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October 31, 2006
Today's sponsor: Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

(Click on company name or banner to learn more.)
Banner ad for Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

Record Retention Requirements for Health & Welfare Plans

In Record Retention Requirements for Health & Welfare Plans, EBIA's experts analyze record retention requirements for ERISA health and welfare plans as well as other employer-provided health and welfare benefits not subject to ERISA. You'll find answers to your record retention questions for many benefits including cafeteria plans, DCAPs, qualified transportation plans, HSAs, group health plans (like major medical, dental, health FSAs, and HRAs), and other ERISA benefits.

Record Retention Requirements for Health & Welfare Plans is available now at the introductory price of $195.
Please enter priority code BL195. For more information and to order, visit http://www.ebia.com/OtherOfferings/Books/RecordRetention.


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

More Companies Encourage Increased Use of Generic Medications
Excerpt: "A 'growing number' of U.S. companies of 'are trying harder to push generic [prescription] drugs on their employees,' as generic medications often cost 80% less than their brand-name equivalents, the Wall Street Journal reports." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Tax Laws in a Few States Still Don't Jibe with Federal HSA Rules
Excerpt: "On Jan. 1, 2004 -- the day health savings account-based health plans became available -- tax laws in 17 states included 'structural impediments' that made it difficult to pair a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) with an HSA. That list has since been whittled down to just four: Alabama, Wisconsin, New Jersey and California." (AISHealth.com)

Bush Signs Appropriations Bill that Contains Tricare Provisions Affecting Group Health Plans
Excerpt: "[T]his legislation may raise some issues for cafeteria plans with cash-out options for employees who decline the employer-sponsored health coverage. The legislators have directed the Secretary of Defense to provide recommendations on cafeteria plan issues by April 1, 2007." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Sixth Circuit Applies Futility Exception to Enforce Consistency in Claims Review
Excerpt: "In Dozier v. Sun Life Assur. Co. of Can.ada, the Sixth Circuit precluded a life and disability carrier from requiring exhaustion of administrative remedies when the grounds for one claim denial was substantially similar (and in fact, more stringent) than the claim for the second benefit." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)

Employer Might Have Been Plan Administrator Even Though Plan Designated Committee Administrator
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: Given the statute of limitations holding, the court did not have to decide who was responsible for the COBRA notices. Nevertheless, we report this case because we continue to see courts in certain circuits entertain the notion that an employer can be a 'de facto' plan administrator even in situations where another entity is the designated plan administrator." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

HIPAA Compliance: So-So and Stalling
Excerpt: "Overall, compliance with HIPAA requirements is lackluster, with the number of health care providers saying they are fully compliant with transaction rules actually falling, according to the latest biannual survey from Phoenix Health Systems, a consulting firm, and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society." (Ziff Davis Internet via eWEEK.com)

New Interactive Website Uses Q&A Format to Help Employers Comply with Health Plan Requirements
Excerpt: "The website covers COBRA, HIPAA (portability), the Newborns' and Mothers' Health Protection Act, the Mental Health Parity Act, and the Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act, all of which are federal health benefits laws contained in Title I of ERISA. (The website also contains an employee section that provides general information on health benefit laws and is designed to assist employees and their family members in understanding their rights and responsibilities.)" (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Baptist Health Will Give Preferential Treatment to Suppliers Offering Health Insurance to Workers
Excerpt: "Baptist Health already gives preference to local suppliers, and this new policy would simply add health insurance to that preference. The system's board of trustees is expected to approve the policy at its next meeting, scheduled for Thursday night." (The Miami Herald; one-time registration required)

Ford, Chrysler, General Motors To Ask Congress for Legislation To Help with Health Care Costs
Excerpt: "The big three U.S. automakers, which reported steep losses in the third quarter, will not seek a bailout from the federal government and instead will ask Congress to focus on legislation that would relieve their health care costs, among other legislative priorities, CQ Today reports." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Health Insurance Coverage: Protecting Chronically Ill in a World of Consumer-Directed Insurance
Excerpt: "How might the chronically ill be safeguarded in a world of high-deductible, 'consumer-directed' health insurance? During an October 2005 roundtable, cosponsored by Health Affairs and the California HealthCare Foundation, some answers were provided by two dozen leaders from the insurance, clinical, purchaser, consumer, and regulatory communities." (Health Affairs Blog)

Opinion: What Are the Forecast & Desires for Health Employee Benefits in the 110th Congress?
Excerpt: "First, I would warn you not to jump to conclusions & assumptions, such as that single-payer insurance is inevitable if a certain party or certain individuals get power. One of the earliest lessons I learned is that, unlike most issues in Congress, employee benefits have no natural enemies; no party or wing is out to kill employee benefits. However, employee benefits have no natural reliable friends. " (Frederick D. Hunt, Jr. of the Society of Professional Benefit Administrators)

Opinion: Healthy Skepticism for the Most Recent Massachusetts Health Care Experiment
Excerpt: "By July, all residents will be legally required to have health insurance -- a so-called 'individual mandate.' The bill's sponsors believe that the uninsured can buy their way out of their predicament. As doctors in an urban hospital, we are not optimistic about this proposal. We care for uninsured and underinsured patients who often lack the resources to eat well or find proper child care, much less to buy insurance. The individual mandate is another ill-fated Band-Aid." (Physicians for a National Health Program)

Overview: Feds Fine Tune HSA Guidance
Excerpt: "A bank that handles an employer's health savings account program should not reward the employer by giving the employer a discount on another product." (National Underwriter Life & Health; free one-time registration or paid subscription required)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Executive Compensation: Severance Arrangements -- A Road Map of Issues
Excerpt: "Senior executive severance arrangements frequently involve a variety of economic and legal issues. [This] column discusses these issues in the context of what is customarily called a termination by the employer without 'cause.'" (New York Law Journal Online)

HR Policy Says SEC Disclosure of Pay of 3 Additional Employees Provides No Benefits, Excessive Costs (PDF)
10 pages. Excerpt: "[B]ased on a survey on the effects of the revised proposal, the Association believes that the proposal will not provide information useful to investors and would impose an undue administrative burden on large issuers relative to the information generated. For these reasons, we recommend that the SEC not pursue the proposal further." (HR Policy Association)

Research Project Abstract: The Effects of Health Insurance and Self-Insurance on Retirement Behavior
Excerpt: "To assess the role of Medicare and employer-provided health insurance in determining retirement, [the authors] will estimate and analyze a dynamic programming model of saving and retirement that accounts for uncertain medical expenses, Social Security, and social insurance." (Regents of the University of Michigan)

Overview on Backdating and Springloading Stock Options (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "Although backdating has received most of the press coverage, companies may risk violations by springloading options. Springloading occurs when a company issues or records an option grant immediately before the release of news that causes the value of the company's shares to rise, or immediately after the release of negative news. While backdating raises tax, accounting, and fraud issues, among others, springloading can lead to charges of insider information abuse." (Troutman Sanders LLP)

Research Project Abstract: Estimating the Health Effects of Changes in Retirement Age
Excerpt: "[The authors] propose to estimate the magnitude of any direct effect of retirement on health. . . . Results can be helpful in understanding the possible effects of changing Social Security's retirement ages." (Regents of the University of Michigan)

2006 Equity Stake Report from Compensation Consultants Pearl Meyer & Partners Shows Awards Dropping
Excerpt: "Leading US companies trimmed corporate overhang for a third straight year to a median of 12.9% of common shares outstanding, the lowest total stock level since 2001, according to a new study." (PLANSPONSOR.com; one-time registration required)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Advanced Pension Conference - Chicago
in Illinois on September 5, 2007
presented by SunGard Corbel

Pharmacy Benefits: Strategies for Controlling Benefit Costs Teleweb
Nationwide on November 16, 2006
presented by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

IRS Seeks Applications for TE/GE Advisory Committee
(Internal Revenue Service (IRS))


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Retirement Plan Writer
for The Capital Group Companies
in CA

Research and Technical Advisor
for Technical Answer Group
in ANY STATE

Disbursement Services Associate
for Administrative Systems, Inc.
in CA, NV, OR, WA

Defined Contribution Plan Peer Reviewer
for The Angell Pension Group, Inc.
in RI

Retirement Services Client Relationship Manager
for Gallagher Benefit Services
in TX

Pension Administrator
for Pension Dynamics Corporation
in CA

Defined Benefit Software Customer Support
for DATAIR Employee Benefit Systems, Inc.
in IL

Defined Contribution Software Customer Support
for DATAIR Employee Benefit Systems, Inc.
in IL




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