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December 27, 2006

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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.
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It Is Not HBO -- It Is 'Flex in the City'
Excerpt: "It may sound like the sequel to HBO's popular show about four racy ladies, but 'Flex in the City' is actually a workplace program launched this fall by Houston Mayor Bill White to help ease the city's traffic problems." (Employee Benefit News)

Second California Democrat Puts Forth Health Care Overhaul Plan with Focus on Kids
Excerpt: "A new health care overhaul proposal released Thursday by the leader of the state Assembly would extend insurance to all Californians by mandating that employers pay for coverage and by expanding existing government programs for the poor and disabled." (The San Francisco Chronicle via The Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights)

Election by Benefits Personnel on Deceased Employee's Behalf Not Binding
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: This case illustrates how important it is for employers that sponsor insured plans to make certain that benefits personnel fully understand the eligibility and enrollment provisions. Inaccurate administration may not bind the insurer. And when, as in this case, the insurer refuses to pay benefits, the beneficiary will likely seek to impose liability for the benefits on the employer." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Loss of Coverage for Failure to Pay Premium While on Leave Not a Qualifying Event
Excerpt: "The employee in this case took a medical leave of absence pursuant to his employer's short-term disability policy. The employer's health plan provided that an employee on disability leave must pay the premium for coverage; otherwise, coverage would terminate." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Data-Rich Benefit Reviews Can Align HR and Finance
Excerpt: "Benefit reports with data explaining the impact of ill health on benefit costs, job focus, absenteeism and the bottom line are what chief financial officers want and need, but many still aren't getting this information." (Employee Benefit News)

Insurers Look to Rein in Orders for Imaging Procedures
Excerpt: "Insurance companies are rolling out programs that require either pre-approval before such procedures or at least pre- notification as part of an effort to reduce the number of scans that they say are medically unnecessary." (The Business Journal of the Greater Triad Area via; free registration required)

Opinion: American Health Care System Is a Mess, But We May Finally Be Ready to Fix It
Excerpt: "The American health system, put simply, is a mess. An expensive one. Indeed, in 2002, we spent $5,267 per capita on healthcare -- $1,821 more than Switzerland, the nearest runner-up. And yet we had higher infant mortality, lower life expectancy, more price inflation and an actual uninsured population, a phenomenon virtually unknown in the rest of the developed world, where universal healthcare is, well, universal." (Los Angeles Times; free registration required)

Drug Plan Companies Failed to Tell Medicare Beneficiaries of Changes
Excerpt: "Some prescription drug plans did not inform Medicare beneficiaries of impending changes in their costs and benefits, as they were required to do, Bush administration officials and Congressional aides said [yesterday]." (The New York Times; free registration required)

Hitting Retirees and Baby Boomers Where it Hurts Most
Excerpt: "An estimated 20 million baby boomers and retirees in the United States are bearing the brunt of recent major corporate employers' moves to eliminate or drastically reduce healthcare benefits promised to their employees during their working careers." (ARA Content via WorldNow and KRON)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Overview: IRS's Semiannual Regulatory Agenda, Including Pension and Benefit Projects
Excerpt: "Subject areas in which the IRS will be drafting proposed regulations include: Definition of 'highly compensated employee;' Deductibility of employer contributions for deferred compensation; The performance of actuarial services under ERISA; Code Sec. 401(a)(4) nondiscrimination requirements; Cafeteria plans; and, Withholding and reporting obligations under Code Sec. 1441 regarding tender offers." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)

S.E.C. Changes Reporting Rule on Top Executives' Pay
Excerpt: "The Securities and Exchange Commission, in a move announced late on the last business day before Christmas, reversed a decision it had made in July and adopted a rule that would allow many companies to report significantly lower total compensation for top executives." (The New York Times; free registration required)

Court Upholds Exclusion of Independent Contractors Contained in Plan Documents
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: As this court points out, ERISA permits employers to exclude certain groups or classifications of employees from plan eligibility, provided the classification is neither discriminatory nor based on age or service: '[A]n employer could even exclude all persons whose names begin with the letter 'H,' as long as this was not deemed to be discriminatory in application.'" (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Finance and Human Resources: How Business Gets Done
Excerpt: "Sprint Nextel's Chief Financial Officer, Paul Saleh and Sandy Price, senior vice president of human resources, explain how finance and HR can work together on employee benefits." (Employee Benefit News)

A Fun Look at the Dream Life of Benefits Directors
Excerpt: "[W]hether your mind is haunted by ghosts of plan years past (plan experience, SARs and 5500s), present (maintenance, compliance and relationship management) or future (budgeting, redesign and open enrollment), don't be mad at your subconscious - it just shares your concern about getting ahead." (Employee Benefits News)

Online Auctions: Benefit Buying in Cyberspace
Excerpt: "Massachusetts-based HighRoads provides employers with software to create an online bidding environment for employee benefits plans. The technology is seen by some as a cost-saving measure, on both the employer and carrier sides, to the paper-intense request-for-proposals process." (Employee Benefit News)

Ford Auto Workers Weigh Buyout Options
Excerpt: "For hourly workers at Ford, making a decision on the buyout offers required a combination of economic calculations and soul searching. Some 38,000 Ford workers -- roughly half of Ford's U.S. hourly work force -- said they would take one of Ford's eight buyout packages." (AP via The New York Times; free registration required)

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401(k) Senior Plan Administrator
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