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November 20, 2006
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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)

Big Employers Pin Down Benefits Costs, According to Survey
Excerpt: "Researchers at the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers, Washington, asked benefits brokers about rates for small accounts with 50 or fewer employees, medium accounts to 51 to 500 employees, and large accounts with 501 or more employees. This year, 23% of the small accounts, 44% of the midsize accounts and 60% of the large accounts are enjoying falling health insurance prices, flat prices or increases of less than 10%, according to the CIAB." (National Underwriter Life & Health; free registration or paid subscription required)

Geography & the FMLA: 10th Circuit & the Case of Hackworth v. Progressive Casualty Insurance Co.
Excerpt: "[A] provision of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) . . . requires a covered employer to have 50 employees within a 75 mile radius. [How is that 75 miles measured?]" (Workplace Prof Blog)

Say Goodbye to the Day-After-Thanksgiving Holiday, New Jersey Governor Says
Excerpt: "Starting next year, state employees in New Jersey will not automatically get the day after Thanksgiving off, a decades-old tradition. Instead, Gov. Jon S. Corzine says that such breaks should be negotiated through collective bargaining or authorized by the Legislature, according to an executive order issued on Friday." (The New York Times; free registration required)

New Hampshire Retirement System: Insurance Subsidy Debated As Medical Cost Inflation Mounts
Excerpt: "In 1983, the New Hampshire Retirement System had so much money in its pension funds that the Legislature created a 'special account' to absorb investment revenues that exceeded projections. Over the years, that fund has been tapped for cost-of-living increases for pensioners and, more recently, medical subsidies to help retirees pay for health insurance." (UnionLeader.com)

OMB to Grade Federal Agencies on Health IT Interoperability Plans
Excerpt: "Agencies must finalize plans by Jan. 1 on how they will incorporate health IT standards and quality metrics in their contracts, said Karen Evans, the Office of Management and Budget's administrator for e-government and IT." (Government Computer News)

Electronic Medical Records Use May Rise
Excerpt: "[F]ederal officials last month paved the way for hospitals to come to the rescue, allowing them to donate medical record systems to physician practices to blunt some of the financial bite. In addition, those inside the industry recently agreed on technology standards that allow software from different companies to share data, taking some of the fear out of the purchasing decision." (AP via The New York Times; free registration required)

Rising Costs Make HMOs Less Popular
Excerpt: "Today consumers are bailing out of HMOs in record numbers as their costs have risen as fast as other high-deductible health insurance plans that offer more doctor choices and services." (South Florida Sun-Sentinel via Insurance NewsNet)

Working Paper Abstract: Health Insurance as a Two-Part Pricing Contract
Excerpt: "Monopolies appear throughout health care markets, as a result of patents, limits to the extent of the market, or the presence of unique inputs and skills. In the health care industry, however, the deadweight costs of monopoly may be small or even absent. Health insurance, frequently implemented as an ex ante premium coupled with an ex post co-payment per unit consumed, effectively operates as a two-part pricing contract." (National Bureau of Economic Research; paid subscription or individual purchase required to retrieve full text)

National Survey of Households Affected by Cancer
Excerpt: "This USA Today/Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard School of Public Health National Survey provides an in-depth examination of how families cope with cancer and highlights problems of health insurance and health care costs through the lens of those who have experienced this major illness. [The target page has links to the USA TODAY series of articles, the news release, the survey summary and chartpack, and the toplines.]" (USA Today/Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard School of Public Health)

Insurance Survey Signals Possible Slowdown in Trend That Shifts Medical Charges to Employees
Excerpt: "Employers predicted that insurance costs will rise 6.1 percent in Connecticut and nationwide for 2007, according to the annual survey by consulting firm Mercer Health & Benefits LLC." (The Hartford Courant; free registration required)

Report Highlights State Residents' Opinion of Massachusetts Health Insurance Law
Excerpt: "'The Massachusetts Health Reform Law: Public Opinion and Perception' . . . surveys Massachusetts residents' opinions of the state's new health insurance mandate six months after it was passed." (Kaiser Family Foundation)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

The Aging Workforce: Challenge or Opportunity? (PDF)
10 pages. Excerpt: "Stated briefly, the research suggests organizations that adhere to the conventional wisdom about older workers -- specifically, the notion that older workers are more expensive and less productive than younger groups -- may miss a critical opportunity to maximize their talent base." (WorldatWork via Towers Perrin)

Overview of ERISA Plan Information Requests: 'Who Is Entitled To Request Plan Information?'
Excerpt: "The treatment of this issue [is] taken up in three parts, as follows: 1. Who is a participant or beneficiary? 2. When may third parties advance statutory claims for participants or beneficiaries? and 3. Who are the proper parties to whom such requests must be directed?" (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)

Employee Fired for Plan Inquiry Awarded Damages
Excerpt: "The US District Court for the District of Minnesota has awarded damages and attorney's fees to a former Midwest Telephone Sales & Service, Inc. employee who claimed she was fired for questioning her employer about company match contributions for her SIMPLE IRA plan account." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)

Caregivers Tap Retirement and Other Sources to Cover Expenses
Excerpt: "According to a John Hancock news release, 15% of those polled admitted to using money they had set aside for retirement to help cover care giving expenses. Other responses to a question about funding the caregiving activities included: 27% used money set aside for immediate goals such as a new car or vacation. 13% used current income/money out of pocket. 12% gave up a job to care for them . 7% used savings." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)

Same-Sex Domestic Partner Benefits -- Current Legal and Plan Drafting Issues (PDF)
Excerpt: "Recent events around the country have brought same-sex domestic partnerships to the forefront of many states' and localities' legislative agendas. Wrapped up with this focus on same-sex domestic partnership issues are the federal, state, and local laws that govern many of the employee benefits provided by employers to their employees. With the legal landscape constantly changing, plan sponsors are frequently asking what, if any, steps they should take . . . ." (Groom Law Group)

Meeting the Challenges of Drafting a Compensation Discussion and Analysis
Excerpt: "This article tries to provide an easily digestible summary of the rules, along with Watson Wyatt's perspective on elements that should appear in the CD&A. We also discuss whether to disclose performance goals in the proxy and, for companies that decide not to explicitly disclose these goals, how to describe them." (Watson Wyatt Worldwide)

The SEC's New Executive Compensation Rules: Compensation Discussion and Analysis (PDF)
7 pages. Excerpt: "The final rules include a list of six matters that must be discussed in the CD however, we, along with a number of other securities lawyers, recommend that a company begin preparing the CD&A by focusing on main principles rather than using the list of six matters as a checklist to draft the CD&A." (Gardner Carton & Douglas LLP)

Non-Employee Director Compensation at the 100 Largest NASDAQ & New York Stock Exchange Companies (PDF)
20 pages. Excerpt: "This year's study continues to monitor how director compensation programs are responding to the changes in the complexity and accountability of the role and the environment in which directors operate." (Frederic W. Cook & Co., Inc.)

Knowing Your Retirement and Health Plans Can Help Avert Disaster
Excerpt: "Savvy employees are proactive in monitoring their benefits." (Pamela Yip via The Dallas Morning News; free registration required)

Preliminary Legislative and Public Policy Outlook for the 110th Congress, 2007-2008 -- Health Care (PDF)
Pages 7-8 of 17 pages. Excerpt: "The purpose of this advisory is to provide clients with a snapshot of the key issues that we believe are likely to appear on the new congressional policy agenda in January, and to provide context for those issues given the change in political control." (Alston & Bird LLP)

Overview: Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program
Excerpt: "Eligibility for the program is limited to employers who have not been notified in writing that they have failed to timely file an annual report. In addition, program eligibility is limited to plans subject to Title I of ERISA. Thus, employers filing Form 5500-EZ are not eligible." (McKay Hochman Co., Inc.)

Written Comments Submitted for the Record on H.R. 6264, the 'Tax Technical Corrections Act of 2006'
Excerpt: "On Friday, September 29, 2006, Chairman Thomas introduced H.R. 6264, the 'Tax Technical Corrections Act of 2006.' The legislation contains technical corrections needed with respect to recently enacted tax legislation. . . . Although the Tax Technical Corrections Act of 2006 does not include any technical corrections to the Pension Protection Act of 2006, [the committee is] interested in receiving any proposals for technical corrections to this important legislation.'" (U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Ways and Means)

Prevalence of Long-Term and Stock-Based Grant Practices for Executives at the 250 Largest Companies (PDF)
34 pages. Excerpt: "[I]t appears that long-term incentive practices for executives are starting to stabilize, based on recent Frederic W. Cook & Co. research on practices at the 250 largest U.S. companies. Key findings from the Frederic W. Cook & Co. 2006 Top 250 report include the following: The prevalence of long-term incentive grant types continue to change (including a shift away from stock options towards restricted stock and performance awards), but at a slower pace than last year." (Frederic W. Cook & Co., Inc.)


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401(k) Administrator
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in NY

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