carrier are frequent areas of dispute between employers and claims administrators. The probability of controversy increases substantially when the claims administrator is an insurance company issuing the stop loss policy." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)

Commentary: Competition Good for Health Care
Excerpt: "[The Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) is] a consumer-driven system in which many different carriers offer a choice of 284 private plans nationwide. FEHBP plans include a variety of benefit packages, including health-savings accounts. The bottom line: Feds get high-quality care at competitive prices. No wonder they're highly satisfied. The FEHBP isn't the only example where intense competition works. Another, paradoxically, is Medicare." (The Washington Times)

CalPERS Begins Approval Process for Retiree Heath Care Fund Creation
Excerpt: "Employers in the California Public Employees' Retirement System might have a new option for covering retiree's healthcare costs as the CalPERS Board of Administration on Wednesday approved setting up a pre-fund for healthcare coverage." (Sacramento Business Journal via bizjournals.com; one-time registration required)

Report Finds Health Care Premiums Rose Far Faster Than Paychecks in the Last Six Years
Excerpt: "Health insurance premiums have risen faster than wages in Pennsylvania over the last six years, according to a report released yesterday by Families USA, a nonprofit Washington consumer group that advocates for affordable health care." (The Philadelphia Inquirer via BlueCross BlueShield Association)

What Do Your Health Insurance Options Mean to You As a Consumer?
Excerpt: "Before you choose [a health plan], take some time to figure out your annual health care expenses. Try the health expense calculator at http://www.planforyourhealth.com/." (The Washington Post; one-time registration required)

Payers Urged to Use Evidence-Based Medicine to Manage Specialty Drug Costs
Excerpt: "[S]pecialty drugs have their own unique issues that drive up costs. Often the product is the only FDA-approved drug for a condition, while the cost is usually non-negotiable. The cost, often mandated under state law or insurance regulation, can be 10 to 50 times that of more traditional treatment options . . . ." (Specialty Pharmacy News via AISHealth.com)

Aetna Study Shows Big Savings for Full-Replacement Consumer-Directed Plans
Excerpt: "Large employers that launched a full-replacement health reimbursement arrangement (HRA)-based strategy on Jan. 1, 2003, saw a savings of $1 million per 1,000 members during a three-year period, according to a study released Oct. 2 by Aetna, Inc." (INSIDE CONSUMER-DIRECTED CARE via AISHealth.com)

How to Design Consumer-Directed Plans for High-Cost Members
Excerpt: "If CDH plans are going to attract people who have a high utilization of health care and those with chronic diseases, they need to do four things . . . ." (Managed Care Week via AISHealth.com)

Two Newspapers Examine Issues Related to Employer-Sponsored Health Plans
Two recent articles by the Baltimore Sun and the Los Angeles Times report on health plan dependent coverage auditing and coordination of benefits. (Kaiser Family Foundation)

The Dangers of Undermining Patient Choice: Lessons from Europe and Can.ada
Excerpt: "What would a government-run health system look like if it were adopted in the United States? Leading experts who live under government-dominated systems in Great Britain, Italy, Germany, Sweden and Can.ada share their 'on-the-ground' perspective in a new report released [October 18, 2006]." (Galen Institute)

HSA Marketplace
Excerpt: "Only 7% of employers offered a consumer-driven health plan (CDHP) in 2006, according to research from Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research Educational Trust. Here is a spotlight of the latest health savings account (HSA) news." (Spencer's Benefits Reports)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Overview: FASB Statement No. 158, Accounting for Pension and Other Postretirement Benefit Plans
Excerpt: "The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has issued a final standard for the first phase in what is a two-phase project, which FASB announced late last year, to revise accounting requirements for pension and other postretirement benefits under FASB Statements No. 87, 88, 106, and 132(R)." (The Segal Group, Inc.)

Public Company Accounting Oversight Board Issues Guide on Options
Excerpt: "The independent board that oversees the accounting industry has issued guidelines for auditing the value of stock options given to executives and employees, now that companies are required to count the options against profits." (The Washington Post; one-time registration required)

Backdated Stock Options: What Are They Really Worth?
Excerpt: "From an economic standpoint, backdated options are probably not worth as much as employees who receive them, or compensation committees, might think -- particularly given the fact that most stock options have restrictions on exercise until a vesting period has elapsed." (Towers Perrin)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

FMLA Update (One Day Program) in Locations throughout the United States
Nationwide on October 24, 2006
presented by HRTrainingCenter.com

Health & Welfare Plan Record Retention and Document Disclosures—How to Avoid Penalties, Keep the Feds Happy, and Prevent Compliance Headaches- WEBCAST
Nationwide on November 9, 2006
presented by HRTrainingCenter.com

Journey deep into the world of IRAs
in Ohio on November 28, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Journey deep into the world of IRAs
in Missouri on November 28, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Journey deep into the world of IRAs
in Iowa on November 28, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Journey deep into the world of IRAs
in Ohio on November 29, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Journey deep into the world of IRAs
in Illinois on November 29, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Journey deep into the world of IRAs
in Iowa on November 29, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Journey deep into the world of IRAs
in Iowa on November 30, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Journey deep into the world of IRAs
in Missouri on November 30, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Journey deep into the world of IRAs
in Illinois on December 5, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Journey deep into the world of IRAs
in Alabama on December 5, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Journey deep into the world of IRAs
in Mississippi on December 5, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Journey deep into the world of IRAs
in Tennessee on December 6, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Journey deep into the world of IRAs
in Alabama on December 6, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Journey deep into the world of IRAs
in Illinois on December 6, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Journey deep into the world of IRAs
in Alabama on December 7, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Journey deep into the world of IRAs
in Wisconsin on December 7, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Journey deep into the world of IRAs
in Missouri on December 12, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Journey deep into the world of IRAs
in Texas on December 12, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Journey deep into the world of IRAs
in Texas on December 12, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Journey deep into the world of IRAs
in Texas on December 13, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Journey deep into the world of IRAs
in Missouri on December 13, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Journey deep into the world of IRAs
in New Mexico on December 13, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Journey deep into the world of IRAs
in Arizona on December 14, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Journey deep into the world of IRAs
in Missouri on December 14, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Journey deep into the world of IRAs
in Texas on December 14, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Manager, Data Consulting
for Fidelity Investments
in NC

Defined Contribution 401(k) Plan Administrator
for Pension & Financial Services, Inc.
in PA

Compliance Specialist
for Mid-size Retirement Plan Service Provider (TN)
in ANY STATE

Compliance Manager
for Mid-sized Retirement Plan Service Provider (TN)
in TN

Omni Plus Loan Consultant
for Group H, Inc.
in ANY STATE

Benefits Specialist
for CLARCOR, Inc.
in TN

Profit Sharing & Pension Administrator
for ERISA Pension Systems
in FL

401(k) Plan Administrator
for Tofias PC
in MA

Implementation Manager
for Continental Benefits Group, Inc.
in NJ

Sales Manager: California Teacher's Assc.
for Standard Insurance Company
in CA




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