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July 17, 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] When Employer Also Plan Administrator, COBRA Election Notice Deadline Is 44 Days After Employee's Termination
Excerpt: "The 44-day time period runs from the date of the qualifying event and applies only to the events of employee termination, reduction of hours, death or Medicare entitlement, and employer bankrup.tcy (i.e., events for which the employer is required to notify the plan administrator)." (Employee Benefits Institute of America)


[Guidance Overview] More Guidance from IRS on Health Savings Accounts
Excerpt: "On June 25, 2008, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Notice 2008-59, guidance that includes 42 questions and answers on various topics concerning Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). This long-awaited 'grab bag' of guidance includes information on several topics including eligibility, employer contributions and prohibited transactions. This is the third set of question and answer guidance IRS has issued since HSAs were created in 2003." (The Segal Group, Inc.)


[Guidance Overview] 10 Things the Supreme Court Did Not Do in Metlife v. Glenn
Excerpt: "As we look at the disputes presented in the arena of benefit claims and denials through the murky lens held up in Breyer's MetLife opinion, we have reason to ask if legal pragmatism really is as workable as its adherents claim." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)


While the U.S. Spends Heavily on Health Care, a Study Faults the Quality
Excerpt: "American medical care may be the most expensive in the world, but that does not mean it is worth every penny. A study to be released Thursday highlights the stark contrast between what the United States spends on its health system and the quality of care it delivers, especially when compared with many other industrialized nations." (The New York Times; free registration required)


General Motors Working with Firm to Help Retirees Transition to Medicare Coverage
Excerpt: "General Motors will contract with benefits consultant firm Extend Health to provide guidance to retirees in choosing appropriate Medicare plans to replace benefits previously offered by GM, the Detroit Free Press reports." (Kaiser Family Foundation)


After-Hours Clinic and Doctor House Calls Save Holland Money
Excerpt: "In the Netherlands, all citizens have access to 24/7 primary healthcare. The system is organized much like a health maintenance organization, so patients are required to get approval from their primary care provider before they can see a specialist or go to the hospital." (Morning Edition via National Public Radio)


Results from the National Scorecard on U.S. Health System Performance, 2008
Excerpt: "Prepared for the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System, the National Scorecard on U.S. Health System Performance, 2008, updates the 2006 Scorecard, the first comprehensive means of measuring and monitoring health care outcomes, quality, access, efficiency, and equity in the United States. [The target page has links to the PDF of the report, graphics, and chartpacks.]" (The Commonwealth Fund)


Listing of Post-MetLife v. Glenn Decisions
Excerpt: "The initial reception by the judiciary is the best indicator of what a Supreme Court decision really 'means'. To that end, here's what I have for decisions citing the case thus far . . . ." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)


The Crisis in State and Local Government Retiree Health Benefit Plans: Myths and Realities (PDF)
12 pages. Excerpt: "This Issue Brief explores some of the most important perceptions associated with retiree health plans and the new GASB accounting standards and assesses whether these beliefs are myths or realities." (Center for State and Local Government Excellence)


Health Plans Urged to Demand More from Specialty Pharmacies in Therapy Management
Excerpt: "[Medication therapy management] programs, also referred to as specialty therapy management (STM) programs when applied to specialty drugs, focus on meeting primary objectives and producing superior outcomes for patients." (AISHealth.com)


Maine Taxes for Health Care Step Closer to Repeal
Excerpt: "A business coalition organized to fight recent tax increases intended to support Maine's struggling program to provide state-subsidized health care coverage says it has gathered nearly double the number of signatures needed to put a repeal measure on the November ballot." (Workforce Management; free registration required)


Financial Health Incentives on the Rise, but Design Is Key
Excerpt: "High-deductible health plans are the clearest examples of ways employers are trying to change employee behavior by making them more responsible for the cost of health care. But like other incentives, they are best utilized when employers also provide quality and cost information for doctors, hospitals and other services." (Workforce Management; free registration required)


Comprehensive Health Insurance for Low-Income Working Families (PDF)
19 pages. Excerpt: "In this essay, [the authors] propose comprehensive reform that ensures coverage for everyone at every income level, while still encouraging work. Their proposals include state purchasing pools, individual mandates, and strategies for reducing health care costs." (The Urban Institute)


IRS's Proposed Regs on HSA Comparability Requirements and HSA and Group Health Plan Excise Tax Reporting
Excerpt: "The rules that provide guidance on employer comparable contributions are proposed to apply to contributions made on or after the first day of the first calendar year after final regulations are published. (However, taxpayers may rely on the guidance for employer contributions made on or after January 1, 2007.) The rules that provide guidance relating to excise taxes are proposed to be effective for calendar years (or plan years, where applicable) beginning after the date the final regulations are published." (Employee Benefits Institute of America)


Human Resource Professionals Should Review Who Makes Health and Disability Benefit Determinations for Their Companies
Excerpt: "In the employee-benefits case, MetLife vs. Glenn, the Court ruled that companies have a potential conflict of interest when they administer health and disability benefit plans, and decide claims filed under the plans. The justices ruled that courts should consider whether a conflict exists when employees challenge decisions by plan administrators." (Human Resource Executive Online)


Total U.S. Prescriptions Drop as Consumers' Health Care Costs Rise
Excerpt: "The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday examined how U.S. prescription drug volume has 'fallen steadily' since early 2007 and in recent months have 'slipped in and out of negative territory' because of a 'troubled economy and the growing burden of out-of-pocket health care costs.'" (Kaiser Family Foundation)



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Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

[Official Guidance] Text of Prop. IRS Regs on Required Returns and Employee Statements for ESOPs, Incentive Stock Options and Sec. 423 Employee Stock Purchase Plans (PDF)
5 pages. Excerpt: "This document contains proposed regulations relating to the return and information statement requirements under section 6039 . . . [which] reflect changes [made by] the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006. These proposed regulations affect corporations that issue statutory stock options . . . [under sections 422 or 423]. As amended by the Act, section 6039 requires corporations to file an information return with the IRS, in addition to providing employees with an information statement, following a stock transfer. The time and manner for filing a return with the IRS, as well as the information to be contained in the return and furnished to employees, is addressed in these proposed regulations. Section 6039, as amended by the Act, applies to stock transfers occurring on or after January 1, 2007." (Internal Revenue Service)


[Guidance Overview] Impact of the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Act of 2008 on Your Employee Benefit Plans
6 pages. Excerpt: "This newsletter explains how HEART's provisions impact sponsors' administration of health FSAs, qualified 401(k) and other retirement plans, and 403(b) tax-sheltered annuities." (Utz, Miller, Kuhn & Eickman, LLC)


Voluntary Benefits Becoming More Popular as Employers Scale Back Health Benefits
Excerpt: "Non-health policies include accident, life, home and auto insurance as well as non-traditional benefits that offer shopping discounts, identity-theft protection, wedding protection and group legal plans." (AISHealth.com)


Legislator Proposes Commuter Relief from Gas Prices
Excerpt: "U.S. Representative Steven C. LaTourette (R-Ohio) has introduced legislation to reimburse workers for some of the cost of their commute to work." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)


Mercer's HRadio Podcast, July 15, 2008
This week's lineup includes: News highlights; Understanding health care predictive models; Hurdles in the road to global pay; Socially responsible investing goes mainstream. Total time: 15:26 (Mercer LLC)




Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Fundamentals of Employee Benefits Programs Certification Course: B1
in North Carolina on July 21, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Fundamentals of Employee Benefits Programs Certification Course: B1
in District of Columbia on August 6, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Fundamentals of Employee Benefits Programs Certification Course: B1
in California on August 13, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Fundamentals of Employee Benefits Programs Certification Course: B1
in Illinois on August 19, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Fundamentals of Employee Benefits Programs Certification Course: B1
in Colorado on September 15, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Fundamentals of Employee Benefits Programs Certification Course: B1
in Pennsylvania on September 17, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Fundamentals of Employee Benefits Programs Certification Course: B1
in Illinois on September 29, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Fundamentals of Employee Benefits Programs Certification Course: B1
in New York on October 27, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Health Care and Insurance PlansóDesign and Management Certification Course: B3
in California on August 18, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Health Care and Insurance PlansóDesign and Management Certification Course: B3
in California on October 14, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Health Care and Insurance PlansóDesign and Management Certification Course: B3
in Illinois on October 28, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Health Care and Insurance PlansóDesign and Management Certification Course: B3
in California on November 14, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Health Care and Insurance PlansóFinancial Management Certification Course: B3A
in New York on September 22, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Health Care and Insurance PlansóFinancial Management Certification Course: B3A
in Georgia on November 17, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Managing Flexible Benefits Certification Course: B5
in Massachusetts on July 23, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Managing Flexible Benefits Certification Course: B5
in Illinois on September 8, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Managing Flexible Benefits Certification Course: B5
in Oregon on October 8, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Retirement PlansóDesign and Management Certification Course: B2
in New York on July 21, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Retirement PlansóDesign and Management Certification Course: B2
in California on August 25, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Retirement PlansóDesign and Management Certification Course: B2
in New York on September 3, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Retirement PlansóDesign and Management Certification Course: B2
in South Carolina on September 15, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Retirement PlansóDesign and Management Certification Course: B2
in Iowa on September 17, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Retirement PlansóDesign and Management Certification Course: B2
in Iowa on September 17, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Retirement PlansóDesign and Management Certification Course: B2
in Illinois on November 12, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Total Rewards 2009
in Washington on May 31, 2009
presented by WorldatWork

Total Rewards Management Certification Course: T1
in District of Columbia on July 23, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Total Rewards Management Certification Course: T1
in California on July 23, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Total Rewards Management Certification Course: T1
in Illinois on August 19, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Total Rewards Management Certification Course: T1
in New York on September 22, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Total Rewards Management Certification Course: T1
in Texas on September 24, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Total Rewards Management Certification Course: T1
in Georgia on September 29, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Total Rewards Management Certification Course: T1
in California on October 8, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Total Rewards Management Certification Course: T1
in Ohio on October 15, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Total Rewards Management Certification Course: T1
in Florida on November 3, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Total Rewards Management Certification Course: T1
in Kansas on November 10, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Total Rewards Management Certification Course: T1
in Illinois on November 12, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Total Rewards Management Certification Course: T1
in District of Columbia on December 3, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Webinar: Managing Rewards in Emerging Markets ó Beyond BRIC
Nationwide on September 4, 2008
presented by WorldatWork

Webinar: Total Rewards Statements ó Building the Business Case
Nationwide on August 5, 2008
presented by WorldatWork



Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

While HMO Premiums Remain High, Rate of Increase to Decline in 2009, According to Hewitt Associates
Hewitt Associates LLC

The NTSAA Announces Plan Sponsor Resources on the NTSAA Web Site
National Tax Sheltered Accounts Association

New DSG Study Finds That Most Plan Service Providers Continue to Struggle with Retaining Defined Contribution Plan Assets
Diversified Services Group, Inc. (DSG)

Schwab Study Finds Four Generations of American Adults Fundamentally Rethinking Planning for and Living in Retirement
Charles Schwab Corporation

se≤ Brings 403(b)connect to the Marketplace; Offers Complete Solution to 403(b) Regulations Compliance
se≤

Nonprofit Organizations Need to Prepare Now for New 403(b) Plan Audit Requirements in 2009
Buchbinder Tunick & Co



We're one of the top 350 employment sites on the web!Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
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Client Relationship Manager
for AMCORE Bank
in WI

Qualified Plan Administrator
for Philip Vogel & Co. PC
in TX

Savings Plan Advisor
for ConocoPhillips
in TX

Stock Plan Services Licensed Operations Specialist
for Charles Schwab & Company
in AZ

Corporate Brokerage Services Support Manager
for Charles Schwab & Co.
in AZ




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