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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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February 14, 2002 - 6,451 subscribers
Today's sponsor: EBIA's ERISA Compliance for Health & Welfare Plans

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(Help BenefitsLink to provide this newsletter at no charge to you -- our sponsors pay our way. Remember to visit them periodically; we try to make sure their products and services will be of interest to you. Thanks! --Editor)

Insure.com Web Site Provides List of Mandated Health Benefits, External Review Laws
Excerpt: "Confused about what benefits your health plan must include? Use this comprehensive guide to find your rights to specific coverages. Plus, see your rights regarding guaranteed-issue plans, pre-existing medical conditions, and external grievance review panels. We also tell about prompt-pay laws and whether your state offers a high-risk health insurance pool." (insure.com)

Trends in Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of Prescription Drugs
Excerpt: "This report examines the increases in spending by pharmaceutical manufacturers to advertise prescription drugs directly to consumers. The report's findings also address how this spending compares to advertising in other industries, the drugs most heavily advertised to consumers, and the increasing public awareness of such advertising." (The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation)

Unlikely Coalition Declares Health-Care Crisis
Excerpt: "Business and labor leaders, the insurance industry, health-care providers and consumer advocates--at odds on almost every issue--sat on the same side of a table Tuesday to declare that the country is in a health-care crisis and proclaim their commitment to health coverage for all Americans." (Los Angeles Times)

More Than 2.2 Million Americans Lose Health Insurance Due To Job Layoffs
Excerpt: "More than 2.2 million people lost their health insurance in 2001 due to job layoffs, the largest annual increase in the number of uninsured Americans since 1992, according to Families USA, a nonprofit organization that is part of a 12-member national coalition that is trying to stimulate the public's interest in the plight of the uninsured." (insure.com)

COBRA Provisions for Workers 'Displaced by Trade' Attached to Senate Trade Bill
Excerpt: "Senate Democrats have included a provision to help unemployed workers 'displaced by trade' purchase health insurance in a trade adjustment assistance bill (S 1209) -- 'raising the possibility of a nasty dustup' over whether the trade bill should provide such health benefits, CongressDaily/AM reports." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Unemployment Estimates Point To More Uninsured, More COBRA Elections
More than 450,000 individuals elected COBRA coverage last year, according to estimates of coverage losses from a new coalition representing the uninsured and calculations from past COBRA surveys compiled by Spencernet. During 2001, an estimated two million Americans lost their health insurance, according to new data released today by Covering the Uninsured. (Spencernet)

Court Holds Retention Bonus Not Subject to ERISA
Excerpt: " In the benefits world, two questions arise about the nature of these arrangements. First, are they severance-type benefits? Second, if so, are they subject to ERISA? A recent case makes clear that retention bonuses are severance plans for ERISA purposes and that same analysis that applies to severance plans generally will determine if a retention bonus is subject to ERISA." (Nixon Peabody LLP)

Ability of Employer to Change Retiree Health Benefits Cut Back in Second Circuit
Excerpt: "A pair of recent Second Circuit cases now holds under ERISA fiduciary rules, benefits cannot be changed, even if they are not vested under the plan's terms if employee communications mislead participants. Kunkel v. Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield ... (2d Cir. 12/6/01); Abbruscato v. Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield ... (2d Cir. 12/6/01)." (Nixon Peabody LLP)

"Overwhelming Amount" of Medical Evidence Supported Claim For LTD Benefits: Court
An insurance company abused its discretion in denying a beneficiary's claim for long term disability benefits because there was 'an overwhelming amount' of medical evidence supporting the beneficiary's claim. This was the ruling of the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Lain v. UNUM Life Insurance Company of America (No. 00-20889). (Spencernet)

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

Split Dollar Pause
Excerpt: "One year ago, the IRS issued a notice setting forth new rules for taxing employer/employee split-dollar life insurance arrangements, rules that effectively eliminated the tax advantages previously enjoyed by these arrangements. IRS Notice 2001-10. The IRS has just announced a modest pause in its war on split-dollar arrangements while it prepares regulations." (Nixon Peabody LLP)

Opinion: Tyco's Kozlowski Feasts While Holders Go Hungry
Excerpt: "Tyco International Ltd.'s chief executive officer, Dennis Kozlowski, is the hands-down winner of my 'pay for non-performance' contest." (Graef Crystal, on Bloomberg.com)

Measure Would Have Firms List Expense of Employee Stock Options
Excerpt: "Legislation prompted by the collapse of Enron Corp. that would require companies to deduct the cost of stock options from their earnings is slated to be introduced in the U.S. Senate Wednesday. The legislation would ensure that companies report the options as compensation expense if they claim the cost of the awards as a tax deduction." (Knight Ridder-Tribune via International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

Overview: FICA and FUTA To Be Due in 2003 on ISO and ESPP Exercises
Excerpt: "Here's a big pain in the neck: Newly-proposed IRS regulations will require employers to collect and pay over Social Security, Medicare and unemployment taxes at the time employees exercise their options to purchase stock under incentive stock option and employee stock purchase plans.... These employment taxes will be due even though the option exercise does not result in any ordinary income tax." (Nixon Peabody LLP)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Defined Contribution Analyst for Segal Advisors
401(k) Administrator, Daily Valuation Plans for CNA TRUST
Employee Benefits Attorney for Serving clients from sole proprietors to Fortune 500.
Director of Product Management for PFPC
Manager, Client Services for Black Mountain Management, Inc

Newly Posted Conferences (Post Yours!)
Singin' in the Rain! Managing Work Force Issues at this Stage of the Economic and Market Cyclein CA on March 14, 2002
presented by Western Pension & Benefits Conference, San Francisco Chapter
Two Concurrent Sessions: Securing Defined Benefit Plans - Cost Containment and Funding in an Uncertain Environment...and, Coping with Increases in Prescription Drug Costsin CA on March 26, 2002
presented by Western Pension & Benefits Conference, San Francisco Chapter
Membership Appreciation Nightin CA on April 17, 2002
presented by Western Pension & Benefits Conference, San Francisco Chapter
The Early Returns on Consumer-Driven/Self-Directed Healthcare-- Is This the Answer to Rising Healthcare Costs?in NY on February 28, 2002
presented by WEB NYC Chapter

Newly Posted Press Releases
Empliant and Progressive Benefits Solutions Strike Reseller Agreement (Empliant)
Call for participation in surveys by job function (Watson Wyatt Data Services)

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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.