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September 18, 2002 - 7,276 subscribers
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(Help BenefitsLink to provide this newsletter at no charge to you -- our sponsors pay your way. Remember to visit them periodically; we try to make sure their products and services will be of interest to you. Thanks! --Editor)

Funding Employee Benefits Through Captives: ERISA Issues
Excerpt: "There has been increased interest in funding employee benefits through captive insurers in the past few years.... The purpose of this paper is to summarize our understanding of the current position of the Department [of Labor], as reflected in its reaction to various requests for exemptions from ERISA, and to discuss how that law applies in certain common situations." (Groom Law Group)

The State of Health Care Quality: 2002 (PDF)
25 pages. Excerpt: "For the third straight year, NCQA reports substantial quality improvements, on average, for Americans enrolled in accountable commercial health plans.... But opportunities for improvement still abound. For one thing, these data cover only about one in four insured Americans. The other three-quarters are likely to receive care and service from providers and organizations that neither measure nor report quality information." (National Committee for Quality Assurance)

Study: Companies Accelerating Cutbacks in Retiree Health Benefits
Press release. Excerpt: "America's future retirees can expect to shoulder substantially more-- if not all-- of the costs of their health care benefits during retirement as employers increasingly curtail or completely eliminate retiree medical benefits programs, according to a comprehensive new study, Retiree Health Benefits: Time to Resuscitate?, released ... by Watson Wyatt Worldwide." (Watson Wyatt)

Wellstone Takes Retiree Health Benefit Legislation to Senate
Excerpt: "The National Retiree Legislative Network (NRLN) announced that Senator Paul Wellstone (D-Minnesota) has introduced SB 2904 - the Senate equivalent of HR 1322, the Emergency Retiree Health Benefits Protection Act." (PLANSPONSOR.com)

Mental Health Parity Opponents Make Their Case in Congress
Excerpt: "With health costs already rising at double-digit rates, 'to add mandates to the current third-party payment system is just going to cause it to collapse,' said Rep. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., at a forum sponsored by the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA). 'So anyone who's arguing for mandates at this point is really arguing for single-payer,' he said, assuming the government would take over the health insurance system if it truly fell apart." (Reuters via Medscape; free registration required)

Americans Are Taking Cuts In Health Benefits Through Greater Cost-Sharing: Survey
Working Americans are taking cuts in health care benefits, mainly through greater cost-sharing, according to a survey recently conducted by the Commonwealth Fund. The 2002 Workplace Health Insurance Survey reports that many workers are paying a greater proportion of their health insurance premiums than they did one year ago. Moreover, employees reported that health benefits are becoming less comprehensive, both in terms of fewer services covered and increased cost-sharing. (Spencernet)

Flexible Spending Accounts to Debut Next Year for Federal Government Employees
Excerpt: "Employees will be allowed to put up to $3,000 in the flexible spending accounts for medical expenses, such as co-payments and deductibles, dental care and vision care (including laser eye surgery). They will be able to put up to $5,000 in the accounts for child care and elder care. This month, OPM will start seeking out a contractor to run the accounts." (GovExec.com)

No ERISA Preemption of Plan's State-Law Fraud Claim Where Participant Kept Ex-Spouse on Plan
Trustees of AFTRA Health Fund v. Biondi (7th Cir. 2002). Excerpt: "The employee in this case was required by a divorce decree to pay for his former wife's COBRA benefits for 24 months (COBRA provides for a maximum 36 months of coverage after divorce). Instead, the employee simply continued his former wife's enrollment under the employer-sponsored health plan for almost five years after the divorce ..." (EBIA Weekly)

Employer Not Obligated to Pay Severance Where Plan Was Too Vague
Brines v. XTRA Corp. (7th Cir. 2002). Excerpt: "[T]he Seventh Circuit found that the employees were not the victims of a reduction in force because they were not part of a layoff-- instead, they had become employees of the purchasing company. Moreover, the 1993 plan did not create a legally enforceable promise to pay severance pay to workers who were terminated." (EBIA Weekly)

Innovative Uses of Insurance for Employee Benefits
Excerpt: "We have been working recently on several important innovations to provide employee benefits through insured arrangements. Two involve the use of captive insurance companies and a third involves the use of variable universal life insurance sited in Bermuda (or other offshore location). We believe that these innovations provide valuable planning opportunities." (Groom Law Group)



Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Analysis: Notice Puts a Damper on Split-Dollar
September 16, 2002 'article of the week.' Excerpt: "[T]he Service recently issued a notice on the valuation of current life insurance protection under split dollar life insurance arrangements. The notice will have a direct affect on reverse split dollar, and some commentators have said that it will cause the end of the usefulness of reverse split dollar arrangements and also affect reverse split dollar arrangements that were entered into before the notice was issued." (The National Underwriter Company)

Commission Calls for Major Compensation Reforms
Excerpt: "The Conference Board's Blue-Ribbon Commission on Public Trust and Private Enterprise today proposed a wide-ranging series of reforms to strengthen corporate compensation practices and help restore trust in America's corporations and capital markets.... This report, the first in a series of three reports, focuses on executive compensation. Subsequent reports will deal with reforms on other areas of corporate governance as well as accounting and auditing issues." (The Conference Board)

Analysis: Options Accounting Changes Backed
Excerpt: "A special task force of the Conference Board, a respected business policy group, is set to add its name [on Tuesday, September 17, 2002] to a growing list of companies and organizations that favor counting executive stock options as an expense against earnings. But two well-known members of the 12-person task force will dissent from the group's recommendation." (Washington Post)




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

Senior DC / 401(k) Administrators
for L.A. Area TPA with Ocean View
in CA

Project Manager
for Transamerica
in CA

Conversion/Installation Specialist
for BenefitStreet
in CA

National Sales Manager - Qualified Retirement Plan Sales
for Metavante 401(k) Services
in ALL STATES

Healthcare Claims Audit Consultants - NYC & Chicago
for PricewaterhouseCoopers
in IL, NY

Health and Welfare Consultant - Dallas
for PricewaterhouseCoopers
in TX


Newly Posted Press Releases (Post Yours!)

Pensiononline releases latest version of web-Based Plan Design System
(Pensiononline)

Alliance Benefit Group Chooses SunGard for Straight-Through Processing
(SunGard Corbel)

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