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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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June 7, 2002 - 6,419 subscribers
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HMO Premiums Predicted To Soar 22 Percent In 2003
Excerpt: "The survey, conducted by Hewitt Associates ... indicates HMOs will increase premiums by an average of 22 percent in 2003.... Hewitt says employers are expected to begin warning employees of upcoming increases earlier this year, rather than waiting for the standard open enrollment period." (insure.com)

Consumers, Health Plans Pay as Drug Firms Fight Over Generics Makers of Cheaper Alternatives
Excerpt: "At the heart of the controversy is whether drug companies are legitimately protecting discoveries on drugs they spent years researching ... Critics say drug firms are using questionable legal tactics to delay rivals as long as possible, knowing that prices and their own market share for top-selling products can drop by half or more once generics hit the market." (USA Today via International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

Firms Ponder Less-Than-Healthy Workers' Output
Excerpt: "Employers feel the toll of lost productivity from less-than-healthy workers. But until now, they've been unable to put a dollar figure on it. A report released Wednesday ... puts the cost of lost work time from common health conditions at $250 billion annually.... The report comes at a time of increasing interest in the issue, with employers looking for ways to control costs and assess how health care decisions affect the day-to-day efficiency of their workers." (Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News via International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

Bush Is Said to Be Set to Back Patients' Bill
Excerpt: "Representative Charlie Norwood, a leader of the six-year campaign for legislation defining patients' rights, said today that the White House had expressed a new willingness to support a compromise letting patients sue health insurers for medical injuries caused by substandard care." (New York Times; free registration required)

ERISA Did Not Preempt State Law Claim of Breach of Contract Over Firm's STD, Vacation Policies
ERISA did not preempt employees' state law claim of breach of contract challenging the post-merger changes in their employer's sick leave and vacation policies. This was the decision of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Funkhouser and Pearce v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., et al. (Nos. 00-35397 and 00-35410). (Spencernet)

Some Employers Find On-Site Day Care Is Key Recruiting Tool
Excerpt: "Nationally, only 11 percent of employees have access to on-site day care, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.... Some advocacy groups say the market is ripe for business-based daycare.... The number of dual-wage-earner families has skyrocketed in the last 20 years ..." (Chattanooga Times/Chattanooga Free Press via Society of Human Resource Management)

Dental Benefits Remain a Valued Part of Total Compensation
Despite growing concerns with the nation's healthcare system, the demand for employer-sponsored dental benefits remains high, says a new nationwide survey conducted by Taylor Nelson/Sofres Intersearch. In addition, most Americans don't generally associate the industry's challenges with dental benefits. (Spencernet)

U.S. Caesarean Births Rapidly Rising
Excerpt: "Almost one in four women who gave birth last year had a Caesarean section, the highest rate in 13 years-- an increase fueled by repeat operations and also women who schedule C-sections for convenience." (AP via Yahoo! News)

Wisconsin Governor Announces State Will Host 'Listening Sessions' on Rising Health Costs
Excerpt: "Wisconsin Gov. Scott McCallum (R) on June 4 told business executives that state officials will hold a series of 'listening sessions' this summer to address 'soaring' health care costs, the AP/St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. However, business executives and others 'expressed skepticism' over whether the sessions would have an impact on the problem." (KaiserNetwork.org)

The High Cost of Healthcare Fraud
Excerpt: "The brochure describes how healthcare fraud burdens the healthcare system financially and threatens the security of the healthcare system for all consumers. In addition, the brochure outlines examples of common healthcare fraud schemes. BCBSA is also sponsoring a forum, 'Healthcare Fraud: Impact and Trends,' to explore how fraud affects rising healthcare costs." (BlueCross BlueShield Association)

Drugmakers Count Cost of German Generics Law
Excerpt: "Research-based pharmaceutical companies say they could lose up to a billion euros a year as a result of a new German law requiring the substitution of generics for some brandname drugs covered by the public health system." (Medscape; free registration required)

The Cost of New Drugs: Fact Sheet
Excerpt: "The Galen Institute is a not-for-profit public policy organization devoted to research and education on health and tax policy. We bring a unique approach to public policy research, serving as a broker of the ideas of the top experts in the market-based policy community." (Galen Institute)

Employers Spent Nearly 15% of Payroll On Absence-Related Benefits
According to findings from the 2001 Survey on Employers' Time-Off and Disability Programs, employers spent an average of 14.6% of payroll on absence-related benefits in 2000. This was an increase of 0.3% over the previous year. Out of that 14.6 %, employers spent 10.2% on scheduled absence benefits such as vacations and holidays and 4.4% on unscheduled absence benefits such as incidental absence/sick days, short- and long-term disability, and workers' compensation. (Spencernet)

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


Available for Ordering from NELA: Course Materials for 'ERISA-- a Tool For the Employee Advocate'
Available for purchase by non-members of NELA. Purchase the complete course manual, full set of audio tapes, or both. Also available: tapes of particular course presentations. Course was presented in 2000. (National Employment Lawyers Association)

Underwater Stock Options? Restricted Stock Grants Could Be Solution
Excerpt: "As the restrictions lapse, the employee takes ownership of the stock with no out-of-pocket investment and no concerns about under-water valuations. He or she simply owns shares. It's a very effective tool for retaining employees. Companies also avoid negative accounting treatment related to options ... The downside? Uncle Sam again. The government taxes the entire market value of the stock as ordinary income when the restrictions lapse." (The [Minneapolis-St. Paul] Business Journal)

NYSE, NASDAQ Seek Stricter Corporate Governance Standards
Excerpt: "The NYSE wants to require shareholder approval of all stock option plans. The Nasdaq would mandate approval for stock option plans for officers and directors, but would exempt compensation packages for rank-and-file employees. Many corporations have already expressed concern about the scope of the NYSE proposal, including The Business Roundtable, an association of chief executives." (AP via Yahoo! News)




Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Director - TPA Business Development for MassMutual Financial Group
in MA
Benefits Compliance Consultant - JL-020524-010 for Hewitt Associates LLC
in IL
Senior Accounting Specialist for OneBeacon Insurance
in MA
Business Development: Personal Trust-Wealth Mgmt/EB-401(k)-ESOP/Charitable for Channel Synergy (exec recruiter)
in GA
Sales Account Manager for PFPC
in ALL STATES
Human Resources Benefits Manager for Tech Data
in FL
Retirement Service Account Manager 3 for Wells Fargo
in
Future Openings: Technical Specialist - Retirement - QPA for Edward Jones
in MO



Newly Posted Press Releases (Post Yours!)
ABC Payroll Announces Launch of New Product Lines (ABC Payroll)
Securian Retirement Receives Dalbar's Highest Web Site Rating (Securian Retirement Services)
FACTS Health Claims Management System Marks Its 21st Year In The Healthcare IT Marketplace (FACTS Services, Inc.)



Newly Posted Announcements of Promotions and New Personnel (Post Yours!)
George F. Cicotte (George F. Cicotte, Attorney)

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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.