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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition

December 20, 2000

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Health Privacy Rules To Be Issued
Excerpt: "President Clinton is issuing sweeping new privacy protections that for the first time will sharply limit doctors, hospitals and insurance companies from sharing confidential medical information about their patients. Until now, there's been no federal law protecting medical privacy, even as technology allows personal information to bounce swiftly from one computer to the next." (Associated Press, via Yahoo!)

Hospital Confirms Copying of Patient Files By Hacker
Excerpt: "A major university hospital in Seattle Thursday confirmed that a hacker penetrated its computer network last summer and made off with files containing information about 5,000 patients." (Computerworld, via CNN)

Patients' Privacy To Receive Federal Protection
Excerpt: "President Clinton is issuing sweeping new rules today that restrict health care providers and insurers from sharing confidential information about their patients, creating the first federal fines and prison time for violators." (Bergen [N.J.] Record)

Clinton to Issue Federal Privacy Rules for Health Plans
(Published before the start of the business day on Wednesday.) Excerpt: "President Clinton on Wednesday will issue the first federal rules to protect the privacy of patients, hoping to keep health plans and other groups from selling private medical records for profit." (Reuters via Excite! News)

Full Text of First-Ever National Standards To Protect Patients' Personal Medical Records
Link to page containing final regulation, in PDF, text and zipped WordPerfect versions. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

Fact Sheet on First-Ever National Standards To Protect Patients' Personal Medical Records
Fact Sheet summarizing the final regulations, published December 20, 2000. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

HHS Announces Final Reg; First-Ever National Standards To Protect Patients' Personal Medical Records
Press release, December 20, 2000. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

Employer's Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits-- IRS Publication 15-B (HTML)
November 2000 revision; sketches tax aspects of accident and health benefits, achievement awards, adoption assistance, Athletic facilities, de minimis benefits, dependent care assistance, educational assistance, employee discounts, employee stock options, group-term life insurance coverage, lodging on business premises, meals, moving expense reimbursements, no-additional-cost services, transportation (commuting) benefits, tuition reduction, and working condition benefits. (Internal Revenue Service)

Employer's Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits-- IRS Publication 15-B (PDF)
Rev. November 2000. (Internal Revenue Service)

ERISA Claims and Appeals Regulations Finalized (PDF)
Excerpt: "The Department of Labor (DOL) recently published a long-awaited final rule governing claims and appeals procedures for ERISA-governed health and disability plans. The final rule establishes a complicated structure for health and disability benefit claims and appeals that will require significant revisions to plan documents, procedures and operations." (The Segal Company)

BellSouth To Provide Benefits for Managers With Same-Sex Partners
Excerpt: "'We have been looking at the business environment, and as we become more competitive, we wanted to make sure we do everything we could to attract and retain a talented and diverse work force,' [a BellSouth spokesperson] said." (Associated Press, via Yahoo!)

Official Questions and Answers on the EEOC's Recent Contraceptives Decision
Excerpt: "This Commission Decision addresses two charges of discrimination pending at EEOC which challenge the employers' failure to provide health insurance coverage for prescription contraceptives while covering a number of other preventive drugs, devices, and services. The Commission Decision, which is based on the specific facts in the charges under consideration, finds that the exclusion in this health plan discriminates on the basis of sex and pregnancy ..." (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)

Aetna's Premium Hike Might Mean Loss of 2 Million Customers
Excerpt: "Aetna Inc.'s plan to significantly raise premium charges will cause the company to lose roughly 10 percent of its customers over the next year." (DrKoop.com)

(Following also appears in Retirement Plans Edition)

Advisory to Compensation Professionals on the Use of Compensation Surveys in 2001
Excerpt: "Compensation professionals who use surveys to determine competitive stock options/long-term incentive grant guidelines for 2001 need to be aware that such surveys may reflect an extraordinary level of grant activity in 2000 caused by the market decline in equity values since April." (Frederic W. Cook & Co., Inc.)

Market Turmoil Tarnishes Luster of Stock Options
Excerpt: "As the job market and the economy cools, experts say, 2001 is likely to see a major refocusing on core salaries, performance-based bonuses and lifestyle-oriented benefits instead of stock options." (CNET.com)

IRS Says Use of New W-2 Code for Exercise of Nonstatutory Stock Options in 2001 is Optional
Modifying Announcement 2000-79. Excerpt: "The purpose of this announcement is to advise employers of a change to Announcement 2000-97. Announcement 2000-97 advised employers that a new code (Code V -- Income from the exercise of nonstatutory stock options) was added for use in box 12. In response to employer concerns about implementing the reporting procedures, the use of Code V is optional for the 2001 Forms W-2." (Internal Revenue Service)

Jointly-Employed Contingent Workers Can Be Organized Without Employer Consent
Excerpt: "On August 25, 2000, the National Labor Relations Board, reversing earlier precedents, sanctioned for the first time unlimited union organization of jointly-employed workers." (Nixon Peabody LLP)

Job Openings Newly Posted or Reposted on EmployeeBenefitsJobs.com

Executive Compensation & Benefits Consultantfor Clark Bardes Consulting/Compensation Resource Group, Inc
in CA, DC, GA, IL, NY, OH, TX
401(k) DC Administratorfor Karel & Associates, Ltd.
in IL
Business Development Associatefor PensionOnline
Marketing Communications Specialistfor New England Financial/MetLife, leading financial services organization specializing in Life Insurance, Pension Plans, Annuities and Securities.
in MA
ERISA Compliance Specialistfor New England Financial
in MA
Product Manager - Qualified Plansfor American Skandia
in CT

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