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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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August 8, 2002 - 6,490 subscribers
Today's sponsor:

(Click on company name or banner to learn more.)

   Our Bookstore now carries books published by WorldatWork!

   WorldatWork, the professional association for compensation, benefits and
   total rewards professionals, now has more than 30 select publications
   appearing for sale in the benefitslink.com bookstore. One featured 2002
   release is Long-Term Care: An Emerging Employer Benefit, a book described by
   the vice president of benefits for Time, Inc. as "the most readable
   comprehensive guide to long-term care."

(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)

Analysis: Trade Law With COBRA Tax Credit Enacted
Excerpt: "The COBRA-related provisions in the Trade Act of 2002 have several ambiguities, and raise many questions, that employers and administrators must struggle with in complying with these new requirements." (Thompson Publishing Group)

Businesses Explore How Insurance Costs Can Help Meet Strategic Goals
Excerpt: "For decades, business executives have signed ever-larger checks to buy health care for their employees. Insurance coverage was seen as a consumptive good they had to purchase for their workers. But now businesses are becoming tougher customers. Facing a surge in health costs, they are increasingly applying the same scrutiny to health care that they do to important, strategic investments." (The Dallas Morning News via International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

Spotlight on Personal Account Consumer-Driven Health Plans
45 pages (!). Excerpt: "This briefing paper provides a review of the main issues affecting personal account plans from the point of view of employers who might consider offering such a plan, focusing in particular on the potential financial impact of such plans on the employer and employees. Sensitivity testing of various plan parameters was performed in a modeling environment in order to better understand the impact on both employees and employers." (Watson Wyatt; free registration required)

DOL Secretary Gives Tips to Small Businesses on Purchasing Health Insurance, Pushes Proposed AHPs
Excerpt: "President Bush strongly supports legislation to strengthen and expand Association Health Plans to allow small business to enjoy the bargaining power, administrative efficiencies, benefit design, and risk pooling advantages currently available only to large employers and union-sponsored plans. Until federal legislative changes are enacted, employers can help ensure that employees have the health care coverage they need by following the attached tips." (U.S. Department of Labor, Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration)

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

Overview: Benefits and Compensation Aspects of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002
Excerpt: "Although the Act is aimed squarely at redressing accounting and financial reporting abuses, Congress also acted to stop what it perceived to be different and unfair restrictions on employee direction of individual account plans.... The most significant change is in the treatment of so-called 'blackout periods.'... The blackout provisions take effect on January 26, 2003, 180 days after the Act's enactment." (Kilpatrick Stockton LLP)

Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Issues in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (PDF)
7 pages. Excerpt: "Each employer who is an issuer [under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934] should review all of its loan arrangements with its executive officers and directors, if any. Questions have arisen as to whether these new restrictions apply to split-dollar life insurance arrangements, and whether the rules relate to cashless exercise programs under stock-based compensation programs and participant loans under retirement plans." (Dow Lohnes & Albertson PLLC)

Sarbanes-Oxley Act Could Hold Unexpected Consequences for Relocating Corporate Executives
Excerpt: "Of particular concern to employee relocation experts is Section 402(a) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002: 'Prohibition on Personal Loans to Executives.' Under the act, extending credit to any director or executive officer is unlawful. 'At first glance, this could be read as prohibiting bridge loans, advances, and other routine financial practices in relocation,' reads a notice on the Employee Relocation Council (ERC) web site." (Society for Human Resource Management)

FASB Agrees To Consider Changes To Stock Option Rules
Excerpt: "The board that sets the nation's accounting standards agreed Wednesday to consider changes to rules for companies that voluntarily expense employee stock options. The Financial Accounting Standards Board is exploring three methods in which companies could expense options. Expensing stock options is considered the preferred method of accounting, but is not required." (The Boston Globe)

How To Make Stock Options Work Better and Prevent Abuses
Bruce Brumberg of myStockOptions.com provides his prescription for dealing with the controversy over stock option abuses and accounting rules. (National Center for Employee Ownership)

Is Option Expensing Inevitable? and What Can You Do About It?
The NCEO's executive director discusses the option expensing controversy and its implications for companies. (National Center for Employee Ownership)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Consultant - Retirement Plan Administration & Systems for MK Consulting, Inc.
Senior Health Consultant/Public Sector for Segal Company
in CA
Education Specialist for CIGNA Retirement and Investment Services

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