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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition

December 18, 2000

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Financing the Health Care Internet
Excerpt: "Nowhere is the chasm between the old economy and the new wider than in health care. The past two years have witnessed an unprecedented flood of private capital into the health care Internet sector, as individual angels, venture partner-ships, investment banks, pension funds, university endowments, and caffeinated day traders scramble to get their share of the social transformation of American medicine." (Medscape; free registration required)

Insurers Predict EEOC Birth-Control Ruling Will Spur Litigation
Excerpt: "Insurers and employers expect a blitz of litigation after a U.S. government ruling requiring that employers cover contraceptives under their health-insurance plans." (Bloomberg)

Benefits Integration Isn't Always Pretty
Excerpt: "At the heart of things, such integration has been defined simply as two or more benefit programs organized to serve a common goal. In practice, however, employers quickly discover the need to reconcile not only widely disparate product offerings from benefit vendors, but the human dimension of bringing together departmental managers with differing program orientations." (Employee Benefit News)

The Anatomy of Employee Involvement and Its Effects on Firms and Workers
Excerpt: "A great many American firms have organized workplace decision-making in new ways to get employees more involved in their jobs -- using policies like self-directed work teams, total equality management, quality circles, profit-sharing, and diverse other programs. This paper uses a firm-based data set and employee-based information to illuminate several aspects about the locus and economic impacts of employee involvement (EI)." (Richard B. Freeman, Morris M. Kleiner, Cheri Ostroff)

The Changing Sources of Health Insurance (PDF)
Excerpt: "This study examines the changing sources of health insurance coverage and the implications of those changes for the future." (William S. Custer, Ph.D., Pat Ketsche, Ph.D., M.H.A., published by Health Insurance Association of America)

Fed Ruling: Most Health Plans Must Cover Contraceptives
Excerpt: "Health insurers who cover any preventative medical treatments, including vaccinations, drugs to control blood pressure, weight loss medication and surgical sterilizations, must also pay for birth control pills, diaphragms and drugs like Norplant, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said." (FoxNews.com)

Full Text of EEOC Letter on Coverage for Contraceptives
Excerpt: "The Charging Parties, female employees of Respondents, allege that Respondents have engaged in an unlawful employment practice in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq. (Title VII). Specifically, Charging Parties challenge Respondents' failure to offer insurance coverage for the cost of prescription contraceptive drugs and devices." (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)

National Women's Law Center Hails EEOC Ruling on Contraceptive Insurance Coverage
Excerpt: "The National Women's Law Center lauded a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission decision [on December 14] finding that an employer's failure to provide insurance coverage for prescription contraceptives, when it covers other prescription drugs and devices, constitutes unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964." (U.S. Newswire via NewsRe Reinsurance News Network)

Aetna Moves To Cut 5,000 Jobs
Excerpt: "Aetna Inc. plans to cut 5,000 jobs, or about 12.5 percent of its work force, as part of efforts to save $200 million next year as it focuses on its health insurance operations." (New York Times; free registration required)

EEOC Says Many Health Plans Should Cover Contraceptive Costs
Excerpt: "'It's not binding on the courts, but they will give it deference,' said Ellen Vargyas, a lawyer at the commission. 'The hope is that employers and employees will look at this and want to comply with the law, that this will be their guide.'" (New York Times; free registration required)

Opinion: There's a Problem When Insurance Covers Viagra, But Not Birth Control
Excerpt: "Bob Dole's drug of choice-- Viagra-- is raising awareness of political dysfunction, as well as the erectile kind. That little blue pill's immediate acceptance by most health insurance plans was a goad to women's groups: Why, they asked with renewed vigor, did those Viagra-happy health plans refuse to pay for birth-control pills?" (Laura Berman of the Detroit News)

Employers Cannot Unfairly Deny Birth Control Coverage, EEOC Says
Excerpt: "It is against federal law for employers to exclude contraceptives from their health insurance plans if they cover other types of preventative products or services, such as weight-loss drugs or blood pressure medicine, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said." (Washington Post)

Republicans Rap Proposed Health Insurance Compromise
Excerpt: "Conservative Republicans are launching a preemptive strike on the plan to help the uninsured that is proposed by the self-described 'strange bedfellows' of the Health Insurance Association of America, Families USA, and the American Hospital Association." (Medscape; free registration required)

George W. Bush's Health Care Reform Platform, in a Nutshell
Excerpt: "Below is a recap of Bush's major health care proposals, based on answers his campaign supplied to a health care questionnaire designed by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation." (insure.com)

The Long-Term Care Quandary
Excerpt: "The cost of long-term health care is the sleeping issue that can wake up and bite most American families. The average cost of a nursing home stay is $153 a day, or almost $56,000 a year, and it can run much higher in major metropolitan areas." (Reuters via Yahoo! Finance)

HMOs Pressed on Many Fronts to Reinvent Themselves
Excerpt: "The managed care industry can hope to be reasonably prosperous next year, but many critics both in and outside the industry say H.M.O.'s will soon have to reinvent themselves, or perish." (New York Times; free registration required)

Housework Tips Help Families Stay In Balance
Excerpt: "HomeAdvantage Plus ... presents employer-sponsored seminars at no cost to employees--and on company time--on how to master housework. The goal of the series of four workshops, each 90 minutes, and hourly specialty programs is to help employees streamline housework in order to have more balance in their lives." (Chicago Tribune)

Another Question is Answered in the Cafeteria Plans Q&A Column
I know that a self-employed individual cannot participate in a cafeteria plan. But can the employee/spouse of a self-employed individual participate? (BenefitsLink.com)

(Following also appears in Retirement Plans Edition)

Another Question is Answered in the Professional Liability Insurance Q&A Column
My third-party administration firm is expected to merge with another TPA firm soon. Both firms have maintained professional liability insurance. One of the terms in the merger agreement is that my firm will combine insurance under the other firm's policy. But my firm's policy is due to expire next week! Are there any options to consider in a situation like this? (BenefitsLink.com)

Dramatic Growth In Web-Based Benefits Administration
Excerpt: "During the past year, there has been dramatic growth in the number of employers that use Web-based technology to administer their Sec. 401(k) plans, according to Buck Consultants' 11th annual survey." (Spencernet)

$97 Million for Microsoft 'Permatemp' Staffers
Excerpt: "[The] proposed $97 million settlement that, if approved, would bring to an end a case that has drawn broad attention to the use of temporary workers in the technology industry and American business in general." (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Graef Crystal: Emerson Electric's Knight Gets Going-Away Gift
Excerpt: "Last week's proxy statement from Emerson Electric Co. provided yet another reminder that the testimonial dinner and gold watch for retiring chief executives have gone the way of the vacuum tube. Emerson's board assured Charles Knight, who was chairman and CEO before he gave up the latter job in October, that he will have a glorious retirement." (Graef Crystal, on Bloomberg.com)

Everything You Wanted To Know About TPAs But Were Afraid To Ask
Excerpt: "About 66% of U.S. workers with health and pension employee benefits are in plans using some degree of Third Party Administration (TPA). About 5/6 of that TPA market use SPBA Member TPAs. Who are these TPAs and what do they do?" (Society of Professional Benefit Administrators)

Stock Options for Undiversified Executives
Link to a Working Paper available for downloading from the National Bureau of Economic Research. Excerpt: "We employ a certainty-equivalence framework to analyze the cost and value of, and pay/performance incentives provided by, non-tradable options held by undiversified, risk-averse executives.... We demonstrate that the divergence between the value and cost of options explains, or provides insight into, virtually every major issue regarding stock option practice ..." (Brian J. Hall, Kevin J. Murphy)

NASDAQ Requests Comments on Shareholder Approval of Broad-Based Stock Option Plans (PDF)
Excerpt: "[I]t appears that the SEC is moving quickly on this issue. It seems likely that the approach eventually approved by the SEC will limit dilution attributable to nonshareholder-approved plans and preclude companies from using such plans to make option grants to officers and directors. Related changes to proxy statement disclosure rules, if adopted by the SEC, would also result in shareholders receiving more detailed and easy to interpret data on stock option and other equity plans." (Analysis by Frederic W. Cook & Co., Inc., published online by Financial Executives Institute)

Job Openings Newly Posted or Reposted on EmployeeBenefitsJobs.com

Retirement System Specialistfor Levi, Ray & Shoup, Inc. (IT Company)
in IL
401(k) Client Account Managerfor New York Life Benefit Services LLC
in MA
Client Relationship Managerfor Fidelity Investments
in TX
401(k) / Retirement Plan Administratorfor Sentinel Benefits Group, Inc.
in MA
Tax Specialist 5500for Fidelity Investments
in TX
Senior Benefits Analystfor Morrison & Foerster, LLP, a large international law firm with 18 offices worldwide
in CA
Senior Benefits Consultantfor Plante & Moran LLP
in MI
Benefits Consultantfor Plante & Moran LLP
in MI
in CA
Compliance - Health Specialistfor The Segal Company
in CO
Benefits Analyst for Group Insurance/Consulting Firmfor Horne-Guest Insurance Agency
in SC
Benefits Administrator Financial Plansfor Leading Retailer of Men's Clothing
in CA
Benefits Administrator Financial Plansfor Leading Retailer of Men's Clothing
in CA
Corp Employee Benefits Mgrfor Raycom Media, Inc.
in AL
Benefits Administratorfor Georgia Pacific Corporation
in GA
Assistant Vice President, Defined Contribution Servicesfor New England Financial/MetLife - Financial Services Industry. Product lines include Life Insurance, Annuities, Pension Plans and Securities.
in MA
Pension Administratorfor Block Consulting Actuaries, Inc.
in CA
Managing Pension Account Executivefor Diversified Investment Advisors
in CA
Defined Contribution Specialistfor Paragon Consulting Group
in DC, DE, MD, NJ, PA
Retirement Benefits Managerfor Freddie Mac
in VA
Defined Benefit Project Managerfor Hewitt Associates
in GA, IL, NJ, TX
Field Educatorfor Fire & Police Pension Association
in CO
Financial Analystfor Towers Perrin
in NJ, PA
Manager, Benefits Administrationfor Universal Studios
in CA
Account Managerfor SHPS
in DC
401(k) Sr. Administratorfor Fast growing Benefits firm
in CA

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