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November 28, 2006
Today's sponsor: Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

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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

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

More Vacation Time Comes at a Price
Excerpt: "What would you trade for an extra week off work? A few weeks of longer hours? A month of Saturdays? How about a pay cut? That's the deal Xerox Corp. recently offered employees when they enrolled for benefits. They could buy an extra week's vacation in 2007 by having a week's pay deducted over the course of the year, a trade-off that would trim their checks by about 2 percent." (Chicago Tribune; free registration required)

Overview: New San Francisco Ordinance Requiring Paid Sick Leave for Employees
Excerpt: "The passage of Proposition F, the 'Sick Leave Ordinance,' makes San Francisco the first city in the United States to require private-sector employers to provide paid sick leave for employees. The measure takes effect on February 5, 2007." (Thelen Reid & Priest LLP)

Year-End Bonus May Be a Memory, Replaced by Gift Cards and Performance-Based Awards
Excerpt: "'We're seeing the holiday bonuses disappear,' says Brian Drum, president of Drum Associates in New York. 'Thirty-five years ago, when I first dealt with a lot of companies that used to pay the so-called Christmas bonus, it was a gift. Today, as companies are becoming larger and consolidated, they are giving because it's performance-related.'" (The Christian Science Monitor)

Overview: IRS Expands on Qualified Transportation Fringe Benefits
Excerpt: "The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued Revenue Ruling 2006-57, announcing that smart cards and terminal-restricted debit cards are qualified transportation fringe benefits and, as such, are exempt from income tax." (; free registration required)

Unscheduled Absences Rise at U.S. Firms
Excerpt: "Two surveys show increases in unscheduled absenteeism rates at companies, and experts suggest paid-time-off banks may offer a partial solution. HR professionals should explore what's behind such a trend at their own companies." (Human Resource Executive Online; free registration required)

Employee's Qualifying Event Notice , Even If Inaccurate, Triggers Plan's Election Notice Obligation
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: As a practical matter, group health plans must take most qualifying event notices at face value, although an objection from the recipient of an election notice may require investigation." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Comments: Tenth Circuit Opinion Creates Split In Circuits In Standard of Review Decision
Excerpt: "In an important Tenth Circuit decision, the issue arose as to the proper standard of review to apply when a plan administrator delegates authority to a non-fiduciary third party claims administrator. In disagreement with the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the Tenth Circuit finds that delegation does not trigger de novo review." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)

Association's Oversight Keeps Union Health Care Costs Down
Excerpt: "Twin City Pipe Trades Service Association and the four Minnesota unions for which it provides administrative and benefits services have collectively kept premiums flat year over year without skimping on services." (Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal via; free registration required)

Comments on a Study Comparing Health Care Quality of Various Health Insurance Sources
Excerpt: "It is important to understand this study because it will be used by the opponents of government health insurance programs to 'prove' that private plans provide higher quality care and improved health care outcomes compared to government programs." (Annals of Internal Medicine via Physicians for a National Health Program)

Functional Requirements Needed for the Initial Definition of a Nationwide Health Information Network (PDF)
220 pages. Excerpt: "In developing the recommendations, it was important to bear in mind that a nationwide health information network is not a single entity, but will be a system of systems. NCVHS assumes a nationwide health information network will develop incrementally, and nothing in this report is intended to preclude such an incremental approach." (National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics)

Overview: Individual Health Insurance vs. Employee Coverage
Excerpt: "[E]mployee coverage has two big benefits you can't get with an individual plan: You generally can't get rejected because of your health, and most employers continue to subsidize a big chunk of the costs, covering 73% over the bill for family coverage, and 84% for singles." (The Kiplinger via Insurance NewsNet)

Health Care Premiums to Soar for Entertainers in California
Excerpt: "Cigna Corp., which has sold insurance to members of the entertainment industry through their professional associations for 25 years, is raising premiums for actors and others by an average of 82%, with some hikes as high as 254%." (Los Angeles Times via Physicians for a National Health Program)

Improving Tomorrow's Health Care with Today's Tools: A Conversation with Larry C. Glasscock
Excerpt: "WellPoint's CEO believes that innovative uses of current market tools can bring needed transformation to the U.S. health care system." (Health Affairs)

A Purchaser's Guide to Clinical Preventive Services: Moving Science into Coverage
Excerpt: "[T]he Purchaser's Guide translates clinical guidelines and medical evidence, providing large employers with the information they need to select, define, and implement preventive medical benefits such as colorectal cancer screening and tobacco use treatment." (National Business Group on Health)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Opens Model Employee Fitness Center
Excerpt: "The 16,000-square-foot center features a large light-filled training room and about $200,000 in equipment. That includes more than 70 strength-training and cardiovascular-priming machines, including eight treadmills, parked under television sets. And it's all free to employees. There's more: A 12-bike indoor cycling room flashes images of the Tour de France and other race courses. An aerobics room has seven Gravity Training System machines . . . ." (AP via The New York Times; free registration required)

California HealthCare Foundation: Health Care Reform a Priority for 2007, According to Governor
Excerpt: "Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is getting ready to inaugurate what he says will be 'the year of health care' in California. Over the next six weeks, the governor and a few hand-picked advisers will put the finishing touches on a long-awaited health care reform proposal." (Advisory Board Company)

Assessing the Impact of the Democratic Congressional Takeover on Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage (PDF)
6 pages. Excerpt: "Two issues are likely to be the top Democratic healthcare priorities in the new Congress: extending medical insurance to the uninsured and lowering prescription drug prices." (Aon Consulting)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Shareholder Equity Likely to Diminish Under New Benefits Accounting
Excerpt: "For decades, underfunded pensions, retiree health plans and other post-retirement employee benefits have been the hidden shame of American business -- exiled to little-read footnotes far away from the balance sheets, where their dodgy accounting couldn't embarrass their corporate sponsors." (The Seattle Times)

New Rules Will Force State Governments to Report Public Employee Retirement Costs
Excerpt: "The new rule, issued by the Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) in 2004, goes into effect on December 15th. It will require public-sector employers to treat their health-care promises to workers the same way they already handle their pension obligations: by reporting on the total size of their future commitment, instead of just this year's cost." (The Economist via

Portland Makes Plans After Voters Approve Fixing the City's Pension and Disability System
Excerpt: "Money for the Portland Fire and Police Disability and Retirement Fund now comes directly from property taxes. Under the reforms passed this month, the city would place employees hired after Jan. 1 in the Oregon Public Service Retirement Plan, which is funded through investments." (The Oregonian; free registration required)

Overview of ERISA Plan Information Requests: 'Who Is Entitled To Request Plan Information?'
Excerpt: "From the standpoint of the plan administrator, requests by third parties, if objectionable, should be met with an explanation of what is needed. Providing an authorization form, or at least offering to do so, would show good faith. Moreover, once an indication of legal representation is provided, the plan administrator would be wise to cooperate in providing plan information." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)

Early Retirement or Buyout Decision Time for Ford Workers
Excerpt: "Time is running out for 75,000 Ford Motor Co. production workers to make one of the biggest decisions they'll ever have to make: Whether to leave the company by taking buyout or early retirement offers. Ford, faced with lower demand for its products, is hoping that 25,000 to 30,000 workers will take one of eight packages by a Monday night deadline so it can reduce manufacturing capacity to better match demand." (AP via

Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

National Academy of Social Insurance's 19th Annual Conference: For the Common Good: What Role for Social Insurance?
in District of Columbia on February 1, 2007
presented by National Academy of Social Insurance

What To Do By Year End: Practical Applications of the Pension Protection Act & Other Laws
Nationwide on December 7, 2006
presented by ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits

Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

COBRA E-Learning Course Introduced
International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

CitiStreet Assures Customers PPA Is Beneficial and Manageable

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Pension Consultants/Administrators
for Northern NJ Mid-Size Pension Consulting Firm
in NJ

Plan Administrator for Retirement Plan & ERISA Specialists
for Dana Consulting Group
in IL

Health/Welfare Consultant - Benefits Evaluation Team
for Hufnell, Inc Executive Recruiters - Benefits Outsourcing, Benefits and HR
in PA

Exec Comp Consultant
for Hewitt Associates
in IL

Sales Development Specialist
for WageWorks, Inc.
in CA

Account Analyst
for Nolan Financial
in DC, MD

Remittance Services Specialist
in DC

Administrative Assistant
for The Nolan Company
in KS

Financial Analyst
for The Todd Organization
in NC

401(k) Processor
for Leggette Actuaries, Inc.
in TX

Small Business Consultant
for Louis Kravitz & Associates
in CA

Client Integration Transition Manager
for Diversified Investment Advisors
in NY

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