This week in benefits

A round-up of the week’s employee benefits news, reports and controversy from around the web

The Labor Department released its jobs report this morning, finding that unemployment remains stagnant at 9.1 percent. The economy added 103,000 net new jobs in September, 45K of which were striking Verizon workers returning to work. As BenefitsPro reported this week, a record one-third of the unemployed have been without a job for a year or more.

Top health care reform story this week

SCOTUS back in session. The Supreme Court began its new term on Monday. Last week, the Obama administration expedited a decision on the fate of “Obamacare” by asking the Supreme Court to take up the challenges to the new health law, virtually guaranteeing that a decision will be issued next summer just as the presidential campaigns are in full swing. CNN’s Aaron Carroll predicts that the case will be decided by a 5-4 decision, with Justice Anthony Kennedy providing the swing vote either to uphold or strike down the individual mandate. Politico explores the possible outcomes to PPACA if the mandate is struck down, pointing out the pitfalls of providing universal coverage without the “universal financing” that the individual mandate provides. Bloomberg notes that if the Supreme Court kills PPACA, it’s likely to remain dead for a while. It’s been 17 years since the Clinton administration’s failed attempt to provide universal health care.

This week’s health care reform picks:

Your soaring insurance premiums (The New York Times)

Stephen Colbert stumps Jeffrey Toobin over Supreme Court, video (HuffingtonPost)

Bart Stupak on life after health care (The Daily Beast)

The state of Perrycare (The Washington Post)

Would you buy health insurance from your drugstore? (Fox Business)

Covering maternity care in California (Los Angeles Times)

Obama adds bite to health care message (Politico)

FAQ: What actors affect the future of CLASS (Kaiser Health News)

Top retirement story this week

401(k) fees in the spotlight. Sponsors and vendors are getting antsy about the fee disclosure requirements that take effect in 2012, aggravated further by the $20 million dollar lawsuit filed against Ameriprise for an alleged $20 million loss in 401(k) investments. One of the things the lawsuit brought to light is the high fees the company was being charged for its 401(k) plan. Although worried retirement investors can’t do much to recoup investment losses, they can begin questioning how much sponsors are paying in fees for their retirement plans. Some experts forecast an increase in the number of lawsuits filed by investors for exorbitant plan fees.

This week’s retirement picks:

How employers raid pension plans (The Wall Street Journal)

Why the bear market may be good for your 401(k) (NPR)

Tips 401(k) sponsors can use to overcome employee risk aversion (Fiduciary News)

How Obama’s tax cuts could affect your retirement (San Francisco Chronicle)

Morningstar should be ashamed of its 401(k) plan (HuffingtonPost)

Baby boomers: Looking at retirement, not facing reality (The Baltimore Sun)

Retirement planning amid market mayhem (AARP)

How we sabotage our financial decisions (Forbes)

Lehman retirees’ push to sue CEI is denied (The Wall Street Journal)

Top HR / benefits story this week

The enemy within. Companies struggling to retain or regain their competitive edge must find a way to address low employee morale. To cope with economic challenges, companies are likely to cut benefits, freeze wages and increase the workloads of employees after downsizing their staff. However, these cost-cutting strategies may sabotage companies’most effective weapon in the fight to recover from an economic downturn: engaged employees. A recent Gallup report found employee engagement to be a leading indicator of a company’s financial performance.

This week’s HR/benefits picks:

NLRB delays union poster rule over confusion (BenefitsPro)

Government to unveil COLAs on Oct. 19 (Government Executive)

Courts back employers firing employees for FMLA Fraud (SmartHR)

The hidden costs of dental neglect (The Fiscal Times)

Poll: Americans receptive to new options for dental care (Kaiser Health News)

The dollars and sense of workers’ comp (PropertyCasualty360)

What every employer should be doing to lower health care costs (Fast Company)

Companies are turning to technology to help keep workers well (Workforce)

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This week’s most popular story on BenefitsPro:  Per worker health costs could exceed $10K

This week’s BenefitsPro blog roll:

99 problems but a shot ain’t one, by Denis Storey

Forget rhetoric, Caifornians want dignity, by Jenny Ivy

5500 catch-up, by Dan Cole

Will Congress balance budget on backs of future retirees?, By Chris Carosa

Social media: Health care needs it, by Mark Roberts

Follow the official Twitter feed for ‘This Week in Benefits’: @BenefitsWeek

About the Author
James E. Green

James E. Green

James E. Green is the Group Editorial Director of Summit Business Media's Life & Health Group, which includes National Underwriter Life & Health, Life Insurance Selling, Agent's Sales Journal, Senior Market Advisor, Producers Web, Benefits Selling and BenefitsPro.com.

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