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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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June 12, 2002 - 6,459 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)

Dearth of Young Brings Demand for Elders, Focus on Benefits
Excerpt: "[T]he Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the number of people in the labor force age 55 and older to grow 32 percent by 2010, while those between 35 and 44 will shrink by 10.2 percent. Workplace experts say that means businesses must actively attract or retain older workers ..." (MSNBC)

Proposed Class Action Lawsuit Alleges Utah PEO Violated ERISA
Excerpt: "A proposed class-action lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court for Utah alleges a Sandy-based professional employer organization failed to provide benefits to potentially thousands of Utah employees and their families.... The complaint ... maintains that American Employment Group Inc. failed to cover Hills and her family for medical expenses because it had inadequately funded or mismanaged the plan's assets." (Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News via Society for Human Resource Management)

National Insurance Group Criticizes Reunderwriting Practice
Excerpt: "A committee of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners on June 11 'repudiated' the practice of annually reunderwriting individual health insurance policies in response to concerns that 'states would be unprepared to protect consumers from being singled out for rate increases based on their health,' the Wall Street Journal reports." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Maryland Lieutenant Governor Announces Plan To Give State's Seniors Discounts on Prescription Drugs
Excerpt: "While campaigning on June 11, Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (D) proposed a prescription drug discount plan for 200,000 state seniors, the Baltimore Sun reports." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Low Quality Health Care Costing Nearly $400 Billion a Year, Study Finds
Excerpt: "Low-quality health care in the U.S. is costing nearly $400 billion a year, or about 30 percent of the total $1.3 trillion spent annually on medical expenditures in the U.S., according to a study ... From medical errors and unnecessary treatments to misused drugs and bureaucratic waste, new research suggests such problems compromise quality medical care and each year cost private employers between $1,700 and $2,000 per insured worker." (Chicago Tribune via International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

HIPAA Might Forbid Sports Leagues to Say if Player Is Hurt
Excerpt: "Lawyers from the major sports leagues are sorting through what could be a very troublesome issue. If professional and amateur players assert privacy rights as provided by the law, the resulting information embargo could affect betting lines, trades, bidding for free agents." (New York Times; free registration required)

Senators Discuss Cost of Prescription Drugs
Excerpt: "Businesses and health care providers who feel caught in the middle of rising health costs aired their concerns Monday at a meeting of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce.... In the last three years prescription drug costs have been the single biggest driver of spiraling health care costs." (Detroit Free Press)

House Subcommittee Continues Examination of Federal, State Regulation of Insurance Companies
Excerpt: " A House Financial Services subcommittee on June 11 held the second in a three-part series of hearings exploring whether insurance companies should have the option to be regulated by the federal government instead of states, the Washington Post reports. The insurance industry is divided over such a switch ..." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Commentary: Time for Congress to Look at Drug Costs Again
Excerpt: "It's an election year, and right on cue, Congress is turning its attention back to the rising costs of prescription drugs. This summer, lawmakers will consider half a dozen bills that all promise, in one way or another, to stem the escalating costs of prescription medicine." (Capital Eye)

Vermont Takes Aim at Drug Company Freebies
Excerpt: "Vermont is about to become the first state to take aim at drug companies' practice of lavishing everything from ball point pens to free trips on doctors and nurses." (AP via StarTribune.com)

Enron Agrees to Increase Severance Payments
Excerpt: "According to Enron's severance program, a laid-off employee would have been entitled to about a week's pay for every year of service and a week of pay for every $10,000 in salary ..." (New York Times; free registration required)

Add Your Experience To the Spencer Survey of COBRA Coverage
Charles D. Spencer & Associates, Inc., continues to collect information for its 2001 Spencer survey of COBRA continuation coverage. More than 1.3 million employees already have been counted, with the average COBRA subsidy at more than 150% of active employee costs. The deadline for completing the survey is June 17. All survey participants receive a copy of the published survey upon request at no charge. (Spencernet)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

(These items appear in both editions of the BenefitsLink Newsletter)

Analysis: IRS Approves Electronic SPDs, Objects To Kiosk Distribution
Excerpt: "[I]n a move that could make things difficult for employers such as manufacturers whose line employees do not have access to computers, the DOL has outlawed the use of kiosks as a method of distributing benefits information. Simply making it available on communal computers, officials decided, does not satisfy minimum distribution requirements." (BenefitNews.com)

PEO Administaff's Stock Tumbles After IRS Ruling, Sluggish First Quarter
Excerpt: "The latest Wall Street whammy on the Kingwood [Texas]-based human resources company came last week when Administaff said it had resolved a long-running dispute with the IRS. The IRS ended an audit of Administaff's 401(k) program, while ruling that the company must make changes to the plan." (Houston Business Journal via bizjournals.com; free registration required)

Some Say It's Time To Account For Stock Options Differently
Excerpt: "When is an expense not an expense? When it's a stock option, of course. Over the past several years, countless companies have taken advantage of what many see as a crucial flaw in the corporate accounting system -- the freedom of companies to issue stock options without ever seeing the expense hit their bottom line." (Washington Business Journal via bizjournals.com; free registration required)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Regional Account Manager for Market Leading Provider of Retirement Plans and Work Site Products
in TX
Senior Quality Assurance Specialist for Invesmart, Inc.
in PA
Processing Analysts for Invesmart, Inc.
in KY, OH, PA
Sr. 401(k) Communications Analyst for Tenet HealthSystem
in TX
Reporting and Disclosure Team Leader for Strong Financial Corporation
in WI
Benefits Administrator for Sony Corporation
in NY

Newly Posted Webcasts (Post Yours!)
Controlling Health Spending in the Private Sector on June 8, 2002
presented by KaiserNetwork.org
Wall Street Comes to Washington on June 11, 2002
presented by KaiserNetwork.org
FORM 5500: WHAT PLAN MUST FILE WHAT? on May 30, 2002
presented by Employee Benefit Institute of America (EBIA)

Newly Posted Conferences (Post Yours!)
2002 CCA Annual Meetingin FL on November 3, 2002
presented by Conference of Consulting Actuaries

Subscribe to the Retirement Plans Edition, too (click)

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Editor and Publisher: David Rhett Baker, J.D.