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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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March 4, 2002 - 6,505 subscribers
Today's sponsor: Benelogic, LLC

(Click on company name or banner to learn more.)

   Benelogic, LLC develops intuitive software applications designed
   to simplify employee benefits administration.  By enabling the
   logical use of data to streamline and enhance the benefits
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   including: Employee Self-Enrollment, Employee Communications,
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   and FSA services, Online Billing Tools, Payroll/HRIS Integration,
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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)

IRS Won't Tax Frequent Flyer Miles Received for Business Travel But Used for Personal Purposes
Excerpt: "[T]he IRS will not assert that any taxpayer has understated his federal tax liability by reason of the receipt or personal use of frequent flyer miles or other in-kind promotional benefits attributable to the taxpayer's business or official travel.... This relief does not apply to ... benefits that are converted to cash, to compensation that is paid in the form of travel or other promotional benefits, or in other circumstances where these benefits are used for tax avoidance purposes." (Internal Revenue Service)

Experts Question Ties Between Medical Supply Manufacturers and Purchasing Groups
Excerpt: "Two large national purchasing groups-- private groups that serve as 'middlemen' for about half the nation's not-for-profit hospitals -- negotiated contracts last year for about $34 billion in medical supplies, but many health care professionals question whether quality care is being 'compromised' by financial ties that the groups have to medical supply companies ..." (New York Times; free registration required)

Ads, Promotions Drive Up Drug Costs
Excerpt: "[P]rescription drug spending-- galloping up by around 17 percent a year-- is the fastest-growing item in health care inflation. Rising drug prices are part of that growth. They are the highest in the world, because Congress has rejected the controls that other Western countries use to limit prices. The biggest driver behind the growth in drug spending, though, is the fact that more people are using more medicines, often the newest and most expensive kinds." (AARP)

Overview of Competing Proposals to Provide Relief to Newly Uninsured Workers
Excerpt: "[L]awmakers' efforts to follow through fell victim to partisan bickering over how to provide that relief, helping to scuttle a once-promising economic stimulus bill." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)

Court: HMOs Under No Duty to Disclose 'Incentives' Offered to Doctors
Horvath v. Keystone Health Plan East (E.D. Pa. 2002). Excerpt: "HMOs won another major court victory this week when a federal judge ruled that they do not have an affirmative duty under ERISA to disclose financial 'incentives' they pay to primary care doctors to 'ration' health care by limiting referrals to specialists." (Law.com)

EEOC Reaches Settlement With Verizon Over Class Action Pregnancy Discrimination Suit
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has announced that it has reached a settlement of a class action lawsuit alleging pregnancy discrimination against Verizon's predecessor companies, NYNEX and Bell Atlantic. The settlement was granted preliminary approval by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. (Spencernet)

Trends In Medicare Supplemental Insurance and Prescription Drug Coverage, 1996-1999
Excerpt: "By fall 1999, 38 percent of beneficiaries lacked drug coverage, based on point-in-time estimates. This is much higher than previous estimates ..." (Health Affairs)

Consumer Advocacy Group Questions Study Cited by Supporters of Tax Credits to Help Uninsured (PDF)
Excerpt: "This analysis purportedly showed that current tax credit proposals are large enough to allow a low-income person to purchase 'affordable and quality health insurance.' This original analysis and subsequent testimony by the chairman of eHealthInsurance, Vip Patel, are based on a seriously flawed methodology." (Families USA)

Welcome to new BenefitsLink advertiser DentalCard.BIZ
Excerpt: "NON-INSURANCE SOLUTION FOR SUPPLEMENTAL HEALTHCARE BENEFITS - Our discount card offers members 25%-80% savings. This 100,000 provider network includes dental care, vision care, chiropractic and prescription drugs. Not Insurance! No claim forms, No deductibles, No restrictions on age or pre-existing conditions. No spending limits. Available nationwide except Alaska. Network is operated by a 10-year-old Dallas Texas corporation. Visit www.DentalCard.biz- Reps, Groups and TPA's welcomed."

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Director, Health & Welfare Benefits Administration for Tenet HealthSystem
in TX
Pension Sales for Sentry Insurance, A Mutual Company
in TX
Account Service Leader/Plan Administrator for INVESCO Retirement, Inc.
in GA

Newly Posted Press Releases
PERFORMAX Relocates to Accommodate Growth (PERFORMAX)

Subscribe to the Retirement Plans Edition, too (click)

Copyright 2002 BenefitsLink.com, Inc., but you may freely distribute this email newsletter in whole. This newsletter is edited by David Rhett Baker, J.D.