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December 21, 2006


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President Bush Signs Bill Enhancing Health Savings Accounts
(December 20, 2006) - Excerpt: "President George W. Bush signed the Health Opportunity Patient Empowerment Act of 2006 today, enhancing Americans' access to tax-advantaged health care savings. The law, part of the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006, provides new opportunities for health savings account (HSA) participants' to build their funds." (U.S. Department of Treasury)

Overview of New Health Savings Account Legislation/Recent DOL Health Savings Account Guidance (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "In what may represent a highwater mark for favorable health savings account (HSA) legislation, Congress passed and President Bush signed into law [December 20, 2006] HSA legislation increasing HSA contribution limits and permitting rollovers to HSAs from health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), flexible spending accounts (FSAs), and individual retirement accounts (IRAs)." (Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP)

More Employers Offering Elder-Care Benefits
Excerpt: "Recognizing the mounting burden of caring for aging parents, companies including NBC Universal, Unilever USA and McGraw-Hill Cos. offer services that include underwriting the cost of emergency caregivers and connecting employees with nursing-home finders or physicians who specialize in older patients." (Los Angeles Times via The (Canton) Repository)

More PBM Transparency May Not Cut Costs, but Could Boost Trust
Excerpt: "Most players in the PBM industry have come to recognize the value of providing more financial transparency in their contracting -- with once unthinkable fiduciary and pass-through pricing options now available from many large and established PBMs, according to industry observers." (DRUG BENEFIT NEWS via AISHealth.com)

Many Small Business Owners Are Tempted to Eliminate Holiday Bonuses
Excerpt: "Just 47% of small businesses are giving holiday bonuses this year vs. 54% last year, American Express found in a survey. Instead, 55% are giving time off, up from 47% a year ago, the survey says." (USA TODAY)

Survey Finds Employees Needing More Sick Day Flexibility
Excerpt: "A recent survey sponsored by Kronos Incorporated found the vast majority of respondents have gone to work sick and this 'presenteeism' has a negative impact on the workforce." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)

Editorial: Health Care's Perfect Storm
Excerpt: "Here's what California taxpayers have to look forward to next year, when the state begins fully accounting for retiree health benefits: picket lines. Lawsuits. Private-sector worker revolts. Desperate budgeting. And plenty of potholes." (San Francisco Chronicle)

NCPERS Promotes Expanded Public Safety Officers Retiree Health Benefit
Excerpt: "The National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems (NCPERS) has announced its intention to make the extension of the new public safety retiree health benefit to all public employees one of its top priorities for the new 110th Congress." (National Council on Teacher Retirement)

Overview: HIPAA Nondiscrimination & Wellness Guidelines Left Largely Intact in '06 Final Regulations
Excerpt: "The final regulations apply for plan years beginning on or after July 1, 2007." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)

Overview: Final HIPAA Nondiscrimination and Wellness Program Regulations
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: The final wellness program provisions will be helpful to employers considering a wellness program as a way to cut or contain health plan costs. According to the preamble to the final regulations, the condition that a wellness program be reasonably designed prohibits 'bizarre, extreme, or illegal requirements' but is otherwise 'intended to be easy to satisfy' and does not require any 'scientific record.'" (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Working Paper Abstract: Cross-Price Elasticities and the Design of Prescription Drug Benefits
Excerpt: "[The authors'] results show that increases in prescription drug prices reduce both the use of and spending on prescription drugs. However, consumers substitute the use of outpatient care and inpatient care for prescription drug use, and the expenditure reductions on prescription drugs are largely offset by the increases in other spending." (National Bureau of Economic Research; paid subscription or individual purchase required to retrieve full-text)

Majority of Blues Plans Reduces Individual and Small-Group Premium Hikes for 2007
Excerpt: "The majority of Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans that have released information about premium increases for 2007 will have lower percentage increases than in 2006. But other plans, among them Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maine, a WellPoint, Inc. subsidiary, will have higher premium increases." (The AIS Report on Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans via AISHealth.com)

Rhode Island Announces Requirement for Low Premium Wellness Health Benefit Plan
Excerpt: "The Rhode Island Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner . . . announced requirements for insurance companies Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island and UnitedHealthcare of New England to offer a 'wellness health benefit plan' as part of a state law passed earlier this year, the Providence Journal reports." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Working Paper Abstract: Health Insurance and Ex Ante Moral Hazard: Evidence from Medicare
Excerpt: "In this paper, [the authors] extend the analysis of the effect of health insurance on health behaviors by allowing for the possibility that health insurance has a direct (ex ante moral hazard) and indirect effect on health behaviors." (National Bureau of Economic Research; paid subscription or individual purchase required to retrieve full-text)

Study Shows Only 4 Percent of Employers Offer Full Programs to Help Workers Quit Smoking
Excerpt: "Only 4 percent of large employers offer comprehensive programs to help employees quit smoking, despite higher health costs for smokers and smoking breaks that could cost employers nine weeks of lost productivity a year, according to a 2006 study by the American Journal of Health Promotion." (AP via International Herald Tribune)

Arkansas Unveils New Health Care Plan
Excerpt: "Arkansas has introduced a new health care coverage plan that should help small business owners provide employees with health benefits. Called ARHealthNet, the program is meant to be a safety-net of benefits for workers who have no coverage." (bizjournals.com via MSN.Money)

Overview: Electronic Payment Card Transition Relief for Use at Non-Health Care Merchants
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: Despite the earlier guidance, it became common practice for cards to be programmed to be accepted even at stores without health care-related MCCs. We applaud the IRS for responding to the noncompliant practices that have developed, with practical transition relief." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)


Sponsored by: Health Benefits Conference & Expo (HBCE)

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Banner ad for Health Benefits Conference & Expo (HBCE)

16th Annual National Health Benefits Conference & Expo (HBCE)

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Leading Employers & Best Practices from: Bank of America - IBM - State of MN - AOL - IAP World Services - Schneider Transportation - FPL - MO State Univ - Perkins' Restaurants - San Mateo Co. - HEB Retail - Martin Co. Schools - and many more. Actionable Advice: info@HBCE.com • 941-484-1430 • www.HBCE.com


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

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Overview: FASB Statement 158 -- Postretirement Benefits No Longer Off-Balance Sheet (PDF)
16 pages. Excerpt: "The Statement also removes the existing option to use a plan measurement date that is up to 90 days prior to the date of the statement of financial position. Statement 158 offers two alternate transition methods for making the measurement date change . . . ." (Grant Thornton LLP)

2007 Reporting & Disclosure Calendar for Multiemployer Plans
Excerpt: "The Segal Company's 2007 Reporting & Disclosure Calendar for Multiemployer Plans summarizes compliance requirements for multiemployer plans. [The interactive calendar provides a] brief description of each requirement and information about such details as the plan(s) affected, filing requirements and due dates . . . ." (The Segal Group, Inc.)

2007 Reporting & Disclosure Calendar for Single-Employer Benefit Plans
Excerpt: "The Segal Company's 2007 Reporting & Disclosure Calendar for Benefit Plans summarizes compliance requirements for qualified, single employer benefit plans." (The Segal Group, Inc.)

Selected Problems and Issues with the Prop. Regs. on Deferred Comp. Under Code Sec. 409A
68 pages. This presentation was given by attorney Steve Bachelder at the Conference Board's 2006 Executive Compensation Conference: 'Everything Directors and Senior Executives Need to Know about Effective Pay', held April 2006 in New York and May 2006 in Chicago. (Bachelder & Dowling, P.A.)

Due Diligence Checklist for Benefit Plan Fiduciaries
Excerpt: "[P]roper due diligence by plan fiduciaries is the first and most important duty they will undertake. While independent research is required, interviewing service providers to the plan is an critical part of the process. You may have your own checklist. If not, here's a simple one to get you started . . . ." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)

International Compensation and Benefits Trends Study
Excerpt: "The study involves 15 different countries: Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Can.ada, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Mexico, the Slovak Republic, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America." (Seyfarth Shaw LLP)

Stock Options Fall Out of Favor in U.S., According to Paper
Excerpt: "Stock options in the United States are falling out of favor as a perk amid scandal and accounting and legal changes, according to an analysis reported by the Wall Street Journal on its Web site [today]." (Reuters via The Washington Post; free registration required)

Former McAfee Employees Sue over Stock Options Blackout
Excerpt: "Seven former employees of McAfee have filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against the firm after their vested stock options expired during a blackout period imposed by the company during its stock option backdating investigation." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)

Opinion: Wall Street's Season of Excess
The target page is a transcript of the discussion with Washington Post business columnist Steven Pearlstein online yesterday, Wednesday, Dec. 20, on excessive executive pay on Wall Street. (The Washington Post; free registration required)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

IRC Section 409A: Survival Guide for the Final Transition - Webcast
Nationwide on February 7, 2007
presented by Deloitte

Reducing Corporate Health Care Costs: Refocusing Your Strategy - Webcast
Nationwide on January 30, 2007
presented by Deloitte


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Employee Benefits Security Administration Releases Field Assistance Bulletin on Individual Benefit Statements & Diversification Notices
U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

Milliman Survey Confirms Continued Dominance of Guarantees in Variable Annuity Retirement Income Products
Milliman USA

President Bush Signs Bill to Make Health Care more Affordable, Accessible
U.S. Department of Treasury

Make Medicare Right for You
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Client Service Pension Administrator
for San Diego Pension Consultants, Inc.
in CA

Document Specialist
for REPTECH
in CO

Defined Benefit Software Customer Support
for DATAIR Employee Benefit Systems, Inc.
in IL

Defined Contribution Software Customer Support
for DATAIR Employee Benefit Systems, Inc.
in IL

Deputy Regional Director, GS-1801-15
for U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration, Kansas City Regional Office
in MO

Sr Account Manager, Regional Services (Defined Contribution Plans)
for Standard Insurance Company
in OR

Senior Account Executive
for BWD Group LLC
in NY

Regional Director, GS-1801-15
for U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Administration, Chicago Regional Office
in IL

Actuary
for Summit Financial Corporation
in MA

Medical Underwriter
for Standard Insurance Company
in OR

Account Manager, Health & Welfare
for Charles W. Cammack Associates
in NY




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