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December 18, 2002 - 8,030 subscribers
Today's sponsor: Benefit Software Inc.

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

   Personalized Employee Benefit Statements from Benefit Software

   The average employer pays 38% over employees' gross salaries in
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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)
Consumers Blame Drugs for Higher Healthcare Costs
Excerpt: "Many consumers are blaming higher prescription drug costs, hospital fees and medical malpractice and insurance costs for their increased out-of-pocket healthcare costs, according to a new Wall Street Journal/Harris Interactive poll." (Reuters Health via Medscape; free registration required)

Opinion: Association Health Plans Will Hurt Small Businesses Long Term
Press release. Excerpt: "National Small Business United (NSBU) is opposed to Association Health Plans (AHPs) for small businesses. The intent of AHPs is to address the limited access small businesses have to employee health coverage by creating a larger pool of insured through trade associations. The negative effect is realized through 'cherry-picking' the healthiest population to keep premiums low." (National Small Business United)

Audio Excerpt: Holiday Bonuses Fade in Favor of Incentive Pay
Excerpt: "Year-end workplace bonuses disappear as extra pay is tied more and more to performance and incentive programs. Bosses say they're largely in favor of having more discretion in rewarding employees. NPR's David Molpus reports.' (Dec. 17, 2002) (National Public Radio)

Audio Excerpt: Study Says Older, Cheaper Blood Pressure Meds Work Best
Excerpt: "A landmark study by the American Medical Association finds that older, generic high blood-pressure medications work better than newer, more expensive drugs. It turns out the humble diuretic drugs help in ways other than just lowering blood pressure. NPR's Richard Knox reports.' (Dec. 17, 2002) (National Public Radio)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Overview: Benefits Projects in IRS Semiannual Regulatory Agenda for 2003
Excerpt: "The IRS has issued its semiannual regulatory agenda for fiscal year 2003, which lists all pension and benefit regulations that are currently under development or review.... Some of the areas for which the IRS will be drafting proposed regulations include the following: ... The regulations the IRS expects to finalize include those covering: ..." (CCH News & Information Library (Pension/Benefits))

California State Treasurer Wants Fund Managers to Help Curb Compensation Excesses by Executives
Excerpt: "[California State Treasurer Philip] Angelides, a trustee of the California Public Employees Retirement System and the California State Teachers Retirement System the largest and third-largest pension funds in the country has been using his clout to push for such things as limiting executive pay, bolstering corporate ethics and halting the use of offshore tax shelters." (The San Diego Union-Tribune via Society for Human Resource Management)

Cranberry Growers Angry Over Benefits Provided to Top Executive
Excerpt: "Charges of corporate golden parachutes and extravagant bonuses -- while growers struggle to make ends meet -- have rocked the Ocean Spray cranberry cooperative." (Cape Cod Times via NewsAlert.com)

Deciding on Executive Pay: Lack of Independence Seen
Excerpt: "When America's biggest companies decide how much to pay their top executives, most of them leave the decision to a group of their board members known as the compensation committee. In theory, members of this committee are independent enough of the company's executives to deny them raises or force them to take pay cuts when the company is faring poorly. In practice, it can be a very different story." (New York Times; free registration required)

Northwest Airlines Implements Stock Option Exchange Program
Excerpt: "Northwest Airlines is giving its top executives a chance to trade in hundreds of thousands of stock options that are underwater for ones more likely to make them money. The catch is that they'd have to exchange all their outstanding options-- even those in the money-- for new ones at a rate of two for one." (TwinCities.com)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Retirement Plan Analyst - Compliance
for Invesmart
in MA

External Wholesaler
for MassMutual Financial Group
in NY

Communication Consultant
for Aon Consulting Worldwide
in FL

Benefit Specialist
for Earthlink, Inc.
in CA
Newly Posted Webcasts
(Post Yours!)

Employer Coverage: Mounting Challenges, New Approaches
on December 16, 2002
presented by KaiserNetwork.org

Hospitals Launch Landmark Quality Information Initiative
on December 12, 2002
presented by KaiserNetwork.org
Newly Posted Conferences
(Post Yours!)

ESOP Institute
in MO
February 21, 2003
University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law

Annual Benefits Fair and Trade Show
in MA
May 29, 2003
New England Employee Benefits Council

Fifth Annual Benefits "Best Practices" Conference
in MA
December 4, 2003
New England Employee Benefits Council
Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Assist America Partners With Managed Care 2000+ To Help Employees Navigate Through the Health Care Delivery System
(Assist America)

Federal Issues Featured at SIIA's First Annual Workers' Compensation Legislative/Regulatory Seminar
(Self-Insurance Institute of America, Inc.)

Alexander Hamilton Institute Releases New Free Report: "Preparing For Performance Appraisal Interviews"
(Alexander Hamilton Institute)

Washington State Selects ICMA Retirement Corporation to Manage 529 College Savings Plan
(ICMA Retirement Corporation)

401Konnect teams with Larkspur Data and Technical Answer Group to offer full turnkey sales solution
(401Konnect, Inc.)

Benesys Selects SunGard Corbel for HIPAA Compliance Services
(SunGard Corbel)
Movers and Shakers: Newly Posted Announcements of Promotions and New Personnel
(Post Yours!)

Samuel T. Brkich (KMZ Rosenman)

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