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October 30, 2006
Today's sponsor: Financial Research Associates, LLC

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January 24th - 25th, 2007 The Paris Hotel, Las Vegas, NV- Our primary mission is to help employers, health benefits firms, and financial services firms develop and implement the right products at the right time in order to lower healthcare costs and motivate employee and plan participant behavior.

(Please visit our sponsors. We try to make sure their products and services will be of interest to you. Thanks! --Editor)

Text of DOL EBSA Field Bulletin 2006-02 on ERISA Aspects of Health Savings Accounts (PDF)
5 pages. Excerpt: "In the absence of an employee's affirmative consent, may an employer open an HSA for an employee and deposit employer funds into the HSA without violating the condition in [an earlier field assistance bulletin] that requires that the establishment of an HSA by an employee be 'completely voluntary'? . . . [Answer:] Yes." (Employee Benefits Security Administration, U.S. Department of Labor)

Overview: EBSA Issues 2nd Field Assistance Bulletin on HSA Guidance
Excerpt: "Federal officials on [October 27] distributed their second round of regulatory guidance about how to deal with legal issues regarding health savings accounts (HSAs)." (; one-time registration required)

Overview: Tax Law Change Affects Taxation of Proceeds from Employer-Owned Life Insurance
Excerpt: "The Pension Protection Act of 2006 (the 'Act') changes the tax treatment of the death proceeds of certain employer-owned life insurance on the lives of employees and former employees." (Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC)

Still a Work in Progress, HIPAA Celebrates a Decade of Protections
Excerpt: "Designed to improve the portability of health coverage, increase the privacy and security of health care information, and reduce health care costs by standardizing the processing of health care transactions, HIPAA sought to bring consistency and standardization to the patchwork of state laws affecting health care portability, privacy, security and administrative procedures." (Memphis Business Journal)

Opinion: Intensive Treatment of Every Patient is the Elephant in the Operating Room
Excerpt: "The main reason U.S. costs are relatively so high is because U.S. doctors and hospitals treat each patient so intensively, using more higher-priced services and more tests than anywhere else in the world (resulting, of course, in higher incomes than elsewhere for physicians, hospital administrators, and insurers)." (The Century Foundation)

Washington Health Policy Week in Review
In this issue of selected stories from the daily newsletter, CQ HealthBeat, from the week of October 23, 2006, are the following titles: Love that Health Care, Hate the Cost; Study Finds Evidence Mixed on Consumer-Directed Health Plans; Study: More Data Collection Needed to Improve Medicare's Racial Gaps; Study Finds No Pattern of Cost, Quality Difference Across Outpatient Surgery Settings; and, Medicare Handbook Misleads Seniors About Private Plan Costs, Democrats Charge. (The Commonwealth Fund)

The Role of Consumer Copayments for Health Care: Lessons from RAND Health Insurance Experiment (PDF)
18 pages. Excerpt: "The appropriate level of cost sharing for patients remains a key issue in designing both private and public health insurance. A new report . . . by the Kaiser Family Foundation reviews the landmark RAND Health Insurance Experiment from the 1970s to offer insights into current policy debates about appropriate cost-sharing levels." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Humana Breaking New Ground with Healthmiles Program
Excerpt: "'The underlying premise of the HealthMiles Plus program is that if you play racquetball, tennis, if you're involved in any kind of activity along a continuum all the way from walking the dog to running marathons, you're going to have the opportunity to earn miles or points that you can convert into cash,' says Steve Cindrich, marketing director for Humana Individual Products." (San Antonio Business Journal via; one-time registration required)

Survey Shows Workers Clueless About Employer Pandemic Flu Plans
Excerpt: "According to a new survey, many Americans remain clueless about their employer's plans to cope with a serious pandemic flu outbreak. A news release from the Boston-based Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) said the survey found that (19%) of respondents were aware of any plan at their office to deal with such a pandemic flu problem." (; one-time registration required)

Best Health Plans 2006
Excerpt: "This year's rankings of commercial, Medicare, and Medicaid HMOs and POS plans show useful information about most of America's larger plans as well as the majority of the nation's smaller ones." (U.S. News & World Report)

State Health Insurance Index 2006: A 50-State Comparison of the Nation's Health Insurance Market (PDF)
6 pages. Excerpt: "Purpose of the Index. CAHI's 2006 State Health Insurance Index provides a snapshot of the health insurance environment in each state [--] Which states provide a dynamic, competitive market for health insurance, where consumers have a wide range of affordable options? And which states undermine their markets so that consumers have few health insurance options, and what is available is very expensive?" (Council for Affordable Health Insurance)

Electronic Health Information Systems, Uniform Data Reporting Are Keys To Health Care Reform
Excerpt from Spencer's Benefits Reports: 'The national strategy for health care is focused on building a value-based system with four interconnected cornerstones, HHS Secretary Michael O. Leavitt told participants at the Midwest Business Group on Health Learning Network monthly session in mid-October. The session addressed the topic of The Impact of Consumerism, Transparency, & Quality on Employers' Health Benefits: A Crucial Review of Today's Federal & State Health Policy." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)

Spitzer Weighs In on Adoptee Health Coverage
Excerpt: "Officials in the [New York attorney general's] office say they have persuaded Oxford Health Plans, a unit of UnitedHealth Group Inc., Minnetonka, Minn., to enroll members' adopted children in the members' health plans as soon as the children become dependents, regardless of whether the children live in the United States." (National Underwriter Life & Health; free one-time registration or paid subscription required)

It's Fall and Open Enrollment Season -- Do You Know Where Your Benefits Are?
Excerpt: "[A]utumn is when companies open up enrollment for employee benefits like health care and 401(k) plans. That may force you to ponder how your current health plan will handle that next elective surgery, whether you have enough life insurance to cover funeral costs, and whether you are saving enough for a basic retirement when your lawyer-brother is already tanning away his golden years in Bal Harbour." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Opinion: Medicare for All Is a Smart Decision for Business World
Excerpt: "The universal health care movement seeks a practical way to solve the health care needs of all Americans. Because the business of America is business, and with apologies to the Letterman staff, here are the top five reasons the business community should care about expanding the federal Medicare program for seniors and those who are disabled to provide Medicare for All . . . ." (Times Union via Physicians for a National Health Program)

Unscheduled Employee Absenteeism Reaches Seven-Year High, According to CCH Survey
Excerpt: "The Associated Press reports that the survey of 326 human resources executives across the US, conducted by Harris Interactive, revealed an unscheduled absenteeism rate of 2.5%, up from 2.3% last year, and the highest since the 2.7% rate recorded in 1999." (; one-time registration required)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Year-End Checkup for Benefit Plans (PDF)
Excerpt: "This Alert will help identify general year-end administrative and planning issues that could lead to compliance or employee relations problems if not addressed before, or early in, 2007. In addition, [Aon has] highlighted recent legislative or regulatory developments that may require plan design changes, particularly issues to think about in response to the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA)." (Aon Consulting)

Research Project Abstract: Managing the Risk of Life
Excerpt: "This project . . . will advance our understanding of individuals' financial decisions by introducing the important aspect of risk-aversion with respect to the length of life. We will apply the new framework to Social Security claiming behavior and annuity decisions and extend the analysis to portfolio choice and life insurance holdings." (Regents of the University of Michigan)

Stock Option Backdating Scandal Could Grow, According to Report
Excerpt: "The stock options timing scandal, which has already implicated at least 140 companies, could include hundreds more, according to a new analysis that found lax enforcement of corporate governance reforms that should have prevented the practice." (Washington Post; one-time registration required)

Dodging Taxes Is a New Stock Options Scheme
Excerpt: "Securities regulators are now focusing on several cases where it appears the exercise dates of the options were backdated, according to a senior S.E.C. enforcement official, who asked not to be identified because of the agency's policy of not commenting on active cases. Besides raising disclosure and accounting problems, backdating an exercise date can result in tax fraud." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

401(k) Plans: Beyond the Basics - NEW 2-Day Program!
Nationwide on November 1, 2006
presented by SunGard Corbel

401(k) Plans: Beyond the Basics - NEW 2-Day Program!
in Massachusetts on November 15, 2006
presented by SunGard Corbel

401(k) Plans: Beyond the Basics - NEW 2-Day Program!
in Kansas on November 29, 2006
presented by SunGard Corbel

Automatic Enrollment: Is It Appropriate For Your Clients?
Nationwide on February 8, 2007
presented by McKay Hochman Co., Inc.

ERISA Workshop - With Significant Coverage of PPA 2006
in Wisconsin on November 15, 2006
presented by SunGard Corbel

ERISA Workshop - With Significant Coverage of PPA 2006
in Michigan on November 15, 2006
presented by SunGard Corbel

ERISA Workshop - With Significant Coverage of PPA 2006
in New York on November 16, 2006
presented by SunGard Corbel

Fourth Quarter 2006 Update
Nationwide on November 20, 2006
presented by McKay Hochman Co., Inc.

In-Service Withdrawals From Qualified Plans
Nationwide on November 15, 2006
presented by McKay Hochman Co., Inc.

Pension Law - 2006
in California on January 17, 2007
presented by McKay Hochman Co., Inc.

Plan Design Workshop
in New York on November 29, 2006
presented by SunGard Corbel

Plan Design Workshop
in Illinois on November 30, 2006
presented by SunGard Corbel

Tax Deductions after PPA: Cruising on the 404
Nationwide on November 1, 2006
presented by American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA)

Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Report Examines Cost-Sharing Lessons From RAND Health Insurance Experiment
(Kaiser Family Foundation)

Employee Benefits Security Administration Releases Second Field Assistance Bulletin on Health Savings Accounts
(U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA))

U.S. Labor Department Finalizes Amendment On Securities Lending Exemption
(U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA))

Morningstar's Ibbotson Unit Announces Retirement Income Patent
(Morningstar, Inc.)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Pension Administrator
for Primark Benefits
in CA

Compliance Manager
for Associated Pension Consultants
in CA

Compliance Analyst
for The Newport Group
in FL

401(k) Qualified Plan Administrator
for Carroll Enterprises, Inc.
in MA

Relationship Manager
for MassMutual Financial Group
in AZ, CA, CO, ID, MT, NM, NV, OR, TX, UT, WA, WY

Cafeteria Plan Administrator
for ERISA Services, Inc.
in TN

401(k) Administrator
for Fast Growing Company in the Inland Empire, CA

Senior Benefits Consultant
for Freddie Mac
in VA

Document Specialist
in CO

Senior Plan Consultant
for July Business Services
in TX

Senior Consultant - Non-Discrimination Testing
for Fidelity Investments
in KY

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