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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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July 9, 2002 - 6,490 subscribers
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Health Care's Soaring Cost Takes a Toll
Excerpt: "The mounting crisis is throwing state budgets into the red, shaving company profits, cutting physician salaries and forcing painful choices onto individuals ..." (Washington Post)

Survey: the Wide Circle of Caregiving
Excerpt: "The Kaiser Family Foundation helped conduct a national survey of over 1,000 informal caregivers in 1998 to assess the policy issues involved with this new, growing role for many family members and friends. Nearly one of every four adults (23 percent) is an informal caregiver, and, as the American population ages, it is likely families will take on an even greater responsibility to keep their loved ones at home and in communities." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Flextime Popular Among Employees Though Negotiation Often Required
Excerpt: "Flexible scheduling is the benefit of choice in the U.S., but employees still have difficulty asking for it-- and employers granting it." (Chicago Tribune)

Aetna, United Healthcare To Reexamine 7 Years of Denied Claims in Response to NY Insurance Report
Excerpt: "Health insurers Aetna U.S. Healthcare and United Healthcare have decided to reexamine claims denied between mid-1994 and late 2001, after a New York Department of Insurance report found that they did not inform members about the appeals process for denied claims, the Newsday/Hartford Courant reports." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Witness List and Written Statements: Hearing on Health Coverage Costs for Employers and Employees
June 18, 2002. Excerpt: "Witnesses included Dr. Paul Ginsburg, Center for Studying Health System Change; S. Catherine Longley, Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation; Dr. Henry Simmons, National Coalition on Health Care; Patrick McGinnis, Trover Solutions; Cathy A. Streker, Textron, Inc.; Carol Miller, Frontier Education Center." (U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Education and the Workforce, Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations)

Certain Defined Contribution Plans Given Green Light, Though Some Questions Remain (PDF)
Excerpt: "[T]he guidance does not discuss the specific application of the Code § 105(h) nondiscrimination rules ... Nor does the guidance discuss the application of the HIPAA nondiscrimination rules to HRAs, for example, if the amounts are used to purchase individually underwritten health coverage. Finally, the guidance does nothing to ameliorate the problem that duplicate (not divided) HRA accounts must be made available to COBRA qualified beneficiaries, at least in certain circumstances." (Miller & Chevalier Chartered)

Opinion: Mental Health Parity is an Empty Notion
Excerpt: "The stigma associated with mental health treatment has nothing to do with the extent of insurance coverage. This stigma has more to do with the messages that people know come with a psychiatric diagnosis: that they are damaged, that no treatment can cure their illness and that prescribed treatment--usually drugs and more drugs--would be needed indefinitely." (Los Angeles Times; free registration required)

Another Question is Answered in the ERISA Benefit Claims Q&A Column
I am on a second level appeal with my employer for denial of long term disability benefits. I have submitted evidence to support my continuing disability. The plan says they have 60 days to respond to my appeal, but more than 60 days have passed. They tell me that sometimes it takes more than 60 days. Can I make them respond? (BenefitsLink.com)



Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General
(These items appear in both editions of the BenefitsLink Newsletter)

Bar Committee Releases 2002 Q&As with Labor Department Officials
Excerpt: "Each year, the Joint Committee on Employee Benefits (JCEB) of the American Bar Association meets with officials of federal agencies ... The question and answer transcripts listed below are based on these informal discussions between private sector representatives of the JCEB and agency officials.... The responses reflect the unofficial, individual views of the government participants as of the time of the discussion, and do not necessarily represent agency policy." (American Bar Association, Joint Committee on Employee Benefits)

Another Large Company Begins Voluntarily Expensing Stock Options
Excerpt: "AMB Property Corp., a San Francisco real estate investment trust, has voluntarily begun deducting employee stock options as a compensation expense on its income statement. AMB is believed to be the first company to take this step since Enron and WorldCom imploded under accounting scandals and reheated the long-simmering debate over stock option accounting." (San Francisco Chronicle via Society for Human Resource Management)




Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Business Analyst for CNA Trust
in CA
Retirement Plan Administrator for InWest Pension Management, Inc.
in TX
Actuary for USI Consulting Group, Inc. (USICG)
in CT, NY
Part Time, 401 (k) Enroller/ Contractor - Bilingual for Transamerica
in FL, GA, IL, PA, TX
Part time 401 (k) Enroller/ Contractor for Transamerica
in FL, GA, IL, TX
Retirement Plan Consultant - Portland, ME for Invesmart, Inc
in ME



Newly Posted Conferences (Post Yours!)
New Guidelines on Health Reimbursement Arrangements: What Do They Mean for You? Teleweb Seminarin ALL STATES on July 18, 2002
presented by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
Schwab Retirement Technologies Annual Conferencein TX on September 17, 2002
presented by Schwab Retirement Technologies



Newly Posted Announcements of Promotions and New Personnel (Post Yours!)
Eric Calhoun (Lawson & Fields P.C.)

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