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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition


November 9, 2000

Today's sponsor is 2e Corporation
(click on banner for more information)

Massachusetts Health Care Head Hopes to End HMO Hassles with Online Service
Excerpt: "On Monday, Harvard Pilgrim mailed to 4,000 Massachusetts employers CD-ROMs explaining the program that will allow to instantly enroll and un-enroll their employees in the plan on the Internet. Employees can update basic information, such as their addresses, and sign up with a new primary care doctor." (Boston Globe)

Doctors Don't Have to Reveal Financial Perks
Excerpt: "Doctors do not have to tell their patients of financial perks they have with health maintenance organizations, but such agreements may be used against in court, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled Thursday [November 2]" (Chicago Daily Herald)

Minnesota Nonprofit HMO Chief Clears $850,000 Per Year; Highest Paid Among Executives
Excerpt: "The highest-paid executive in Minnesota's nonprofit HMO and health-system industry is not a CEO at one of the bigger organizations. She's not a permanent state resident. And within a year, she probably won't be in her current position. She is Karen Vigil, who holds the title of operating officer for Medica Health Plans. With a 1999 compensation package of $850,000, she even makes more than her superiors at Allina Health System, Medica's parent company." (StarTribune.com)

Opinion: Without Bill of Rights, Patients Left Out in Cold
Excerpt: "A federal patients' bill of rights, allowing lawsuits against HMOs currently shielded by ERISA, has been considered by the Republican-controlled Congress the past two years. The legislation, known as the Norwood-Dingell bill and supported by the American and California medical associations, was approved by the House in 1999, but died this week in the Senate." (InsideVC.com)

Claim Denials: Who's Responsible When Your Health Plan Doesn't Play By The Rules?
Excerpt: "You understand that if you don't follow your health plan's rules, your claims won't be covered. But sometimes you do everything right and your health insurer doesn't play by the rules. For example, you get your plan's permission for surgery. Months after the operation, you get a bill in the mail and discover that your X-rays were read by a radiologist who doesn't participate in your health provider's network of doctors. X-ray claim denied." (insure.com)

Ohio Government Agency Can Help HMO Customers
Excerpt: "No one looks forward to receiving a big, fat envelope from his HMO. With several Medicare HMOs discontinuing or shrinking their Ohio operations, 70,000 enrollees [in Ohio] have recently gotten such a letter, indicating the need to find alternate coverage.... Lee Covington, director of the Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI), advises consumers to take their time deciding what option to pursue and to seek assistance by visiting the Web site at www.ins.state.oh.us" (Dayton Daily News)

Massachusetts Voters Reject Universal Health Plan
(Medscape; free registration required)

A New Balance of Power for Healthcare
Excerpt: "While the new House of Representatives will maintain a small Republican majority, the big difference will be in the Senate, where the Republicans' majority has narrowed significantly. That could mean big changes in two important healthcare bills.... Simply put, the conservative stranglehold that Republicans have had on the Senate's healthcare business -- that has blocked far-reaching healthcare legislation the House has and likely will continue to support -- is gone." (DrKoop.com)

Long-term Care Users Range in Age and Most Do Not Live in Nursing Homes
(Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality)

(Following also appears in Retirement Plans Edition)

Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument Today on Egelhoff ERISA Preemption Case
Excerpt: "No. 99-1529. Egelhoff v. Egelhoff. Does ERISA preempt a state law purporting to revoke a beneficiary designation made pursuant to the terms of an ERISA plan? (One hour.)" (Washington Post)

Court Ponders Employee Benefits Conflict
Excerpt: "Divorce can create sticky situations, especially if the husband dies soon afterward without removing his ex-wife as his life-insurance beneficiary. The Supreme Court wrangled yesterday over what law governs who gets someone's employee benefits after they die." (Washington Post)

Domestic Partner Benefits Becoming More Common Among Minnesota Employers
Excerpt: "What 'domestic partner' means depends on where you work. Of the 85 private companies in Minnesota now offering such benefits, about half restrict eligibility to same-sex partners, with the rest opening the door to anyone-- straight or gay-- who meets the employer's criteria.... Minnesota Public Radio was the first employer in the state to announce domestic-partner benefits, in January 1992. Others that followed suit include Northwest Airlines and the Minneapolis YWCA." (StarTribune.com)

"Pay to Stay" Strategies
Excerpt: "The 'right' strategy for a particular employer depends on its circumstances, which we assess through a series of questions that help our clients identify the key terms of their pay-to-stay arrangements. Set forth below are the initial questions, along with an illustrative ... list of possible responses." (Attorneys Mark Poerio, Kevin Conboy, Paul Connell and Ethan Lipsig)

Lack Of Signature Most Common Mistake On Handwritten Forms 5500
(CCH)



Job Openings Newly Posted or Reposted on EmployeeBenefitsJobs.com


Senior Benefit Administratorfor Buck Consultants
in NJ
Project Leader -Admin Opsfor Buck Consultants
in NJ
Telecommunications Specialistfor Buck Consultants
in NJ
Retirement Plan Sales for Ceridian Retirement Plan Servicesfor Ceridian
in AZ, CO, MN, NM
Benefits Specialistfor Riggs Bank, N.A.
in DC
Benefits Analystfor Circuit City Stores, Inc.
in VA

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