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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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January 8, 2002 - 6,356 subscribers
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Claim Against Insurer for Recovery of Death Benefits Barred by Release of Plan and Its Administrator
Everhart v. Allmerica Fin. Life Ins. Co. (9th Cir. 2001). Excerpt: "The employee in this case was covered by an ERISA life insurance plan. Following his death, his spouse made claims for unpaid benefits and compensation against the employer and the plan's insurer. Among these claims was a dispute about the proper amount of life insurance payable by the insurer." (EBIA Weekly)

Court Limits Scope of Discovery in ERISA Benefits Dispute
Fitts v. Federal Nat'l Mortgage Assoc. (D.D.C. 2001). Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: The plaintiff in this case might have been more successful under the DOL's new regulations on claims procedures, which require that claimants be given access to, and copies of, all relevant records, including those that demonstrate compliance with consistency standards." (EBIA Weekly)

Employees Appreciate Their Voluntary Leaves
Excerpt: "By letting workers take voluntary leaves, airlines get to save on payroll expenses but will be able to ramp up quickly if business returns. Workers get time off with benefits, and everyone who takes an unpaid leave saves the job of someone who otherwise would have been furloughed -- often a newer, cheaper employee." (CareerJournal.com)

Employers Consider New Defined Contribution Health Plans
Excerpt: "According to the Wall Street Journal, [defined contribution health] plans remove the barriers of managed care but make patients responsible for 'spending their own health care dollars wisely.'. Three main types of these policies are being sold to employers ..." (KaiserNetwork.org)

New Insurance Plans Turn Patients Into Shoppers
Excerpt: "An array of new types of insurance policies are hitting the market, all aimed at getting patients to act more like shoppers. Dubbed 'consumer-driven health plans,' most require workers to pay more out of their own pockets -- sometimes thousands a year -- for health care." (USA Today via International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

HMO Database Reveals Results of Appeals in California
Excerpt: "Californians now can look up the results of patient challenges to HMO decisions through a database set up this week by the state Department of Managed Health Care. The database discloses the results of the state's independent medical review process, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2001, as part of a sweeping package of managed care reforms passed by state lawmakers in 1999." (San Francisco Chronicle)

Health Spending Soars
Excerpt: "National health spending shot up 6.9 percent to $1.3 trillion in 2000, the government said today. It was the largest one-year percentage increase since rising costs led President Bill Clinton to propose guarantee health insurance for all Americans in 1993." (New York Times; free registration required)

Overview: HIPAA Transaction and Code Set Requirements Delayed by One Year
Excerpt: "To meet the conditions for receiving the extension, covered entities will be required to make significant progress toward their compliance (including filing a plan) by October 2002. Note that this extension does not affect small health plans, which have until October 16, 2003 to comply under the original statutory provisions." (EBIA Weekly)

Opinion: Termination of Coverage Is a Nightmare for Retirees
Excerpt: "Laws require pension plans to be adequately funded and provide a safety net (through the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.) if a pension plan fails. But there are no comparable protections for retirees when welfare benefits, such as health and life insurance, are terminated by employers." (Boston Globe)

Report: 2000 National Health Care Expenditures
Excerpt: "National Health Expenditures measure spending for health care in the U.S. by type of service delivered (hospital care, physician services, nursing home care, etc.) and source of funding for those services (private health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, out-of-pocket spending, etc.)." (Health Care Financing Administration)

(Following items are in both editions of the BenefitsLink Newsletter)


Analysis: IRS Reissues PS 58 Cost Table
Excerpt: "The 2001 Table may continue to be used until further guidance is issued. Also, until further notice, the insurer's published premium rates may be used instead of the rates in the 2001 Table if such rates are available to all standard risks who apply for initial issue one-year term insurance." (TRI Pension Services)

Native American Tribal Governments Treated as State Governments
Revenue Procedure 2001-15, 2001-05 IRB 465, lists the purposes for which Native American tribal governments are treated as state governments under the Internal Revenue Code, and also sets forth a list of recognized tribal governments. (Internal Revenue Service)

Pasadena Workers Sue for Job Parity
Excerpt: "The temporary employees claim they do the same work as permanent colleagues, sometimes for years, but receive much lower pay and no benefits." (Los Angeles Times)

Overview: IRS Releases New Notice about Split Dollar Life Insurance Arrangements (PDF)
Excerpt: "Vinings' initial review of Notice 2002-8 establishes that the Service has clarified that it intends to follow the general tax treatment established in the prior Notice ..." (Vinings Management Corporation)

Many U.S. CEOs Still Waiting for Option Rewards
Excerpt: "Stock options for many U.S. chief executive officers took it on the chin last year, which shouldn't come as a surprise with the way stocks performed." (Graef Crystal, on Bloomberg.com)




Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Pension Administrator for Means & Associates, LLC
in
CA
ERISA Attorney for Law Firm
in
MN
Actuarial Senior for Arthur Andersen, Human Capital Consulting
in
GA
Trust Administrator for Oak Brook Bank
in
IL
Defined Contribution Calculation Manager for Associated Pension Consultants
in
CA
Benefits Manager for RMH Teleservices
in
PA
Assistant Counsel for UnumProvident Corporation
in
ME
Conversion Project Manager for M&I Corporation
in
WI



Newly Posted Press Releases (Post Yours!)
BENEFIT SOFTWARE INC. ANNOUNCES THE LAUNCH OF COMPWATCH 7.0 FOR OSHA COMPLIANCE (Benefit Software Inc.)

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Copyright 2001 BenefitsLink.com, Inc., but you may freely distribute this email newsletter in whole. This newsletter is edited by David Rhett Baker, J.D.