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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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September 3, 2002 - 7,007 subscribers
Today's sponsor: EBIA's COBRA: The Developing Law

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

   Bring Your Group Health Plans into COBRA Compliance

   COBRA: The Developing Law is the authoritative resource for
   employers, administrators and advisors who handle COBRA
   compliance issues.

   Written by two leading employee benefits attorneys, this manual
   (over 850 pages) has all the information you need to bring your
   group health plans into compliance with COBRA.

Pill-Splitting Safe, Will Save Money, Study Finds
Excerpt: "The practice of pill-splitting can reduce prescription drug costs without 'risking the effectiveness' of the treatments or patient safety, according to a new study, the Wall Street Journal reports." (

Bush Administration Unveils Drug Card Program
Excerpt: "The Bush administration on Friday announced a new, private prescription discount program that it says will save seniors an average of $170 per person on medications they purchase. But questions remain about whether the administration has congressional authority to implement such a program." (Reuters Medical News via Medscape; free registration required)

Inflation Protection and Long-Term Care Insurance: Finding the Gold Standard of Adequacy
Excerpt: "The long-term care (LTC) insurance market has grown rapidly over the past decade. Since many individuals purchasing LTC insurance policies today may not access benefits for many years, it is important that insurance benefits keep pace with inflation. To address this issue, AARP commissioned a study to determine whether a policy with a 5 percent compound inflation option is adequate to meet future LTC costs." (AARP Research Center)

Guaranteed Renewability and the Problem of Risk Variation In Individual Health Insurance Markets
Excerpt: "Consumers should be protected against fluctuations in premiums for private individual health insurance associated with the onset of high-cost chronic conditions. The most commonly discussed way to do so is through community rating ... This paper describes an alternative method of providing the same type of protection: insurance contract provisions that guarantee renewability for the next coverage period at class-average rates." (Health Affairs)

Survey Results: the Erosion of Employer-Based Health Coverage and the Threat to Workers' Health Care (PDF)
8 pages. Excerpt: "This issue brief summarizes findings from the Commonwealth Fund 2002 Workplace Health Insurance Survey ... [It focuses on] (1) changes in employer-based group health insurance, and (2) likely participation rates in COBRA with and without premium assistance." (The Commonwealth Fund)

Employer-Provided Healthcare Advocates Can Be an Employee Benefit
Excerpt: "In an environment of rising health care 'consumerism' and imminent patient privacy requirements, some employers are providing advocacy services as an employee benefit to help plan participants and their families navigate an increasingly stormy and complex health care system." (

'No Action' on Major Health Issues Likely in Congress
Excerpt: "Congress is not likely to achieve results on the 'major health issues' that it has faced since the beginning of the year, including Medicare reform, patients' rights and the uninsured, Congressional Quarterly senior reporter Samuel Goldreich says ..." (

What Are the Various Compliance Deadlines Under HIPAA's Administrative Simplification Provisions?
Excerpt: "I'm a benefits administrator for a large company. We're trying to get our arms around the various new requirements under HIPAA administrative simplification. I know that some of the deadlines are drawing near, and others have been extended. Please tell me the compliance deadlines for the various administrative simplification requirements." (EBIA Weekly's Question of the Week)

Opinion: the Hidden Costs of Generic Drugs
Excerpt: "Bethy McCaughey, Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, charges it is a 'myth' that generic drugs save money and are as good as brand name drugs. She says relying on generics could lower a patient's chance of recovery, force a longer stay in the hospital, and increase the risk of side effects -- all of it pushing the nation's health spending higher, rather than saving money." (The Hudson Institute; link provided by BlueCross BlueShield Association)

Managed Care Utilization Managers Shifting Role from Precertifications to Finding Employees at Risk
Excerpt: "Utilization management, a cornerstone of the managed care concept, is often perceived as health plan micromanagement through precertification ... Today's utilization management is shifting gears toward a growing focus on relationship-building with patients and providers to identify individuals who are at risk for acute and chronic conditions ..." (

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

Study of U.S. and Foreign Compensation Costs In Manufacturing: Our Costs Grew More Slowly
From the June 2002 issue of Monthly Labor Review Online. Excerpt: "Despite the appreciation of the dollar, U.S. hourly compensation costs have grown more slowly than costs in foreign countries over the 19752000 period." (Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor)

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

Pension Consultants/Administrators; F/T & P/T
for Northern NJ Mid-Size Pension Consulting Firm in NJ, 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

Benefits Analyst
for UCLA in CA

Chief Actuary
for in WA

Benefits Coordinator/Analyst
for a Fortune 200 company in Charlotte NC in NC

Director, Employee Benefits
for MTA New York City Transit Authority in NY

Newly Posted Conferences (Post Yours!)

Split Dollar as Executive Compensation: The Continuing Controversy-- The New Regulations
in ALL STATES on September 10, 2002
presented by American Bar Association's Joint Committee on Employee Benefits; other co-sponsors

Corporate Governance Developments: Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Impacts
in ALL STATES on September 19, 2002
presented by American Bar Association's Joint Committee on Employee Benefits; other co-sponsors

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