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June 6, 2008

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

Today's sponsor is University Conference Services

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Banner ad for University Conference Services

Trimming the Benefits Tab Without Cutting the Value

If you’re like most employers, you struggle with how to contain the cost of your health care programs without diminishing their value to employees. There are many remedies to consider, but you do you know what’s best for your organization? Health and Welfare Plan Management for Mid-Sized Employers, September 7–10, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, is the perfect place to find out if you have the right "dosage" for your benefit plans.

[Guidance Overview] Hewitt Federal Legislation Quick Guide Updated June 4, 2008, for Health and Welfare Plans (PDF)
11 pages. This Federal Legislation Quick Guide provides short updates on federal legislation that is currently under active consideration by Congress or has recently been enacted into law regarding health and welfare benefit plans. (Hewitt Associates)

Three Key Choices for Health Management
Excerpt: "Employers can achieve significant, often dramatic labor savings and other financial gains in their health programs. But to do so, they need to do three things: focus on the most promising health challenges and employees; choose the right set of financial gains to measure in planning, implementing and evaluating investments; and select the best providers and interventions." (Workforce Management; free registration required)

20th Century Saw Unprecedented Advances in Longevity, but Alarms Sounding with Regard to Health Care Costs
Excerpt: "The 20th century saw unprecedented advances in longevity, but alarms have been sounding for some time over the cost-benefit relationship of these twin goals. Some economists argue that extending healthy life is a great creator of wealth, while others worry that life-prolonging measures could imperil the very economies that finance them. This article focuses on the more quantifiable wellness part of Aristotle's formulation and the consequences of individuals and entire societies taking these twin–sometimes conflicting–objectives to extremes." (Michael J. Cowell via Society of Actuaries)

Federal Health IT Strategic Plan: 2008-2012 (PDF)
115 pages. Excerpt: "The Plan has two goals, Patient-focused Health Care and Population Health, with four objectives under each goal. The themes of privacy and security, interoperability, IT adoption, and collaborative governance recur across the goals, but they apply in very different ways to health care and population health." (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services)

Increasing Transparency in the Pricing of Health Care Services and Pharma.ceuticals (PDF)
8 pages. Excerpt: "Questions about transparency in health care costs extend beyond the prices for specific services and pharma.ceuticals. Workers pay for employment-based health insurance through reduced take-home pay, but those costs may not be evident to many of them. A greater awareness of the total costs of health care and who ultimately bears them might generate increased demand for efficiency in that sector." (U.S. Congressional Budget Office)

Viewpoints: The Health Care Debate
Excerpt: "This new series, Viewpoints: The Health Care Debate, features interviews with leaders of organizations representing health care providers, insurers, policymakers, employers, labor unions and consumers sharing their views on shortcomings in the nation's health care system and how it could be improved." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

[Opinion] Online Health Records - Difference Between the Terms 'on the Internet' and 'Accessible Through the Internet'
Excerpt: "As both a writer and a former software developer, I see a huge difference between the terms 'on the Internet' and 'accessible through the Internet.'" (

[Opinion] Hearing: Rising Costs, Low Quality in Health Care - The Necessity for Reform
The page provides links to member and witness statements. (U.S. Senate Committee on Finance)

Sponsored by: WorldatWork

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Banner ad for WorldatWork

WorldatWork publications in the BenefitsLink Bookstore

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.

(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] Miller & Chevalier's Focus on Employee Benefits, June 5, 2008 (PDF)
6 pages. The newsletter offers articles on: Health FSA and Mental Health Parity; Qualified Plan Queries: Differential Pay Now Compensation Under Code Section 415 and New Distribution Feature; Qualified Plan Queries: Military Survivor and Disability Benefits Under Tax-Qualified Plans; Exec Comp Corner: New Code Section 887A Impacting Withholding on Certain Expatriates' Deferred Compensation. (Miller & Chevalier Chartered)

[Guidance Overview] Hewitt Federal Legislation Quick Guide Updated June 4, 2008, on Human Resources & Employment Law (PDF)
10 pages. This Federal Legislation Quick Guide provides short updates on federal legislation that is currently under active consideration by Congress or has recently been enacted into law regarding human resources and employment law. (Hewitt Associates)

[Guidance Overview] HEART Act Requires Employers to Provide Benefits to Employees Called to Military Service (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "Certain HEART Act provisions are immediately effective for employee benefit plans. Plans generally must be amended to comply with the HEART Act provisions by the 2010 plan year." (Ballard Sphar)

[Guidance Overview] Spring-Loading Options - Emerging Trends in the Law of Fiduciary Duty
Excerpt: "This article was originally published in the Law Journal Newsletters – The Corporate Counselor, Volume 22, Number 12, May 2008. It is reprinted here with the publisher's permission. Delaware courts are beginning to analyze claims concerning the controversial practice of spring-loading options. Spring-loading is the granting of options just prior to the release of favorable company information (in the company's possession at the time of the grant)." (Winston & Strawn LLP)

[Guidance Overview] Deadline Approaching for Amending Deferred Compensation Arrangements under Section 409A
Excerpt: "All covered deferred compensation arrangements must be amended on or before December 31, 2008. The process of identifying and adopting any necessary amendments to existing compensation arrangements can be time consuming and complex. This update provides general background information on Section 409A and offers practical tips and guidance on actions that should be taken immediately in light of the upcoming deadline." (Perkins Coie LLP)

[Guidance Overview] Issue Brief: The Final 409A Deferred Compensation Regulations
The NCEO presents excerpts from its new issue brief on the final deferred compensation regulations under Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code. (National Center for Employee Ownership)

A Proposal for 'Hands-Off Options'
Excerpt: "Despite recent reforms, public company executives can still use inside information to time their stock sales, secretly boosting their pay. They can also still inflate the stock price before selling. Such insider trading and price manipulation imposes large costs on shareholders. This paper suggests that executives' options be cashed out according to a pre-specified, gradual schedule. These hands-off options would substantially reduce the costs associated with current equity arrangements while imposing little burden on executives." (Social Science Research Network)

Latest Options Backdating Settlement First to Include Consultant
Excerpt: "Cablevision Systems Corp has agreed to a $34.4 million settlement of an investor lawsuit over its stock options award practices." (; free registration required)

Maximizing Retirement Compensation for Senior Executives
Excerpt: "Given . . . restrictions, particularly for companies where retirement plan participation is low, finding additional ways to provide higher retirement income for senior executives can be important for recruiting and retention purposes. It takes good planning, but there are several options available. Generally, they include: Boosting overall retirement plan enrollment; Creating specific types of qualified retirement plans; Offering exclusive Supplemental Retirement and Compensation Plans (SERPs)" (Industrial Distribution)

Employee Benefit Market Undergoing a Total Transformation
Excerpt: "Before an audience of top benefits professionals and insurance carriers, Samuel Fleet, CEO, AmWINS Group Benefits, today gave brokers the stark choice to either adapt to marketplace changes or become extinct . . . ." (Managed Care Weekly Digest via NewsEdge via Human Resource Executive Online)

[Opinion] Groom Law Group Weighs in on Supreme Court Debate over Conflict of Interest Case: MetLife Insurance Co. v. Glenn
Excerpt: "At issue is whether and how a court will consider the fact that the same entity that funds a benefit plan also decides a participant's claim for benefits under the plan. Some courts have viewed this dual role as a conflict of interest that requires a more heightened standard of review of the benefit claim decision than otherwise would be required. Why should retirement plan administrators care about this case? Under current law, if the entity that funds the plan also decides claims for benefits under the plan, the standard of review of a benefit claim will vary, even though the facts are the same, depending on the court that reviews the benefit claim. The Supreme Court's decision in this case should provide a more uniform standard throughout the country." (Business Wire)

Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Are You Ready For EGTRRA Restatements?
Nationwide on June 10, 2008
presented by

Are You Ready For EGTRRA Restatements?
Nationwide on June 24, 2008
presented by

Form 5500 Refresher Course
Nationwide on June 18, 2008
presented by

Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Newkirk Adds Investment Change Notice To Targeted Communications

Pension Rights Center Asks Congress to Protect Workers’ Retirement Security in Corporate Bankruptcies
Pension Rights Center announces free trial of InfoLink until July 31st

SunTrust Investment Services Announces Simplified Retirement Planning Program, Retirement GamePlan(TM)
SunTrust Banks, Inc.

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Data Conversion Specialist
for Vanguard
in PA

Benefits Consultant
for Northwestern Benefit Corporation of Georgia
in GA

Pricing Consultant/Underwriter
for Diversified Investment Advisors
in NY

Client Services Manager Retirement Services
for Charles Schwab & Company
in AZ

Director – Relationship Management
for Charles Schwab & Company
in AZ

Product Manager
for Prudential Financial
in NJ

Sr. Retirement Plan Administrator
for Charles Schwab
in TX

Proposal Writer-Retirement Services
for Charles Schwab
in AZ, MA, OH

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