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December 27, 2010

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[Official Guidance]
Text of IRS Notice 2011-5: Use of Health FSA and HRA Debit Cards To Purchase Prescribed Over-the-Counter Drugs (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "This document modifies Notice 2010-59, 2010-39 IRB 396 which did not allow the use of health FSA and HRA debit cards to purchase over-the-counter medicines or drugs after December 31, 2010. The current notice allows the use of debit cards to purchase prescribed over the counter drugs if certain requirements are met. This notice will be in Internal Revenue Bulletin 2011-3, dated Jan. 18, 2011."
(U.S. Internal Revenue Service)

[Guidance Overview]
IRS Notice Announces Delay in Enforcement of Nondiscrimination Requirements for Insured Health Plans
Excerpt: "Absent this guidance, the new rules would have taken effect January 1, 2011, for calendar year plans (other than grandfathered plans, which are exempt from the new nondiscrimination requirements). Accordingly, the delay in enforcement will be welcomed by many employers who provide health benefits (or certain health benefit options) through insurance, although given the effective date set forth in the statute, some employers may have already taken measures to comply with the new requirements."
(Ballard Spahr LLP)

[Guidance Overview]
Final ECOA Regulations for Title II of GINA (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "The Title II regulation confirms that an employer can offer a financial inducement to individuals to provide genetic information through a health risk assessment as long as it is clear that the inducement will be made available whether the individual answers the genetic questions or not. The regulations do not, however, specifically answer at what point a financial inducement might be so large as to render the program involuntary."
(Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c.)

[Guidance Overview]
Interim Medical Loss Ratios Might Make Self-insuring More Appealing
Excerpt: "New medical loss ratio . . . rules ordering insurers to spend at least 80 percent of premiums paying for health services could drive employers away from fully insured arrangements and persuade them to sponsor self-funded plans, experts suggest."
(Thompson Publishing Group Inc.)

[Guidance Overview]
New Review Process for 'Unreasonable' Premium Hikes
Excerpt: "The new regulations lay out a process for the states and the federal government to review rate increases by insurers, as well as to publicly disclose those increases. The regulations define the threshold for a premium increase that would cause it to become subject to review, and outline a process for evaluating whether the increase is 'unreasonable.'"
(The Commonwealth Fund)

Arizona's Unmarried Heterosexual Partners Set to Lose Health Benefits
Excerpt: "Gov. Jan Brewer and the Legislature made the benefit change as part of budget cuts in 2009. They intended to eliminate benefits for a much broader group, including adult children and g.ay partners of state employees. However, the new federal health-care law and a court ruling have forced the state to continue covering those groups, leaving opposite-sex partners the only class impacted by the cuts."

Why the Individual Mandate for Health Insurance Matters
Excerpt: "[W]hat would the ACA look like if its individual mandate was dropped? A new report . . . shows that the number of uninsured would be cut by more than half with the mandate, but by only about 20 percent without the mandate. Uncompensated care would decline by $42.4 bil.lion under the ACA, but only by $14.7 bil.lion under reform without a mandate because of the large number of people remaining uninsured."
(Urban Institute)

Early Consumer Testing of New Health Insurance Disclosure Forms (PDF)
64 pages. Excerpt: "The Affordable Care Act . . . calls for health insurers to begin using a new, standard health insurance disclosure form to convey the benefits and cost-sharing provisions of their health plan offerings. . . . This Consumers Union study explores whether early prototypes for this Summary of Coverage form meet the needs of consumers. Specifically, do study respondents find the form appealing, does the form provide the information that respondents are looking for and is it a usable document?"
(Consumers Union)

2010 Best Employers for Healthy Lifestyles: Program Summaries (PDF)
23 pages. Excerpt: "Business Group recognizes 66 large employers as winners of 2010 Best Employers for Healthy Lifestyle Awards -- strong employer commitment to workplace health and wellness programs."
(National Business Group on Health)

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Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Official Guidance]
Text of IRS Notice 2011-12: 2011 Tax Tables and Other Inflation Adjustments (PDF)
8 pages. Excerpt: "In addition to new tax rate tables, reflecting the continuation of the 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33% and 35% tax brackets, the revenue procedure contains adjusted amounts for [various tax credits and deductions.]"
(U.S. Internal Revenue Service)

'State of Working America' Preview: The Rich Get Richer
Excerpt: "America's wealthiest households in 2009 had net worth that was 225 times greater than the median family net worth."
(Economic Policy Institute)

Summary of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Authorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010
Excerpt: "[The target page provides] a general overview of the estate, gift, Generation-Skipping Transfer . . ., and basic income tax consequences of the recent tax bill passed by Congress and signed by President Obama on December 17, 2010."
(Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, P.C.)

Cities Tap Homeowners for Revenue as Workers' Retirement, Health Costs Rise
Excerpt: "Local officials and government workers say a confluence of factors is driving the [property tax] increases, including the need to make up for staggering investment losses from the financial crisis and rising costs as more workers retire. In addition, benefit increases promised in flush times are coming due as revenue flounders, and some cities have skipped payments to their pension funds over the years."
(The Wall Street Journal)

New Illinois Representative Garners Attention for His Choices
Excerpt: "[Joe] Walsh, 48, will get about $1.4 mil.lion annually to run his operation and plans as many as three district branches. He'll sleep in his office in Washington, while his family stays here in McHenry. And get this: he's turned down the usual congressional health care, pension and retirement packages. 'I don't think congressmen should get pensions or cushy health care plans,' he said. His wife is not exhilarated with the latter decision; she has a pre-existing medical condition and is now forced to hunt for a plan."
(The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Employee Benefits Update, December 2010 (PDF)
The seven-page newsletter presents select compliance deadlines and reminders; retirement plan developments; and, health and welfare plan developments.
(Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c.)

2011 Benefit Limits
Excerpt: "[The IRS] provided updated retirement plan limits effective for the plan year that begins on or after January 1, 2011. Due to the low inflation rate in 2010, most limits did not receive their traditional cost-of-living adjustment."
(Kilpatrick Stockton LLP)

Webcasts and Conferences

"Plan Fees: Navigating the Maze Workshop" - Cincinnati
in Ohio on January 27, 2011
presented by SunGard Relius

"Plan Fees: Navigating the Maze Workshop" - Dallas
in California on January 27, 2011
presented by SunGard Relius

"Plan Fees: Navigating the Maze Workshop" - Denver
in Colorado on January 28, 2011
presented by SunGard Relius

"Plan Fees: Navigating the Maze Workshop" - Detroit
in Michigan on January 26, 2011
presented by SunGard Relius

"Plan Fees: Navigating the Maze Workshop" - St Louis
in Missouri on January 28, 2011
presented by SunGard Relius

Press Releases

Marsh & McLennan Agency Acquires Trion Group Inc.
Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc. (MMC)

Top 10 Retirement Issues for 2011
Atessa Benefits, Inc.

Newly Posted Employee Benefits Jobs

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in IL

Manager of Client Services
for Los Angeles based Consulting and Third Party Administration firm
in CA

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