BenefitsLink
Welfare Plans
Newsletter
To BenefitsLink home page Fill your job openings fast by advertising on BenefitsLink

November 30, 2006
Today's sponsor: Benefit Software Inc.

(Click on company name or banner to learn more.)
Banner ad for Benefit Software Inc.

Do your employees know the value of their employer paid benefits?

Chances are they don't. We can help.

Benefit Software has over 25 years of experience helping thousands of employers communicate the full value of their benefits. From traditional personalized printed statements to secure 24/7 employee benefits communication portals, we have the right solution for your organization.

Email sales@bsiweb.com or call 800-533-1388 to request free samples.


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

Half in New 'Consumer' Health Plans Want to Switch, Poll Shows
Excerpt: "Half of those enrolled in the plans said they would switch out if given the choice, compared with a third of those in traditional plans. And they were twice as likely as those in traditional plans to say that they went without care because of cost." (The Washington Post; free registration required)

CIGNA Survey Finds Consumer-Directed Care Lowers Expenses and Increases Preventive Care
Excerpt: "According to results of the CIGNA study, nonpharmacy medical costs were lower among CDH enrollees than were costs for the population covered by a more traditional managed care plan. Although medical costs among the CDH enrollees declined 5.5%, costs among those in the control group increased 11.9% during the same period, CIGNA said." (INSIDE CONSUMER-DIRECTED CARE via AISHealth.com)

Overview: IRS 2006 Version of Publication 502 for Medical and Dental Expenses
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: Plan administrators and others who use Pub. 502 to help guide them as to what expenses are for medical care should do so with caution; some portions of Pub. 502 would provide a wrong answer if applied to health FSAs, HSAs, or HRAs." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Opinion: HSAs -- An Idea That Could Move Private Insurance in the Wrong Direction (PDF)
8 pages. Excerpt: "This fact sheet examines the effects that health savings accounts (HSAs) will have on those without health insurance and on the health care system overall. [Families USA finds] that HSAs will do little to help the uninsured gain affordable coverage and will not contain health insurance costs." (Families USA)

Comments on the Third Circuit Final Decision In HMO Subrogation Case
Excerpt: "The issue of HMO subrogation can appear somewhat complex because it involves application of the 'savings' clause of ERISA. These cases must be distinguished from self-funded health plan subrogation cases. With HMO subrogation cases, the participant's array of remedies are constrained by ERISA Section 502(a), though the plan terms are determined by State law." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)

Many American Workers Aren't Using All of Their Vacation Time
Excerpt: "A whopping 37% anticipate they won't use all of their time off this year, and 24% had not taken any time off this year, as of Nov. 7, according to a new survey (http://www.hudson-index.com/documents/us-hudson-index-data-111506.xls) from Hudson, a staffing and talent management firm." (BenefitsNews Connect)

Overview: IRS Guidance Permitting Use of Smartcards and Debit Cards for Transit Expenses
Excerpt: "Many employers already have provided transportation plan debit cards to their employees. These employers will need to review their arrangements to see if compliance changes should be made to their programs. Where available, many employers ultimately may decide to use terminal-restricted debit cards or smartcards because there are no substantiation requirements for those types of cards." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

West Virginia Plan Increases Public Retirees' Medical Fees
Excerpt: "The state's Public Employees Insurance Agency is looking to follow in the footsteps of some private employers, aiming to increase out-of-pocket medical fees for retired workers and shift their prescription drug plan over to a new Medicare program." (Charleston Daily Mail)

Fifth Circuit Declines to Allow Private Right of Action under HIPAA Privacy Rule
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: Although this appears to be the first circuit court ruling on whether there is a private right of action under the HIPAA privacy rule, the outcome is no surprise. But there are a couple of important points to note. . . . Suits under state law for invasion of privacy can, in some instances, be based on violations of the HIPAA privacy rule, with the privacy rule's requirements used as part of the standard of conduct by which the state . . . ." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Letter to the Editor: Make Corporate Executives Sensitive to Their Own Health Care Costs?
Excerpt: "In [the WSJ] Nov. 20 editorial 'AHIP Hop' on the health-insurance proposal recently unveiled by America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), [the WSJ laments] the fact that 'individuals generally aren't sensitive to the price of their treatment decisions.' For that reason, [the WSJ has] long supported high-deductible health insurance that puts patients' 'skin in the game,' to use the colorful metaphor for 'high deductibles.'" (Uwe E. Reinhardt, The Wall Street Journal, via Physicians for a National Health Program)

Legislators Fear Some Massachusetts Health Plans Could Prove Limited and Costly
Excerpt: "Two legislators instrumental in healthcare reform yesterday warned that some health plans under the new law might offer only minimal coverage and force subscribers to pay high out-of-pocket costs." (The Boston Globe via BlueCross BlueShield Association)

The Uninsured and the Affordability of Health Insurance Coverage
Excerpt: "A central conclusion is that a large percentage of uninsured adults need help purchasing health insurance." (Health Affairs)

Hewitt Federal Legislation Quick Guide Updated November 28, 2006, for Health and Welfare Plans (PDF)
4 pages. This Federal Legislation Quick Guide provides short updates on federal legislation that is currently under active consideration by Congress or has recently been enacted into law regarding health and welfare benefit plans. (Hewitt Associates)

Opinion: The Return of Hillarycare?
Excerpt: "The entire idea behind the Clinton health care plan was that government knew best -- better than businesses, better than doctors, and better than patients.The Clinton plan would have required every business in America to provide health care coverage to its employees, regardless of cost. The mandate would have devastated small businesses and cost thousands of jobs." (Charlotte Observer via Cato Institute)

Health Savings Accounts in National Compensation Survey Data
Excerpt: "For comparison, one can consider data published by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The foundation found that among firms offering health benefits, 2 percent offered HSAs in 2005 and 6 percent offered HSAs in 2006.4 Note that the Kaiser percentages pertain to firms, whereas the BLS data pertain to workers." (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Comments on Second Circuit on Discretionary Firestone Language and SPDs
Excerpt: "In Tocker v. Phillip Morris, No. 04-5904 (2nd Cir. Nov. 22, 2006), the court considered a situation in which the company failed to place the necessary discretionary Firestone language into its plan's summary plan description (SPD), but nevertheless sought and received arbitrary and capricious review of a plan administrators benefit determination (involving the calculation of pension credits) based on discretionary language in other ERISA plan documents." (Workplace Prof Blog)

Survey Shows Compensation Statements Help Employees See Value of Benefits
Excerpt: "A majority of human resource and benefits executives say personalized compensation statements would heighten workers' understanding of their benefits packages, but more than half don't use them, a recent survey revealed." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)

Overview: Modifications to Form 8-K Rules (PDF)
6 pages. In addition to text describing the modifications, there is a summary chart for Form 8-K rules, as revised, effective November 7, 2006. (Haynes and Boone, LLP)

Study Covers How Recent Pension Laws Clarify Non-Qualified Plan Issues
Excerpt: "A white paper released by National Retirement Partners, LLC and The Baker Companies discusses how the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 (AJCA) and the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA) have clarified administration and funding questions for sponsors of non-qualified benefit plans." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)

Brokers Providing Benefits Such As Health Insurance and Retirement Savings Plans to Associates
Excerpt: "The competitive pressure of attracting and retaining associates is propelling the trend. 'Our medical benefits and overall compensation were part of the driving force' in many associates joining the company, says Mike Golden, cofounder of @properties in Chicago." (National Association of Realtors)

Hewitt Federal Legislation Quick Guide for November 28, 2006, on Human Resources & Employment Law (PDF)
6 pages. This Federal Legislation Quick Guide provides short updates on federal legislation that is currently under active consideration by Congress or has recently been enacted into law regarding human resources and employment law. (Hewitt Associates)

Opinion: Shorten the Term on Stock Options and Save the Company a Bundle
Excerpt: "[B]ecause of employee behavior, cutting the term of a stock option may be a way to cut compensation costs without diminishing pay to employees. Many, if not most, employees won't even notice the shrunken option term because they weren't planning to hold the option until its expiration." (Bloomberg News)

46% of Ford's Unionized Workforce Take Buyouts
Excerpt: "The buyouts ranged from $35,000 to $140,000 depending on workers' years of service, age and how close the workers are to retirement." (AP via The Washington Post; free registration required)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Health Care Trends -- 2007 and Beyond Teleweb
Nationwide on December 7, 2006
presented by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

McKay Hochman Announces EGTRRA Cash Balance Plan Document
McKay Hochman Co., Inc.

Dorsa Consulting Enters Cash Balance Plan Record-Keeping Market
Dorsa Consulting


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

401(k) Account Manager
for BISYS Retirement Services
in PA

Benefit Consultant (Sales Agent)
for Corporate Synergies Group, Inc.
in NJ

Director of Defined Contribution
for John Mulligan & Associates, Inc.
in CT, NY

Plan Administrator
for Pension Strategies, LLC
in AZ

Compliance Specialist
for MassMutual Financial Group
in MA

Public Policy Analyst II
for National Business Group on Health
in DC

Supervisor, Defined Contribution
for ERP Actuaries & Consultants
in NY

Retirement Services Representative - Pittsburgh Pension Office
for Securian Financial Group
in PA

ERISA Attorney
for AIG
in NY

Retirement Plan Manager
for Selective Insurance
in NJ

Client Service Representative
for Midsouth Pension Consultants, LLC
in TN

Retirement Plan Sales Consultant
for CBH Pensions, Inc.
in NC, SC




Handy Links:

NOTE TO AOL MEMBERS: PLEASE DO NOT REPORT THIS EMAIL AS SPAM. This email is not unsolicited. We do not send unsolicited email. This email is coming to you because you asked to receive it by entering your email address on our web page at

https://benefitslink.com/newsletter/

These emails are sent each workday except federal holidays.

This email has been published by:
BenefitsLink.com, Inc.
1298 Minnesota Avenue, Suite H
Winter Park FL 32789
(407) 644-4146
Fax: (407) 644-2151

David Rhett Baker, J.D., Editor

Copyright 2006 BenefitsLink.com, Inc.; except that you can forward this email in full (including this boilerplate part) or otherwise reprint this email in full (including this boilerplate part) without obtaining our permission.

Anyone can receive these emails; just have them sign up at this web page: https://benefitslink.com/newsletter/

Other useful links: