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February 11, 2008

Here are the Web's best new links about compliance and cost aspects of plan operation, design and policy.


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WorldatWork, a not-for-profit professional association, is a leading publisher of compensation, benefits and total rewards information. With a portfolio of books, reports, survey briefs, booklets and online learning programs, WorldatWork creates, markets and distributes publications that are critical to improved organizational performance. WorldatWork has contributed to the education and development of business professionals worldwide since 1955.

[Guidance Overview] Participants May Continue Fiduciary Breach Lawsuit Alleging Misuse of Participant Healthplan Contributions
Excerpt: "[When the employer's business was sold], the participants in the company's self-insured health plan, funded in part by participant contributions (payroll deductions), learned that the plan was inadequately funded and that their remaining claims would not be paid. A group of participants sued the company, its CEO, the individual consultant, and others, claiming that they had breached ERISA's fiduciary duties by, among other things, misusing participant contributions and misrepresenting that claims would be paid." (Employee Benefits Institute of America (EBIA))

[Guidance Overview] For Massachusetts Employers, There's a New HIRD in Town
Excerpt: "Massachusetts employers must get employees to complete a HIRD Form after they decline coverage under (i) an employer's group health insurance plan, or (ii) a Section 125 plan which permits employees to purchase health insurance on a pre-tax basis. . . . The signature deadline is 30 days after the end of open enrollment periods for such plans, or 30 days after a decline which did not occur during open enrollment." (George L. Chimento)

[Guidance Overview] New York Employer Must Recognize Same-Sex Marriage Performed Outside of New York
3 pages. Excerpt: "The decision requires New York employers to recognize the marriage of same-sex individuals married outside of New York, which will have many ramifications. For example, many employment benefits extended to opposite-sex married couples will need to be extended to same-sex couples." (Nixon Peabody LLP)

[Guidance Overview] IRS Issues 2008 Version of Taxable Fringe Benefit Guide
Excerpt: "This publication offers helpful insight into the IRS's positions regarding the taxation, withholding, and reporting requirements for certain employee fringe benefits. However, employers and administrators looking for an IRS publication on the tax treatment of a broader variety of fringe benefits (including cafeteria plans, adoption assistance, and HSAs) may wish to consult IRS Publication 15-B . . . ." (Employee Benefits Institute of America (EBIA))

[Guidance Overview] State Law Privacy Claims Alleging Unauthorized Release of Individual's Health Information Not Preempted by ERISA
Excerpt: "The court held that the claims against the insurer were not preempted by ERISA because, among other reasons, the claims alleged that the information was sought and disseminated for inappropriate reasons, and not in the course of providing benefits or performing duties under an ERISA plan. The court noted that according to the couple's allegations, the HR director had behaved 'as a rogue administrator, acting entirely outside the scope of its duties under the Plan.'" (Employee Benefits Institute of America (EBIA))

Employers Experiment with Tough Get-Healthy Regimes
Excerpt: "The conflicts playing out as employers try to contain skyrocketing medical costs mirror tensions in society's views about privacy, personal responsibility and shared risk. They reflect growing intolerance for smokers and the obese. And they signal an erosion of a belief that once stood at the bedrock of employer health plans: costs ought to be shared equally regardless of health history or habits." (Chicago Tribune)

Reporting Requirements for a Qualified HSA Funding Distributions
Excerpt: "The use of the term trustee-to-trustee transfer as it relates to qualified HSA funding distributions has created confusion for some owners of health savings account (HSA)s and IRAs, and even some custodians. This uncertainty stems from the fact that the term 'trustee-to-trustee transfer' is typically used by financial institutions to refer to a nonreportable movement of assets between retirement accounts of the same type, such as transfers between two traditional IRAs or between two Roth IRAs. And HSAs and IRAs are (obviously) two different types of accounts." (Appleby Retirement Dictionary)

Federal Agency Reveals Top Outpatient Drugs Ranked by Expense
Excerpt: "The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has released statistics showing that the drugs topping the spending list for adult consumers are diabetes, cholesterol and anti-obesity drugs. U.S. adult consumers spent nearly $36 billion for prescription drugs to lower blood sugar, reduce cholesterol, or help with other metabolic problems in 2005. The four other classes of drugs that topped spending among adults were: . . . ." (International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

Minnesota Start-Up Creates Online Market for Health Procedures
Excerpt: "The free site, which went live in January, generates revenue from health care providers who become ''tenants'' on the site. When a consumer sets up an appointment with a clinic or doctor on Carol.com, the provider pays the site a fee. . . . For instance, if a consumer clicked on 'entire body,' then 'annual exam,' and chose a routine physical for women age 40-64, the results page would show six different options ranging from $207 to $335." (AP via New York Times; free registration required)

Embracing Flex Time Takes Work, Firms Find (Audio)
Excerpt: "Balancing work and home-life is tough, making 'flex time' a front-burner issue for many professionals. But companies are finding that changing corporate culture to offer more flexible schedules can be a complicated task." (National Public Radio)

San Francisco Superintendents Hear Proposals for Vote on Changes to Retiree Healthcare
Excerpt: "San Francisco Supervisor Sean Elsbernd provided details Tuesday for a proposed June ballot measure intended to slow the growth of future health care costs for city government retirees." (San Francisco Chronicle)

House Approves Legislation That Would Extend Mental Health Coverage Law
Excerpt: "The House on Thursday voted 384-23 to approve legislation (HR 4848) that would extend for one year a law that prohibits health insurers from imposing annual or lifetime caps on mental health coverage that differ from those imposed for other illnesses, CQ Today reports." (KaiserNetwork.org)

[Opinion] The Case for Cash LTC Insurance Products
Excerpt: "Criticism has recently targeted innovative benefit designs such as so-called 'cash' products. Cash products pay eligible insureds cash based on standard benefit triggers, versus the standard model of reimbursing paid services. Some believe cash products cannot be actuarially sound." (National Underwriter; free registration required)

[Opinion] Individual Health Insurance Mandates Mean Greater Personal Debt
Excerpt: "The finance industry is over the moon with this scheme. For insurers, it means millions of new customers marched into their offices with the force of law. With no controls on costs, many consumers will just add on more debt. That's a boon for the credit card companies and other financial institutions, but a heavy new burden on many of the same people now losing their homes or struggling with other financial hardship." (California Nurses Association (guest author))

[Opinion] A Peek Inside Internal Claims Review Practices of Disability Insurers
Excerpt: " At the end of the day, however, all claims decisions and approval/denial letters are reviewed ('validated') by middle claims managers representing the 'business interests' of the disability insurer. At this level of review, most managers and directors have access to financial reserve values and are held responsible by executive management for 'rolling in those financial targets' at the end of a month, quarter or year." (Disability Claims Solutions)

[Opinion] The Unprofitable Risk Reality for Disability Insurance
Excerpt: "[I]f the pure risk element of selling disability policies is no longer profitable, what then? In order to make the selling of disability policies profitable, all disability insurers MUST proactively devise internal claims strategies producing more claim denials than those that should legitimately be denied. Stop and think about that last sentence for a moment." (Disability Claims Solutions)

[Opinion] Opinion: Paid Family Leave in New Jersey Would Damage Small Businesses
Excerpt: "Larger businesses and corporations might be able to absorb the 'human costs' caused by paid leaves by redirecting work flow. But small businesses would struggle if employees were guaranteed leaves paying up to $504 a week for six weeks so they could care for a family member, including a newborn or an adopted child." (The Philadelphia Inquirer (guest article))


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview] DOL Releases Guidance on Fiduciary Responsibilities Under ERISA to Monitor and Collect Delinquent Contributions
Excerpt: "The plan has a claim against the employer for delinquent employer contributions, and that claim is a plan asset. [FAB 2008-1] states that participant contributions are delinquent if they become plan assets while still in the employer's hands." (Employee Benefits Institute of America (EBIA))

[Guidance Overview] Golden Handcuffs or Bronze Boot? Severance Pay Promises Under ERISA
Excerpt: "The trump card of the written plan requirement over oral or 'informal' written promises has so often provided the means of victory to the plan fiduciary. The Egan case develops this defense in its several aspects." (Health Plan Law Blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)

[Guidance Overview] IRS Ruling Creates Uncertainty Regarding What Constitutes Performance-Based Compensation Under Internal Revenue Code Section 162(m)
Excerpt: "It is believed that the Ruling is incorrect. The mere presence of the involuntary and good reason termination provisions should not be treated as sufficient to indicate that the employee would absolutely receive the compensation in each year regardless of whether the performance goal is attained and regardless of whether a termination occurs. . . . It is recommended that companies give serious consideration to modifying their plans and/or agreements to comply with the Ruling on a going-forward basis." (McDermott Will & Emery)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

2008 Midwinter Tour: Beyond the Essentials
in Kansas on March 5, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Midwinter Tour: Beyond the Essentials
in New Mexico on March 5, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Midwinter Tour: Beyond the Essentials
in Texas on March 7, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Midwinter Tour: Beyond the Essentials
in Florida on March 7, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Midwinter Tour: Beyond the Essentials
in California on March 12, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Midwinter Tour: Beyond the Essentials
in Louisiana on March 12, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Midwinter Tour: Beyond the Essentials
in California on March 14, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Midwinter Tour: Beyond the Essentials
in Georgia on March 14, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Midwinter Tour: Beyond the Essentials
in Wisconsin on March 26, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Midwinter Tour: Beyond the Essentials
in California on March 26, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Midwinter Tour: Beyond the Essentials
in California on March 28, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Midwinter Tour: Beyond the Essentials
in Wisconsin on March 28, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Midwinter Tour: IRA Essentials
in Kansas on March 4, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Midwinter Tour: IRA Essentials
in New Mexico on March 4, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Midwinter Tour: IRA Essentials
in Texas on March 6, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Midwinter Tour: IRA Essentials
in Florida on March 6, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Midwinter Tour: IRA Essentials
in Louisiana on March 11, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Midwinter Tour: IRA Essentials
in California on March 11, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Midwinter Tour: IRA Essentials
in Georgia on March 13, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Midwinter Tour: IRA Essentials
in California on March 13, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Midwinter Tour: IRA Essentials
in Wisconsin on March 25, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Midwinter Tour: IRA Essentials
in California on March 25, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Midwinter Tour: IRA Essentials
in California on March 27, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Midwinter Tour: IRA Essentials
in Wisconsin on March 27, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Midwinter Tour: Beyond the Essentials
in Arizona on March 7, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Midwinter Tour: IRA Essentials
in Arizona on March 6, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Web/Telephone Seminar: 403(b) Plans
Nationwide on March 20, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Web/Telephone Seminar: Comparing Roth & Traditional IRAs
Nationwide on March 20, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Web/Telephone Seminar: Conversions & Recharacterizations
Nationwide on March 13, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Web/Telephone Seminar: Establishing and Amending IRAs
Nationwide on March 27, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Web/Telephone Seminar: IRA Contributions
Nationwide on March 6, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Web/Telephone Seminar: IRA Required Minimum Distributions
Nationwide on March 11, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Web/Telephone Seminar: PPA Update
Nationwide on March 11, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Web/Telephone Seminar: QRP Nonspouse Beneficiary Rollovers to Inherited IRAs
Nationwide on March 4, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Web/Telephone Seminar: SIMPLE Plans
Nationwide on March 18, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

2008 Web/Telephone Seminar: Understanding & Processing Transfers & Rollovers
Nationwide on March 25, 2008
presented by BISYS Retirement Services

Can We Contain Health Care Costs Without Compromising Quality? - Webcast
Nationwide on February 12, 2008
presented by Alliance for Health Reform

State Health Benefit Requirements - What's a Multi-State Employer to Do?
Nationwide on March 6, 2008
presented by ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Two Step Software And Industry Experts Alert Financial Executives To Latest Equity Compensation Compliance Updates
Two-Step Software, Inc.

Transamerica Offers New, Easy-to-Use Fiduciary Management Program Featuring a Fiduciary Warranty
Transamerica Retirement Services

Craig J. Davidson Of Davidson Marketing Group To Present On The Future of Employee Benefits At The 109th Annual Independent Insurance Agents Of Wisconsin Convention
Davidson Marketing Group -- FutureOffice Network

Newly Published Study Demonstrates Return on Investment for Employee Wellness Program
Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield

PetFirst: Pet Insurance To Be More Popular in 2008; More Companies To Offer As Employee Benefit
PetFirst Healthcare


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in PA

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Pension Administrator
for Retirement Planners
in VA

Client Services - Account Manager
for ExpertPlan, Inc.
in NJ

Pension Manager
for Apex Systems, Inc.
in FL

CRTNJ - Marketing Coordinator
for CitiStreet
in NJ

Pension Compliance Specialist
for Laiken Associates, Inc.
in NY

Sr Analyst HR - Benefits
for Philip Morris USA
in VA

Defined Benefit Plan Administrator
for The Senex Group
in CA

Employee Benefit Associate
for Allen, Gibbs & Houlik, LC
in KS




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