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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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April 8, 2002 - 6,435 subscribers
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Bush Administration Issues New, Voluntary Ergonomics Rules
Excerpt: "The Bush administration on April 5 unveiled a new initiative to protect workers from repetitive-stress injuries by asking companies to meet voluntary new safety guidelines, the New York Times reports." (KaiserNetwork.org)

13 Texas Health Insurers Pony Up $2.7 Million In Fines for Slow Claims Payment
Excerpt: "Texas law requires payment within 45 days of receipt of a 'clean claim,' meaning the claim is adequately documented." (insure.com)

In Massachusetts, Single-Payer Insurance Drive Is Showing Little Sign of Life
Excerpt: "A single-payer health care system, in its broadest terms, would take health care payments out of the hands of third-party payers -- insurance companies, for example -- and put them in the hands of a single government entity." (Boston Business Journal via bizjournals.com; free registration required)

Employers in Georgia Being Hurt by Mandated Health Benefits, Critics Say
Excerpt: "Mandates require insurance companies to cover part or all of specific conditions or treatments or to offer such coverage in the policies. And opponents argue that it results in higher costs, forcing employers to drop full or partial coverage for their employees altogether." (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Using Tax Breaks to Help Pay for Child and Dependent Care (PDF)
This 37-page booklet for employees explains the tax credit of Code section 21 as well as dependent care reimbursement accounts under cafeteria plans, and includes an extensive discussion comparing the two. (National Women's Law Center)

Does Your Group Long-term Disability Plan Suit Your Needs?
Excerpt: "Underinsurance in a group LTD plan is caused by several factors, including monthly benefit caps, taxation of benefits in an employer provided plan, lost retirement savings and uncovered variable compensation. A typical group LTD plan has a monthly benefit maximum that will cap any benefits payable." (Boston Business Journal via bizjournals.com; free registration required)

Employers Warm to On-Site Medical Clinics
Excerpt: "Once eyed askance as a clinical backwater, on-site occupational health services are getting a boost from emerging market forces to align the interests of employers, employees, and the health care professionals who serve them." (BenefitNews.com)

Scrutiny Arises With Growth of Supplemental Health Benefits
Excerpt: "Supplemental medical coverage has taken root in employee benefit packages, but the growth has been accompanied by criticism that some marketers cross the line between consumer education and heavy-handed sales tactics. The most popular such voluntary products include critical illness insurance and cancer insurance ..." (BenefitNews.com)

Group Hugs Increase Profits at One British Company
Excerpt: "Workers at Farrelly Facilities and Engineering begin and end the day with an embrace. Since they started this routine, at the end of 1999, profits at the heating and air conditioning business have more than doubled." (BBC News)

The High Cost of Drugs: Brands vs. Generics
Excerpt: "[S]everal influential groups with widely diverging viewpoints-- including legislators, state governors, major employers, unions and health plans-- are pressing to close 'loopholes' in a 1984 law that allow brand-name companies to delay generic competition." (AARP Bulletin)

Commentary: the Politics of Pills
Excerpt: "How, as a society, do we continue to reward the initiative of the pharmaceutical industry, and, at the same time, restrain excessive profits and make prescription drugs affordable to all Americans?" (San Francisco Chronicle)

HMOs in North Carolina Loosen Up, Win Customers
Excerpt: "Remember the old-school HMO? It had a limited choice of doctors and wouldn't let patients see specialists without a primary care doctor's OK.... All of the major HMOs doing business in the state now boast plan designs that, to the member, look and feel like a PPO." (The [Raleigh, N.C.] News & Observer)

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

Opinion: PEOs and Payrolling-- a History of Problems and a Future without Benefits (PDF)
This 37-page white paper was published in December, 2001. Excerpt: "The Center for a Changing Workforce is a Seattle-based non-partisan, non-profit organization conducting research, education and policy development on issues affecting nonstandard workers." (Center for a Changing Workforce)

Commentary: Stock Options Accounting Loophole Inflates Earnings
Excerpt: "Earnings would have been 10% lower last fiscal year at the 50 largest companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 that have filed year-end results had they counted options as an expense, according to a USA TODAY analysis." (USA Today via Yahoo! News)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Marketing Manager for CitiStreet
in FL
Customer Service for BISYS
in PA
401(k) Manager for Genesis Consolidated Services, Inc.
in MA
Manager, Compliance Calcs/401(k)'s, etc. for Associated Pension Consultants - Third Party Administrator
in CA
401(k) Administrator for National Retirement Services, Inc. (NRS)
in CA
Pension Consultant, Employee Benefit Services for Tofias PC
in MA
Health & Welfare Senior Benefits Consultant for Towers Perrin
Health & Welfare Benefits Consultant for Towers Perrin
in CA, DC, IL, NJ, TX, WA
Health & Welfare Associate for Towers Perrin
in CT, IL, MO

Newly Posted Webcasts (Post Yours!)
Update on Potential Pension Legislation in Response to Enron on May 9, 2002
presented by ASPA

Newly Posted Conferences (Post Yours!)
Compliance With Cobrain NJ on April 16, 2002
presented by WEB NJ Chapter
Prototype Plans Seminarin IL on April 24, 2002
presented by McKay Hochman
Prototype Plans Seminarin PA on May 14, 2002
presented by McKay Hochman

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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.