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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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May 28, 2002 - 6,419 subscribers
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Employers Take Aim At Disability Costs
Excerpt: "Health care consultants and human resource specialists are warning that an older, fatter and more stressed-out workforce is slowly but surely inflating employer costs tied to worker disabilities. Although disability-related costs are difficult to quantify because they overlap other costs, such as sick leave and health insurance, there's little doubt that such costs are increasing and will continue to do so." (Kiplinger via International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

Drug Industry Marketing Tactics During Psychiatrists Conference Raise Concern
Excerpt: "An influx of pharmaceutical marketing during the American Psychiatric Association's annual meeting in Philadelphia last week has raised concerns among some psychiatrists that the industry's 'aggressive promotional activities' are influencing which psychiatric medications are prescribed, the Washington Post reports ..." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Government Accounting Office to Study Healthcare Expenses in Milwaukee
Excerpt: "At the request of two Wisconsin congressmen, the General Accounting Office will study what factors are driving healthcare costs in Milwaukee and surrounding areas, where, the lawmakers say, large employers' healthcare costs are 40% greater than in nearby Chicago." (Modern Healthcare)

What Happens to Unused Amounts In a Transportation Fringe Benefit Plan When Employment Terminates?
Excerpt: "Questions: What happens if employees have unused amounts remaining under our qualified transportation fringe benefit plan when their employment terminates? Can we reimburse them from the leftover funds for qualified transportation expenses that they incur at their next job? If not, what happens to the money?" (EBIA Weekly (Question of the Week))

Companies Don't Have To Be Large To Offer Big Benefits
Excerpt: "The changing family structure has a major impact on our businesses, especially in the types of benefits offered. The traditional one-size-fits-all benefit package is no longer appropriate or acceptable. An attractive benefits package that includes both work and life benefits and allows choices can create a less stressful environment." (Business First of Columbus via bizjournals.com; free registration required)

Autoerotic Asphyxiation Death Is Not Excluded Under ERISA-Governed Accidental Death Insurance Policy
Padfield v. AIG Life Ins. Co. (9th Cir. 2002). Excerpt: "The plaintiff in this case was the beneficiary under an employer-provided accidental death insurance policy covering her husband, who died while engaging in autoerotic asphyxiation. The insurer denied benefits on the basis of the policy's exclusion of losses caused by suicide or intentionally self-inflicted injury.... [The Court of Appeals] found that the decedent's death was accidental and not a suicide within the meaning of the policy." (EBIA Weekly)

Court Interprets Group Health Plan's "Full-Time Student" Dependent Eligibility Requirement
Prudential Ins. Co. v. Superior Court of Santa Cruz County (Cal. Ct. App. 2002). Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: This case caught our eye because it deals with a type of dependent eligibility provision contained in many group health plans. The California court's decision interpreting the eligibility provision was straightforward and lined up with the decisions of courts in other states.... [I]n general a 'full-time student' must be enrolled in school and attending classes." (EBIA Weekly)

HIPAA Covered Entities Should Address Business Associate Contracts Soon, Despite Extension
Excerpt: "The recently proposed one-year extension for revising contracts with business associates should not be cause for delay in addressing these agreements, according to an attorney who spoke at a recent conference. In drafting these contracts, covered entities need to take into account not only HIPAA's privacy rules, but related federal and state requirements, as well as contractual issues that may arise between the parties to the agreement." (Thompson Publishing Group)

Hospital Association Asks Employer-Driven Leapfrog Group to Modify Criteria for Judging Hospitals
Excerpt: "The three metrics Leapfrog uses to evaluate hospitals-- staffing levels in intensive care units, use of evidence-based hospital referrals and use of [computer physician order entry] systems-- do not adequately 'inform consumers about the quality of a health organization or the care that is delivered,' according to a letter from AHA to the Leapfrog Group ..." (iHealthBeat.com; free registration required)

Campaign To Broaden MSAs Gaining Momentum Despite Confusing Rules
Excerpt: "Under current federal regulations, a self-employed person, or an employee of a small business, is covered by a high-deductible health insurance policy, along with a medical savings account in which deposits are made on a periodic basis. The high-deductible policies used with MSAs have significantly lower premiums ... usually less than half of a traditional insurance policy with similar coverage." (Business First of Columbus via bizjournals.com; free registration required)

Welcome to new BenefitsLink advertiser DataPath, Inc.
Excerpt: "132 Administration System (DPI-132) is a Windows-based 132 administration system developed by DataPath, Inc. to administer § 132(f) Tax-Free Transportation Plans handling qualified parking expenses, transit passes, and vanpooling expenses, and integrates with other systems in Datapath's employee Benefit Software Suite. For more information, go to www.dpath.com or email sales@dpath.com."

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

Analysis: Automatic Enrollment Approved for Cafeteria Plans; Pension Plans Might Need Amendments
Excerpt: "There are essentially two parts to this ruling: an analysis of two hypothetical situations that illustrate how the income exclusion works under cafeteria plans; and an explanation of how the Code Section 415(c) compensation definition used for qualified retirement plans is affected by this Ruling, including guidance about amending plans to be consistent with the Ruling." (EBIA Weekly)

Nasdaq Approves Rule Changes to Modify Corporate Governance Standards, Including Stock Options
Press release. Excerpt: "[Existing NASDAQ] rules contain an exception for broadly based plans, that is, plans in which at least a majority of the participants are not officers or directors. In response to comments by SEC Chairman Pitt and others, the board voted to strengthen the rule by requiring shareholder approval for all plans in which officers and directors participate." (Nasdaq Stock Market, Inc.)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Administrator - Traditional and Daily Valuation Capable for WESPAC Plan Services, Inc.
in CA
Benefits Associates for Stanton Hughes Diana Cerra Mariani & Margello P.C.
in NJ
Account Specialist/ Plan Administrator for INVESCO Retirement, Inc.
in GA
Communications Manager for Financial Engines, Inc.
in CA
Relationship Director for CitiStreet
in FL
Underwriter for Integrated DisAbility Resources, Inc.
in CT, ME

Newly Posted Webcasts (Post Yours!)
Fiduciary Responsibility and Risks: Where Are We Headed? on May 23, 2002
presented by Hewitt Associates

Newly Posted Conferences (Post Yours!)
Basics of Employee Retirement Plansin MA on October 17, 2002
presented by New England Employee Benefits Council
Annual Education Meetingin UT on August 18, 2002
presented by Western Pension & Benefits Conference
Plan Fiduciary Concerns After Enronin VA on June 4, 2002
presented by Foundation for Enterprise Development / Beyster Institute

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.