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Welfare Plans Edition


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August 25 - 28, 2000

Plan Must Explain Interaction Between COBRA and Pre-Existing Exclusions for Rehired Employees
Bowerman v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (7th Cir. 2000). Excerpt: "The lower court had held that, because plan representatives misinformed the employee about the need to elect COBRA, the plan was equitably estopped (i.e., precluded) from enforcing the PCE. The court rejected the company's argument that the plan's written requirements were protected under ERISA from informal modification." (EBIA Weekly)

7th Cir. Finds for Plaintiff; Wal-Mart SPD Ambiguous on COBRA Rights
Bowerman v. Wal-Mart Stores (7th Cir. 2000). Excerpt: "We think that the district court was on solid ground in deciding that the 1995 SPD and the other Plan documents insufficiently explained the need for employees like Ms. Bowerman, who were rehired by Wal-Mart after a brief hiatus, to obtain COBRA coverage through the Plan." (United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit)

Registration Deadline Nearing for Free DOL Seminar in San Francisco on September 14
Excerpt: "On September 14, 2000, the U.S. Department of Labor will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) with a program called, Focus On The Future: Pension & Health Benefits for Today's Families.... [J]oin us in this effort to help participants understand the various federal programs affecting a majority of Americans." (U.S. Department of Labor)

Health News Index: July/August 2000
Excerpt: "... includes questions about major health stories covered in the news, including questions about the Supreme Court's recent decisions and House action on proposals for providing drug coverage to seniors. The Health News Index is designed to help the news media and people in the health field gain a better understanding of which health stories in the news Americans are following and what they understand about those health issues." (Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation)

Domestic Partner Benefits Available to U. Nebraska Students
Excerpt: "As of Aug. 14, students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln can do something that their faculty and staff counterparts cannot. Because of a new health insurance provider, students are now able to receive benefits for their domestic partners, regardless of sexual orientation." (U-Wire)

IRS Private Letter Ruling Discusses Taxation of Basic and Supplemental Group Term Life Insurance
Excerpt: "The employer elected to treat all of the coverages as separate policies under Code Section 79, in hopes that only the group term life insurance provided through the basic policy would be subject to the imputed income rules of Code Section 79. Based on the particular facts in this ruling request, the IRS agreed ..." (EBIA Weekly)

Aon to Acquire Actuarial Sciences Associates, Inc. (ASA)
(Business Wire)

Insurers Offer Their Fix For Health Plan Privacy Regs
Excerpt: "Insurers offered their suggestions for proposed privacy regulations that they say will ensure the consensus needed to put guidelines in place and ensure they are done so in a way that will make insurers competitive with other financial services sectors. State insurance commissioners and insurers are currently wrestling with the details of implementing privacy regulations that will facilitate requirements in the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Modernization Act." (National Underwriter Company)

Mental Health Benefits Remain Limited Despite Federal Parity Act
Excerpt: "The following are excerpts from testimony given by Kathryn G. Allen, associate director at the Health, Education, and Human Services Division of the United States General Accounting Office (GAO). She testified before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions on May 18, 2000, about a GAO report that examines the implementation and effects to date of the Mental Health Parity Act of 1996." (Medscape; free registration required)

Buyers' Clubs for Medical Services Crop Up
Excerpt: "A variety of new companies are beginning to offer below-market prices on prescription drugs and services like doctor, dental and eye care and medical tests. Like buyers' discount clubs such as Costco or Sam's Club, the new companies attract people looking for a better price, in this case because they have no health insurance or because their health insurance does not cover the treatments they want." (New York Times; free registration required)

Aetna And Humana Fought The Law, And The Law Lost — For Now
Excerpt: "Aetna U.S. Healthcare and Humana Inc. have stopped selling new group health policies to Florida residents who are self-employed, despite warnings from state insurance regulators that they're flouting the law." (insure.com)

Health Insurance Is Far From Assured
Excerpt: "Most Americans believe they'll always have access to medical care. The word "uninsured" conjures up the image of people, er, not quite like us. But we all live in a state of permanent medical instability. Almost anyone's personal coverage could be changed or snatched away. Consider these ways we could slip through the cracks:" (Jane Bryant Quinn, in the Washington Post)

Opinion: Nonprofits Are Answer to Universal Healthcare Coverage
Excerpt: "... universal care is not an affordability problem at all. Americans are already paying twice as much per capita for health care than the citizens of virtually all other countries in the world.... Our failure to achieve universal coverage ... is due to our mistaken reliance upon market forces ... [F]or-profit market interests in the United States have created a health care financing system that is inefficient, bureaucratic, unfair, and provides poor-quality medicine." (Salt Lake Tribune)

The Rebirth of the Guild
Excerpt: "As much as 30 percent of the base pay of Screen Actors Guild members goes to the benefits fund; in return, members get health benefits, generous pensions, and access to professional development programs. Imagine an extended version of this where members paid a fraction of their income to the guild in the good times in return for a guaranteed minimum income in the bad times." (Boston Globe)

Massachusetts Genetic-Privacy Law Protects Against Discrimination in Job and Health Insurance
Excerpt: "August 24 - Massachusetts Lt. Governor Jane Swift signed a Genetic Privacy bill into law this week, making it illegal for employers or health insurers to discriminate against people who undergo genetic testing." (National Coalition for Patient Rights)

Calif. Considering Bill Requiring 'Good Faith and Fair Dealing' In Sales of Long-Term Care Policies
Excerpt: "California lawmakers are considering a bill that would impose a duty of "honesty, good faith and fair dealing" on any individual or company selling long-term care insurance or Medicare supplement insurance to state residents over age 65." (National Underwriter Company)

Long-Term Care Insurance Could Be Solution for Health-Care Costs
Excerpt: "There are many companies that issue LTC policies. Generally, most LTC policies have five broad choices to make and additional riders you may choose to include." (Chicago Daily Herald)

Social Security Summary, 2000 Edition (48 pages; PDF)
Marvelous overview of the Social Security program by a prominent consulting firm, including summaries of Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance, Medicare, Supplemental Security Income, and the financing of these programs. (HayGroup)

(Following also appears in Retirement Plans Edition)

Welcome to new BenefitsLink advertiser Workscape, Inc.
Workscape, Inc. is a leading Internet provider of Web-enabled HR Self Service solutions dedicated to transforming the business of Human Resources through technology. The company develops flexible, HR Self Service solutions that free HR departments from transaction-oriented activities and allow managers to focus on recruitment, employee development and other strategic issues. Workscape systems have been deployed at more than 265 major corporations.

FreeERISA.com Now Includes Top-Hat Plan Filings Online
Excerpt: "Top Hat plans are exempt from ERISA rules regarding funding, participation, vesting, and fiduciary duties. Top Hat plans are unfunded plans maintained by employers primarily for the purpose of providing deferred compensation for a select group of management or highly compensated employees.... The items listed below are the filings that declared the existence of the plan to the government." (FreeERISA.com)

New Jersey’s Public Employees Seek Improved Benefits
Excerpt: "A year after the state granted police and firefighters a boost in their pensions, hundreds of thousands of other state and local government employees are making a pitch for similar increases. Even as the state capital dozes during the Legislature's summer recess, union leaders are moving quietly behind the scenes on proposals to improve retirement benefits for teachers and other public employees and to muster the legislative support that would make them a reality." (Knight-Ridder / Tribune)



Job Openings Newly Posted or Reposted on EmployeeBenefitsJobs.com


REGIONAL MARKETING DIRECTORfor MetLife
in CA, GA, IL, TX
Communications Associatefor Fidelity Investments
in MA
Actuarial Operations Project Leaderfor Towers Perrin
in PA
Account Managerfor Melita-McDonald Insurance Services, Inc.
in CA
Senior Specialist, Benefits Compliancefor National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
in VA
Defined Contribution/401(k) Administratorfor Merit Benefits Group, Inc.
in IL

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