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October 24, 2006
Today's sponsor: Benefit Software Inc.

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Benefit Software has over 25 years of experience helping thousands of employers communicate the full value of their benefits. From traditional personalized printed statements to secure 24/7 employee benefits communication portals, we have the right solution for your organization.

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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)

Expert Perspective on Consumer-Directed Health Plans
Excerpt: "This package of Health Affairs articles focuses on the effects of 'consumer-directed' health plans. It includes early evidence on cost and quality, comments from a 2005 expert roundtable, and perspectives from the field." (California HealthCare Foundation)

Consumer-Directed Health Care: Early Evidence about Effects on Cost and Quality
15 pages. Excerpt: "There is evidence of modest favorable health selection and early reports that consumer-directed plans are associated with both lower costs and lower cost increases. The early effects of CDHC on quality are mixed, with evidence of both appropriate and inappropriate changes in care use." (Health Affairs)

RAND Study Says New Model, Consumer-Directed Health Care, Leads Some to Skip Necessary Care
Excerpt: "The report, published today in the journal Health Affairs, examined dozens of existing studies to assemble a picture of the early experience with consumer-directed health-care plans, which now cover 3 million to 6 million people and represent about 3 percent of the commercial insurance market." (The Washington Post; one-time registration required)

Religious Groups Lose Appeal of Contraceptive Coverage Decision
Excerpt: "The New York Court of Appeals has ruled that a group of church-affiliated employers must provide contraceptive coverage in their prescription coverage plan for employees." (; one-time registration required)

Kaiser Told to Reinstate Coverage: Regulators' Action Comes As Scrutiny Over Cancellations Grows
Excerpt: "State regulators for the first time have ordered a health plan to reinstate the insurance coverage of a patient whose policy was ruled to have been illegally canceled. In an order posted Wednesday, the Department of Managed Health Care ruled that Kaiser Foundation Health Plan illegally canceled coverage for a Northern California woman in urgent need of medical attention for large kidney stones." (Los Angeles Times; one-time registration required)

Fourth Circuit Interprets Ambiguous Policy Language Against Insurer
Excerpt: "[T]he Court held that the ambiguity of the exclusion language, the inconsistency between CCP's interpretation and several other provisions in the ERISA plan, and CCP's failure to construe the ambiguous language against the drafting party, all supported a finding of abuse of discretion." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)

Third Circuit Reverses 'Vesting by Contract' Decision
Excerpt: "In this dispute over severance benefits, the plaintiffs claimed entitlement to benefits under the terms of a summary plan description . . . that Mobil distributed to employees following the announcement of the merger with Exxon. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Exxon Mobil on the fiduciary duty, equitable estoppel and procedural and reporting claims, but determined that the Initial SPD established a unilateral contract . . . ." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)

Early Retirement and Health Insurance Coverage
Excerpt: "Many save for years, dreaming of early retirement. But there is often a catch: though the potential retirees may no longer need the salary, they cannot forgo the health insurance. . . . And as more employers eliminate retiree health benefits, early retirees are unlikely to have any sort of company-sponsored plan once they stop working. The result . . . is that many people who want to retire early may not be able to find health insurance they can afford -- if they can find it at all." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Washington Post Special Section Today Focuses on Health Insurance and Choices
Excerpt: "The Washington Post health section [today] included several articles on health insurance. [Headlines are as follows: Do It Yourself: Online Tools Aren't Perfect, but They Can Help Identify the Best Health Plan; 'Is This an Emergency?;' Sites for More Eyes: Online Sources Offer New Information About Doctors and Hospitals and What It Costs to Use Them; Need a New Knee? Click Here; Many Federal Rates Stay Flat: OPM Action Allows Government Workers To Avoid Higher Premiums.]" (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Forum on How to Curb Medical Costs Is All Business -- Health Industry Excluded
Excerpt: "Executives from among the largest employers in northwest Nevada met at John Ascuaga's Nugget Casino Resort near Reno earlier this month to figure out how to make smarter bets with their health care dollars and put an end to rising medical costs." (Workforce Management; one-time registration required)

Reversing the Work/Life Cycle
Excerpt: "Our current system is irrational. We concentrate on work at a time in our lives when we are having children and our children need us the most. We tend to leave or be eased out of the workplace when we have completed the child-rearing tasks -- about age 50 -- and now have time and energy to devote to work. And in our later decades, we are stereotyped as useless." (The Washington Post; one-time registration required)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Comments on Required Compensation Disclosure for Three Additional Highly Compensated Employees (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "[Frederic W. Cook & Co., Inc. recommends] that the Commission drop the proposal because the disclosure will not present information that is material to investors." (Frederic W. Cook & Co., Inc.)

Tenure No Longer a Factor in Senior Federal Executives' Annual Leave
Excerpt: "The Office of Personnel Management last week made permanent a new rule providing all federal executives with about five weeks of annual leave each year, regardless of how long they have worked in government." (

A Reader Asks: Should I Exercise My Stock Options?
Excerpt: "Q. I received some stock options as part of my compensation. Is it worth it to exercise these options or could I be liable if the company is investigated for backdating?" (AP via The Washington Post; one-time registration required)

Taking the Buyout Offer -- Considerations and the Future
Excerpt: "Early retirement packages, as they are euphemistically known, have become a fact of life in the American workplace. . . . At a career stage that is already filled with practical and philosophical quandaries, the offer of a buyout forces the issues: Will I have enough money to retire? Am I happy where I am? Was I too hesitant in pursuing my dreams or too heedless? If I don't take this offer now, will it be available again?" (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Work-Life 2007 Conference & Exhibition
in Arizona on February 21, 2007
presented by Alliance for Work-Life Progress & WorldatWork

WorldatWork Total Rewards Conference & Exhibition 2007
in Florida on May 6, 2007
presented by WorldatWork

Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

PBGC Assumes Pension Plan Of Republic Storage Systems
(Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC))

ERISA Advisory Council To Hold November 2006 Meetings
(U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA))

Transamerica Adds Record Number of Investment Options
(Transamerica Retirement Services)

NCOA's BenefitsCheckUp Now Allows Automatic Filing for Medicare Extra Help and Other Needed Benefits
(National Council on Aging (NCOA))

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Investment Retirement Plan Representative
for NE Pennsylvania Financial Services Company
in PA

ERISA Attorney
for Pentegra Retirement Service
in NY

Vice President and Associate General Counsel
for Fidelity Investments
in MA

Benefit Administrator
for RSM McGladrey
in IL

Senior Project Manager
for Wachovia
in NC

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