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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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May 22, 2002 - 6,398 subscribers
Today's sponsor: EBIA's COBRA: The Developing Law

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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)

Cafeteria Plan Benefits for Federal Employees Draw Fire from Union at Hearing
Excerpt: "[C]afeteria plans would make health care unaffordable for a large number of federal employees because they 'put responsibility for paying for benefits onto the employee instead of where they belong, on the employer,' [said] Derrick Thomas, national vice president of the American Federation of Government Employees' 2nd District ... 'Cafeteria plans are deceptive,' Thomas said. 'The plans force employees into 'either-or' decisions between benefits that should be provided universally.'" (GovExec.com)

Made-for-TV Movie Underscores Insurance Hurdles for Transplant Patients
Excerpt: "[T]he Showtime cable TV network is set to air its movie about ... Dr. Linda Peeno, a former Humana medical-reviewer-turned-managed-care-whistleblower who once caused a patient's death by using the fine print in his health insurance policy to deny him a heart transplant. 'Damaged Care,' which airs May 26, 2002, stars Laura Dern as Dr. Peeno." (insure.com)

American Association of Health Plans' Statement on 'Damaged Care' TV Movie
Excerpt: "Films like this are designed to scare people into a certain point of view. The people behind this movie want a government-run health care system and more lawsuits against health plans. That's their agenda, and they're entitled to their point of view. However, these kind of trial-by-anecdote tactics are irresponsible." (American Association of Health Plans)

Tracking the Path To Parity Between Mental and Physical Health Benefits (PDF)
Included in a 147 page publication; article begins on page number 469 (which is page 86 of the PDF document). Winter/Spring 2002 edition. Excerpt: "Familiarity with the federal mandate in the [Mental Health Parity Act of 1996] and with the courts' interpretation of mental health provisions in group health plans is essential when drafting, implementing, and litigating over such provisions." (C. Geoffrey Weirich and Ashoo K. Sharma in The Labor Lawyer)

To Compete for Workers, Nonprofit Groups Look Beyond Salaries
Excerpt: "As arts nonprofits compete more directly with for-profit companies for workers, the hiring and retaining of employees is becoming more competitive, according to a study by the Arts and Business Council of Greater Philadelphia.... More of these groups, for example, are giving bonuses and offering retirement plans that follow the practices of for-profit companies." (Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News via Society for Human Resource Management)

To PEO or Not to PEO
Excerpt: "In the moving industry, workers compensation is a huge expense ... A little harder to comprehend, at least at first glance, are professional employer organization (PEO). What these operations do is put your workers on the books of the PEO, which leases them back to you and, at least in theory, eliminates the headaches of workers compensation, withholding payroll taxes, and cutting pay checks." (Business Week)

How Accessible is Individual Health Insurance for Consumers in Less-Than Perfect Health?
Excerpt: "This report documents the findings of a study examining access to health insurance coverage in the individual market for people with health problems. Seven hypothetical consumers with varying health conditions were defined and insurers and HMOs in eight different markets around the country were asked to consider them as though they were real consumers applying for coverage." (Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation)

Trends and Indicators in the Changing Health Care Marketplace 2002
Excerpt: "This chartbook provides information on key trends in the health care marketplace including health spending, the structure of the health care marketplace, and health plan and provider relationships. It highlights data on health plan enrollment, premiums, and benefits, and the implications of health market trends for consumers and the safety net." (Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation)

Cuts to Colorado High-Risk Pool Likely To Increase Employer Premiums
Excerpt: "'Dramati[c]' funding cuts to Colorado's high-risk insurance pool will lead to additional fees for health insurers, who say they will pass those costs on to their customers, primarily businesses, the Denver Business Journal reports." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Rising Premiums Presage Health Insurance Crisis
Excerpt: "Health analysts call it 'the perfect storm.' Like the deadly weather pattern that struck the Northeast in 1991, a confluence of skyrocketing insurance premiums, a shaky economy and rising unemployment is swamping American businesses. As companies try to cope over the next several years, millions of workers and retirees will find themselves uninsured or paying a greater share of their health insurance costs." (The Charlotte [N.C.] Observer via Charlotte.com)

Sen. Daschle Says He Might Appoint Patients' Rights Conferees This Week
Excerpt: "Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) said on May 21 that he may appoint conferees as early as this week to negotiate an agreement with the House on patients' rights legislation, CongressDaily/AM reports." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Senate Rejects Health Insurance Subsidy for Retired Steel Workers
Excerpt: "The Senate [on May 21, 2002] rejected a bid to tie health benefits for retired steel workers to trade promotion authority legislation.... The amendment, sponsored by Senators John Rockefeller (D-West Virginia) and Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland), would cover 70% of the cost of health care coverage for individuals who qualified for retiree benefits but lost coverage because of the closure of a steel mill." (PLANSPONSOR.com)

Can Employee Change FSA Election Just Because Medical Care is No Longer Needed for Some Reason?
Excerpt: "Recently I've had several requests for mid-year health FSA election changes with the same thing in common--the employee wants to reduce contributions because something happened after enrollment that prevented the employee from having medical care that he or she anticipated having when the health FSA election was made.... I deny these types of requests, but the employees seem to think they should be able to change their elections. Am I doing the right thing?" (EBIA Weekly (Question of the Week))

Welcome to new BenefitsLink advertiser DataPath, Inc.
Excerpt: "105 Administration Systems (MERP-105, Max105, and Flex-105) are Windows-based 105 administration systems developed by DataPath, Inc. MERP-105 and Flex-105 integrate with other systems in Datapath's employee Benefit Software Suite. These systems take the Defined Contribution approach to health benefits often discussed in today's employee benefit world. For more information, go to www.dpath.com or email sales@dpath.com."

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


Overview: IRS Eases Rule for Splitting Stock Options in Divorce
Excerpt: "The agency has decided that divorcing workers may transfer the most common kind of stock options to their ex-spouses without immediately triggering taxes." (The Mercury News via BayArea.com)




Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Employee Benefits Administrator for Kidder Benefits Consultants, Inc.
in IA
Sr. Consultant for Buck Consultants
in NJ
External Wholesaler for Mutual of Omaha
in AZ, CA, CO, IL, LA, MI, NC, OH, OR, SC, TX
Conversion Specialist for State Street Research
in MA
Employer Support Specialist for ICMA Retirement Corporation
in DC
ENROLLED ACTUARY for SAN DIEGO PENSION CONSULTANTS, INC.
in CA



Newly Posted Conferences (Post Yours!)
Full Disclosure: The Proposed Rules on Advance Notice of Future Benefit Reductionsin ALL STATES on June 18, 2002
presented by American Bar Association, Joint Committee on Employee Benefits
The Current State of 401(k)in NY on June 18, 2002
presented by New York Metropolitan Area Chapter - ISCEBS
Plan Sponsor Forum 2002in WY on June 5, 2002
presented by Caterpillar Investment Management, Ltd.
Plan Sponsor Forum 2002in MO on June 7, 2002
presented by Caterpillar Investment Management, Ltd.
Plan Sponsor Forum 2002in NV on June 10, 2002
presented by Caterpillar Investment Management, Ltd.
Plan Sponsor Forum 2002in OH on June 13, 2002
presented by Caterpillar Investment Management, Ltd.
Plan Sponsor Forum 2002in IL, WI on June 14, 2002
presented by Caterpillar Investment Management, Ltd.
Plan Sponsor Forum 2002in IN, KY on June 25, 2002
presented by Caterpillar Investment Management, Ltd.
Plan Sponsor Forum 2002in MN on July 16, 2002
presented by Caterpillar Investment Management, Ltd.
Plan Sponsor Forum 2002in IA, IL on July 18, 2002
presented by Caterpillar Investment Management, Ltd.
Plan Sponsor Forum 2002in IL, WI on August 23, 2002
presented by Caterpillar Investment Management, Ltd.
Plan Sponsor Forum 2002in IL, MO on August 27, 2002
presented by Caterpillar Investment Management, Ltd.
Plan Sponsor Forum 2002in OH on August 30, 2002
presented by Caterpillar Investment Management, Ltd.
Plan Sponsor Forum 2002in NC on September 18, 2002
presented by Caterpillar Investment Management, Ltd.
Plan Sponsor Forum 2002in NC on September 18, 2002
presented by Caterpillar Investment Management, Ltd.
Plan Sponsor Forum 2002in IL, WI on September 24, 2002
presented by Caterpillar Investment Management, Ltd.



Newly Posted Press Releases (Post Yours!)
ERIC Calls for Investigation of Pension Information Leak (The ERISA Industry Committee)

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.