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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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August 30, 2002 - 7,007 subscribers
Today's sponsor: EBIA's Group Health Plans: Federal Mandates Other Than COBRA & HIPAA

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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)

Drug Costs Still Ensnare Health Plans
Excerpt: "Despite the most aggressive programs ever to control prescription drug costs-- from requiring the health plan's permission before patients can use the latest arthritis drugs to limiting their allotment of heartburn pills-- health insurance executives say they expect medication costs to rise 14 to 19 percent during 2002." (The Boston Globe)

States Need Not Further Regulate Individual Insurance Market, Study Says
Excerpt: "Although some state lawmakers are looking to stabilize the individual health insurance market and protect insurers from high risks, most states already have laws in place that do just that, making the need for further reforms, such as 'community rating,' unnecessary, according to a new study published on the Health Affairs Web site." (

Only One-Fourth of Workers Would Use COBRA To Keep Health Coverage If They Became Unemployed
Excerpt: "Only 23% of workers would continue their employer-sponsored health insurance coverage through COBRA if they lost their jobs, and many of those who would not continue coverage through COBRA cite expensive premiums as the main reason, according to 2002 Workplace Health Insurance Survey, released Aug. 29 by The Commonwealth Fund ..." (

Provisions of SPD Prescribing Statute of Limitations Were Ambiguous: Tenth Circuit
The provisions of a summary plan description (SPD) prescribing the statute of limitations for bringing an action to recover benefits were ambiguous and, as a result, a beneficiary could pursue his lawsuit seeking to recover health care benefits. This was the ruling of the Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Haymond, et al. v. Eighth District Electrical Benefit Fund (No. 01-4119). (Spencernet)

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

Split-Dollar Insurance Programs of Top Executives in Jeopardy Due to Sarbanes-Oxley Act
Excerpt: "In July, Congress passed the Corporate Responsibility Act of 2002, which banned company loans to executives. Now, according to the interpretation of tax lawyers and compensation experts, the premiums on split-dollar policies could be considered interest-free loans because the corporation is eventually reimbursed. The uncertainty over the policies has virtually halted their sale, pending clarification by the government." (New York Times; free registration required)

Possible Amendment to Pension Bill Could Tax Death Benefits from Corporate-Owned Life Insurance
Excerpt: "While Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) has not officially introduced an amendment to the bill yet, he apparently has said enough about his intentions to prompt four insurance trade organizations to write an angry letter to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle opposing taxes on the heretofore untaxed benefit." (

Doubts Grow on 'Covering' of Executives' Stock Options Due to Sarbanes-Oxley Act
Excerpt: "Corporations across the country have halted a longstanding practice of allowing executives and directors to exercise stock options without putting up their own money in transactions that are often worth millions of dollars. The decision to halt these arrangements-- a routine practice at public companies-- is being driven by uncertainty over whether they may now be considered loans and therefore criminal violations under a recently passed law aimed at curbing corporate abuses." (New York Times; free registration required)

High-Tech Firms Threaten to Cancel Options, ESPP Programs; That's 'Hogwash,' Critic Says
Excerpt: "Are companies serious -- or bluffing? That's the question at the heart of a controversial survey that suggests most companies -- many of them based in Silicon Valley -- would stop doling out options to rank-and-file workers if they are forced to take an accounting hit for stock options. Critics said ... [c]utting off rank-and-file workers not only would hurt their ability to hire top talent, but it also would cast doubt on the value of their current option programs." (Contra Costa Times via International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

Opinion: How to Salvage Stock Options
Excerpt: "Start by addressing each of the terms of stock-option programs--exercise price, vesting, time to exercise, eligibility and grant size. This is a serious task for board compensation committees, which, like their audit committee counterparts, will need to ensure their members have the skills to evaluate alternatives to traditional options and the independence to act on behalf of shareholders, not like rubber stamps for executives." (

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad

Retirement Plan Administrator
for Capital Investment Advisory in FL

Defined Benefit New Business Consultant
for New York Life Benefit Services, LLC in MA

401(k) / Pension Administrator
for Third Party Administration Firm in CA, NV

Newly Posted Conferences (Post Yours!)

Education Savings Plans
in MA on September 25, 2002
presented by Worldwide Employee Benefits Network (WEB) - MetroWest

The Future of Retirees in Multiemployer Plans: Health and Financial Issues
in FL on November 4, 2002
presented by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

Developing Your HIPAA Compliance Strategy
in NY on September 24, 2002
presented by New York Metropolitan Area Chapter - ISCEBS

Newly Posted Press Releases

New Data Validation Center in Relius Administration Facilitates Automated Collection and Validation of Plan Data
(SunGard Corbel)

Allen, Gibbs & Houlik, L.C. Chooses SunGard for Straight-Through Processing
(SunGard Corbel)

Subscribe to the Retirement Plans Edition, too (click)

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