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November 20, 2002 - 8,019 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)
Congress Extends Mental Health Parity Law
Excerpt: "The House late Thursday and the Senate late Friday approved and sent to President Bush a bill to renew a provision originally included in the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The provision barred most group health insurance plans from imposing lower annual or lifetime dollar limits for mental health services than for other medical services." (Reuters Health via Medscape; free registration required)

Bush Likely To Sign Bill On Mental Health Parity
Excerpt: "A bill to expand 6-year-old mental health insurance protections is on its way to President Bush following passage last week in the House and Senate. Lobbyists expect Bush to sign the bill." (Modern Healthcare; free registration required)

2003 Segal Health Plan Cost Trend Survey (PDF)
8 pages. Excerpt: "Medical Plans - Trend rates are projected to increase for all medical plan types in 2003. [HMOs] are expected to experience the greatest increase in trend rates in 2003 relative to 2002 projections. Prescription Drug Plans - [T]he cost of prescription drug coverage is expected to continue to increase at a rate of nearly 20 percent in 2003. Dental Plans - Although dental plan trends remain well below medical plan trends, dental trend rates are on the rise." (The Segal Company)

Supreme Court Declines to Hear COBRA Extension Case
Excerpt: "In declining to review a decision involving COBRA's disability extension, the U.S. Supreme Court left standing a federal appeals court ruling that an employer was obligated to provide the 29-month disability extension-- although two qualified beneficiaries did not follow COBRA's technical requirements-- because of more lenient language in the employer's summary plan description (SPD)." (Thompson Publishing Group)

WWII, Korean War Veterans Not Owed Free, Lifetime Health Care, Court Rules
Excerpt: "A 'divided, reluctant' federal appeals court on Nov. 19 ruled that the government is not required to provide free lifetime health care to World War II and Korean War veterans despite promises by military recruiters, the AP/Nando Times reports." (KaiserNetwork.org)

The Little Engine That Hasn't: the Poor Performance of Employer Tax Credits for Child Care (PDF)
White paper; 68 pages. Excerpt: "One approach to address the child care needs of America's families has become popular with state policy makers: tax credits for employers that provide some form of child care assistance to their employees. These credits permit an employer to offset part of its child care expenditures against its state tax liability.... The policy makers who have led the charge for enactment of these measures clearly have had the best intentions and the highest hopes." (National Women's Law Center)

Retiree Health Benefits Continue to Erode
Excerpt: "The percentage of large employers offering benefits to either early- or Medicare-eligible retirees slipped to 34% in 2001 from 46% in 1991 and 37% in 1997, the study found. Offer rates to Medicare-eligible retirees only dropped to 22% in 2001 from 32% in 1997." (Reuters Health via Medscape; free registration required)

Health Screenings Cut Costs As Employees Work Longer
Excerpt: "Those company health screenings and flu shots not only keep employees working longer, they potentially help the boss shave costs on the company health insurance bill." (St. Louis Business Journal via bizjournals.com; free registration required)

Panel, Citing Health Care Crisis, Presses Bush to Act
Excerpt: "The National Academy of Sciences said today that the United States health care system was in crisis and that the Bush administration should immediately test possible solutions, including universal insurance coverage and no-fault payment for medical malpractice, in a handful of states." (New York Times; free registration required)

Possible Bankruptcy Is Another Cloud on Horizon for Lucent Retirees
Excerpt: "As Lucent struggles to cut costs and meet its obligations, the next thing that they fear will be lost is retirement medical coverage, a valuable benefit that more than 100,000 retirees now receive from the company. Further off, some retirees foresee that if Lucent is ultimately forced to file for bankruptcy protection-- a step that Lucent says it will avoid even though analysts warn of the real possibility-- some of them could lose part of their pensions." (New York Times; free registration required)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Benefits Communications: Using Visuals to Tell Your Story
2 pages. Excerpt: "When communicating information visually, the dilemma is in deciding what to show and how to convey your message so that it makes the desired impact. Well-designed graphs and charts enable the reader to draw reasonable conclusions; deciding how to set them up is the challenge. In this article, we present some guidelines to consider when illustrating information." (Aon Consulting)

Opinion: When Options Rise to Top, Guess Who Pays
Excerpt: "[A] new and comprehensive academic [gives] shareholders more reason to reject new pay packages skewed in favor of top managers or not adequately linked to short- and long-term performance." (New York Times; free registration required)

Employers Spent Nearly $1 Trillion On Benefits In 2001, According To EBRI
According to research recently conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), employers spent more than $5.9 trillion on total compensation in 2001. Of that total, wages and salaries accounted for $5 trillion (84.3%), while benefits accounted for $920.5 billion (15.7%). These findings are based on data collected by the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis. (SpencerNet)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

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

Independent Sales Associate
for Pre-Paid Legal Services Inc.

Senior Pension Administrator/Supervisor
for Snyder Cohn Collyer Hamilton & Associates, P.C.
in MD

Health Benefits Analyst
for Segal Company, employee benefits & human resources consulting
in IL

VP, National Sales
for Corporate Benefit Services of America, Inc. - Third Party Administrator

Newly Posted Conferences
(Post Yours!)

Defined Benefit Prototype Plan Document Review
in CT
December 9, 2002
McKay Hochman Co., Inc.

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