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December 23, 2008

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


Today's sponsor is International Foundation's CEBS Program!

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Banner ad for International Foundation's CEBS Program!

Earn a Designation in Group Benefits!

If you’ve thought about learning more about health and welfare benefits, then take a look at the GBA (Group Benefits Associate) – one of the specialty designations offered through the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist (CEBS) Program. The GBA is sponsored by the Wharton School and the International Foundation – two leaders in employee benefits education. And with only three required courses – you could earn the GBA in a year or less!

[Guidance Overview]
Fourth Circuit Hands Down Post-Glenn Opinion on Standard of Review

Excerpt: "The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has reassess its views on conflicts of interests in view of MetLife v. Glenn. The Court had formerly held that an employer that self funded a benefit plan was not per se conflicted." (Health Plan Law)


[Guidance Overview]
Dual Role of Evaluating and Paying Benefits Claims Gives Rise to Conflict of Interest

Excerpt: "A plan administrator that both evaluates and pays benefits claims operates under a conflict of interest in making discretionary benefit determinations, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in a 6-3 decision. The conflict does not change the standard of review of a benefits denial from deferential to de novo, but the conflict should be weighed as a factor in determining whether there was an abuse of discretion, the Court held. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the decision of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which set aside an administrator's denial of benefits (Metropolitan Life Insurance Co v Glenn, USSCt, No 06-923, June 19, 2008)." (Wolters Kluwer)


[Guidance Overview]
Benefits May Be Deferred Comp, but Still Deducted by Employer for Current Year

Excerpt: "In a Technical Advice Memorandum, the Internal Revenue Service addressed the timing of an employer's tax deduction for self-insured medical plan payments to providers that are made more than two and a half months after the end of the taxable year in which the medical services are provided." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)


Large Pharmacy Chains Aggressively Promote Generic Prescription Drug Discount Programs, Provide More Discounts
Excerpt: "Retail pharmacies 'are waging what some consider a generic-drug price war that is threatening margins in a typically high-profit area and reflects the intense competition that drug store chains face in attracting and keeping customers,' the Wall Street Journal reports. According to the Journal, generic drug programs have 'proliferated' since Wal-Mart in 2006 began selling a month's supply of many generic prescriptions for $4." (Kaiser Family Foundation)


People Who Exercise on Work Days Are Happier, Suffer Less Stress and Are More Productive
Excerpt: "People who exercise on work days are more productive, happier and suffer less stress than on non-gym days, scientists revealed today. University of Bristol researchers found that employees who enjoyed a workout before going to work - or exercised during lunchbreaks - were better equipped to handle whatever the day threw at them. It also found that people's general mood improved on days of exercise but they became less calm on non-exercise days." (Daily Mail)


Researchers Find Health Insurer Web Sites Lacking
Excerpt: "Research firm Foresee Results, Ann Arbor, Mich., found health insurance sites averaged a score of 65 on its 100-point scale, compared to an aggregate score of 74 for hospital sites. Average online customer satisfaction across industries is 71, Foresee says." (National Underwriter Life & Health Magazine)


DOL Provides Updated FMLA Poster and Forms
Excerpt: "The Department of Labor (DoL) announced a revised Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) poster, reflecting the recently published final rule, is now available for viewing and downloading. According to the announcement, every employer covered by the FMLA is required to post and keep posted on its premises, in conspicuous places where employees are employed, a notice explaining the Act's provisions." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)


Kentucky State Representative Proposes Bill to Ease Benefits Costs to Local Governments
Excerpt: "Kentucky State Representative Mike Cherry, chairman of the House State Government Committee, said he plans to file a bill that would keep the County Employees' Retirement System financially sound while slightly lessening the burden on cities and counties. According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, the legislation would increase the time cities and counties have to fully fund their health care costs from five years to 10 years, reducing the annual rates they pay for retiree benefits. In its last session, the legislature reduced cities' and counties' rates for the current fiscal year, but they face a bigger tab in the next year, the newspaper said." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)


Growing Number of Large Companies Offering On-Site Medical Services for Their Employees
Excerpt: "A number of large corporations - Walt Disney Co., Harrah's Entertainment, Dow Chemical Co., Toyota Motor Corp., Pitney Bowes Inc. - offer on-site clinics as a way to improve their employees' health, cut medical costs and reduce the amount of time workers spend out of the office for doctor appointments. Intel Corp., based in Santa Clara, is trying out a medical clinic at its Arizona campus. Virtually all large employers are self-insured, meaning they pay for medical care themselves and can reap the benefits of a healthier employee population." (San Francisco Chronicle)



WorldatWork (Sponsor)

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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.


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Underwater Stock Options and Repricing Strategy (PDF)
18 pages. Excerpt: "This article updates the discussion of repricing strategy in Underwater Stock Options and Repricing Strategy: Is Your Company Drowning in Confusion? and reviews the current usefulness of repricing alternatives. This article appears as a chapter of Selected Issues in Equity Compensation (2009)." (National Center for Employee Ownership via Janich Law Group)


Solutions to Underwater Equity (PDF)
Excerpt: "For most companies, the last several months have been a period of tremendous share price volatility and unprecedented decline in market value. The drop in the stock market has made underwater stock options a major topic of concern and conversation. It is a troubling problem for management and the board of directors when equity compensation vehicles initially granted to provide incentive and address retention and engagement issues among employees have lost their value. The problem is more acute as many companies over the past few years, often to mitigate the prospect of underwater options, have supplemented or replaced stock options with other forms of equity-based compensation which have lost most or all of their value and taken on the 'underwater' label as well." (Buck Consultants)




Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

January 2009 Monthly Luncheon - Fee Audits for Defined Contribution Plans
in Colorado on January 13, 2009
presented by Western Pension and Benefits Conference-Denver Chapter



Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

PSCA Publishes 2008 403(b) Plan Survey
Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America (PSCA)

Health & Welfare Self Audit Guide Available
ERISAdiagnostics, Inc.



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