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September 24, 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)

IFEBP Announces Winners of 'Creative Excellence in Benefits' Award
Excerpt: "Winners are mbi Flex Convenience® for their Flex Convenience card system facilitating the administration of pretax flexible spending accounts (FSAs). In addition, Houston Firefighters' Relief and Retirement Fund earned an honorable mention for their Membership Care Program, which offers the services of a social worker to assist its retired members." (International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

HIPAA Electronic Transactions: Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)
3 pages; includes a useful 'decision tree." (Miller & Chevalier Chartered)

Goodyear Ends Employee Graded Review System, Ahead of Discrimination Lawsuit
Excerpt: "Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. abandoned a performance-rating system for salaried employees just as discrimination attorneys were planning to file a class-action lawsuit over it. Goodyear said it was dropping major parts of its program, including its so-called '10-80-10' feature, which essentially graded all salaried employees on a curve." (CareerJournal.com)

Further Details on New California Law Requiring Paid Family Leave
Excerpt: "California will be the first state in the nation to provide workers paid time off to care for sick relatives or stay home with a new child under a bill Gov. Gray Davis signed Monday, putting pressure on more than two dozen other states considering similar legislation." (The San Francisco Chronicle)

Consumer-Driven Health Plans Solve Some Troubles, Create Others
Excerpt: "Consumer-driven plans give employees a pot of money or health reimbursement account that they can use on preventive care and ordinary health expenses. Once employees deplete that money, they face a high out-of-pocket deductible [and] health care costs are covered at a percentage.... The bad news is that these plans will not work well for someone with ongoing medical needs or a chronic condition, said [Joe Harten, director of capital advisory services at Deloitte & Touche]." (Cincinnati Business Courier via bizjournals.com; free registration required)

Taking Care In Communicating Health Care Plan Cutbacks (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "ATTENTION EMPLOYEES: HEALTH CARE COSTS ARE RISING. WE ARE CUTTING YOUR BENEFITS. CALL THE INSURANCE COMPANY IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS. Simple and to the point. But for most organizations, this is no way to communicate health care plan cuts. To treat employees as smart and important contributors to your organization's success, make sure your health care plan communication lets them know [the following ...]:" (Dennis Ackley of Benefit Partners, Inc.)

Further Details on New California HMO Bills
Excerpt: "Thousands of Californians with pre-existing medical conditions should find it easier to buy health insurance and patients who rely on expensive lifesaving drugs can expect less resistance from their insurers, under a package of health-care reforms signed by Gov. Gray Davis. The new laws, which also seek to reduce delays for doctors' appointments, represent the most significant expansion of California's Patients' Bill of Rights since its enactment in 1999, the governor said Sunday." (The Sacramento [Calif.] Bee)

Opinion: Cutting Costs in Half Through Better Management is Fantasy But Health Care Debate Is Real
Excerpt: "If a talk on economics can have a $650 billion throwaway line, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill delivered it.... [Treasury Secretary Paul] O'Neill was already the designated shoot-from-the-lip dreamer of the Bush administration, and this ridiculously unreachable goal ... only adds to his lore. Still, America's finance minister has a point if he meant to prod deep health care savings." (The Hartford Courant)

Commentary: Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Raises Profile, Questions
Excerpt: "[C]ompanies are trying to convince us that buying insurance policies to cover the potentially punishing costs of our long-term care is the sensible approach. Recently, the federal government added credibility to this idea by offering federal workers the opportunity to buy long-term care insurance (LTC) under a deal struck with two major insurance carriers." (Washington Post)



Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Available for Purchase: Tapes of May 2002 ABA Tax Section Meeting
Tapes include Employee Benefits - Friday Program ($20), Employee Benefits - Saturday Program ($20), Employee Benefits Tax Opinions and Advice - Ethical Issues ($20), Split-Dollar Financing Under a New Regime: A Discussion of Notice 2002-8 ($20). Click on 'Add to Cart' to purchase an item, then 'View Cart' to review and purchase. (These are not sold by BenefitsLink; you'll be buying directly from the ABA's Audio Tape Store.) (American Bar Association, Section of Taxation)

Welch's Decision to Pay for His Perks: the Inside Story
Excerpt: "So Welch sought the best advice he could find and went against most of it. If that sounds familiar, it should: It's a pattern that has served him well throughout his career." (Fortune.com)

Stock Options: What if Andy Grove is Right?
Excerpt: "What if stock option accounting is, as Andy Grove, Intel chairman, said last week, 'a red herring'? What if the whole debate about the treatment of option costs is a messy, futile and time-consuming distraction from the real issues of corporate greed?" (Financial Times)

SEC Chairman Says Shareholder Proposals Should Not Be Prevented by Executives
Excerpt: "Top U.S. markets watchdog Harvey Pitt said on Monday he wants to abolish a rule that allows companies to ignore shareholder proposals, paving the way for investors to keep more tabs on corporate executives. Pitt ... said shareholder efforts, such as attempts to block stock option plans awarded to corporate executives, should not be stifled." (Forbes.com)

AARP Survey Indicates Americans Not Planning on Early Retirement
Excerpt: "An increased number of older employees would certainly lessen a steep drop-off in the labor force, expected as baby boomers age. Conversely, it could also increase health insurance costs for employers." (San Diego Daily Transcript via Yahoo! News)

Opinion: a Case Against Expensing Options
Excerpt: "I believe that appropriate disclosure is a better alternative. Expensing of options in the year they are granted goes against accounting fundamentals. Moreover, it expands management's war chest for manipulating reported results. In other words, it helps rather than deters executives from practising creative accounting." (The Business Times)

In Canada, Tech Companies Using Fewer Stock Options
Excerpt: "Ravaged by the stock market, Canadian technology companies are turning to cash incentives to retain employees instead of stock options, according to new research by AON Consulting Inc." (National Post)

HR Association Advocates Creation of Voluntary Certification for Fiduciaries
Excerpt: "The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Sept. 19 recommended the creation of an education program and a voluntary certification for HR professionals who act as fiduciaries for their companies in testimony presented at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).... SHRM recommends working with government agencies to create a 'one-stop program' to cover all of an HR professional's employee benefit plan compliance responsibilities." (Society for Human Resource Management)




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

Benefits Manager (Service Delivery Manager)
for Towers Perrin
in VA

Education Specialist
for Cigna
in CA, CT

Sr. 401(k) Communications Analyst
for Tenet HealthSystem
in TX

Senior Accounting Specialist - Benefits Accounting
for OneBeacon Insurance Group
in MA

Communication Director
for Cigna
in CA, CT, IL, TX

Associate (JO #318)
for A Third Party Administration Firm in IL and NJ
in IL, NJ

Consultant and Senior Consultant (JO #319)
for A Third Party Administration Firm in IL and NJ
in IL, NJ

Manager, Compliance
for Means & Associates, LLC
in CA


Newly Posted Conferences (Post Yours!)

New DOL Rules for SPDs and E-Communications ... Are You Ready?
in ALL STATES
October 10, 2002
Thompson Publishing Group

EARLY RETIREE HEALTH
in GA
October 17, 2002
WEB Atlanta Chapter


Newly Posted Press Releases (Post Yours!)

Flex debit card convenience with myCafeteriaPlan.com
(BusinessPlans, Incorporated)

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