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Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

February 11, 2010

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[Guidance Overview]
Providing the Department of Labor Model CHIP Notice
Excerpt: "The Notice may be provided by first-class mail, or it may be provided electronically to the extent the criteria of the Department's electronic disclosure safe harbor at 29 CFR 2520.104b-1(c) are satisfied."
(Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo P.C.)

[Guidance Overview]
Recently Issued Mental Health Parity Regulations Answer Some Open Questions
Excerpt: "Employers should review their current mental health / substance abuse benefit provisions to determine whether they comply with the new regulations and plan to make any necessary adjustments."
(Miller, Johnson, Snell & Cummiskey, P.L.C.)

Comparative Benefit Concept for Reducing Costs Fizzled Out of Final Version of Federal Health Care Reform Bills
Excerpt: "Without a way to keep insurers from covering procedures that studies find ineffective, projects like Courage face an uphill climb. The health-care bills passed by the House and Senate have provisions to disseminate study results, but wouldn't require private insurers or Medicare to adjust coverage or payments to doctors in response to findings."
(The Wall Street Journal)

BlueCross BlueShield of Texas' Blueprint for Denying Health Policies
Excerpt: "The people who most urgently need health reform are those who aspire to join the ['nongroup market', but can't, either because no nongroup insurer will take them or because any nongroup insurer that will take them has priced its policy sky-high to offset some medical risk or another. Neither wealthy enough to pay for nongroup insurance nor poor enough to qualify for Medicaid, these spurned customers end up among the 15 percent of Americans who receive no health insurance at all."

The Costs to American Workers of Staying Home Sick
Excerpt: "The New York Times' Economix has a post by economist Nancy Folbre today on the costs of not having sick leave. . . . According to Folbre: 'The United States stands out as one of the few rich nations in the world that doesn't mandate any form of paid sick leave. About 40 percent of private-sector workers lack coverage from their employer. This means they will lose pay and even risk losing their jobs if they call in sick.'"
(Workplace Prof Blog)

Ten Small-Scale Health Insurance Reforms for Pre-Existing Conditions
Excerpt: "In a reformed health care system, the chronically ill - along with their doctors, employers and insurers - should find lower-cost, higher-quality, more-accessible care in their economic self-interest. [Instead of suppressing the price system, [here] are 10 ways of dealing with this problem that make greater use of it.]"
(National Center for Policy Analysis)

The GINA's Out of the Bottle--And It's a New Weapon in the Work-Family Arsenal
Excerpt: "The key to GINA's applicability to work-family and caregiver scenarios is its definition of 'genetic information,' which includes 'the genetic tests of family members [of the employee]' and 'the manifestation of a disease or disorder in family members [of the employee].' 'Family member,' in turn, is defined as 'a dependent as used for purposes of ERISA,' and up to a fourth-degree relative (i.e., great-great grandparents and all cousins, aunts, and uncles in between). Notably, the scope includes adoptive children and parents, whose genes are entirely unrelated to the employees'."
(Delaware Employment Law Blog)

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Executive Compensation; Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview]
New Rules Effective in 2010 for Employee Stock Purchase Plans
Excerpt: "If the employer arranges for shares purchased under the ESPP to be transferred to a brokerage account established for the participants, the transfer of the legal title of the shares directly to a broker or financial institution is treated as a transfer that triggers the reporting obligations. However, if the employer issues stock certificates to participants upon the exercise of ESPP options, or if shares are registered in the participants' name and the employer holds those shares for participants in book entry form, then the initial transfer of shares does not occur until the participant's subsequent legal transfer of title."
(Sherman & Howard L.L.C.)

Milliman's Monthly Benefit News and Developments, February 2010 (PDF)
2 pages. The newsletter provides a summary of the previous month's legislative, regulatory, and judicial information on employee benefits and upcoming key dates.

Podcast:: Survey Looks at Diversity of Offerings, Education Issues for Stock Ownership Plans
Excerpt: "What role do stock plan benefits play in total rewards for non-executive employees? Ellen Lodwick of Mercer's Information Research Center reports findings from a recent survey of 200 very large public companies that reveals motivations for adopting stock plans, the types of plans commonly adopted, and how well employers are doing when it comes to educating employees about plan benefits and features."
(HRadio via Mercer LLC)

Webcasts and Conferences

Defined Contribution Plan Compliance and Governance
in Virginia on February 25, 2010
presented by Capital Chapter - ISCEBS

Health Care Reform - What It Means To You
in Pennsylvania on February 25, 2010
presented by International Society of Certified Employee Benefits Specialists

Press Releases

Sixth Annual Employee Benefits Writing Competition
American College of Employee Benefits Counsel

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Newly Posted Employee Benefits Jobs

Client Service Manager
for Ascensus
in MN

Executive Vice President (Employee Benefits TPA)
for Zenith Administrators
in IL, WA

Retirement Plan Administrator
for Vectren
in IN

Business Development Manager
for Tegrit Financial Group
in MI

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