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Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

October 5, 2010

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Many health plans and business associates may be due for a "refresher" on the original HIPAA Privacy Rules and all their changes, including the new, proposed regulations issued in July 2010. Schedule a department or staff meeting and quickly bring everyone up-to-date on HIPAA Privacy. Register Today!

[Guidance Overview]
PPACA Guidance Eliminating HIPAA Opt-Out Election for Self-Insured Nonfederal Governmental Plans
Excerpt: "Except for a narrow band of requirements, these group health plans will no longer be permitted to opt out of the following HIPAA rules: Preexisting condition exclusion rules; Special enrollment rules; Discrimination based on health status rules (as well as other federal requirements) . . . ."
(Towers Watson)

HHS Statements Acknowledging Special Circumstances Involving Mini-Med Plans and PPACA's Medical Loss Ratio Standards; Awards Money for Establishment of Exchanges
Excerpt: "HHS appears to be recognizing the difficulties such plans will have in meeting the MLR standards because of high expense structures relative to low spending on claims."
(Towers Watson)

McDonald's Health Insurance Coverage Draws Capitol Hill Attention
Excerpt: "[Sen. Jay Rockefeller] asked for information on coverages, deductibles, premiums, copayments and other 'out-of-pocket' costs that McDonald's workers pay, and how much they have received in benefits over the past five years, with a deadline of Oct. 15. Also, he wants the company and its insurer to 'describe the business arrangement under which McDonald's allows BCS to sell health insurance products to McDonald's employees.'"
(Workforce Management; free registration required)

Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans Created by the Affordable Care Act of 2010
Excerpt: "In this new issue brief from The Commonwealth Fund's Realizing Health Reform's Potential series, [the authors] examine eligibility, benefits, premiums, cost-sharing, and oversight of the state PCIP programs, as well as variation in the plans from state to state."
(The Commonwealth Fund)

More Companies Approved for Early Retiree Reimbursements
Excerpt: "Nearly 1,000 additional organizations have been approved to receive partial reimbursement of health care claims incurred by early retirees and their dependents, the Department of Health and Human Services said [yesterday]."
(Business Insurance)

Stress Top Driver of Wellness Programs across the Globe
Excerpt: "The Society for Human Resource Management . . . reports that employers in Latin America and the United States identified physical activity as the top health issue driving their wellness initiatives. In the U.S., addressing employee stress ranked sixth as a wellness driver, behind nutrition, chronic disease, obesity, and high blood pressure."

EBSA Posts Spanish Health Care Reform Notices
Excerpt: "[DOL's EBSA] has posted to its Web site Spanish versions of model notices required under the health care form law."

Medical Tourism Emerges As New Option for Keeping Health Care Costs in Check
Excerpt: "Besides offering employees the chance to visit an exotic locale, usually on the company's dime, the overseas costs of big-ticket operations are 'likely to be significantly below prevailing Medicare reimbursement levels,' the lowest prices U.S. hospitals generally accept . . . ."

San Francisco's Prop. B Being Billed As Pension Reform When It Would Effect Health Care Benefit Costs More
Excerpt: "It's not often Mayor Gavin Newsom, the entire Board of Supervisors and labor organizations ranging from the lowest-paid service workers to firefighters and police officers agree on anything, but they've banded together to fight a measure on the Nov. 2 ballot that would require city workers to pay more for their health and pension benefits."
(San Francisco Chronicle)

CEOs Wary of Health Costs and End of Bush Tax Cuts
Excerpt: "U.S. chief executives are becoming more confident about the economy, though many worry high employee health care costs and the possible end of Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans could hurt businesses."
(Reuters via The New York Times; free registration required)

2011 Segal Health Plan Cost Trend Survey (PDF)
6 pages. Excerpt: "Medical and prescription drug cost trend rates for 2011 are expected to remain relatively unchanged from 2010 levels. However, these projected health plan cost increases represent a substantial increase over core inflation, according to the [survey]."
(The Segal Group, Inc.)

Ten-Year Summary of Selected Medical, Prescription Drug Carve-Out & Dental Trends: 2002-2009 Actual and 2010 and 2011 Projected (PDF)
2 pages. This supplement to the 2011 Segal Health Plan Cost Trend Survey shows selected annual and projected trend data from the last 10 surveys and a second graph of selected medical trends for actives and retirees under age 65.
(The Segal Group, Inc.)

Letters to the Editor: Ms. Sebelius Knows Better About Insurance Regulation
Excerpt: "Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius may object to being called out on her department's Soviet style bullying tactics, but her op-ed ('Health Insurers Finally Get Some Oversight' Sept. 28) certainly reads like something out of Pravda. [Rebuttals by Newt Gingrich and others.]"
(The Wall Street Journal)

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Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

Tax Recommendations from President's Advisory Board Would Affect Retirement and Health Accounts
Excerpt: "A report from the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board . . . outlines tax reform options, including some with implications for retirement, health care and education savings accounts. [The Board] was charged with evaluating the advantages and drawbacks of measures to simplify the tax code, increase tax compliance and reform corporate taxes."
(Towers Watson)

Starbucks is Pleasing Employees and Pouring Profits
Excerpt: "Full health-care benefits (medical, dental, vision and alternative services) are offered to all employees, including part-timers who work at least 240 hours per calendar quarter. The EAP is available to all employees. Employees share in the company's growth via 'Bean Stock' (stock options) of up to 14 percent of their gross pay, and a stock-investment plan allows them to buy shares of Starbucks common stock at a discount . . . ."
(Workforce Management; free registration required)

Aon Hewitt and Aon Corp. Fact Sheets
Excerpt: "Aon Corporation (NYSE:AON) announced that it has completed its merger of Hewitt Associates, Inc. with a subsidiary of Aon, creating Aon Hewitt, the world's premier human capital solutions firm."
(Aon Hewitt)

Record Number of Companies Rated in HRC's 2011 Corporate Equality Index
Excerpt: "[The Index scores] 30 specific policies and practices covering nearly every aspect of employment for LGBT workers from non-discrimination protections and the training surrounding those policies to domestic partnership and legal dependent benefits to gender transition guidelines and LGBT employee resource groups."
(The Human Rights Campaign)

Webcasts and Conferences

An Introduction to 401(k) Basics
in California on November 2, 2010
presented by Actuarial Consultants, Inc.

Annual Plan Administration- Retirement Plan Basics Update 2010
in California on November 2, 2010
presented by Actuarial Consultants, Inc.

Complimentary Update - Form 1099-R Penalty Changes
Nationwide on October 4, 2010
presented by Convergent Retirement Plan Solutions, LLC

How Can You Better Manage Pension Risk? Webcast
Nationwide on October 5, 2010
presented by Mercer

Learn about's 1099 Software
Nationwide on October 13, 2010
presented by

Press Releases

ASPPA Enhances Service Provider Certification
American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA)

Newly Posted Employee Benefits Jobs

Plan Administrator/Consultant
for Texas TPA/Consulting Firm
in TX

Director of Business Development
for Tegrit Group
in MI, OH

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