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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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September 4, 2002 - 7,007 subscribers
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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)

Women Nationwide Can Sue Wal-Mart for Failing to Cover Birth Control Pills, Court Rules
Excerpt: "A federal judge in Atlanta has granted class-action status to a sexual discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart that alleges the nation's largest private-sector employer fails to provide payment for birth control pills. However, U.S. District Judge Julie Carnes also narrowed the scope of the lawsuit by restricting the eligibility of class members to women employees working for Wal-Mart after March 2001, who were also using prescription birth control pills." (

529 Plans Are a No-Brainer. NOT.
Excerpt: "Not since 007 has a three-digit integer sounded so sexy. Now it's 529, the number of the federal tax code section that spawned state-sponsored college savings plans, that's grabbing the attention. Thanks to last year's Tax Relief Act, which stripped away the tax on plan distributions, 529 plans are increasingly becoming the vehicle of choice for paying for college." (

2002 COBRA Survey: More Were Eligible, Fewer Elected, Cost Was 150% of Active Employee Cost
Average claims costs for COBRA continuees exceeded costs for active employees by about 50%, according to the 14th nationwide survey of employers' and administrators' COBRA experience, conducted by Charles D. Spencer & Associates, Inc. The survey, which collected information for the 2001 plan year, found that 10.2% of employees and dependents became eligible for COBRA continuation of coverage, and 16.2% of those eligible actually took the health care coverage offered. (Spencernet)

More Working Parents Suing Employers Over Childcare Issues
Excerpt: "A small but growing number of working parents are taking their employers to court, accusing companies of discrimination and harassment of workers trying to balance jobs with childcare, a new study says. Employers need to pay attention to this new variation of discrimination complaints because U.S. courts have begun awarding sizable judgments in some of these cases, one of the study's authors said ..." (Associated Press via

Laid-Off Workers Swelling the Cost of Disability Pay from Federal Government
Excerpt: "Millions of low-skilled workers have turned to federal disability pay as a refuge from layoffs in recent years, doubling the benefit's cost and, with little notice, making it by far the government's biggest income-support program." (New York Times; free registration required)

Two Companies Leave Generic Drug Advocacy Group
Excerpt: "The paper company Georgia-Pacific and Verizon Communications have left or reduced their roles in Business for Affordable Medicine-- a 'powerful coalition' lobbying for easier access to generic drugs-- after brand-name drug makers threatened to end contracts with the companies, a coalition spokesperson said." (

Opinion: the Realpolitik of HIPAA Privacy Regulations
Excerpt: "If you read the fine print covering Section 164.501, page numbers 53183 through 53190, in the Federal Register, you will find that the final amendments make it easier to share medical information for marketing purposes." (; free registration required)

Severance Pay: Laid Off but Not Necessarily Paid Off
Excerpt: "How do companies determine how much severance an employee receives? The question is important for many young workers who sought or are seeking jobs in the tech sector, which has, to put it mildly, been a volatile place to build a career. Knowing how much severance you can expect will help you plan your next move if you are ever laid off." (Washington Post via International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

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

Brief History of the Expensing of Stock Options
Excerpt: "One of the main reasons for this increased popularity is the favorable accounting treatment stock options have received. But with all the corporate misdeeds lately the topic of expensing options is once again a hot-button issue. This article will review the history of stock options and explain an how we ended up where we are." (

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

Extraordinary & Fun Defined Benefit Consulting Opportunities in So. Calif.
for Louis Kravitz & Associates, Inc. in CA

Employee Benefits Attorney
for Sinclair, Haynes & Cowing, P.C. in KS, MO

401(k) / Pension Administrator
for O'Sullivan Creel, LLP in FL

Account Executive
for Transamerica in OH

Newly Posted Press Releases

New Study Finds Service Beats Out Investment Performance When Selecting a 401(k) Provider

ADP Selects Scarborough for Live Advice
(Scarborough Retirement Services, LLC)

Newly Posted Announcements of Promotions and New Personnel (Post Yours!)

John Warren (Kanawha Insurance Company)

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