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July 9, 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

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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] Question on Maximum Annual HSA Contribution Limits
Excerpt: "How do the maximum annual HSA contribution limits apply to an individual with family high-deductible health plan (HDHP) coverage if the family HDHP covers spouses or dependent children who also have coverage under a non-HDHP, Medicare, or Medicaid?" (Wolters Kluwer)

[Guidance Overview] Employer Flex Credits in a Sec. 125 Plan and FSA Limits and Changing Employment
Excerpt: "[Response to a question about] an employer group that has a Sec. 125 FSA plan year of March 1 to February 28. There is a bargaining contract in place and part of the initial negotiations required the employer to provide a $25 per month subsidy for either a wellness benefit or the FSA to be used by the employee." (Wolters Kluwer)

Coverage Mandates Included in Massachusetts Health Insurance Law Cost $1.3B Annually, Report Finds
Excerpt: "Coverage of 26 health benefits mandated under Massachusetts' health insurance law account for 12 cents of every $1 paid for health insurance, and statewide, the mandates cost about $1.3 billion annually, according to a report released on Monday by the state Division of Health Care Finance and Policy, the Boston Globe reports." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

New Jersey Extends Age Gap for Children on Parents' Coverage
Excerpt: "Legislation signed into law Monday, July 7, by New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine will allow employees' children to retain coverage through a parent's group health insurance plan until age 31." (Workforce Management; free registration required)

Projecting Health Care Cost Trends: Observations on the SOA's New Model
Excerpt: "Professor Thomas E. Getzen, a health economist at Temple University, developed the Long Term Healthcare Cost Trends Resource Model in consultation with the Society of Actuaries (SOA).2 The project was undertaken to give auditors and others a comprehensive and accepted framework for evaluating long-term trend assumptions and gauging their reasonableness relative to other economic variables." (Watson Wyatt Worldwide)

Creative Pairing of HSAs with Other Benefits Can Result in Synergies That Deliver Better Benefits and Coverages
Excerpt: "In the early days of HSAs, employers were trying to get their bearings in order to understand – and then utilize – this new savings vehicle. Now, a solid group of HSA devotees has begun pairing other products and programs with HSAs so employees can better maximize the advantages inherent in these plans. These pairings must take into account that HSA-eligible individuals must be covered by a high deductible health plan that meets IRS criteria and can have no other coverage that pays benefits before the IRS-established minimum deductible has been met." (Warner Norcross & Judd LLP)

Account-Based Health Plans: What Works, What Doesn't -- And Why
Excerpt: "Is your company thinking of setting up an account-based plan? If so, . . . here are some steps you should avoid: Launching the plan in a negative environment -- where employees have reacted negatively to change or aren't prepared well in advance; Neglecting to involve leadership in planning and communication; Focusing exclusively on benefit design to achieve cost savings and other objectives; Positioning the program as 'just another option' among other plan offerings without communicating the fundamental differences; Selecting vendors who are poorly prepared; Walking away after implementation e.g., delivering communication and support only during enrollment)." (Towers Perrin)

Employee Skepticism About Health Risk Assessments
Article, Podcast, Report. Excerpt: "In an Employee Benefit News podcast and article, Hewitt's Tim Stentiford discusses the challenges employers face when trying to conduct health risk assessments." (Hewitt Associates)

McCain Plan to Aid States on Health Could Be Costly
Excerpt: "In late April, Mr. McCain, Republican of Arizona, announced that if elected president he would seek to [vastly expand] federal support for state high-risk pools like Maryland's, or by creating a structure modeled after them." (The New York Times; free registration required)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Launches 'Healthiest Nation Campaign' To Improve Health of U.S. Residents
Excerpt: "According to CDC Director Julie Gerberding, the campaign will seek to include efforts to improve health in social policies in all levels of government and all sectors." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

[Opinion] What Does RAND Health Insurance Experiment Tell Us About Impact of Patient Cost Sharing on Health Outcomes? (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "Most importantly, we believe it is possible to reduce the adverse consequences of cost sharing by adopting the principles of value-based insurance design (VBID), which argues that copayments or cost sharing more generally should be kept low for high-value healthcare services." (The American Journal of Managed Care)

[Opinion] What is 'Health Care for America Now' Doing?
Excerpt: "The private insurance industry, as it functions today, clearly must be replaced with a system that works. So what is the solution proposed by the HCAN coalition? Let's replace the private insurance industry with… the private insurance industry. Only let's regulate it by requiring the insurers to provide us with the comprehensive coverage that we need 'through the largest possible pools' - thus ensuring that their products will have premiums that only the very wealthiest of us can afford." (Physicians for a National Health Program)

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] Amending Split-Dollar Life Insurance Arrangements May Avoid Section 409A Treatment (PDF)
Page 1 of 5 pages. Excerpt: "If an SDA is subject to Code Section 409A, the next and more difficult step is determining what amendments are required to comply with Section 409A. Generally, the amended SDA should limit distributions to those events permitted under Section 409A (termination of employment, death, disability, change in control, hardship or stated time)." (Miller & Chevalier Chartered)

[Guidance Overview] Important Deadline Under Section 409A Approaching for Nonqualified Deferred Compensation Plans and Faculty Members of Academic Institutions (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "This is a reminder that the deadline for compliance with the Internal Revenue Code Section 409A rules is approaching quickly. In addition, this is an alert to all academic institutions to a potential Section 409A issue affecting their faculty members that must be addressed prior to the beginning of the next academic year. It is very unlikely that either of these deadlines will be extended further. Therefore, it is important that any necessary action be taken promptly." (Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, PLLC)

IRS Grants Tax Relief to Victims of Severe Weather in Nebraska, West Virginia and Illinois
Excerpt: "The IRS has announced special tax relief for taxpayers within a thirteen-county disaster area in Nebraska affected by severe storms, tornadoes and flooding on May 22, 2008; within a nine-county disaster area in West Virginia affected by severe storms, tornadoes, mudslides, landslides and flooding on June 3, 2008; and within a fourteen-county disaster area in Illinois affected by severe storms and flooding on June 1, 2008." (Wolters Kluwer)

Economic Changes Have Weakened 'Protective Value' of Insurance, Other Benefits, According to Columnist
Excerpt: "Although '[j]obs, benefits, housing, health coverage, college and retirement savings, even bought-and-paid-for insurance all played crucial roles in maintaining families' economic stability during the second half of the 20th century ... the protective value of each has been weakened over the last generation,' Peter Gosselin, national economic correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, writes in a column." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

[Opinion] Five Family Friendly Workforce Policies
Excerpt: "The most significant economic and sociological change of the past half-century has been the entry of women into the labor market. Public policies that govern the workplace have not kept pace with this demographic shift, however. For the most part, tax law, labor law and employee benefits law were designed decades ago on the assumption that the typical household would have a full-time working husband and a homemaker wife. These anachronistic public policies are not only out of step with the way most Americans are living their lives, they are causing considerable harm. To remedy these problems we need to bring public policy institutions into the 21st century." (National Center for Policy Analysis)

Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Creating and Maintaining a Domestic Partner Benefits Policy: New Laws and Recent Trends
Nationwide on September 17, 2008
presented by Lorman Education Services

Form 5500 Reporting Update
Nationwide on September 3, 2008
presented by Lorman Education Services

Same-Gender Marriage Rulings: Impacts on Employee Benefit Plans Across the Nation
Nationwide on September 17, 2008
presented by Lorman Education Services

Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Lincoln Launches 401k Managed Accounts Option
Lincoln Financial Group

Ascensus Launches Plan Adoption System™ with EGTRRA Qualified Plan Documents

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401(k)/Defined Contribution Valuation Processor
for National Retirement Services, Inc.
in CA, NC

Pension Consultant
for Mercer Advisors
in CA

Qualified Plan Consultant
for The Newport Group
in FL

Supervisor, Property and Casualty Services
for Administaff
in TX

Defined Contribution Administrator
for Pension Strategies, LLC
in AZ

Benefits Analyst I
for Milliman
in WA

Business System Analyst (Health Claims TPA)
for Zenith Administrators
in WA

Manager Health Claims (TPA)
for Zenith Administrators
in WA

Sales Desk Manager
for AST Capital Trust Company
in AZ

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