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Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

November 22, 2010

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[Guidance Overview]
Plan Administrator Liable for Penalties and Fiduciary Breach Following Delay in Providing Requested Documents
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: As this case illustrates, the fact that documents subject to disclosure under ERISA Section 104(b)(4) are in a third party's exclusive possession does not excuse the plan administrator's statutory obligation to produce these documents."
(Employee Benefits Institute of America)

[Guidance Overview]
No Penalties Where Employer Acted in Good Faith by Providing Additional Coverage and Instituting Notice Tracking Program
Excerpt: "[A]lthough this court pointed out that a plan administrator's good faith and the absence of harm to the qualified beneficiary do not preclude the imposition of a penalty for failure to provide COBRA notices, it ultimately concluded that it was 'ludicrous' to suggest that the employee was prejudiced by not receiving notice of his right to purchase something that he was already receiving at no cost."
(Employee Benefits Institute of America)

[Guidance Overview]
Grandfathered Plan Regulations Amended to Permit Changing Insurance Contracts or Insurers
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: Given the prospective effect of this amendment, it may have come too late for some group health plans with non-calendar-year plan years and new insurance contracts or policies that took effect before November 15, 2010."
(Employee Benefits Institute of America)

10 Ways You Can Make Work Fit with Life and Family
Excerpt: "[M]any companies have come up with creative ways for employees to balance their lives and still be successful at their jobs. Here are ten of [the author's] favorite ideas. Read 'em all and vote for your favorite on the sidebar."
(The Huffington Post)

Institute of Medicine Takes First Step in Defining Essential Health Benefits
Excerpt: "Preliminary work has begun on one of the most significant decisions in implementing the national health reform law: choosing the minimum benefits that health plans must offer to be sold in the reform law's 2014 health insurance coverage requirement."
(American Medical Association)

On Being a Workplace Wellness Bully
Excerpt: "Instilling shame and guilt when rolling out wellness initiatives -- even if it's unintended -- won't succeed as well as offering incentives, acceptance and an atmosphere of fun. Removing candy and doughnuts from work areas can't hurt, either."
(Human Resource Executive Online)

Federal Health Insurance Plans Offer Tax Savings Options
Excerpt: "Participants in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program can use flexible spending accounts, health reimbursement arrangements and health savings accounts to cover eligible medical expenses and reap tax benefits in the process."
(Government Executive)

Companies That Eliminate Co-Payments Report Better Medication Adherence and Lower Health-Care Costs
Excerpt: "Employers are rejecting unpopular benefit cuts and instead eliminating co-payments on prescription drugs to encourage employees with severe health problems to take their medications and stay healthy. The theory is that the financial incentive will stave off emergency-room visits, hospital stays, and disability claims over the longer term."

Health Care Cost Worries Prompt Rise in Dependent Audits
Excerpt: "[S]ome companies are conducting audits to verify dependents' eligibility, to make sure they aren't paying for people they shouldn't be."
(The Wall Street Journal)

HHS Details Health Law MLR Requirement: Insurers Must Spend at Least 80 Percent on Medical Care
Excerpt: "For employer plans covering more than 50 people, the requirement is 85 cents,' according to The Associated Press, which adds: 'Part of the new health care law, the rule is meant to give consumers a better deal."
(Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation)

Consumer Risks Feared as Health Law Spurs Mergers
Excerpt: "[E]ight months into the new law there is a growing frenzy of mergers involving hospitals, clinics and doctor groups eager to share costs and savings, and cash in on the incentives. They, in turn, have deployed a small army of lawyers and lobbyists trying to persuade the Obama administration to relax or waive a body of older laws intended to thwart health care monopolies, and to protect against shoddy care and fraudulent billing of patients or Medicare."
(The New York Times; free registration required)

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Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]
SEC Rulemaking Schedule for Executive Compensation and Corporate Governance Provisions of Dodd-Frank Act
Excerpt: "The SEC currently plans to issue and implement all remaining rules by July 21, 2011 at the latest."
(Snell & Wilmer LLP)

[Guidance Overview]
Upcoming Expiration of IRS Program That Allows Companies to Correct Certain Documentary Failures Without Imposition of Section 409A Penalties
Excerpt: "If the employer already has reviewed its deferred compensation arrangements for Section 409A compliance, it should consider further review to correct certain document failures that came to light as a result of the Document Correction Program or recent comments from IRS representatives regarding the application of Section 409A to various types of arrangements."
(Snell & Wilmer LLP)

Employee Stock Reporting Deadlines Approaching
Excerpt: "The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released final versions of Form 3921 and 3922 on which employers are required to report information relating to the exercise of incentive stock options (ISO) and employee stock purchase plans (ESPP) options."

Employee Benefits in a Multigenerational Workplace (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "Understanding employees' frame of reference is a first step in recognizing their needs and what will attract, motivate, and retain them to work for an enterprise."
(Employee Benefit Plan Review via Epstein Becker & Green, P.C.)

Press Releases

Newly Posted Employee Benefits Jobs

Pension Plan Administrator
for Jim Hallinan Pension Consulting, LLC
in CT

Compliance Consultant - Indianapolis, IN
for AUL/OneAmerica Financial Partners, Inc.
in IN

Account Manager (Benefits)
for Alliant Insurance Services, Inc.
in CA

Director, Process Management
for Prudential
in CT

Sr. Institutional Custody Manager
for BOK Financial Corporation
in OK, TX

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