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May 14, 2008

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


Today's sponsor is BeneCom Associates, LLC

(Click on company name or banner to learn more.)
Banner ad for BeneCom Associates, LLC

Changes to your benefit plans can be confusing. Communicating them doesn’t have to be.

No matter how benefits-savvy your employees may be, benefit plan changes can be confusing to the most sophisticated consumer. That’s why companies large and small use BeneCom for their benefits communication. We make understanding benefit changes easy, so employees know exactly what you’re offering and how it will work for them. And while we’re at it, we’ll make your life a little easier, too.

[Guidance Overview] New Jersey to Provide Paid Family Leave
Excerpt: "Employers are required to post and distribute a notice of the new Family Temporary Disability Leave program within 30 days after it is developed by the Commissioner of Labor. Notice also must be given when an employee is hired, at the request of an employee, and when an employee notifies the employer of a leave that is covered by the Family Temporary Disability Leave program." (Deloitte)


[Guidance Overview] Prominent Provisions of the Genetic Nondiscrimination Act
Excerpt: "The Secretary of Labor is provided new enforcement authority. It may impose a penalty against the plan sponsor or issuer for failure to meet the requirements of ERISA §§ 701 and 702 regarding genetic information and discrimination. The permissive penalty is $100 per day for each participant or beneficiary to whom the failure applies. If the failure is discovered by the Secretary before it is corrected, however, a minimum penalty of at least $2,500 per person shall apply (or, where the violations have been more than de minimis, at least $15,000 per person shall apply)." (Deloitte)


[Guidance Overview] 2009 HSA/HDHP Limits Released (PDF)
Excerpt: "Among other things, the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 changed the time for computing cost-of-living adjustments to health savings account (HSA) and high-deductible health plan (HDHP) limits so as to assure their release by June 1 prior to the calendar year in which they become effective. The IRS has now released these numbers for 2009." (Buck Consultants)


[Guidance Overview] 2009 Contribution Limits for HSAs Released
Excerpt: "For calendar year 2009, the annual limitation on deductions under Code Sec. 223(b)(2) for an individual with self-only coverage under a high-deductible plan is $3,000 ($5,950 for an individual with family coverage)." (Wolters Kluwer)


Most Americans Are Taking Prescription Medications for Chronic Health Problems
Excerpt: "For the first time, it appears that more than half of all insured Americans are taking prescription medicines regularly for chronic health problems, a study shows. The most widely used drugs are those to lower high blood pressure and cholesterol -- problems often linked to heart disease, obesity and diabetes." (AP via Washington Post; free registration required)


Wellness Programs On The Rise
Excerpt: "Two studies show increases in the number wellness initiatives offered by companies, as employers focus on improving worker health as a way to decrease healthcare costs. The need to retain older boomers on the job is also a factor." (Human Resource Executive Online)


[Opinion] San Francisco Has Plan for Stemming Retiree Health Benefit Costs, But It Could Be Better
Excerpt: "The good news about San Francisco's Proposition B is that it represents a rare effort by a local government to confront its daunting long-term liability for its retirees. Governments at all levels have been ignoring a fiscal time bomb: Their binding promises to provide workers with lifetime health care benefits, without putting away any money to prepare for the cost. The bad news about Proposition B is that it is more complicated and less effective than it could have been." (San Francisco Chronicle)


[Opinion] New York State 'Retiree Health Insurance Protection' Bill Would Send Property Taxes Soaring
Excerpt: "At first glance, the union-backed bill might seem harmless. In reality, it's a Trojan horse. It would create a task force to study 'retiree health insurance protection,' whose 12 members include at least five pro-labor votes. It also would impose a moratorium, through June 30, 2009, blocking efforts by local governments to implement cost savings for retiree benefits -- unless the same changes are negotiated for current employees. " (Buffalo News)



Sponsored by: University Conference Services

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Banner ad for University Conference Services

Walking the Benefits Management Tightrope

Do you sometimes feel like a high wire acrobat performing without a net? That’s how it can seem as you try to span the chasm between managing an attractive benefits program and reigning in costs. The Health and Welfare Plan Management for Mid-Sized Employers, June 8–11, 2008, in Chicago, guides you through today’s complex benefit issues and offers solutions to help you master your technique.

(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

[Opinion] New Book Explains How 'Pension Monster' of Unfunded Benefit Liabilities Guts GM, Halts NYC Subways, Bleeds San Diego
Excerpt: "Pensions resemble a reverse neutron bomb: They gut cities and factories, yet leave armies of retirees standing, unscathed and ready for that Caribbean cruise. If you don't believe me, dip into Roger Lowenstein's troubling financial fable, 'While America Aged.' The three narrative histories presented here outline how pensions drove General Motors Corp. to the brink, brought New York subways to a halt, and turned sunny San Diego into Enron-by-the-Sea." (James Pressley on Bloomberg.com)




Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Complying with Employee Benefits Law: Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program Seminar
in California on June 9, 2008
presented by U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

Complying with Employee Benefits Law: Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program Seminar
in California on June 19, 2008
presented by U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

Employer Mandated Wellness Programs: Discrimination Issues and Other Claims in the Workplace
Nationwide on May 20, 2008
presented by ALI-ABA (American Law Institute-American Bar Association)



Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

ASPPA Launches Retirement Professionals Directory
ASPPA (American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries)

National Business Group on Health Honors Gilsbar, Inc. As One of Best Employers for Healthy Lifestyles
Gilsbar, Inc.

ERIC Urges Key House and Senate Members to Approve E-Prescribing Legislation
ERIC (ERISA Industry Committee)

Treasury, IRS Issue 2009 Indexed Amounts for Health Savings Accounts
U.S. Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service

Consumers Need Affordable Health Care Options
Consumers Union

RWJF Childhood Obesity Update: 2008
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation



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