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

December 13, 2006


Sponsored by: 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.


Text of Final Regs on Nondiscrimination and Wellness Programs in Group Health Coverage (PDF)
43 pages; applicable to plan years beginning on or after July 1, 2007. Excerpt: "On January 8, 2001, the Departments published interim final regulations (2001 interim rules) on many issues under the HIPAA nondiscrimination provisions . . . and proposed regulations on wellness programs under those nondiscrimination provisions . . . . These regulations being published . . . in the Federal Register [today] finalize both the 2001 interim rules and the proposed rules." (Internal Revenue Service; Employee Benefits Security Administration; Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services)

Text of Final IRS Regs: Exception to HIPAA Nondiscrimination Rules for Grandfathered Church Plans (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "This document contains final regulations that provide guidance under section 9802(c) of the Internal Revenue Code relating to the exception for certain grandfathered church plans from the nondiscrimination requirements applicable to group health plans under section 9802(a) and (b). Final regulations relating to the nondiscrimination requirements under section 9802(a) and (b) are being published elsewhere in [today's] issue of the Federal Register." (Internal Revenue Service)

MS Word Version: Exception to HIPAA Nondiscrimination Rules for Certain Grandfathered Church Plans
9 pages. Excerpt: "This document contains final regulations that provide guidance under section 9802(c) of the Internal Revenue Code relating to the exception for certain grandfathered church plans from the nondiscrimination requirements applicable to group health plans under section 9802(a) and (b). Final regulations relating to the nondiscrimination requirements under section 9802(a) and (b) are being published elsewhere in [the December 13, 2006] issue of the Federal Register." (Internal Revenue Service)

MS Word Version: Final Regs on Nondiscrimination and Wellness Programs in Group Health Coverage
94 pages; applicable to plan years beginning on or after July 1, 2007. Excerpt: "On January 8, 2001, the Departments published interim final regulations (2001 interim rules) on many issues under the HIPAA nondiscrimination provisions . . . and proposed regulations on wellness programs under those nondiscrimination provisions . . . . These regulations being published today in the Federal Register finalize both the 2001 interim rules and the proposed rules." (Internal Revenue Service; Employee Benefits Security Administration; Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation)

Study Finds Flex-Time, Childcare Programs Offer Antidote for Anxious Parents
Excerpt: "Working parents . . . shouldn't be the only ones concerned about what their children are doing after school. A new study calls on employers to care about and implement programs and policies to alleviate such parental anxiety among workers. Catalyst, a nonprofit research organization that works to expand opportunities for women at work, and the Women's Studies Research Center at Brandeis University, examined what they have coined Pcast, or parental concern about after-school time." (The Baltimore Sun; free registration required)

The Challenge of Providing Health Benefits for Domestic Partners (PDF)
12 pages. Originally published September 2002. Excerpt: "Three major issues [employers] need to consider are (1) whether such benefits can be offered without jeopardizing the tax-advantaged status of the employer's health plan, (2) whether such benefits can be excluded from income of the employee and dependent who receive them, and (3) how to structure the plan's eligibility requirements to ensure it is administrative and financially feasible." (Steptoe & Johnson LLP)

Consumer-Directed Health Plans to be More Common as Public Employee Benefits
Excerpt: "Ohio State Rep. Lou Blessing (R) recently introduced a bill that would require public employees to have a choice of at least three health savings account (HSA)-based options." (INSIDE CONSUMER-DIRECTED CARE via AISHealth.com)

Fifth Circuit Holds Patient Cannot Bring Suit to Enforce HIPAA (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "In a recent opinion, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a patient does not have a cause of action to sue a physician to enforce the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act ('HIPAA'). In Acara v. Banks, -- F.3d --, 2006 WL 3622444 (5th Cir. Nov. 13, 2006), the Court stated that 'HIPAA limits enforcement to the Secretary of Health and Human Services.'" (Powell Goldstein LLP)

Employer Required to Provide Claims Administrator's Guidelines to Participant
Excerpt: "The more interesting aspect of this case is that the employer, which never had the guidelines in its possession, was required to provide them and will be liable if the court imposes penalties, even though the claims administrator refused to provide the documents to the employer." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Building Peer Support Programs to Manage Chronic Disease: Seven Models for Success (PDF)
42 pages. Excerpt: "Research shows that when chronically ill patients fail to follow recommended treatment -- by not adhering to medication regimens or diet and exercise programs, for example -- their health suffers, sometimes significantly. However, when patients get the support they need to master and sustain self-management, there are potential benefits for both individual health and the overall health care system." (California HealthCare Foundation)

Employers Pay for 'Lifelong' Electronic Health Record Technology
Excerpt: "The online Personal Health Record consumer tool doesn't carry the legal and professional obligations imposed on health record-keeping. Dossia will allow employees to take their health records with them if they change employers, doctors or health plans." (Washington Internet Daily via pharmasentry)

Providers Want More Details on Major Employer PHR Initiative
Excerpt: "The PHR system, called Dossia, was founded by Applied Materials, BP America, Intel, Pitney Bowes and Wal-Mart." (California HealthCare Foundation)

Opinion: Health-Care Pricing Checks the Market's Pulse
Excerpt: "It's hard to think of any industry where there is such a wide variance between what something costs, what is charged and what is actually paid. There are lots of reasons for that, too numerous to mention here. But whatever the cause, this lack of accurate price signals makes it difficult for the health-services market to operate efficiently." (The Washington Post; free registration required)

Who Takes Action When an Expensive Form of Treatment Becomes More Common Than It Need Be?
Excerpt: "The entire affair -- from the invention of the new stent to the willingness to reconsider it -- was in many ways an impressive display of American medicine. Yet it was also a nearly perfect example of what's wrong with our health care system." (The New York Times; free registration required)

High Costs Send Patients Overseas for Health Care
Excerpt: "Last year, an estimated half-million Americans traveled overseas for medical treatment. It's a growing trend among not only the well-to-do who want tummy tucks and face-lifts, but the working-class uninsured searching for affordable heart surgery, knee replacements and dental work." (The Charlotte Observer)

CEOs Cite Health Care Costs as Biggest Headache, According to Survey
Excerpt: "Fifty-one percent of the CEOs responding to the Business Roundtable's CEO Economic Outlook Survey cited health care costs as their greatest cost pressure -- more than three times the next most-cited concern, energy prices. Sixteen percent of CEOs said energy prices were their greatest cost pressure, down from 27 percent in 2005." (Workforce Management; free registration required)

More Americans Struggle with Health-Care Costs, According to Study Published in JAMA
Excerpt: "More Americans are forced to spend more of their family income on health care, and more middle-class Americans are joining the ranks of those spending a disproportionate share of their budget on such expenses, a new study finds." (The Washington Post; free registration required)

Editorial: Inequality and Health Care -- Two Fixes for Middle-Class Insecurity
Excerpt: "The rise of inequality over the past generation calls for a rethinking of tax and education policies, as earlier editorials in this series have said. But it also calls for reform of the health system." (The Washington Post; free registration required)

Pharmacists Ask New Congress to Oust Benefit Managers from Medicare Drug Program
Excerpt: "As congressional Democrats prepare legislation to allow the federal Medicare program to negotiate drug prices paid by the Part D prescription-drug benefit, U.S. community pharmacists are lobbying Congress to eliminate the 'middle man' role pharmacy benefit managers play in the program." (BestWire Services via pharmasentry)

Average Wholesale Price Lawsuits Might Lead to Prescription Drug Pricing Changes
Excerpt: "Lawsuits against prescription drug wholesaler McKesson and drug information provider First DataBank alleging that the companies colluded to raise the average wholesale prices of prescription drugs to increase pharmacy profits and win business might have outcomes that 'change the way drugs are priced in this country' and 'save consumers billions,' the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/12)." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Divorce Decree Not Living Arrangement Determined Custody of Child for Coordination of Benefits
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: When an individual, such as the child in this case, is covered under more than one plan, the plans' COB provisions must be reviewed to determine which plan pays first." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Health Care Reform in California
Excerpt: "[Yesterday], Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata (D-Oakland) threw his hat into the ring with a proposal he admits is a work in progress. By this time next month, you're likely to see several more plans floated in Sacramento, all aimed at shrinking the number of uninsured Californians." (Capital Notes)

Modifying Retiree Health Plans: Employers' Attempts to Modify Retiree Health Plans (PDF)
20 pages. Originally published September 2002. Excerpt: "[Employers] are often puzzled as to when, how, and the extent to which they have made certain promises to employees. These implied promises can be expensive and disruptive when they involve employee benefits, particularly retiree medical benefits allegedly promised on a 'permanent' basis to former employees and retirees. This article reviews recent cases discussing such implied promises and suggests ways employers can limit their scope." (Steptoe & Johnson LLP)

2006 Kaiser/Hewitt Retiree Health Benefits Survey
Excerpt: "The 2006 Kaiser/Hewitt survey of large businesses that provide retiree health benefits to their workers assesses their evolving responses to the new Medicare drug benefit in 2006. It also looks at the rising costs and changing benefits of retiree health coverage overall in 2006, as well as the outlook for 2007 and beyond." (Kaiser Family Foundation/Hewitt Associates)

Benefit Cuts Hitting Retirees and Baby Boomers Where it Hurts Most
Excerpt: "ProtectSeniors.Org is advocating in Congress for the Emergency Retiree Health Benefits Protection Act (HR 1322) which would amend the ERISA pension laws to make it illegal for an employer to either reduce or cancel earned health benefits after an employee has retired. It would also require corporations who have already slashed these earned benefits to reinstate them to their former workers." (WorldNow and KRON)

The Costs of Long-Term Care: Public Perceptions Versus Reality in 2006
Excerpt: "How much do age 45+ Americans really know about long-term care (LTC) costs and how to pay for them? Not as much as they think they do. And much of what they think they know frequently turns out to be inaccurate." (AARP)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Pension Protection Act Guide, Other Materials Published by Principal Financial Group
Target page includes links to 24-page 'PPA Guide', 2-page color-coded 'PPA Timeline of Provisions', and a 'DB(k) Overview' describing a hybrid plan design available for plan years beginning in 2010 for employers with less than 500 employees. (Principal Financial Group)

Nonqualified Deferred Compensation -- Sec. 409A -- How Do Proposed Regulations Affect You? (PDF)
63 pages. Web seminar. Excerpt: "Objective of this session [-- to p]rovide an overview of how 409A affects you, and what you need to do to comply with the rules." (Grant Thornton LLP)

Overview: IRS Notice on Wage Withholding/Reporting Obligations Under Section 409A (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "It is currently unclear whether or when the IRS will provide [further] clarification . . . . . However, the Treasury Department and the IRS requested comments in relation to the Notice which must be submitted by February 28, 2007." (Seyfarth Shaw LLP)

21st Century Challenges--Key Areas for Oversight: Retirement, Pension, and Health Care Insecurity (PDF)
52 pages. Excerpt: "Presentation by the Comptroller General, David M. Walker, before the Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement, in Washington, D.C., December 7, 2006." (U.S. Government Accountability Office)

Overview of Pension Protection Act of 2006: What to Do in 2007 (PDF)
11 pages. Excerpt: "This newsletter looks to 2007 and highlights effective PPA changes -- some of which are already effective, some that become effective January 1, 2007, and some that become effective when your plan's 2007 plan year begins." (Utz, Miller & Kuhn, LLC)

Google to Offer Variation on Stock Options
Excerpt: "Under the program, Google will grant employees a new type of option, called a transferable stock option. The company will work with Morgan Stanley to set up a market that will enable financial institutions and other investors to bid for those options." (The New York Times; free registration required)

Google Gives Employees Way to Value Stock Options
Excerpt: "Google Inc. . . . will let employees sell their vested stock options under a new program that will boost options' value to workers while raising the cost of options to the company, Google said [yesterday]." (Reuters via The Washington Post; free registration required)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Human Resources Administration: How to Identify, Fix, and Prevent Minor but Persistent Problems -- Before They Turn into Major HR Crises- AUDIO CONFERENCE
Nationwide on December 20, 2006
presented by HRTrainingCenter.com


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Kaiser/Hewitt Survey Of Large Employers Finds Most Intend To Maintain Drug Coverage For Medicare Retirees In 2007 And 2008
Kaiser Family Foundation and Hewitt Associates


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Retirement Plan Services Technical Support Administrator II
for Bankers Trust
in IA

Entry Level 401 (k) Administrator
for Scholz, Klein & Friends Enlightened Retirement Group, Inc.
in TX

Associate, Pension Administration
for Buck Consultants
in CA, PA

401(k)/DC Administrator
for Levy & Associates in Sunny Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
in FL

401k Administrator
for Karel-Gordon & Associates
in IL

Defined Benefit Retirement Plan Administrator
for Loren D. Stark Company, Inc.
in TX

Relius Administration Quality Assurance Specialist
for SunGard Relius
in FL

Annual Plan Reporting Administrator
for Vanguard
in PA

Defined Contribution Team Administrator
for ABG-MA, a BenefitStreet co.
in PA




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: