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August 18, 2008

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

Today's sponsor is SunGard

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With SunGard's Relius Documents solutions, you can manage self-funded, ASA, HDHP, and cafeteria plans. Create, modify, track, and report on all of your plans with language updates provided as legislation changes. Choose the application that best fits the needs of your operation: Internet hosted (ASP) or installed (PC). Contact us at 800-326-7235, ext. 1100 today.

[Guidance Overview] New Medicare Secondary Payer Reporting Requirements
Excerpt: "The Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP Extension Act of 2007 (the 'Act') will require group health plan insurers, third‑ party administrators, and some plan administrators and fiduciaries to comply with new Medicare Secondary Payer ('MSP') reporting requirements effective January 1, 2009." (Dorsey & Whitney LLP)

ConAgra Gets Initial OK for In-House Insurance Benefits Plan
Excerpt: "ConAgra Foods Inc. has received tentative approval from the Labor Department to fund employee benefit risks through its Arizona-based captive insurance company. The . . . food manufacturer wants to use its captive, Risk Resources Ltd., to reinsure life insurance and accidental death and dismemberment policies covering about 22,800 employees written by Prudential Insurance Co. of America." (Workforce Management; free registration required)

Access to and Use of Paid Sick Leave Among Low-Income Families With Children
Excerpt: "Our goal was to provide rates of access to paid sick leave and paid vacation leave among low-income families with children and to assess whether access to these benefits is associated with parents' leave taking to care for themselves or others." (Pediatrics)

McCain's Health Insurance Plan: More Radical Than Democrats'?
Excerpt: "Democratic health care proposals may have gotten more attention during the primaries, but Republican John McCain's plan just might be more revolutionary. The GOP nominee-to-be wants to tax workers on the value of the insurance they receive from employers. At the same time, everyone would be offered a federal tax credit to help them pay for insurance whether a company plan or one purchased on their own. Buyers could subtract up to $5,000 from their federal tax tab come April 15. Or they could simply sign over the credit to an insurer in order to purchase coverage." (The Dallas Morning News)

Organizational Fragmentation and Care Quality in the U.S. Health Care System
Excerpt: "Many goods and services can be readily provided through a series of unconnected transactions, but in health care close coordination over time and within care episodes improves both health outcomes and efficiency. Close coordination is problematic in the US health care system because the financing and delivery of care is distributed across a variety of distinct and often competing entities, each with its own objectives, obligations and capabilities. These fragmented organizational structures lead to disrupted relationships, poor information flows, and misaligned incentives that combine to degrade care quality and increase costs. We illustrate our argument with examples taken from the insurance and the hospital industries, and discuss possible responses to the problems resulting from organizational fragmentation." (National Bureau of Economic Research; paid subscription or individual purchase required to retrieve fulltext)

Who Owns Blue Cross? Who Should?
Excerpt: "Now the issue arises once again in high drama as Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey seeks to convert from a not-for-profit health service corporation to a for-profit health insurer. With over $1 billion in the balance 'for the purposes of improving New Jersey's health care system', the stakes are bound to draw political interest." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)

Wellness Programs Pay Off Beyond Lowering Health Costs
Excerpt: "A new survey suggests workplace wellness programs not only help reduce employers' health care costs and employee absentee rates, but can also pay off in the form of more loyal and engaged employees. According to a Maritz press release, its survey found even employees who only occasionally participate in wellness programs are more satisfied with their jobs (20% v. 13% who never participate in a wellness program), more likely to remain with the company long term (27% v. 18%), and more likely to recommend the company as an employer to a friend or family member (32% v. 21%)." (; free registration required)

Florida Health Insurers Challenge State Rule to Create Uniform Small Business Insurance Applications
Excerpt: "Two UnitedHealth Group subsidiaries are challenging a proposed rule by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation that would require state insurers to use the same application forms and medical questionnaires for all small businesses with between two and 50 employees, Florida Health News reports." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Sponsored by: WorldatWork

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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] Deadline for Code Section 409A Compliance (PDF)
Excerpt: "By December 31, 2008, all plans and arrangements subject to Code Section 409A must be in writing and the written terms of those arrangements must comply with Code Section 409A." (Alston & Bird LLP)

Employers Ignoring Workers' Pain at the Pump, According to Survey
Excerpt: "Employers are doing little, if anything, to help employees cope with the budget-busting fill-ups at the pump. Eighty percent of the employees surveyed say they get no financial or other benefits from their employers to ease the burden of high fuel prices." (Workforce Management; free registration required)

Shared Capitalism in the U.S. Economy? Prevalence, Characteristics, and Employee Views of Financial Participation in Enterprises
Excerpt: "Between one-third and one-half of employees participate directly in company performance through profit sharing, gainsharing, employee ownership, or stock options. This flies in the face of concerns about the free rider problem and worker risk aversion in group incentives, and raises many questions about the effects on firms and workers. This paper lays out the major reasons we may see such 'shared capitalism' plans, and reviews recent nationally representative surveys on the prevalence of these plans." (National Bureau of Economic Research; paid subscription or individual purchase required to retrieve fulltext)

Creating a Bigger Pie? The Effects of Employee Ownership, Profit Sharing, and Stock Options on Workplace Performance
Excerpt: "This paper uses data from NBER surveys of over 40,000 employees in hundreds of facilities in 14 firms and from employees on the 2002 and 2006 General Social Surveys to explore how shared compensation affects turnover, absenteeism, loyalty, worker effort, and other outcomes affecting workplace performance." (National Bureau of Economic Research; paid subscription or individual purchase required to retrieve fulltext)

Do Workers Gain by Sharing? Employee Outcomes under Employee Ownership, Profit Sharing, and Broad-based Stock Options
Excerpt: "We find that greater involvement in the programs is generally linked to greater participation in decisions, higher quality supervision and treatment of employees, more training, higher pay and benefits, greater job security, and higher job satisfaction. We also find positive interactions of shared capitalism with high-performance policies in predicting participation in decisions and overall job satisfaction, and negative interactions of shared capitalism with close supervision in affecting almost all of the outcomes. Overall the results support the idea that workers can gain by sharing, but whether this happens is contingent on other workplace policies." (National Bureau of Economic Research; paid subscription or individual purchase required to retrieve fulltext)

Companies Taking Specific Steps to Keep Older Workers
Excerpt: "According to Gray Matters: Engaging the Older Workforce, a 2007 white paper by Milwaukee-based Manpower Inc., employees ages 55 and older are projected to comprise more than 20 percent of America's workforce by 2016, creating a pool of 27 million workers to help meet employment needs. Yet fewer than 18 percent of employers surveyed by Manpower have developed strategies to recruit older workers, and only 28 percent are planning retention programs for this population." (Human Resource Executive Online)

Online Avatars Enhance Benefits Communication
Excerpt: "No longer just for video games, avatars -- computer-generated characters -- now can be integrated into employers' benefits communications programs to ensure consistent, user-friendly messaging 24/7. Sound like an alternate reality? It is -- virtual reality." (Employee Benefit News; free registration required)

Tuition Payment Programs Widespread
Excerpt: "Nearly all executives in a recent poll said their employer helps pay employees' continuing education expenses. An Accountemps news release said 94% of respondents reimburse employees for university tuition while 95% pay employees' expenses for other kinds of professional development." (; free registration required)

Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

The Basics of Retirement Plans
in California on September 18, 2008
presented by International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists, Northern California Chapter

What 401(k) Plan Fiduciaries Must Tell Participants About Their Investment Options: the New DOL Guidance
Nationwide on September 17, 2008
presented by ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits

Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Convergent Retirement Plan Solutions, LLC Announces the Addition of SEI and The Calvert Group to its Growing List of IRA Clients
Convergent Retirement Plan Solutions, LLC

Corporate Benefit Plans included in WELCOA National Panel of Advisors
Corporate Benefit Plans

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