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June 26, 2008

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


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[Guidance Overview] With MetLife v. Glen , How Much Did the Supreme Court Change the Standard of Review in ERISA Cases? (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "Employers and insurers should also consider the extent to which the structural conflict of interest should be removed altogether by giving authority for claims and appeals to fiduciaries that play no role in the payment, design, or budgeting of benefits and whose only function is to interpret the terms of the plan and the facts of the individual claim for benefits." (Jones Day)


[Guidance Overview] Treasury Releases Q&A on HSAs
Excerpt: "The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service released on Wednesday additional guidance on health savings accounts (HSAs). Notice 2008-59 contains 42 new frequently asked questions and answers to those questions as well as examples." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)


Microsoft, Google and Others Agree to Electronic Health Records Standard
Excerpt: "In a move designed to prompt more people to store their medical records online, Microsoft ( NSDQ: MSFT), Google ( NSDQ: GOOG) and several others have agreed on privacy standards to protect patients' information. The list includes WebMD ( NSDQ: WBMD), MedicAlert, AARP, Consumer Reports publisher Consumers Union, BlueCross BlueShield, and other insurers." (paidContent.org via The Washington Post; free registration required)


Smoking Programs Succeed for Plans and Patients
Excerpt: "Employers have made clear that they really want smoking cessation programs, which suits those insurers that are repositioning themselves as prevention-oriented health services companies." (Managed Care Magazine)


Fidelity Study Shows $85K Needed for Long-Term Care Insurance Costs for a Couple
Excerpt: "A 65-year-old couple needs $85,000 on average to cover insurance costs for long-term care such as nursing home stays in retirement, according to a study to be released Thursday by Fidelity Investments." (AP via The New York Times; free registration required)


More Americans Delay Health Care, According to Report
Excerpt: "An increasing array of Americans, many with health insurance, are delaying or forgoing medical care because of concern about cost, according to a report from the Center for Studying Health System Change." (The Wall Street Journal)


Americans' Access to Medical Care Deteriorates, 2003-2007
Excerpt: "The number and proportion of Americans reporting going without or delaying needed medical care increased sharply between 2003 and 2007, according to findings from the Center for Studying Health System Change's (HSC) nationally representative 2007 Health Tracking Household Survey." (Center for Studying Health System Change)


Employers Increasingly Use Incentives for Wellness Programs
Excerpt: "A new survey reveals that as the use of health and wellness programs continue to grow, so too does the use of incentives for employee participation in and completion of these programs." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)


National Health Insurer Report Card
Information available includes a report that health insurers' report cards show need for improvement; the AMA Press Release; Complete Metrics; and, Data only. (American Medical Association)


Behind the Numbers: Medical Cost Trends for 2009
Excerpt: "Healthcare costs continue to outpace the rate of inflation but the silver lining is that since 2003 the percentage rate of increases has diminished each year. According to employers and health plans, that trend is predicted to level off in 2009 and premium increases should be expected in the future." (PricewaterhouseCoopers; free registration required)


It's Code Blue for Retiree Medical Bennies
Excerpt: "Xerox is far from alone in refusing to increase or even to offer retiree health benefits. Few employers provide such benefits, and the number that do is declining. According to the federal government's Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, just 13% of private sector employers offered health benefits to early retirees or Medicare-eligible retirees in 2005, down from as much as 21.6% for pre-65 retirees and 19.5% for post-65 retirees before 2000." (Financial Week; free registration required)


[Opinion] Is It Time to Require All Employers to Provide Health Care for Their Employees?
Excerpt: "Should Congress, as part of a broader health care reform proposal, consider adopting a Federal 'pay' or 'play' approach whereby all employers would have the choice of providing benefits that cost X (e.g., X cents/hour, X percentage of payroll) or contributing an equivalent amount to a public insurance pool under which all individuals without insurance would obtain coverage? If employers should continue to be in the mix at all in the future, would that be a fairer way to equalize the funding of the system, rather than letting employers that voluntarily provide coverage for their employees continue to subsidize other employers that don't through cost-shifting?" (Pension & Benefits Blog)


[Opinion] Employers' Coalition on Medicare Writes to Express Concerns with Medicare Legislation Currently Under Development (PDF)
1 page. Excerpt: "Limitations on employers' ability to offer the [Medicare Advantage Private Fee-for-Service] option, as well as severe reductions in MA payments, would hurt retirees who prefer these plans, and would disproportionately hurt beneficiaries who are located in areas where there are no other Medicare Advantage options available." (American Benefits Council)


[Opinion] With Metropolitan Life Insurance Company et. al. v. Glenn, The Pigeons Come Home to Roost
Excerpt: "Since 2004, we have warned Fiduciaries of ERISA Plans about the Plans' Consultants wearing multiple hats and performing multiple responsibilities. We repeatedly said the way to avoid conflicts of interest is to only do one thing: actuaries be actuaries, investment advisors monitor investments, insurance agents sell insurance, etc." (Webb Says blog)



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Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview] New Reporting Requirements for Employers with Corporate Owned Life Insurance (PDF)
Page 8 of 8 pages. Excerpt: "Taxpayers who hold employer-owned life insurance contracts that are subject to the requirements of Section 101(j) are required to file Form 8925 with their income tax return for each tax year ending after November 13, 2007." (The Cochlan Group)


[Guidance Overview] Accounting for Financing Assets of Nonqualified Benefit Plans (PDF)
Pages 6-7 of 8 pages. Excerpt: "When financed, there are typically two methods: mutual funds and Corporate Owned Life Insurance ('COLI'). Financing nonqualified benefit liabilities enables the company to establish an asset that offsets the liability, providing a certain level of comfort to plan participants." (The Cochlan Group)


[Guidance Overview] Interim CEO Did Not Qualify As 'Outside Director' for Purposes of Performance-Based Pay Rules
Excerpt: "IRS Reg. 1.162-27(e)(3)(i) provides that an 'outside director' must not have been an officer of the publicly held corporation, among other requirements. Under the facts and circumstances presented, the interim CEO acted with the full authority of an officer and was, therefore, barred from participating on the compensation committee as an outside director, the IRS concluded." (Wolters Kluwer)


Federal Pay and Benefits Watch
Excerpt: "Here's a look at several pieces of current legislation that would affect the pay and benefits of feds . . . ." (GovernmentExecutive.com)


Fifth Report of Results from Sibson's 2006 Rewards of Work Study: Keys to Retaining and Engaging Employees in Different Age Groups (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "For the last decade, Sibson Consulting has focused our Rewards of Work Study around gaining an understanding of how employees feel about their work. What motivates employees? What retains them? What attracts them? These questions have represented the core of what Sibson Consulting considers the 'Rewards of Work.'" (The Segal Group, Inc.)


[Opinion] A Retirement Income Solution - Create a Senior Class of Worker
Excerpt: "To get back to the real world, employers will need incentives to hire older workers. So here's my plan, inspired in part by this article in last Sunday's New York Times: create a 'senior class' of employee for those 62 and up. Employers would no longer have to contribute their share of Social Security taxes for such employees 62 and over -- although employees would continue contributing their share and continue to earn credit for paying into the system." (Investment News; free registration required)




Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

AIF and AIFA Training Programs
in California on July 28, 2008
presented by Fiduciary360 (fi360)



Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

U.S. Labor Department Testifies Before House Ways and Means Subcommittee About Employer-Sponsored Individual Retirement Arrangements
U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

CEFEX Advisor Certification Now Renders Legal Opinion on Compliance
Centre for Fiduciary Excellence (CEFEX)



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DC/401(k) Plan Administrator
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in CA

Administrator for Retirement Plan and ERISA Specialists
for Dana Consulting Group, Ltd.
in IL

Plan Administrator/Trust Accountant
for Thomas F. Barrett, Inc.
in DC, MD, VA

Employee Benefits Account Executive
for Van Gilder Insurance Corporation
in CO

Client Development Manager, Special Markets
for Transamerica Retirement Services
in CA

TRS Marketing Investment Manager
for Transamerica Retirement Services
in CA

Actuary/Pension Plan Consultant
for The Weiss Group, Inc.
in IL

Client Relationship Consultant
for Gallagher Retirement Services
in IL

Trust Administrator
for Comerica
in MI

Consultant, Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation
for National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA)
in VA

Compliance Analyst - Retirement Services
for Transamerica Retirement Services
in CA

Pension Plan Operations Representative
for Transamerica Retirement Services
in CA

DC Testing Specialist
for Kravitz - Louis Kravitz & Associates
in ANY STATE, CA




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