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May 21, 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

(Click on company name or banner to learn more.)
Banner ad for International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

Be Smart by Association with the International Foundation

Smart is not a permanent state of being. What's your maintenance plan? Take advantage of the education and information available through the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, a nonprofit educational association, and find out why over 35,000 industry professionals like Cindy Conway rely on the Foundation to stay informed and educated. Make sure you have the most comprehensive information on health, pension and compensation issues. Be smart by association. www.ifebp.org/memberkit

[Guidance Overview] Chart for Corporate Employers That Compares FSAs, HRAs and HSAs (PDF)
2 pages. (The Segal Group, Inc.)


Report Cites 15 New York State HMOs for Setting Consumer Restrictions on Prescription Drugs To Boost Profits
Excerpt: "Some HMOs in New York state are restricting patients' access to so-called single-source drugs, brand-name medications for specific ailments that do not have lower-cost generic versions, according to a report released on Sunday, the New York Daily News reports." (Kaiser Family Foundation)


Google Health Offers a Great Service But Brings Serious Privacy Risks
Excerpt: "The service holds real promise to help people take control of their health records, as does a similar offering from Microsoft called HealthVault. They could also help streamline health care and contain costs. But until two major privacy concerns are fixed, I have to suggest holding off on using either one." (PC World via The Washington Post; free registration required)


Terms of California's Proposed Wellness Program Mandate
Excerpt: "California's A.B. 2360 would require that employers bidding on state contracts provide their employers with one or more wellness or fitness benefits." (Workforce Management; free registration required)


States May Require Some Employers to Provide Wellness Programs
Excerpt: "As if paying heed to the adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, state legislators are looking at ways to encourage -- or force -- employers to offer work-site wellness programs to their employees. While most of the measures gently encourage employers to promote wellness by offering financial incentives, at least two states are now considering taking a harder line: A California Assembly committee passed a bill this month that would require employers contracting with the state to offer one or more wellness programs to their employees." (Workforce Management; free registration required)


House Approves Bill to Require Substantiation of HSA Amounts
Excerpt: "Under the Taxpayer Assistance and Simplification Act (H.R.5719), health savings account (HSA) trustees -- typically banks -- would be required to substantiate that HSA distributions were for health care-related expenses. Unsubstantiated withdrawals would be included in the account holder's gross income and subject to a 10 percent penalty. The new rules would take effect for HSA distributions after December 31, 2010." (Watson Wyatt Worldwide)


HIPAA Health Information Privacy Consumer Brochures in Eight Languages Released
Excerpt: "The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has posted on its health information privacy Web site two consumer brochures, Privacy and Your Health Information and Your Health Information Privacy Rights, in eight languages: Chinese, Korean, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese and English. Previously the brochures were available in English and Spanish. These brochures educate health care consumers about the HIPAA Privacy Rule." (International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)


Evidence on the Costs and Benefits of Health Information Technology (PDF)
48 pages. Excerpt: "Many people believe that health information technology (health IT) has the potential to transform the practice of health care by reducing costs and improving quality. In this paper, prepared at the request of the Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) examines the evidence on the costs and benefits of health information technology, possible barriers to a broader distribution and use of it in hospitals and clinicians' offices, and possible options for the federal government to promote use of health IT." (U.S. Congressional Budget Office)


U.S. Ads Push Patients to Shop for Hospitals
Excerpt: "The Bush administration today launches a $1.9 million advertising campaign touting its effort to rate hospitals and urging patients to check a government website before choosing one." (USA TODAY)


[Opinion] National Coalition on Benefits Letter to Senate Finance Committee Regarding ERISA Preemption (PDF)
Excerpt: "The members of NCB believe that the federal uniformity standard under ERISA (also known as the 'preemption' standard) is a critical cornerstone to our health care system." (National Coalition on Benefits via American Benefits Council)



Sponsored by: University Conference Services

(Click on company name or banner to learn more.)
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

[Guidance Overview] IRS Provides Tax Relief for Certain Recipients of Stimulus Payments
Excerpt: "Individuals who elected to have their federal tax refunds credited to their individual retirement arrangement (IRA), health savings account (HSA), Archer MSA, Coverdell education savings account (ESA) ,or qualified tuition program account (QTP or section 529 program) via direct deposit are eligible to withdraw those amounts on a tax and penalty-free basis." (RetirementDictionary.com)


Bringing Coherence to Sovereignty and Jurisdictional Issues in Global Employee Benefits Law
Excerpt: "One of the most neglected areas of employee benefits law in the United States today is the extraterritorial application of ERISA to U.S. employees in other countries. Additionally, the courts and legislature have not spent the necessary time to discuss ERISA coverage issues for foreign employees, both legal and illegal and both working for foreign government and non-government employers, in the United States. These are increasingly crucial areas of U.S. employee benefits law as the globalization of the world's workplaces continues apace. After surveying the tangled web of ERISA law in this context, the article proposes two statutory fixes and one new path for courts to take in applying employment benefits law in the immigration milieu." (Social Science Research Network)


Mercer Issues Survey on Prevalence of Car Benefits
Excerpt: "Mercer's 2008 International Car Policies report is a valuable reference guide that can help companies define new strategies and optimize their car policies by highlighting differences in practices across key markets, identifying cost-saving measures and benchmarking an organization's car policy against others in the market. The new report provides information on allocation policies, cash alternatives to cars and associated tax regulations in 63 countries." (Mercer LLC)


2008 Top Five Total Rewards Priorities Survey (PDF)
9 pages. Excerpt: "Although no longer most employers' top worry, confronting the mounting cost of total rewards -- particularly health care benefits -- remains a high priority for survey respondents. In fact, 'the cost of providing health care benefits to active employees' was the second-highest concern on a list of 12 . . . ." (Deloitte Consulting LLP and the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists)


Court Upholds DOL Reporting Requirements on Employer Payments to Unions
Excerpt: "According to a Department of Labor (DOL) press release, on May 5, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia dismissed a challenge to the DOL's authority to require reports from attorneys who make payments to unions or union officials. The Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) requires employers to file reports if, among other things, they provide money or other things of value to a union or a union officer or employee." (International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)


Vacations Continue to be Less of a Break from Work
Excerpt: "One-quarter of workers surveyed by CareerBuilder.com said they stay in contact with work while on vacation." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)


Unum Will Make 529 Plan Contribution for Employees' Children
Excerpt: "Employee benefit provider Unum has announced that it will now kick in $700 towards a 529 college fund for the children of its employees." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)


Baby Boomers Retiring and Leaving Employers Short on Talent
Excerpt: "Talk about a brain drain: according to a new study of large corporations by Aon Consulting, the majority of employers feel that the wave of baby boomers now starting to retire will leave them with a substantial shortage of leadership talent in the very near future. Specifically, 60% of corporations polled by Aon said that they expect the performance of their businesses to be affected by the loss of baby-boomer talent -- up from only 16% of employers who reported the same concerns last year." (Financial Week; free registration required)




Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Are You Ready For EGTRRA Restatements?
Nationwide on May 28, 2008
presented by ftwilliam.com

Benchmarking: Secrets of High Performing Companies
in Texas on December 9, 2008
presented by WEB (Worldwide Employee Benefits Network) Dallas Chapter

Communicating and Managing Change
in Texas on May 27, 2008
presented by WEB (Worldwide Employee Benefits Network) Dallas Chapter

Fiduciary responsibility
in Texas on August 26, 2008
presented by WEB (Worldwide Employee Benefits Network) Dallas Chapter

Form 5500 Refresher Course
Nationwide on May 29, 2008
presented by ftwilliam.com

How to Retire by Age 80
in Texas on September 30, 2008
presented by WEB (Worldwide Employee Benefits Network) Dallas Chapter

Labor Law Update
in Texas on June 24, 2008
presented by WEB (Worldwide Employee Benefits Network) Dallas Chapter

Open up and say "Audit"
in Texas on July 29, 2008
presented by WEB (Worldwide Employee Benefits Network) Dallas Chapter

Understanding Your Responsibilities under ERISA Workshop
in Missouri on May 22, 2008
presented by U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

Vendor management practices
in Texas on October 28, 2008
presented by WEB (Worldwide Employee Benefits Network) Dallas Chapter

WorldatWork course B3 - Health Care and Insurance Plans - Design and Management
in Texas on May 12, 2008
presented by WEB (Worldwide Employee Benefits Network) Dallas Chapter

WorldatWork course B3 - Health Care and Insurance Plans - Design and Management
in Texas on November 12, 2008
presented by WEB (Worldwide Employee Benefits Network) Dallas Chapter



Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Prudential Financial Named One of the Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces in America
Prudential Financial, Inc.

ShareBuilder401k Reports Surging Demand for Small Biz 401k Plans
ShareBuilder

Employer Study From Families and Work Institute Shows Significant Changes for U.S. Workers Since 1998
Families and Work Institute



We're one of the top 350 employment sites on the web!Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
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Senior Actuarial Analyst
for Stanley, Hunt, DuPree, & Rhine Inc.
in SC

Compliance Analyst - ERISA
for T. Rowe Price
in CO

Pension Consultant
for Mercer Advisors
in CA

Senior Compliance Analyst - ERISA
for T. Rowe Price
in MD

Manager of Daily Operations
for Plan Benefit Services, Inc.
in TX

Sr Benefits Specialist- Health and Welfare
for Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc.
in AZ

PSC Site Manager
for Citi
in ME

Senior Conversion Analyst
for Administaff
in TX

Director ERISA Consultant
for Charles Schwab & Company
in AZ

TOA Operations Manager
for Charles Schwab & Company
in AZ

Mutual Fund Senior Operations Manager
for Charles Schwab & Company
in AZ




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