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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition

May 17 - 18, 2000

Prefunding Retiree Health Benefits
Excerpt: "The majority of public plans provide health benefits for retirees ... The cost of these benefits has grown dramatically and will continue to do so ... As a result of having a 'well funded' pension plan, some employers and employees are considering whether to pre-fund retiree health benefits." (PERiScope, from Milliman & Robertson, Inc.)

Educational Benefit Programs
Explore the plan design, administration, and taxability of employer-sponsored educational benefit programs, in a new booklet available from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans ($10 non-members; free to IFEBP members). (IFEBP)

Prescription Drug Costs: Confronting the Issues
Analyze the factors that have led to the rising cost of prescription drugs and the resulting cost management efforts, in a new booklet available from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans ($10 non-members; free to IFEBP members). (IFEBP)

Telecommuting Available to Employees, But Often at a Price
Excerpt: "I assume what they expect is for the employee to work more. It could become the electronic umbilical cord that ties us to work." (Dallas Morning News)

Behind the Scenes on Health Web Sites
Excerpt: "Welcome to the murky world of Internet health and medicine for consumers, where it's hard to tell who is providing information, how good it is and what the provider's ulterior motives might be. Although the sites offer what could be some of the most important information for which people turn to the World Wide Web, the operators of these sites are not necessarily committed foremost to meeting that public need." (Washington Post)

9th Cir: Third Party Administrator Was Not an ERISA Fiduciary
Excerpt: "The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a third-party plan administrator (TPA) was not a fiduciary because it had performed only ministerial functions and did not exhibit control over the plan. The TPA had been sued by plan participants as a fiduciary in order to recover funds that had been embezzled from the plan by a plan trustee." (KPMG Peat Marwick)

APPWP Comments on Department of Labor Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program
Excerpt: "APPWP appreciates the Department's efforts in developing the VFCP. Our membership supports compliance programs that enable plan sponsors and service providers to make corrections for unintentional errors and thereby strengthen the voluntary, private retirement system that forms an important pillar of Americans' retirement security." (Association of Private Pension and Welfare Plans)

Parents Are In Full-Production Mode At Work
Excerpt: "Does producing children lead to more productivity at work? As a longtime champion of every working parent with children of any age, especially because I have long been one, I like the concept. But it certainly goes against conventional wisdom." (Chicago Tribune)

Calpers Approves Co-Pay Changes, Rates for 2001
Excerpt: "The California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) Board of Administration ... voted to increase certain prescription drug co-payments for members in the health care program, in an effort designed to encourage member use of less expensive generic drugs where appropriate and to stimulate an increase in mail order prescriptions." (Business Wire)

FEDworkplace.com Provides Online Benefits Info for Federal Employees
Excerpt: "Fedworkplace.com, is the most comprehensive federal community portal on the Internet with tightly focused content geared towards federal and military employees. This site was developed by federal workers for federal workers. We're dedicated to helping federal users, and anyone interested in the federal workplace..." (FEDworkplace.com)

Employers Try to Cope With Higher Health Benefit Costs
Excerpt: "The cost of employer-sponsored health plans jumped 7.3% in 1999. This was nearly three times the rate of general inflation, according to William M. Mercer's 14th annual National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans, a representative survey of over 3,100 employers." (Medscape; free registration required)

California Sticks Kaiser With $1 Million Fine After Patient Death
Excerpt: "The California agency that regulates HMOs has fined Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc. $1 million after discovering the insurer allegedly failed to provide prompt treatment to a 74-year-old customer who later died." (insure.com)

Many Employers Found to Violate Law Requiring Parity for Mental Health Coverage
Excerpt: "Congressional investigators say thousands of employers are violating a federal law that requires the level of insurance coverage for mental illness to be similar to that for physical illness." (New York Times; free registration required)

Expatriate Health Insurance: Don't Leave Homeland Without It
Excerpt: "Expatriate insurance, also known as global or international medical insurance, is a specialized type of health insurance designed specifically for people on extended stays outside of the United States." (insure.com)

New from EBRI: Executive Summary of Issue Brief, Voluntary Long-Term Care Insurance (May 2000)
Best Practices for Increasing Employee Participation (Employee Benefit Research Institute)

The Uninsured in America
Survey results and interviews; co-sponsored by the Kaiser Family Foundation. (Online NewsHour with Jim Lehrer (PBS))

Copyright 2000 BenefitsLink.com, Inc.

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