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November 8, 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.
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)

Experts Clarify HRA and HSA Rules for Domestic Partners and Spouses
Excerpt: "A quirk in the rules that govern health savings accounts allow a non-tax-dependent domestic partner -- covered by an employee's high-deductible health plan (HDHP) -- to open a separate HSA to cover medical expenses and to contribute up to the annual deductible amount. For domestic partners, the combined contribution in the two HSAs could be double what a married couple can legally contribute." (INSIDE CONSUMER-DIRECTED CARE via AISHealth.com)

Ironwood City Ordinance Would Stop Hoarding of Vacation and Sick Time
Excerpt: "The ordinance involves how sick leave and vacation time are calculated in retirement plans. Employees hired after July 1 of this year would no longer be entitled to accrued sick leave and vacation time . . . ." (Ironwood Daily Globe)

New York City Looks at Workers' Health Costs
Excerpt: "After announcing a tentative contract with the teachers' union late Monday, the Bloomberg administration signaled yesterday that its next major negotiating goal was to achieve savings on health coverage for 300,000 municipal workers." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Aligning Online Personal Records with Consumer-Driven Health Care
Excerpt: "Personal health records are modernizing medical recordkeeping by allowing consumers to go online to create, organize and control records about their health history." (Employee Benefit News)

Overview: Electronic Distribution of Medicare Part D Creditable Coverage Disclosure Notice
Excerpt: "CMS guidance permits plans flexibility to . . . distribute creditable coverage disclosure notices electronically. But the process is more involved than simply adding the disclosure notice to a pile of materials, posting it to a Web site, or attaching it to an e-mail. Some special planning and preparation is required [before the November 14 deadline]." (Deloitte)

Empowered Consumers Should Take Charge of Health Care Records
Excerpt: "The coming age of health care consumerism might just actually empower employees to embrace the emerging area of personal health care records management, and benefit professionals are expertly positioned to help wield their influence." (Employee Benefit News)

Employers Promoting Health Technologies
Excerpt: "If you've been longing for the day when you could receive your prescription via email, print it out from home or the office, and get it filled shortly thereafter, then hold tight - that day might soon be coming. Continua Health Alliance, a coalition that promotes interoperable personal health and medical devices, is gathering benefit managers from its member organizations to test e-health initiatives and create telehealth networks." (BenefitNews Connect)

Toyota's Health Cost Cure: A Clinic at the Plant Site
Excerpt: "In designing its newest plant, in San Antonio, Toyota is trying to tackle the problem by building a clinic at the factory to provide a wider array of treatments and services than a typical factory medical office. The workers at the San Antonio pickup plant can have their eyes checked and their teeth repaired at the $9 million clinic, which also offers pediatric services, laboratory tests and physical therapy." (The Detroit News)

Medical Claims 'Mined' to Find Fraud
Excerpt: "Borrowing techniques from financial and credit services, Medicare and private health insurers are increasingly 'mining' claims data for suspicious patterns, comparing practitioners with their peers and larger databases of claims." (USA TODAY)

Overview: Kaiser Family Foundation Releases Comprehensive Health Care in America Survey
Excerpt: "[T]he survey as a whole reveals Americans' conflicting and contradictory opinions about the current state of this country's health care and health insurance systems -- and how those systems might be changed in the future." (Deloitte)

Many Seniors Turn to More Affordable Option to Supplement Medicare
Excerpt: "Seniors have usually turned to 'Medigap' insurance policies to supplement Medicare. But a growing number have found what they say is a more affordable option, 'Medicare Advantage' plans." (The Dallas Morning News; one-time registration required)

Overview: 2007 Mileage Rate for Transportation for Medical Care
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: Transportation expenses that are deductible medical expenses under Code Section 213 generally can be paid or reimbursed on a tax-free basis by a health FSA, HRA, or HSA." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Overview of Medicare Part D for Plan Sponsors (PDF)
8 pages. (Milliman)

Small Businesses Can Benefit from Wellness Initiatives
Excerpt: "'I think that market segment [small business] is really challenged to offer good and affordable health and welfare benefits,' he says. In fact, some small employers 'are saying, I can't afford to do the carrot, so I'm going to do the stick' and punish workers for unhealthy behaviors." (Employee Benefit News)

Opinion: Families USA and Health Care Reform
Excerpt: "Back in the day when there was some vague interest from Democrats in fixing our health care system, a kindly millionaire gave a pile of money to a lobbying pressure group that had quite some influence behind the ill-fated Clinton Health Plan. Not too much has been heard since from Families USA and its leader Ron Pollack. Sadly, those of us of a certain age felt that its day in the sun had come and gone." (Matthew Holt, Spot on Blog via Physicians for a National Health Program)

Overview: More DOL Guidance on Health Savings Accounts and ERISA
Excerpt: "The DOL's latest guidance on HSAs as ERISA plans, FAB No. 2006-02, focuses on the employer's role in setting up HSAs for employees, selecting the HSA trustee, and the rules and limitations the trustee can place on the HSA. Following is a summary of the key points of the DOL's guidance." (Deloitte)

Overview: New DOL Guidance on HSAs and ERISA
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: While the new DOL guidance provides some welcome answers to recurring questions about HSAs and ERISA, some uncertainties remain. For example, it is unclear whether an employer's ability to establish HSAs for employees without triggering ERISA would apply when cafeteria plan salary reduction contributions are made by 'negative election.'" (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

What Employers Should Know to Avoid an ERISA Application to an HSA
Excerpt: "With the increase in Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), the Department of Labor has seen an increase in questions. As a result, the DOL recently issued Field Assistance Bulletin (FAB) 2006-02, which clarifies the Department's prior guidance (FAB 2004-01) on how employers can avoid ERISA application to HSAs made available to employees who participate in high deductible health plans (HDHPs)." (Infinisource, Inc.)

EBSA Issues Additional ERISA/HSA Guidance
Excerpt from Spencer's Benefits Reports: 'The Department of Labor's Employee Benefit Security Administration (EBSA) issued Field Assistance Bulletin 2006-02, which amplifies the information in a 2004 bulletin and provides additional guidance on many of the frequently asked questions regarding health savings accounts (HSAs) and ERISA." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Human Resources Going Virtual with Online Benefits Fairs
Excerpt: "When employees log on to the site, they take a virtual tour of the company's program, selecting at their leisure what they'd like to read up on. They can virtually leave their business card or contact information to enter any drawings for prizes, or to request follow-up information from a human resource official." (Employee Benefit News)

G.ay Union Debate Spreads to Northern Mexico State
Excerpt: "Mexico's northern border state of Coahuila is considering a law to allow homose.xual civil unions, just days before Mexico City could legalize g.ay partnerships for the first time in the world's second-biggest Catholic nation. . . . The law would give g.ay couples pension, property and other rights but falls short of allowing them to adopt children." (Reuters via The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Overview: Changes to Form 8-K Take Effect November 7, 2006 (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "[T]he Securities and Exchange Commission ('SEC') adopted changes to Form 8-K related to the disclosure of executive and director compensatory arrangements. These revised requirements are applicable for Form 8-K triggering events occurring on or after November 7, 2006. The four business day filing deadline remains unchanged." (Gardner Carton & Douglas LLP)

Democrats Take Control of House, Changing Labor and Benefits Oversight Dynamics
Excerpt: "As Democrats gained a majority of seats in the House late Tuesday night, with Senate leadership still in the balance, federal employee groups and industry associations were preparing to tilt their strategies toward a more labor-friendly 110th Congress." (GovExec.com)

EBN/Forrester Research 2006 Benefits Strategy & Technology Study Examines Portal Penetration & Usage
Excerpt: "This year's Employee Benefit News/Forrester Research 2006 Benefits Strategy and Technology Study reveals that approximately one-third of U.S. employers offer portals to their employees. While this overall percentage has not changed significantly in the past year, companies of different sizes adopt employee portals at different rates and for different business reasons." (Employee Benefit News)

Consider Boomer Subgroup When Targeting Communication
Excerpt: "To help marketers more accurately target the baby boomer generation, the market research firm of Chadwick Martin Bailey (CMB), in conjunction with Arnold Worldwide, concluded a study by identifying five distinct subgroups of boomers." (PLANSPONSOR.com; one-time registration required)

In Italy, New Rules May Increase Tax on Many Stock Option Plans
Excerpt: "New rules the Italian government has approved will require many employees to pay more tax on stock options. The difference between the exercise price and the normal market value of the shares will be taxed at the capital gains rate, rather than the higher income tax rate, only if a number of conditions are met." (Watson Wyatt Worldwide)

Benefits Costs Outpace Salaries, Says BLS Report
Excerpt from Spencer's Benefits Reports: 'Benefits costs rose more quickly than salaries for the period June 2006 to September 2006, according to the most recent Employment Cost Index from the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This continues a trend broken only once in the last five years, when in June 2006 benefits costs rose less quickly than salaries." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

2007 Benefits Fair and Trade Show
in Massachusetts on May 23, 2007
presented by New England Employee Benefits Council

Ask the Experts: Open Enrollment for Medicare Part D
Nationwide on November 14, 2006
presented by Kaiser Family Foundation

The Pension Protection Act of 2006 From the Tax Practitioner's Perspective
Nationwide on November 10, 2006
presented by CCH Incorporated


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Free Online Service from NCOA Helps Caregivers Identify and Claim benefits
(National Council on Aging (NCOA))


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Sales Manager (Disability) Life Insurance
for BISYS Life Insurance
in CA

Relationship Manager
for Fidelity Investments
in MA

Employee Benefits Marketing Coordinator
for Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)
in WA

Benefits Program Manager
for Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina
in NC

Administrative Assistant / Data Input Clerk
for Creative Benefit Strategies, Inc.
in OH

Pension Consultant
for CDM, a Leading TPA Firm
in MD

ERISA Attorney
for Reid and Riege, P.C.
in CT




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