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July 25, 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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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 July 23, 2008, for Health and Welfare Plans (PDF)
9 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)


[Guidance Overview] Health Net Settlement at $215 Million May Set Class Action Record
Excerpt: "The class action against Health Net, based upon claims of ERISA and RICO violations pertaining to out of network reimbursements, has formally ended. An agreement reached between the parties late last years has now been approved by district court judge Faith Hochberg. Health Net has agreed to pay $215 million, but denies any wrongdoing." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)


Report: Long-Term Care Insurance: Oversight of Rate Setting and Claims Settlement Practices (PDF)
41 pages. Excerpt: "GAO reviewed information from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) on all states' rate setting standards. GAO also completed 10 state case studies on oversight of rate setting and claims settlement practices, which included structured reviews of state laws and regulations, interviews with state regulators, and reviews of state complaint information. GAO also reviewed national data on rate increases implemented by companies." (U.S. Government Accountability Office)


Testimony: Long-Term Care Insurance: State Oversight of Rate Setting and Claims Settlement Practices (PDF)
23 pages. Excerpt: "This statement focuses on oversight of the LTCI industry's (1) rate setting practices and (2) claims settlement practices. This statement is based on findings from GAO's June 2008 report entitled Long-Term Care Insurance: Oversight of Rate Setting and Claims Settlement Practices (GAO-08-712)." (U.S. Government Accountability Office)


Testimony: Evidence on the Costs and Benefits of Health Information Technology (PDF)
40 pages. CBO July 24, 2008, Testimony before the Subcommittee on Health, Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives. This statement reprises the Congressional Budget Office's May 2008 report 'Evidence on the Costs and Benefits of Health Information Technology." (U.S. Congressional Budget Office)


Expanding the Horizons of Health Care Finance
Excerpt: "In the July edition of CDHC Solutions™ magazine David Josephs, a founding member of JPMorgan Chase's Healthcare Solutions group, describes how consumer-directed health care (CDHC) programs coupled with health savings accounts (HSAs) offer employers and their employees' access to new financial management structures to address health care expenses." (JPMorgan Chase & Co.)


Goodyear Health Plan Still in Court: $1 Billion-Plus Trust Would Cover Thousands of Steelworker Retirees
Excerpt: "The future of an independent health-care trust proposed for tens of thousands of United Steelworkers who retired from Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. remains in a federal courtroom. A hearing is to resume at 9 a.m. today before U.S. District Judge John R. Adams, whose task is to decide whether to approve a $1 billion-plus Voluntary Employees Beneficiary Association, or VEBA. The Steelworkers and Goodyear agreed to create the trust for retiree medical benefits as part of a settlement to end the union's 85-day strike in 2006." (The Akron Beacon Journal via NewsEdge via Human Resource Executive Online)


Medicare Part D a Boon for Drug Companies, House Report Says
Excerpt: "U.S. drug manufacturers are reaping a windfall from taxpayers because Medicare's privately administered prescription drug benefit program pays more than other government programs for the same medicines, a House committee charged in a report Thursday." (Los Angeles Times)


'Don't Touch My Perks': Companies that Eliminate Them Risk Employee Backlash
Excerpt: "Wharton faculty and compensation experts say the flap over Google's decision to change its employee day care program illustrates the difficulty in eliminating any employee perk. 'Once you have the perk, to take it away is seen as a violation of a psychological contract you have with your employee,' says Wharton management professor Nancy Rothbard." (Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania)


Workers with Backup Care Benefit Less Stressed, More Productive
Excerpt: "Recent research by Work Options Group, a Colorado-based company that specializes in the provision of corporate-sponsored backup care, finds 89% of employees offered a backup care benefit say just knowing it is available reduces their stress levels at work." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)


[Opinion] Audio and Text: Retail Health Clinics: Convenience With Caveats
Excerpt: "Most patients really like them. A recent national poll found that between 80 and 90 percent of users were satisfied with the quality of care, convenience and costs of these clinics. They especially liked the no-appointment-necessary policy and short waiting times." (All Things Considered via National Public Radio)



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Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview] The Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act Contains Number of Changes to Help Individuals in the Uniformed Service and Their Families
Excerpt: "It creates Code Section 401(a)(37) and affects qualified plan rules for those called into the military. It also has an impact on cafeteria plans and expatriation rules." (McKay Hochman Co., Inc.)


[Guidance Overview] Audio of Webinar: Recent ERISA Litigation - What's the Verdict?
Excerpt: "On July 23, David Levin with Gallagher Benefit Services hosting presented a webinar on recent ERISA litigation and the various issues for sponsors of ERISA plans. This webinar provided an overview of these recent cases and their impact on ERISA plans . . . ." (Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP)


[Guidance Overview] Hewitt Federal Legislation Quick Guide Updated July 23, 2008, on Human Resources & Employment Law (PDF)
8 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] Ninth Circuit Sees Broader Discovery Rights for ERISA Claimants in Conflict of Interest Cases
Excerpt: "The open-ended nature of the inquiry into the existence and effect of structural conflicts of interest in MetLife v. Glenn suggests the possibility, if not the probability, that judges disinclined to give existing precedent hostile to broad discovery ample room to fall back upon the status quo." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)


[Guidance Overview] 409A Spurs More Companies to 'Fund' Their Non-Qualified Plans
Excerpt: "The most prevalent reason for this increase in funded plans is the new, six-month waiting period required by 409A." (Michael S. Melbinger via Winston & Strawn LLP)


[Guidance Overview] More on Funding Non-Qualified Plan Benefits
An earlier blog on funding non-qualified plan benefits generated several questions, which are answered on this page. (Michael S. Melbinger via Winston & Strawn LLP)


[Guidance Overview] 'Golden Coffins' Offer Big Payouts
Excerpt: "To the list of golden parachutes and golden handcuffs, add 'golden coffins': lavish death benefits for CEOs that can include massive severance payments made to an executive's estate after he or she dies." (Human Resource Executive Online)


Report Counters Perceived View of Obese Workers
Excerpt: "A new report from Michigan State University and Hope College researchers shows overweight and obese employees are no different from their thin coworkers." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)




Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

401(k) Plans
in Colorado on October 7, 2008
presented by EBIA / Thomson Reuters

401(k) Plans
in Arizona on October 14, 2008
presented by EBIA / Thomson Reuters

Cafeteria Plans
in Colorado on October 8, 2008
presented by EBIA / Thomson Reuters

Cafeteria Plans
in Arizona on October 15, 2008
presented by EBIA / Thomson Reuters

COBRA Compliance for Group Health Plans
in Colorado on October 10, 2008
presented by EBIA / Thomson Reuters

COBRA Compliance for Group Health Plans
in Arizona on October 17, 2008
presented by EBIA / Thomson Reuters

ERISA Compliance for Health & Welfare Plans
in Colorado on October 9, 2008
presented by EBIA / Thomson Reuters

ERISA Compliance for Health & Welfare Plans
in Arizona on October 16, 2008
presented by EBIA / Thomson Reuters

HIPAA Portability, Privacy & Security
in Colorado on October 10, 2008
presented by EBIA / Thomson Reuters

HIPAA Portability, Privacy & Security
in Arizona on October 17, 2008
presented by EBIA / Thomson Reuters

HSAs, HRAs, and Consumer-Driven Health Care
in Colorado on October 9, 2008
presented by EBIA / Thomson Reuters

HSAs, HRAs, and Consumer-Driven Health Care
in Arizona on October 16, 2008
presented by EBIA / Thomson Reuters



Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Next Generation of 401(k)s Shows Automatic Enrollment and Step-Up Provisions Doubling Among Employers: Deloitte Survey
Deloitte

U.S. Employers Keeping Pay Raises Steady for 2009, Watson Wyatt Survey Finds
Watson Wyatt

Small Business CHOICE Act Would Bring Healthcare Coverage to Millions of Americans
U.S. House Small Business Committee

PBGC Negotiates Deal To Strengthen Pension Funding At Elkem Metals Inc.
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC)

ERIC Applauds DOL's Efforts at Improving 401(k) Fee Disclosure, But Warns that Rules Must Balance Needs of Participants and Employers
ERIC (ERISA Industry Committee)

New Directory Provides Information on Health Care Coalitions
International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

With Economy Prompting Growing Numbers of Workers to Cash Out 401(k)s, RolloverSystems Helps Stem Tide With 'Cash-Out Calculator'
RolloverSystems

Updated Liberty Mutual Web Tools Put More Benefits Power into the Hands of Customers
Liberty Mutual

The DOL Releases New Proposed Fee Disclosure Regulations
Qualified Pension Consulting, Inc.

Microsoft HealthVault and RelayHealth to Connect Doctors and Patients
RelayHealth

Compliance for Life™ Medication Dosing Reminders Go Global
iReminder, LLC



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Daily 401 (k) Administrator
for Geller Group, LLC
in NY

Account /Client Services Manager (Insurance/TPA)
for Zenith Administrators
in IN

Primary Administrator for Qualified Retirement Plans
for Kidder Benefits Consultants, Inc.
in AZ

Account Administrator
for Pension Inc.
in IA

Senior Manager, Retirement Plan Division
for Pension Services Company
in NJ

Retirement Compliance Testing Administrator
for Vanguard
in PA

Retirement Compliance Testing Manager
for Vanguard
in PA




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