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The BenefitsLink Newsletter

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April 4, 2000

Teens: They're Often the Patients the Health-Care System Forgot
Excerpt: "Studies show that teenagers are savvy enough to know they need medical care or counseling but have a difficult time finding someone, including parents, whom they feel comfortable talking to about the difficult and often highly personal health issues they face. Yet many studies in the last decade have shown that adolescents are as out of touch with the health care system as their parents are from the music their kids listen to." (Los Angeles Times)

Forget early retirement -- boomers holding on to jobs
Excerpt: "It appears that we're actually growing more inclined to stay at work, says Joseph Quinn, economics professor at Boston College and fellow of the Employee Benefit Research Institute in Washington, D.C. That's a trend that started even before the boomers looked 50 in the face." (Jane Bryant Quinn, in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Long-Term Care Insurance in 1997-98 (PDF)
This report chronicles "the changing long-term care insurance market. Among the data included in this Research Findings are how many policies have been sold, how many insurers sell long-term care insurance, and what current policies include." (Health Insurance Association of America)

Death Penalty For HMO Treatment Denials?
Excerpt: "When people deliberately do things that are almost certain to cause death, and someone dies as a result, prosecutions for homicide are normally appropriate. However, the administrative conduct of health maintenance organizations (HMOs) seems to be an exception." (John A. Humbach, Pace University School of Law (preliminary draft, published at www.harp.org))

HMO Arbitration Abuse Reports
Excerpt: "The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights [on March 27] launched an 'HMO Arbitration Abuse Report' campaign to reveal daily the stories of patients harmed by their HMOs, yet forced to have their disputes settled in private, HMO-controlled arbitration hearings ... The picture and story of another arbitration abuse victim will be faxed and delivered daily to every member of the California Assembly and Senate and to opinion leaders." (Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights)

Calling Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson: Who Added That Sentence, and Why?
Excerpt: "Pension matters rarely are the stuff of mysteries, but suddenly we have a benefits 'whodunit' in Washington. It seems Congress wants to know whether any government officials profited by adding a single sentence to an official document nine years ago. The sentence that was added to the preamble in 1991 says, essentially, that the age-discrimination rules don't apply to cash-balance plans." (McGinn Actuaries Ltd.)

New Voluntary ERISA Fiduciary Compliance Program: Gift or Trojan Horse?
Excerpt: "... participation in the new program does not shield plan fiduciaries from investigation by the government into fiduciary violations not disclosed or not covered by the program. Further, applicants who fail to fully correct fiduciary violations will be rejected and become subject to enforcement action and civil penalties." (Thelen Reid & Priest LLP)

Oxford Health Plans Fined a Record $275,000 in New Jersey
Excerpt: "Oxford Health Plans on Friday agreed to pay $275,000 in fines to the state for wrongly denying valid health claims, delaying payments to doctors past the 60-day legal limit, and depriving patients and doctors of their rights to appeal medical decisions." (The [Bergen County NJ] Record)

2000 Small Employer Retirement Survey: Small Firms May Be Making Premature Decision Not to Offer A Retirement Plan
Excerpt: "According to the results of the 2000 Small Employer Retirement Survey (SERS) released today, nonsponsors may not be aware of all the options available to them, or of the potential business advantages of offering a plan. Currently, less than half (46 percent) of full-time employees at small private establishments (100 or fewer workers) are participating in an employment-based retirement plan." (PRNewswire)

Keep Working, No Matter How Old You Are
Excerpt: "Here's good news for people 65 and older who still want to work: Congress is encouraging businesses to hang out a 'help wanted' shingle for older workers." (Scripps Howard News Service)

Baby Boomers Could Face Financial Hardships in Retirement
Excerpt: "That's why the SEC, NASAA, and ASEC urge every American -- regardless of age or income level -- to start saving and investing now and take advantage of employer-sponsored retirement programs." (PRNewswire)

Older Workers Should Be Encouraged To Remain, Senate Panel Is Told
Excerpt: "The government and businesses should assist senior citizens who want to continue working beyond 65, a Senate panel was told Monday. Skill training for older workers is not the norm, and senior citizens in the work force remain under-represented in company training programs, said Joseph Perkins, president of AARP." (Cox News Service)

Kaiser Permanente Refuses to Supply Business Documents to Union Workers
Excerpt: "Their strike is over, but Kaiser Permanente workers aren't done challenging their employer. The union representing Kaiser's registered nurses, pharmacists and other health professionals has demanded copies of documents pertaining to how the HMO does business." (Denver Post)

Workers Resist Firms' Attempts to Pass on Rising Health Premiums
"Pressured by rising premiums, businesses from Williamsburg to Seattle are trying more aggressively to hold down their medical expenses, but they are meeting stiffening resistance in a nation of workers who see health insurance not as a perk but as an entitlement." (The Dallas Morning News)

Movement for Same-Sex Unions Gaining Steam
Excerpt: "While domestic partnerships usually provide only a handful of benefits, Vermont's civil unions would afford same-sex couples about 300 state benefits, such as the ability to transfer property, make medical decisions for each other, inherit estates, oversee one another's funerals and file joint state income tax returns." (Chicago Tribune)

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