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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition

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August 11 - 15, 2000

Welcome to new BenefitsLink advertiser FlexBen Corporation
FlexBen Corporation is an employee benefits consulting and management service partner. We believe that plan design, communication and plan administration are one strategic, integrated whole. FlexBen provides employee benefit information management and administrative services including annual enrollment, ongoing eligibility and participation management, employee inquiry and COBRA/HIPPA services. FlexBen has emerged nationally as the "best quality" manager of reimbursement account programs. (BenefitsLink.com, Inc.)

HHS Announces Electronic Standards To Simplify Health Care Transactions
Excerpt: "HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala today announced standard formats to streamline the processing of health care claims... The new standards ... establish standard data content and formats for submitting electronic claims and other administrative health transactions. All health care providers will be able to use the electronic format to bill for their services, and all health plans will be required to accept these standard electronic claims, referral authorizations and other transactions." (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

3d Cir.: ADEA Applies to Employer-Provided Retiree Benefit Coverage Based on Medicare Eligibility
Erie County Retirees Assoc. v. The County of Erie Pennsylvania (3rd Cir. 2000). Excerpt: "... because the retirees received disparate health benefits based on their age (i.e., attaining age 65 and becoming eligible for Medicare), the plaintiffs satisfied the threshold for establishing an ADEA claim." (EBIA Weekly)

Non-ERISA Fringe Benefit May Become ERISA Plan If Offered as Part of Broader Package of Benefits
Postma v. Paul Revere Life Insurance Co. (7th Cir. 2000). Excerpt: "Any company wishing to rely on the DOL's voluntary employee-pay-all safe harbor, thereby avoiding ERISA's application to a particular fringe benefit, should be careful not to link the benefit to others that are subject to ERISA." (EBIA Weekly)

3d Cir: Aetna U.S. Healthcare Not Guilty of Racketeering Violations In Its Advertising Materials
Excerpt: "The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said plaintiffs did not support their assertion that they paid too much for health care. A federal court judge dismissed the lawsuit in October ... The class-action lawsuit said Aetna promised quality medical care but encouraged widespread cost-cutting and penalized doctors who didn't increase their patient load. The lawsuit ... claimed the abuses were so widespread they constituted a pattern of fraud." (Associated Press)

A Comparison of U.S. and European Family Leave Policies (PDF)
Excerpt: "U.S. family leave proposals that initially put costs on employers (through the Unemployment Insurance system) ultimately transfer costs to workers. To enact costly mandates when the U.S. economy is in the midst of its longest expansion is not only unwise, but also could put this remarkable performance at risk." (Employment Policy Foundation)

Firms Offer Employees Better Perks to Help Recruit
Excerpt: "Strapped by the tight labor market, employers are offering more than cash to workers who help them find new hires. Think champagne, cars and cruises. Eye-catching perks are being added to create referral programs that get workers talking-- and hopefully more interested in taking part. Employers say the extra incentives are needed because staffers make the best recruiters." (USA Today)

Employer Gateway on CHEC Site Provides Health Insurance Information to Small Employers
The purpose of the Consumer Health Education Council is "to reduce the number of uninsured Americans and improve the health of the general public through information and research that helps individuals and plan sponsors understand the value and uses of private and public health insurance." (Consumer Health Education Council)

Labor And HHS Departments Send Report On Enforcing Child Medical Support Orders To Congress
Excerpt: "The report, 'Twenty-One Million Children's Health: Our Shared Responsibility,' includes 76 recommendations that attempt to expand health coverage for children eligible for child support enforcement services." (U.S. Department of Labor)

Health Insurance Reform: Standards for Electronic Transactions (press release)
Excerpt: "This rule adopts standards for eight electronic transactions and for code sets to be used in those transactions ... [and] will improve ... private health programs, and the effectiveness and efficiency of the health care industry in general, by simplifying the administration of the system and enabling the efficient electronic transmission of certain health information. It implements some of the requirements of the Administrative Simplification subtitle of [HIPPA]" (Department of Health and Human Services)

Health Insurance Reform: Standards for Electronic Transactions
Excerpt: "This rule adopts standards for eight electronic transactions and for code sets to be used in those transactions ... [and] will improve ... private health programs, and the effectiveness and efficiency of the health care industry in general, by simplifying the administration of the system and enabling the efficient electronic transmission of certain health information. It implements some of the requirements of the Administrative Simplification subtitle of [HIPPA]" (Department of Health and Human Services)

Questions & Answers: Recent Changes in Health Care Law (PDF)
97-page pamphlet, published June 2000. Explanations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, Mental Health Parity Act of 1996, Newborns and Mothers Health Protection Act of 1996, and the Womens Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998. (U.S. Department of Labor)

Will HMOs Cover Genetic Treatment?
Excerpt: "As genetic researchers work on dreams with astounding implications, doctors and health-care experts responsible for making new medication and technology available to patients worry about insurance dead ends.... What will be covered? Will HMOs and other carriers balk at the coming generation of medication because of the experimental nature and the possibility of huge pricetags?" (Scripps Howard News Service)

Survey Says Politicians Misjudge Consumers' Healthcare Concerns
Excerpt: "Findings from the Discovery Health Channel survey entitled, 'Americans and Washington Insiders on Health Issues: Does Health Information and Policy Require First Aid?' suggest that federal policymakers have significantly misjudged the amount of health information that consumers want and require, as well as the depth of that information." (DrKoop.com)

NYLCare Settles First "Malpractice" Case Against A Texas HMO
Excerpt: "The first true test of the 1997 Texas law allowing patients to sue their HMOs for malpractice has come to an end-- outside of the courtroom. The case, filed over a patient's death, was settled before trial, and both sides, though tight-lipped, claim to be pleased with the outcome." (insure.com)

(Following also appears in Retirement Plans Edition)

Opinion: Beware CEOs With Multiple Incentive Plans
Excerpt: "My analysis of pay at the 500 largest U.S. companies by market capitalization shows that each incentive plan adds 93 percent to a CEO's pay. I've found that companies whose CEOs receive more than one long-term incentive plan usually are sending a signal of pay excess. There's a simple reason: Most CEOs are unwilling to cut back on their current pay to make room for more 'incentive' pay, however lucrative, sometime in the future." (Graef Crystal, on Bloomberg.com)

Compensation Resource Group Makes $175 Survey Available for Downloading
Excerpt: "... [the survey shows] how corporate America is providing certain nonqualified retirement and welfare benefits to its executives. The Survey focuses on two types of nonqualified retirement plans: Nonqualified Deferred Compensation Plans and Supplemental Executive Retirement Plans; and two types of nonqualified welfare plans: Supplemental Death Benefits and Disability Benefits ... [also listed are] International Executive Benefit Plans and Corporate Financial Planning Benefits." (Compensation Resource Group)

George Zimmer of Men's Wearhouse Keeps a Lid on CEO Pay-- His Own
Excerpt: "When George Zimmer, CEO of Men's Wearhouse Inc., promotes his clothes on TV, he looks earnestly into the camera and proclaims: 'I guarantee it.' Until now, I'd figured Zimmer was only guaranteeing the quality of his threads and discount pricing. After some analysis I've concluded the guarantee might also apply to his consistently under-paying himself and being ultra-fair to shareholders." (Graef Crystal, on Bloomberg.com)

Cheney's Dallas Company Giving Him $20 Million Retirement Package
Excerpt: "The energy services company that Dick Cheney served for much of the last five years as chairman and chief executive has agreed to let Mr. Cheney ... retire with a package worth an estimated $20 million, according to people who have reviewed the deal.... The board's vote allowed Mr. Cheney to avoid a potentially costly aspect of his employment contract, which said he would forfeit some of his compensation if he retired before age 62 without the board's permission." (New York Times; free registration required)

Options on Steroids
Excerpt: "A 'super stock option' bill moving through the U.S. House of Representatives is designed to make stock option plans more ubiquitous than ever. Introduced by Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the super stock option will allow employers to deduct the cost of the options when the employees exercise them while allowing workers who exercise those options to defer taxes on profits until shares are actually sold." (CFO magazine)

Job Openings Newly Posted or Reposted on EmployeeBenefitsJobs.com

Pension Plan Administratorfor Michael Reece & Associates, Inc.
in IN
Pension (401k) Professionalsfor KeyBank
in OH
Defined Benefit Client Account Managerfor New York Life Benefit Services LLC
in MA
Defined Benefit Specialist Ifor American Century Investments
in MO
Client Relationship Managersfor Leading Search Firm
in NC
Experienced Defined Contribution Consultantsfor Ceridian Retirement Plan Services
in AZ, CA, CO, FL, VA, WI
in DC
Defined Benefit Conversion Consultantfor American Century Investments
in MO
Employee Benefits Account Managerfor America At Work
in PA
Defined Benefit Conversion Specialistfor American Century Investments
in MO

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