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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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January 29, 2002 - 6,414 subscribers
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Court Awards Damages, Penalties and Attorney Fees to COBRA Plaintiff Who Did Not Elect Coverage
Chenoweth v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (S.D. Ohio 2001). Excerpt: "Wal-Mart admitted sending the notice late but claimed that this was an unintentional error that resulted from a computer glitch. Wal-Mart argued that the employee was not entitled to any remedies for the late COBRA notice because she could not have afforded the COBRA premiums and, in any event, she did not elect COBRA coverage when the COBRA election notice was finally sent ..." (EBIA Weekly)

Will Laws Compelling Independent Review of Health Insurer Treatment Decisions Survive Supreme Court?
Excerpt: "Before the Supreme Court, Moran argued that the independent review provision was in fact part of the contract between Rush and Moran, because Illinois is allowed to insist that insurance contracts contain certain minimum content. That is to say, Rush doesn't have to sell insurance contracts in Illinois, but if it does, it has to include things that Illinois requires in its insurance contracts. If there is a dispute about the enforcement of that contract, then ERISA controls." (FindLaw.com)

Second Circuit Allows ERISA Lawsuit Seeking Interest On Delayed LTD Benefit Payments
The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that a plaintiff could proceed with a lawsuit under ERISA seeking interest on delayed payments of long term disability benefits. The ruling came in Dunnigan v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (No. 00-7399). (Spencernet)

Not All Work/Life Benefits Are Equal At the Bottom Line
Excerpt: "A recent study published in the Journal of Managerial Issues focuses on the effect of specific benefits on the bottom line of major U.S. corporations.... 'We found telecommuting, flextime, compressed workweek, part-time work, adoption benefits and family leave positively affect the bottom line. But job sharing and on-site child care have a negative impact.'" (Chicago Tribune)

Consumer-Driven Health Insurance Gains Momentum
Excerpt: "Under a consumer-driven approach, your employer still contracts with insurers for group health insurance and still retains some measure of control over your health insurance purchasing decisions. What these plans do is give you more choice in terms of benefit levels-- you choose your own deductible-- and you can see any doctor you want without a referral. However, the plans also increase your share of the costs and risks." (insure.com)

New Health Plans Give Incentives to Employees
Excerpt: "Under a defined-contribution plan, each employee gets a set medical budget -- say $2,000 a year -- which can be spent on virtually any health service. Once that initial money is used up, the employee pays for medical costs up to a certain amount out of his or her own pocket, like a deductible. Beyond that level, the employer begins paying again." (CareerJournal.com)

Bills With New Mandated Benefits for Women Pass New York State Assembly
Excerpt: "The [Assembly and the Senate] spent months negotiating the bill last year, but it bogged down, mostly over the issue of requiring coverage for contraceptives.... The bill would also mandate coverage of services like screening for osteoporosis, breast cancer and cervical cancer." (New York Times; free registration required)

Bush Proposes Drug Benefit for the Low-Income Elderly
Excerpt: "President Bush today proposed spending $190 billion over the next decade to overhaul Medicare and provide prescription-drug benefits to the elderly, starting with low-income people. Members of Congress from both parties said that amount was insufficient." (New York Times; free registration required)

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

Employee Benefits Library Updated to Reflect New IRS Web Site Links
The IRS has completely redesigned its Web site, so almost none of the old links to it work. The Employee Benefits Library has now been updated to provide all of the new links. (BenefitsLink and Calhoun Law Group, P.C.)

Form 5500 for 2001 Plan Year Issued With Few Changes
Excerpt: "The few revisions reflect changes in the law, clarify the Form 5500 Instructions (Form 5500-EZ Instructions will be issued soon) and improve forms processing." (EBIA Weekly)

Regulating the Use of Stock for Compensation Purposes in the U.S.: a Stock Law Update
Excerpt: "When the U.S. economy was moving at a healthy pace, the U.S. government had no incentive to enact new tax laws. However, it appears that the government's focus is about to shift. In the attached article, [we] review stock-based governmental regulatory activity in the U.S. during the past several years." (Hewitt Associates)

Using the Web for Employee Benefits Research: Recommended Links
Latest version reflects new Web addresses for IRS resources. (BenefitsLink)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Daily Valuation Administrator for WESPAC Plan Services, Inc.
Analyst 401(k) Plan Administrator for J. D. Benefits, Inc. -- Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Defined Contribution Enrollment Specialist (Part-time) for Diversified Investment Advisors, Inc.
Actuarial Specialist for Northern Trust Retirement Consulting, L.L.C.
Regional Account Manager for Market Leading Provider of Life Insurance and Retirement Plans
Pension Administrator for Pension Investors Corp. of Orlando

Newly Posted Conferences (Post Yours!)
The Ultimate Conference on Tax Planning with Retirement Assetsin NV on May 16, 2002
presented by Professional Education Systems Institute, LLC (PESI)

Subscribe to the Retirement Plans Edition, too (click)

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.