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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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August 20, 2002 - 6,490 subscribers
Today's sponsor: Benefit Software Inc.

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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)

CalPERS to Consider Tiered Hospital Plans Next Year
Excerpt: "The California Public Employees Retirement System may move to a tiered hospital plan that would require members to pay higher out-of-pocket costs at more expensive hospitals, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports. Under tiered hospital plans, health insurers require members who receive care at more expensive hospitals to pay hundreds of dollars in additional copayments." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Drug Companies Concerned First With Profits, Not Innovation, 'Marketplace' Commentary Says
Excerpt: "'Marketplace' on Aug. 19 featured a commentary by Bruce Freed, business and politics correspondent for the non-partisan congressional newspaper The Hill, on how members of Congress are 'getting an earful from constituents' about their 'sense of betrayal and distrust' of pharmaceutical companies.... The segment is available online in RealPlayer Audio." (KaiserNetwork.org)

North Carolina Pilot Program Improves Worker Health and Cuts Costs
Excerpt: "While federal and state lawmakers are struggling to find ways to control rising health care costs, this small city tucked between the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains has found a way to save thousands of dollars and improve the health of its employees. Unlike academic theories and political rhetoric, the six-year-old Asheville Project offers real-life lessons on the great potential -- and limitations -- of an approach known as disease management." (Washington Post)

Opinion: Time to Rethink Alternative Medicine
Excerpt: "[Our society's current] approach to health ... places overwhelming emphasis on expensive and often side effect-laden surgical and pharmacological treatments, an approach that has largely devalued prevention, self-care and the perspectives and techniques of the world's systems of traditional medicine and healing." (James S. Gordon in the Washington Post)

The Perils of Buying Your Own Health Insurance Policy
Excerpt: "If you live in the wrong state, have any type of illness, or are too young (for Medicare), too rich (for Medicaid), or too broke (to pay steep premiums), you might be shut out of the health-insurance market. None of those factors will stop you from getting group health insurance through most employers, but they can entrap the 16 million or so Americans who buy their own policies." (Consumer Reports)

Co-Pays, Physicians and Hospitals ... and Would You Like Fries With That?
Excerpt: "Colorado consumers will be among the first in the nation to try a new health-benefits program that lets members build it from the ground up.... Plan members log on and choose their own doctors, hospitals and co-payments. USelect is based on the concept of 'defined contribution,' in which an employer gives employees a set amount of pretax dollars to spend on benefits." (DenverPost.com)

Survey of Buffalo N.Y. Employees Finds Work/Life Balance at Top of List of Concerns
Excerpt: "When asked to list their top career concerns, 32 percent of respondents said it was the ability to balance work and family. Work/life balance outpaced concerns about job security (22 percent), earning a competitive salary (18 percent), and keeping technical skills current (12 percent)." (Buffalo News via Society for Human Resource Management)

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

IRS Updates Manual on Examination of Nonbank Trustees; Minor Modifications Only (PDF)
Excerpt: "A nonbank trustee or nonbank custodian ... is an entity that is not a bank that is permitted to act as a trustee or custodian for the arrangements listed below ... Medical Savings Accounts ... Qualified retirement plans or trusts ... 403(b)(7) Custodial Accounts ... Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs) ... Roth IRAs ... 457(b) Deferred Compensation Plans of State & Local Government and Tax Exempt Organizations Custodial Accounts [or] Education IRAs." (Internal Revenue Service)

Fast-Track Changes in Stock-Based Compensation Accounting (PDF)
Excerpt: "The FASB is moving quickly to require new disclosures by all companies awarding stock-based compensation, including traditional stock options, and to add transition alternatives for companies choosing Statement 123's fair-value method to expense stock-compensation costs. Disclosures would increase in content, be presented more frequently, and be located more prominently." (KPMG LLP via Financial Executives International)

Professional Employer Organization (PEO) Industry in Crisis
Excerpt: "Some observers are predicting that hundreds of the estimated 800 PEOs operating in the country will be forced to merge or go out of business by the end of the year." (Sarasota Herald-Tribune via Society for Human Resource Management)

Investors Unfazed By Expensed Options
Excerpt: "Wall Street doesn't seem to care if companies count employee stock options as an expense. That may come as a surprise to companies that, hoping to impress investors, have voluntarily said they will start expensing their stock options." (USA Today via Yahoo! News)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Employee Benefits Associate for 15 Attorney, Los Angeles, labor / employee benefits law firm
in CA
401(k) Administrator for The Preston Group LLC
in CT, MO
Web Designer for ExpertPlan, Inc.
in NJ
Executive Assistant for Multiemployer Taft-Hartley office located in Los Angeles
in CA
Pension Manager for Multiemployer Taft-Hartley office located in Los Angeles
in CA
Pension Administrator for Suburban /PA Montgonery County Pension Firm
in PA
Human Resources Analyst for Covanta Energy
in NJ
Trust/EB Administrator for Glenview State Bank
in IL

Newly Posted Conferences (Post Yours!)
Health Care Accounts: Recent Guidance on Defined Contribution Health Plans-- What Does It Really Permit?in on August 29, 2002
presented by ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits

Newly Posted Press Releases
The Pension Consulting Services Group of American Express Tax and Business Services Expands in the Midwest (American Express Tax and Business Services Inc.)

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