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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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March 25, 2002 - 6,423 subscribers
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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)

Health Insurance Ending for Tens of Thousands of LTV Retirees and Their Families
Excerpt: "With the approval of a bankruptcy judge, LTV stopped paying for health benefits for salaried retirees at the end of February. Former hourly workers got a month-long extension thanks to a union-negotiated fund called the Voluntary Employee Benefit Association, or VEBA. That fund ends next Sunday." (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Businesses Prepare for Medical Privacy Rules
Excerpt: "The good news ... Employers will not be significantly burdened by HIPAA if: (a) their health benefits are covered by an indemnity insurance plan, and (b) they use only health information that is not specific to particular employees. The bad news ... Typically, the operation of self-funded plans requires, and even some insured plans currently use, more detailed health information." (Birmingham Business Journal via bizjournals.com; free registration required)

When Must COBRA Initial Notices Be Provided and What Happens If We Don't Provide Them?
Summary of the COBRA notice rule. (EBIA Weekly)

Minnesota House of Representatives Votes to Deny Same-Sex Benefits to State Employees
Excerpt: "Friday's action, on a 78-52 vote, contradicts the situation in the Senate, where a majority supports the collective bargaining agreements, including the same-sex benefits. It also raises the prospect that state workers could resume their strike." (StarTribune.com)

Disease Management Helps Employees and Saves Money
Excerpt: "Disease management targets individuals with serious and potentially expensive chronic conditions by providing care and information to help get the disease under control before it becomes severe. Making sure a diabetic takes regular doses of insulin, for example, is less expensive than hospitalization for renal failure or a leg amputation. Conditions typically targeted are heart disease, asthma, diabetes, lower back pain and depression." (Atlanta Business Chronicle via bizjournals.com; free registration required)

Renewed Emphasis On Consumer Cost Sharing In Health Insurance Benefit Design
Excerpt: "Purchasers and health plans are reemphasizing deductibles, coinsurance, and other consumer incentives in response to renewed inflation and the continuing backlash against managed care. This paper explores the partial convergence of cost sharing and benefit design for preferred provider and health maintenance products and highlights experiments that foster price-conscious choice ..." (Health Affairs)

Democrats Balk at Loosening of Patient Privacy Rules
Excerpt: "Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., promised hearings on the issue and legislation to reinstate the mandatory consent forms. He called the forms the cornerstone of rules." (AP via StarTribune.com)

One in Seven Americans Say They Can't Get Needed Healthcare
Excerpt: "More than 41 million Americans -- one in seven -- had trouble getting medical care or had to delay care in 2001, mostly because of cost, according to study results released on Thursday." (Reuters Health via Medscape; free registration required)

Unlikely Allies Press for Health Insurance Coverage for the Uninsured
Excerpt: "As diverse a group of powerful special interests as you'll likely ever see in Washington -- big business, big labor, big insurance and big hospitals -- has organized in a $10 million campaign to express outrage that 38 million Americans lack health insurance." (Fresno Bee via International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

Federal Government Kicks Off Long-Term Disability Insurance Program for Federal Employees
Excerpt: "OPM officials, in announcing the start of an early enrollment period, will describe the insurance options and premiums available." (Washington Post)

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

Actuaries' Recommendations Can Save Money for Plan Sponsors
Excerpt: "Recently, Leslie McIntosh, an actuary at Weyerhaeuser Corporation, recommended that her company consider an ERISA Section 420 transfer and move money from its overfunded pension to a 401(h) account. The idea, essentially, was to establish a mechanism ... for the payment of health-insurance premiums and other medical expenses for Weyerhaeuser retirees, as well as their spouses and dependents. The move is expected to save the company some $20 million a year ..." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)

Overview: Benefits Provisions in the New Economic Stimulus Law
Summarizes defined benefit plan funding relief; extension of medical savings accounts; EGTRRA technical corrections. (The Segal Company)

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Publishes 2001 Employee Benefits Study ($75 for Non-Members)
Excerpt: "The 2001 Employee Benefits Study is a simple and affordable tool to aid you in evaluating your company's benefits package. Based on actual 2000 payroll expenditures of over 450 U.S. companies of various sizes, industries, and geographic locations, the Study provides cost and frequency data on over 30 different benefits." (U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Relationship Manager for Zurich Scudder Investments
in NY
Retirement Plans Administrator for Pall Corporation
in NY
Senior Vice President, Consultant Relations for CitiStreet - A State Street & Citigroup Company
in MA
Senior Benefits Analyst for Becton Dickinson & Company
in NY
Defined Benefits Plan Administrator for Creative Benefit Strategies, Inc.
in OH
Employee Benefits Administrator for Kidder Benefits Consultants, Inc.
in IA
Senior Reporting Compliance Specialist for US Department of Labor, Pension & Welfare Benefits Admin
in DC

Newly Posted Press Releases
CNA Trust Hires Michael L. Sanford as Regional Sales Director for Southeast (CNA Trust)

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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.