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Welfare Plans Edition

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July 31, 2000

Congress Approves Long-Term Care Insurance for Federal Employees, Military Personnel
Excerpt: "The approval of long-term care insurance by Congress will provide federal employees and retirees with the first major addition to their benefits package since the 1986 legislation establishing the Thrift Savings Plan ... At least 13 million people--including spouses, parents and in-laws of employees and retirees--will be eligible to participate in the long-term care program, according to administration estimates." (Washington Post)

New Businesses Ready If Employers Tell Workers to Buy Their Own Health Insurance
Excerpt: "Here's a check. Now go buy your own health insurance. That's what a handful of new health benefits businesses are betting employers will be telling employees in the future in order to insulate themselves from rising premiums, lagging patient satisfaction and liability concerns. 'Managed care as we know it has come to the end of its life cycle,' says Dave Sanders, whose Portland, Ore.-based firm Myhealthbank is banking on the change. 'We believe the consumer needs to be in control.'" (USA Today)

Lots of Jobs, Few Workers Finally Equal Higher Wages
Excerpt: "The moment has arrived to ask for that raise or a few more company perks: An abundance of job openings and a dearth of workers have accelerated gains in wages and benefits across Minnesota, though some categories of workers have fared far better than others." (Star Tribune Company)

The Anti-Child Revolt
Excerpt: "Meet the latest addition to our national roster of victim groups: People without children. The revolt of the "child-free" has been getting quite a bit of attention, due mainly to the publication of 'The Baby Boon: How Family-Friendly America Cheats the Childless' by journalist Elinor Burkett, a manifesto of sorts for this fledgling movement." (Salon.com )

Casual-Dress Policies Can Spark Office Anxieties
Excerpt: "Gray-haired traditionalists aren't the only ones balking as corporate America leaps onto the Casual-Day bandwagon. Resisters of this trend now encompass a broad cross-section of workers, including younger men and minorities scratching to make their first big marks in their careers. Some complain that their Polo shirts and Gap khakis invite questions about how to fix the copy machine jam or mail an express package." (New York Times Syndicate)

State Farm Under Nationwide Scrutiny For Its Medical Claims-Handling Practices
Excerpt: "The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), a nationwide consortium of state insurance commissioners, will coordinate a countrywide market-conduct examination of State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.'s medical claims-handling practices." (insure.com)

Early Experience With HIPAA's 'New Federalism' in Health Insurance Regulation (PDF)
Excerpt: "This paper is among the first to examine the impact of HIPAA's incremental reforms and how its national policy affects multiple insurance markets and regulatory jurisdictions. It finds that HIPAA resulted in major achievements and can be a base for future reforms. However,the law's provisions had gaps and also led to some unintended consequences." (Health Affairs)

Medicare HMO Withdrawals: A State-by-State List of Pullouts
Excerpt: "More than 115 health insurance companies will drop Medicare HMO plans covering more than 930,000 elderly and disabled Americans on Dec. 31, 2000-- nearly triple the number of beneficiaries who lost their plans during last year's exodus." (insure.com)

HMO Coalition Claims Proposal Will Reduce Doctors' Red Tape
Excerpt: "A prominent group of HMOs says it wants to work more closely with physicians to improve health care. Is this effort for real?" (American Medical Association)

Florida Develops Program To Resolve HMO, Doctor Disputes
Excerpt: "Florida is developing what state health officials believe is the nation's first dispute resolution program to mediate claims by hospitals and doctors seeking denied payments from HMOs. The program, being readied for Jan. 1, was created in response to long-standing complaints that health maintenance organizations delay payment or simply don't pay bills." (New York Times Syndicate)

Check out the new addition to the BenefitsLink Store
Workplace Privacy: Answers and Practical Solutions, helps employers understand both the state and numerous federal laws affecting workplace privacy. (Thompson Publishing Group)

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