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November 4, 2002 - 7,839 subscribers
Today's sponsor: International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

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

   New! International Foundation Books Available on BenefitsLink.

   When you have the right resources, you can answer the questions
   that come your way. Each year, the International Foundation teams
   with respected authors and publishes books on a variety of topics.
   Whether you're managing pharmacy benefit costs, designing a cash
   balance plan or communicating benefits to your employees, the
   International Foundation is your single source of benefit and
   compensation information and education. 

Top Twenty HIPAA Privacy Questions Asked By Employers With Group Health Plans (PDF)
4 pages; published Oct. 31, 2002. Excerpt: "Employers are becoming aware that, because of their group health plans, they will have obligations under the new federal regulations governing the privacy of medical information. To help you begin your compliance activities, this Alert covers the twenty questions we have most frequently been asked." (Miller & Chevalier Chartered)

Audio Excerpt: Mapping Genetic Differences
Excerpt: "An effort is under way to map human genetic differences. The 'haplotype map' could help determine why some people are prone to certain diseases. NPR's Steve Inskeep talks with Dr. Francis Collins. Nov. 3, 2002." (National Public Radio)

Firms Embrace Technology for Employee Self-Management
Excerpt: "Recognizing employees' growing comfort using technology to find information and make purchases, a growing number of organizations are relying on Web-based tools, not only for providing decision support, but increasingly for the actual enrollment process as well. According to U.S. Census data, more than half of the population currently has Internet access ..." (BenefitNews.com)

Searchable Database of Managed Care Products Ranked by Quality
Excerpt: "The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to improving health care quality everywhere. NCQA has been reviewing health care organizations and reporting its findings free of charge to the public since 1990. NCQA can help you choose wisely. Look for the NCQA seal of approval and use our free Health Plan Report Card to find the best health plan for you and your family." (National Committee for Quality Assurance)

Overview: New Dependent Care Tax Credit Thresholds To Take Effect Jan. 1, 2003
Excerpt: "For tax years beginning Jan. 1, 2003, the Section 21(a)(2) maximum credit for qualifying employment-related dependent care expenses rises from 30 to 35 percent, with a limit for taking the credit to those taxpayers with AGI of $15,000 or less." (Thompson Publishing Group)

New Health Tax Credit, New COBRA Election Period, Contained in Enacted Trade Bill
Excerpt: "[T]he Trade Act contains provisions to: (i) Provide a advance payment tax credit for eligible individuals equal to 65% of the premium for certain types of health insurance coverage (including COBRA coverage) ... and (ii) Create a second COBRA election period for eligible workers who lose their jobs because of trade.... [C]ertain eligible individuals will be entitled to claim a tax credit ... and take advantage of the new COBRA election period beginning in December 2002." (Groom Law Group)

Rising Health Costs Reduce Amount of Workers' Pay Raises
Excerpt: "Health insurance premiums, which are increasing 'at their fastest clip in a decade,' will 'eat up' workers' pay raises next year, USA Today reports." (KaiserNetwork.org)

48-hour Notice Requirement for Patients; Does This Create Pre-Service or Post-Service Claims?
Excerpt: "We are a [TPA] for group health plans ... Some of our client plans provide reimbursement for emergency room care at a higher percentage level if the patient notifies the plan within 48 hours after the date such care is provided. We have drafted our [claims] procedures to treat claims for the higher reimbursement level as post-service claims, which are subject to longer processing deadlines and less detailed notice requirements. Do you think this is correct?" (EBIA Weekly (Question of the Week))

Idea of the Week: Pay for Performance in Health Care
Excerpt: "One of the surprising peculiarities of health care is that doctors are not paid more for higher quality care. Government health programs like Medicare and Medicaid, and even most private health plans, pay doctors the same fees even when higher quality care saves money." (New Democrats Online)

HHS to Take 'Complaint-Driven' Enforcement Stance to HIPAA Privacy Rule
Excerpt: "With less than six months until the federal medical privacy rule takes effect, doctors, hospitals, health plans and other 'covered entities' that must comply with it are turning their attention to the steps the federal government will take to enforce the law.... Instead of taking an aggressive approach to identify and punish violators, the Department of Health and Human Service (HHS) will follow a 'complaint-driven process' that emphasizes a voluntary resolution of problems ..." (Medscape; free registration required)

'Polypharmacy' Efforts Aim to Improve Prescribing, Cut Psychiatric Drug Costs
Excerpt: "Medicaid programs, commercial health insurers, and pharmacy benefit managers increasingly are working to curtail 'polypharmacy' or the use of multiple psychiatric and other medications when such prescribing practices are inappropriate. Such efforts eventually could save large amounts of money ..." (Behavioral Health Business News via AISHealth.com)

Individual Expenditures and Medical Saving Accounts: Can They Work?
37 pages. Working paper, dated October 14, 2002. Authored by Matthew J. Eichner, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and NBER; Mark B. McClellan, Stanford University and NBER; David A. Wise, Harvard University and NBER. Excerpt: "In this paper, we return to consideration of demand-side plan provisions that may help to control cost and to provide care more efficiently. The plan we consider is the Medical Saving Account (MSA)." (National Bureau of Economic Research)

Poll Shows a Split Over Healthcare Solutions
Excerpt: "Will more market-based reforms and initiatives save the country's system of employer-based health insurance, or is some radical redesign necessary to control costs and extend coverage to the uninsured?" (Puget Sound Business Journal via bizjournals.com; free registration required)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Employee Benefits in Private Industry in the United States, 2000 (PDF)
79 pages. Excerpt: "[P]roviding data from the 2000 survey of all private establishments.' 99 tables, including 'Selected benefits: Percent participating'; 'Summary of selected features in HMO's'; and '401(k) salary reduction plans: Investment choices." (U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor and Statistics)

ERIC Urge SEC Guidance On Loan Provisions In Sarbanes-Oxley Act
Excerpt: "The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) and the LPA in a joint letter requested that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) provide guidance on the loan provisions in the recently enacted Sarbanes-Oxley Act. The ambiguous language is creating uncertainty and confusion among employers. Section 402 of Sarbanes-Oxley prohibits companies from making personal loans to executive officers and directors." (ERISA Industry Committee)

New edition of the Stock Options Book
The NCEO presents excerpts and the entire (7-page) table of contents from the 5th edition of The Stock Options Book, a classic in the field. This all-new and up-to-date version is written by attorney Alisa Baker and is a required text in the Certified Equity Professional program. The book covers incentive stock options, nonqualified options, and employee stock purchase plans (ESPPs). (National Center for Employee Ownership)

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

Plan Administrator
for Alliance Benefit Group of New England
in NH

Actuary in Eugene, Oregon
for Summit Benefit & Actuarial Services, Inc.
in OR

Employee Benefits EE Educator
for AmSouth Bank
in FL

Associate - Plan Services
for Mullin Consulting, Inc.
in CA

401(K) Administrator
for Turning Point Associates, Inc.
in NJ

Employee Benefits Consultant/Administrator
for Oxford Associates, LLP
in NY

Retirement Plan Senior Consultant
for Tofias PC
in MA

Newly Posted Conferences (Post Yours!)

TRAK The Retirement Analysis Kit November Training Dates
in TX
November 18, 2002
The Annuity People Inc.

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