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November 1, 2002 - 7,839 subscribers
Today's sponsor: World Research Group

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   Voluntary Benefits Management & Enhanced Benefit Communications Forum

   January 29th & 30th, 2003 - Orlando, FL

   This event will examine new trends in voluntary benefits, but it
   will also address how to solve employee communication needs.
   Attend this forum to receive an in-depth analysis on how to design
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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)
Switches to Three New Generics Save Millions
Excerpt: "Express Scripts Inc. on Thursday said it had saved clients and health plan members $161.6 million within the last 14 months by encouraging them to use new generic versions of three popular brand-name medications for treating depression, diabetes and hypertension." (Medscape; free registration required)

What's Behind the Rise: a Comprehensive Analysis of Healthcare Costs
Includes links to several new studies. (Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association)

Advanced Medical Technology Association Says Blue Cross Blue Shield Is 'Myopic'
Excerpt: "[The BCBSA study] fails to fully value the benefits of better health that stem from medical technology.... 'While many of the benefits of medical technology extend beyond the churn of health insurer coverage periods, it's myopic of Blue Cross Blue Shield Association not to recognize these contributions,' said Pamela G. Bailey, AdvaMed president. 'These benefits must be taken into account in any meaningful dialogue on health care costs.'" (AdvaMed, the Advanced Medical Technology Association)

American Hospital Association Criticizes Blue Cross and Blue Shield Analysis of Healthcare Costs
Excerpt: "[Carmela Coyle, AHA senior vice president for policy,] questioned why BCBSA emphasized increases in hospital inpatient costs, when those costs increased much less than overall health care costs grew for the period of the research, 1998 through 2001. Coyle also wondered aloud why 'nobody is taking a look at things like health plan profits.'" (American Hospital Association)

What Does the HR Office Really Do?
Excerpt: "Human resources is the archetypal back-office department. Typically, corporate HR departments are responsible for administrating some 22 separate functions in five separate categories. They are ..." (CFO.com)

Firefighter Fired Under New Massachusetts Law Prohibiting Smoking on the Job
Excerpt: "A Springfield man has become the first firefighter in the state to be fired under a Massachusetts law prohibiting firefighters and police officers from smoking, on or off the job.... The law was enacted under a pension reform measure that automatically presumes that heart ailments for police and firefighters are job-related disabilities. The accidental disability pension provides for 72 percent of a police officer or firefighter's final salary, annuity, and allowance for dependents..." (The Boston Globe)

Perky Places To Work
Excerpt: "Who says the best fringe benefit you can expect these days is a paycheck? We found four small companies that give perks to employees regardless of the Dow." (Fortune Small Business)

The Last Workplace Taboo
Excerpt: "A host of new studies and plenty of anecdotal evidence show that _____ in the workplace is skyrocketing. Blame it on the economy, terrorism, the new 24/7 workweek, corporate scandals--did we mention the economy?' (I can't give it away! Click to read. --Editor) (Fortune.com)

Economy Spurs New Short-Term Health Plans
Excerpt: "Blue Cross of California announced Wednesday a short-term health plan for people in need of quick medical insurance coverage. The only requisite: Applicants must have a clean bill of health." (The Oakland [Calif.] Tribune)

Employer Attitudes and Practices Affecting Health Benefits and the Uninsured
Issue Brief; Full text available for purchase at http://www.ebri.org/store/ebriib.htm . Excerpt: "This Issue Brief presents the findings of a study of what employers think and do about providing health benefits for their own workers and what they think about covering the population without health benefits. Most Americans under age 65 received health coverage through employers. Yet, about 16 percent of this population was uninsured in 2000." (Employee Benefit Research Institute)

Employers Look to Save Costs by Expanding Disease Management
Excerpt: "Typically ... 3 percent of Blue Cross's population represents about 40 percent of the costs. The belief is that if you work aggressively with people with chronic conditions to keep them healthy, then costs will go down." (Workforce.com)

Sacramento County To Launch Program To Help Small Business Employees Purchase Health Insurance
Excerpt: "Sacramento County, Calif., on Nov. 1 will launch a two-year program that uses tobacco settlement funds to subsidize health insurance premiums for small business employees, the Sacramento Bee reports ..." (KaiserNetwork.org)

CMS Provides Guidance on How to Determine Whether Coverage Through Associations Is Group Health
(CMS Program Memorandum, Transmittal No. 02-02.) Excerpt: "This is the first in an intended series of bulletins from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) addressing how HIPAA's group and individual market rules apply when issuers offer health insurance through associations (including MEWAs). Here is a summary of the issues covered by Transmittal 02-02." (EBIA Weekly)

CMS Provides Guidance on Guaranteed Renewability When Coverage Is Offered Through Associations
CMS Program Memorandum, Transmittal No. 02-03 (August 2002). Excerpt: "This is the second in an intended series of bulletins from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) addressing how HIPAA's group and individual market rules apply when issuers offer health insurance through associations (including MEWAs). This bulletin addresses HIPAA's guaranteed renewability rules. Here is a summary of the issues covered." (EBIA Weekly)

Drug Firms' Control Over Data Raises Concerns -- Lancet Article
Excerpt: "Drug firms have become the largest sponsors of medical research, generating vast amounts of valuable information through their efforts -- but the companies' enormous control over when, where and how that data is reported may not serve patients' best interests, according to the authors of a report in the latest issue of The Lancet." (Medscape; free registration required)

Overview: IRS Issues Long-Term Care Insurance Limits for 2003
Excerpt: "For 2003, the IRS is raising the limits on premiums for employer-provided long-term care (LTC) benefits under Code Sections 213(d) and 7702B." (Thompson Publishing Group)

Finding the Humor in Finding the Work/Life Balance
Excerpt: "30 years into women getting more involved at work and men getting more involved at home, and 11 years into writing this column, I'm noticing signs that we as a society are beginning to laugh at the conflicts. New novels, cartoon strips, ads and TV shows poke fun at people who tip the scales toward work, making them less effective at home." (CareerJournal.com)



Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

SEC Proposes Rules to Implement Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Including Insider Trading Rule During Blackouts
Excerpt: "[T]he term 'director' would have the same meaning as under the general Exchange Act rules, and the term 'executive officer' would have the same meaning as the term 'officer' under the insider reporting requirements of Section 16(a) of the Exchange Act. This will both streamline compliance with the new statutory trading prohibition and enable security holders to monitor the trading activities of an issuer's directors and executive officers using the Section 16(a) reporting form." (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission)

Employer Spending on Benefits 2001 (PDF)
4 pages. Includes chart showing aggregate U.S. employer spending for benefits from 1960 through 2001. Excerpt: "Employer spending on retirement income benefits, less Social Security, increased at a slightly slower rate in the 1990s than in the 1980s." (Employee Benefit Research Institute)

Beware the Legal Risks of Hiring Temps
Excerpt: "If your company is among that large number that are placing hiring on hold, it might mean that you'll soon be hearing from managers who want to hire contingent workers to pick up spikes in year-end work flow, or temporarily fill critical but vacant positions until the economy revives. Before you start sending out requisitions to your favorite staffing agency, however, it's worth taking a look at the legal issues HR faces in contingent hiring." (Workforce.com)

Suddenly Some Executive Perks Aren't Worth the Pain
Excerpt: "Congress thought it was cracking down on companies making sweetheart loans to executives when, as part of the Corporate Responsibility Act passed in July, it banned 'extensions of credit in the form of a personal loan' to employees. But it failed to clarify one pretty big point: exactly what constitutes a loan." (Fortune.com)

Stock Options of CEOs at Low Performing Companies Decline in Value by Two-Thirds, Study Says
Press release. Excerpt: "Chief executive officers of the nation's largest companies saw the 'in-the-money' value of their unexercised stock options decline nearly 10 percent last year. However, CEOs of low-performing companies experienced a huge two-thirds drop in the value of their stock options, according to a new study ... by Watson Wyatt Worldwide." (Watson Wyatt)

Corporate Governance in Crisis: Executive Pay/Stock Option Overhang 2003
Excerpt: "Executive pay, especially CEO pay, has become a lightning rod for this collapse in investor confidence for a number of reasons.... The companies with the pay governance processes that are most transparent and most aligned will be the ones to inspire the most investor confidence.... The research in our 2003 Executive Pay/Stock Option Overhang study bears this out." (Watson Wyatt)

Court Improperly Dismissed ADEA Claim Filed By Fired Employee: Eighth Circuit
A worker who was forced to resign raised a genuine question as to whether he was an 'employee' rather than an 'independent contractor' and, as a result, a federal district court improperly dismissed the worker's claim under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). This was the ruling of the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Jenkins v. Southern Farm Bureau Casualty (No. 02-1779WA). (SpencerNet)




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

Pension Plan Consultant
for Pentegra Group
in NY

Sr. Conversion Integration Analyst
for Automatic Data Processing
in NJ

Manager-Section 125 Flexible Benefit Plans
for Stanley, Hunt, DuPree & Rhine, Inc.
in SC

Manager, Benefits - Vendor Relations
for Harrah's Entertainment, Inc.
in NV

Pension Actuary
for Stanley, Hunt, Dupree & Rhine, Inc.
in NC

Actuarial Analyst
for Stanley, Hunt, Dupree & Rhine, Inc
in NC


Newly Posted Conferences (Post Yours!)

The Certificate in Employee Benefits Law Seminar
in AZ, CA, DC, FL, NV
March 3, 2003
Institute for Applied Management and Law, Inc. (IAML)

The Retirement Challenge - Building Wealth in Turbulent Times
in GA
November 21, 2002
ASPA Benefits Council of Atlanta


Newly Posted Press Releases (Post Yours!)

Comprehensive advice on a global scale
(LexisNexis Butterworths Tolley)

HIPAA Portability Training & Certification Program launched!
(HRcertification.com)

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