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Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

August 2, 2010

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No matter how benefits-savvy your employees may be, today’s health care environment can confuse the most sophisticated consumer. That’s why companies large and small use BeneCom for their benefits communication. We know benefits and we understand what employees need to know to make them work – for themselves and for you. And while we’re at it, we make your life a little easier, too.

For more information visit our site or call (860) 674-2626, Ext. 2001


[Official Guidance]
Labor Department Withdraws Proposed Rule on Definition of 'Welfare Benefit Plan'
Excerpt: "The regulation was submitted to the OMB for review before the enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The proposed regulation was intended to address issues relating to state health care efforts and their effect on the maintenance of ERISA-covered welfare plans."
(U.S. Employee Benefits Security Administration)

[Guidance Overview]
Alerting Participants of Adverse Health Insurance Benefit Determinations
Excerpt: "The U.S. Department of Labor requires adverse benefit determinations must be communicated to a participant in a 'culturally and lingusitically appropriate manner' and must include several new pieces of information."
(Warner Norcross & Judd LLP)

[Guidance Overview]
Internal Claims/Appeals and External Review Processes under Health Reform
Excerpt: "These Regulations apply to non-grandfathered group health plans and health insurance issuers (i.e., health insurance companies). They do not apply to grandfathered plans. In general, the Regulations apply for plan years beginning on or after Sept. 23, 2010, and will expire on July 22, 2013, or on an earlier date provided in the final regulations."
(McGuireWoods LLP)

[Guidance Overview]
Cafeteria Plans, HRAs and Health Care Reform
Excerpt: "This article will explain which PPACA requirements impact HRA and/or Cafeteria plans. In the chart . . ., we summarize the main requirements that apply to HRA and/or Cafeteria plans and provide the effective dates of the requirements. Rules that apply differently to grandfathered plans are noted under the effective date . . . ."
(Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)

[Guidance Overview]
$1 Million Payment Required in Agreement to Settle Potential HIPAA Privacy Rule Violations
Excerpt: "The settlement follows an [HHS's Office for Civil Rights] investigation triggered by media reports that Rite Aid's pharmacies were disposing of prescriptions and labeled pill bottles with individuals' identifiable information in dumpsters that were accessible to the public."
(Employee Benefits Institute of America)

[Guidance Overview]
IRS Explanation of Disparity Between Standard Mileage Rate for Medical Expenses and Rate for Business Expenses
Excerpt: "The explanation in the information letter is consistent with earlier information letters on the same topic . . . and can help health FSA and HRA administrators who are asked why the medical and business rates differ so much."
(Employee Benefits Institute of America)

[Guidance Overview]
Interim Final Regulations for Group Health Plans and Health Insurers Regarding Internal Claims and Appeals Plus External Review
Excerpt: "[I]nsured plan sponsors may generally rely on their insurers for compliance with the new rules. While self-insured plans can start now to evaluate and implement the rules for internal claims and appeals, they must wait for guidance on the federal external review standards."
(Employee Benefits Institute of America)

[Guidance Overview]
Interim Final Regulations for Internal Claims and Appeals; External Review Processes for Group Health Plans and Health Insurance Coverage
Excerpt: "The interim final regulations impose six new obligations on group health plans and issuers in addition to the existing EBSA claims procedures."
(Proskauer Rose LLP)

Websites Help Patients Compare Prices for Health Care
Excerpt: "PriceDoc is one of several sites that give consumers the ability to shop for procedures ranging from a colonoscopy to teeth whitening. In some cases, the sites allow consumers to negotiate with providers."
(USA TODAY)

Bereavement Leave for the 21st Century
Excerpt: "[While working on a bereavement leave policy,] we settled for common sense and humanity. Here is what is in the works: The nonprofit 'realizes that this list is illustrative, not exhaustive, and that there are many nontraditional relationships that can be no less important to our employees. If you believe that bereavement leave is appropriate in your circumstances, please let [designated person] know, and we will work with you.'"
(Work Matters)

HR Leaders Can Help Employees Make More Thoughtful Selections During Open Enrollment
Excerpt: "[I]t seems that effective employee-benefits communications is a mix of personalization of choices, establishment of trust and support from influential employees who represent your unique company community.'
(Human Resource Executive Online)

eHealth Wins Contract to Help Run Federal Health Website
Excerpt: "The Obama administration awarded eHealth a $19.3 million contract to expand the new federal website, www.healthcare.gov, designed to help people shop for health coverage."
(Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation)




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Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Official Guidance]
EBSA Solicits Nominations for Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans (PDF)
Excerpt: "The terms of five members of the Council expire on November 14, 2010. The groups or fields they represent are as follows: (1) Employee organizations (representing an organization whose members are participants in a multiemployer plan); (2) employers (representing employers maintaining or contributing to multiemployer plans); (3) accounting; (4) insurance; and (5) the general public."
(U.S. Employee Benefits Security Administration)

[Guidance Overview]
The Corporate Governance and Executive Compensation Provisions in the Dodd-Frank Act? What to Do Now (PDF)
Pages 93-103 of 103 pages. Excerpt: "The Act requires the SEC to issue more than 90 rules and 15 studies, many of them relating to corporate governance and executive compensation. In some cases there is no deadline set for when the SEC must issue rules, while in other cases the SEC must adopt rules not later than a certain number of days or months after enactment of the legislation."
(Arnold & Porter LLP)

Transitioning Former Employees Into Contingent Workers
Excerpt: "To realize all potential benefits of this transition, employers must ensure that they continue to comply with applicable employment, labor, and tax laws, and that they properly classify their workforce. This article outlines the issues that employers should consider when transitioning to a contingent workforce[.]"
(Staffing Industry Analysts)

Benefits/Compensation Costs up Slightly in 2nd Quarter
Excerpt: "Wages and salaries (which make up about 70% of compensation costs) increased 0.4% while benefits (which make up the remaining 30% of compensation) increased 0.6%, according to a BLS news release."
(PLANSPONSOR.com)

Employers Get Creative with Incentives When Money Is Tight
Excerpt: "Employers are paying for business coaching and college tuition, training staff, subsidizing meals and extending family leave to ensure high productivity and strengthen themselves for post-recession expansion."
(North Jersey Media Group)


Webcasts and Conferences

Market Trends in Welfare Benefits
in Georgia on August 19, 2010
presented by WEB (Worldwide Employee Benefit Network) Atlanta Chapter


Press Releases

U.S. Labor Department Withdraws Proposed Rule on Definition of a Welfare Benefit Plan
U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)


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