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April 2, 2008

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


Today's sponsor is International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

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Banner ad for International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

Celebrate National Employee Benefits Day on April 2, 2008!

The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans is once again leading the celebrations for National Employee Benefits Day. This year the day has a special focus on health care literacy. The Foundation is encouraging those who are involved in employee benefits to use the day to educate themselves and their plan participants. Visit www.ifebp.org/benefitsday for free informational resources to help you plan your celebration!

[Guidance Overview] How Are HSA Distributions HSA Taxed After an HSA Owner Is No Longer an Eligible Individual?
Excerpt: "If an HSA owner is no longer an eligible individual (e.g., over age 65 and enrolled in Medicare or no longer has a high-deductible health plan), distributions used exclusively to pay for qualified medical expenses, including those of his/her spouse and dependents, continue to be excludable from the HSA owner's gross income." (Wolters Kluwer)


Predictive Modeling Can Help Prevent Illness Before It Even Occurs
Excerpt: "Predictive modeling (PM), by basic definition, is the process of developing health care programs for at-risk populations based on statistical probabilities obtained through advanced software tools. The idea is to target patients who have a good possibility of developing a disease somewhere down the road, and then administer treatment early on in an effort to stop the illness, or at least limit its severity." (Employee Benefit News; free registration required)


Medicare Part D 2008 Data Spotlight: Ten Most Common Brand-Name Drugs (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "This Medicare Part D Data Spotlight examines the variation in coverage, cost sharing and utilization management tools for the 10 prescriptions most commonly used by Medicare beneficiaries, including treatments for cholesterol, cardiovascular health, osteoporosis, dementia, gastrointestinal reflux and ulcers." (Kaiser Family Foundation)


Medicare Prescription Drug Plans in 2008 and Key Changes Since 2006: Summary of Findings (PDF)
7 pages. Excerpt: "This synthesis of key findings from analysis presented in a series of eight Medicare Part D 2008 Data Spotlights describes key features of stand-alone prescription drug plans offered in 2008 and trends since 2006. The synthesis covers a range of topics, including premiums, the coverage gap, benefit design, cost sharing, specialty tiers, formularies, utilization management, the top 10 brand-name prescription drugs, and the availability of low-income subsidy plans." (Kaiser Family Foundation)


Retiree Health Care Plans Staging a Comeback
Excerpt: "After sharp declines throughout the 1990s, the percentage of large U.S. employers offering retiree health care has been stable the past few years and even rose slightly last year, according to research by benefit consultant Mercer. There are other signs of renewed employer interest in retiree health care plans. Since its launch in 2005, the number of employers joining a program that enables colleges and universities to sponsor retiree health care plans has climbed to 52 from 29, with more institutions expected to join." (Workforce Management; free registration required)


Governor Says Fees for Massachusetts Health Care Program May Rise
Excerpt: "Hundreds of businesses may be hit up for more money due to the escalating costs of the state's new universal health-care system. Gov. Deval Patrick yesterday refused to rule out a possible increase in the $295 annual assessment some firms have to pay per employee for the new Commonwealth Care program. Patrick said the landmark program is a victim of its own success in some ways, because so many more uninsured people have signed up than anticipated." (Boston Herald and Herald Media)


Insurers Look at Virtual Visits to Doctor
Excerpt: "Aetna Inc., one of Philadelphia's dominant insurers, and Cigna Corp., which is based here, have announced that they will pay for doctors' visits on the Web. Aetna expanded a pilot program in California, Florida and Washington to the rest of the country on Jan 1. Cigna will start paying in January." (The Philadelphia Inquirer)


Standard for Rating Doctors Takes Shape
Excerpt: "Health insurers, physician organizations and patient advocates agreed Tuesday to develop a standard for rating physicians that could replace varying performance evaluation systems operated mostly by insurers .It does not call for a central clearinghouse Web site, but for a national standard insurers would follow in ranking doctors." (Houston Chronicle)


Southern States Seek Health Care Reform
Excerpt: "Three southern states recently introduced health care reform proposals specifically targeting small businesses. Proposals in Georgia and Mississippi would apply to firms with up to 50 employees, while Alabama's proposal is aimed at employers with fewer than 25 employees." (Wolters Kluwer)


Health Coverage OK'd for Partners of Arizona State Workers
Excerpt: "Supporters termed Tuesday's decision a breakthrough for the state in terms of its treatment of employees and competitiveness in luring and retaining a workforce. Meanwhile, critics likened the administrative rule change to a sidestep of the Legislature and hinted at a possible legal challenge in the months ahead." (azcentral.com)


[Opinion] Corporate Wellness Programs May Be Bad Investments
Excerpt: "Wellness programs are the latest fashion experiment among companies in the ongoing battle to fight the inflation in health care costs and increase productivity in the workplace. But before your client or business joins the gaggle of enamored converts, the long-term costs of such programs must be thoroughly analyzed. This article identifies the potential pitfalls of wellness programs and why companies would be best served to let this trend pass." (Law.com)


[Opinion] National Association of Insurance Commissioners Files Amicus Brief in MetLife v. Glenn
Excerpt: "State Auditor John Morrison today filed a 'friend of the court' brief in a United States Supreme Court case involving worker rights under group health and disability insurance." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)


[Opinion] Majority of U.S. Doctors Back National Insurance Plan
Excerpt: "A survey conducted last year of 2,193 physicians across the United States found that 59 percent support 'government legislation to establish national health insurance,' while 32 percent oppose it, and 9 percent are neutral. In 2002, a similar survey found that 49 percent of physicians supported the concept, while 40 percent opposed it." (HealthDay News via The Washington Post; free registration required)



Sponsored by: ALM

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Banner ad for ALM

Complete Benefits Law Guidance from Law Journal Press

The nation's workforce and health care system are constantly evolving and so are the legal issues. Law Journal Press helps you handle any benefits law question with up-to-date, authoritative books on all aspects of the field. Get legal and practical advice from leading experts on everything from COBRA to ERISA, "contingent" employees to family and medical leave, and more. Browse our product listings for detailed information and special offers.

(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

[Guidance Overview] The International Implications of IRC §409A
Excerpt: "Deferred compensation arrangements issued by foreign-owned operations or by US companies with operations abroad were not originally exempt from the application of Internal Revenue Code §409A. However, under proposed and now final regulations issued by the Internal Revenue Service ('IRS'), there are exemptions that apply which are geared towards limiting the effect of §409A on non-resident aliens and US citizens or residents who participate in non-US plans." (Faegre & Benson LLP)


[Guidance Overview] Valuing Employee Stock Options for Closely Held Companies
Excerpt: "Until recently, non-public companies that granted options, warrants or other types of stock-based compensation to their employees were not typically required to determine values for these complex derivative instruments. Current financial reporting standards such as FASB Statement no. 123(R), Share-Based Payment, as well as recent federal tax law changes (IRC § 409A) are compelling companies to value these financial instruments using stock option valuation models developed for publicly traded stock options." (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants)


Some Companies Rethink Telecommuting Trend
Excerpt: "A few big promoters of home-based and mobile-office work arrangements, including AT&T, Intel, Hewlett-Packard and parts of the federal government, have called some home-based workers back to the office, causing some to quit. The callbacks are small and don't reflect a full retrenchment, but the factors at work - a push to consolidate operations, and the notion that teamwork improves when people work face-to-face - suggest other employers might follow suit as recession clouds loom." (The Wall Street Journal via The Maryland Gazette)




Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Written 403(b) Plans and How They Affect Contract Transfers - Webcast
Nationwide on April 16, 2008
presented by ASPPA and NTSAA



Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

PBGC Protects Pensions At Austin Company
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC)

Schwab Sees More Employers Offering Roth 401k
Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.

ASPPA & CIKR Recommend Changes in Proposed 408(b)(2) DOL Regs
American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA)

401k Producer Services Attracts 200th Firm to Its Advisor Family
401k Advisors

Small Firm Workers Pick Large Firm Benefits; Couples Use Health Coverage Of Large-Firm Employed Spouse
Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration

401k to Replace Pension Plan at 3M
3M



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