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Welfare Plans
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December 24, 2002 - 8,030 subscribers
Today's sponsor: EBIA's ERISA Compliance for Health & Welfare Plans

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


   ERISA Compliance for Health & Welfare Plans is an authoritative
   resource for employers, administrators and advisors. Written by
   leading employee benefits attorneys, this manual has all the
   information you need to bring your welfare benefit plans into
   compliance with ERISA. You'll also get the current eBook version
   of the entire manual on CD!

   Click above to learn more about this valuable treatise, which is
   always kept current through periodic updates.

(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)
IRS: COBRA Coverage Required as of Date of Divorce, Not Date Coverage Eliminated in Anticipation
Rev. Rul. 2002-88. Excerpt: "There is no authority under the statute or regulations for requiring a plan to make COBRA continuation coverage available before the date of a qualifying event. Thus, the group health plan in the facts described above has the obligation to make COBRA continuation coverage available to E's former spouse effective as of the date of the divorce for a period of up to 36 months." (Internal Revenue Service)

Targeting Program Helps HMOs Control Steep Bills
Excerpt: "The computer-modeling programs designed by StatusOne look for patients who are using more services than normal or who suddenly stop using services. Harvard Pilgrim found that about 50 percent of those identified have five or more diseases. Many are socially isolated because of the disease and sometimes depressed. Often, issues not directly related to their illness, such as not having a ride, prevent them from seeking care." (The Boston Herald)

Wellpoint to Help Customers Buy Nonprescription Allergy Medication
Excerpt: "WellPoint Health Networks, the health insurer, said yesterday that it would help its managed care customers pay for a nonprescription generic version of Claritin, the widely used allergy drug made by Schering-Plough." (New York Times; free registration required)

Consumer-Directed Health Care Plans May Be Employee Coverage Wave of 2003
Excerpt: "Rising medical costs are pushing employers to embrace a seeming contradiction: To reduce health insurance costs, let employees decide how much they want to spend on medical care. The idea is that if employees know they'll personally save money by keeping their medical expenses low, they'll weigh their options more carefully." (Chicago Tribune via International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

Frist's Possible Conflicts of Interest Seen as No Problem Under Senate Rules
Excerpt: "Sen. Bill Frist, his wife and children own millions of dollars worth of stock in HCA Inc., the country's largest for-profit hospital chain. Frist, poised to become Senate majority leader, is also promoting legislation to reshape the nation's health-care system." (Los Angeles Times; free registration required)

Opinion: Bill Frist's Rewarding Life
Excerpt: "[Senator Bill Frist is] a pivotal player in the single biggest issue facing Congress: the soaring cost of health care. It's in this arena that the president seeks to lock down his domestic support for 2004. For him, Frist is a perfect choice--business-friendly, highly connected, and blessed with a reputation as one of the good guys. The Frist family is deeply involved in the medical business...." (The Village Voice)

Five Key Trends Predicted to Drive Health Insurance Industry in 2003
Excerpt: "[E]xperts predict that regulators and legislators will play a higher-profile role with managed care plans. The combination of the record profits some health insurers are enjoying, the success insurers have had in winning substantial rate increases, and the related increase in the uninsured could place tremendous pressure on regulators to take action, industry experts and analysts predict." (Managed Care Week via AISHealth.com)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Your Employer's Bankruptcy: How Will It Affect Your Employee Benefits?
Updated Dec. 2002. Excerpt: "In the event the pension plan is terminated, the plan must vest your accrued benefit entirely. This means that the plan owes you all the pension benefits that you have earned so far, including benefits you would have lost if you had voluntarily left your employment. If your pension plan is ongoing, ERISA does not require that pension benefits be paid out before normal retirement age, usually age 65. Your plan may provide for distribution sooner than this." (U.S. Department of Labor, Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration)

Stock Options: Tool of Greed or Tool of Freedom?
Excerpt: "Options are, ironically, the most effective wealth re-distribution system ever devised. If you look at the history of high tech, beginning with the first employee stock options programs implemented by Bill Hewlett and David Packard, you see a story of working people, by the millions, being enriched to a degree unprecedented in human history." (Wall Street Journal via ABCnews.com)

Analysis: FASB Releases Invitation to Comment on IASB Share-based Payment Exposure Draft (PDF)
6 pages. Excerpt: "The purpose ... is to educate the FASB's constituents about, and solicit feedback on, the similarities and differences between the IASB proposal and the provisions of FASB Statement No. 123 ... The FASB intends to use this feedback beginning early in 2003 when ... it considers whether changes should be made to Statement 123, including presumably the ability to account for employee stock compensation under the provisions of APB Opinion No. 25 ..." (Frederic W. Cook & Co., Inc.)

'God Vest Ye Fully Enron Men' and Other Holiday Employee Benefits Carols
Excerpt: "'Anonymous' sources at the Portland Chapter of the Western Pension and Benefits Conference have contributed a little holiday 'spirit' for all of us to share." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)

Good News of Great Joy That Will Be For All People (Luke 2:8-20)
Merry Christmas to all of our readers from BenefitsLink! The updates on our Benefits Buzz page and our email newsletters will return on December 26.

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Shifting Priorities: HR and Benefits Programs in the New Congress
January 8, 2003
Hewitt Associates

HIPAA Medical Privacy Compliance: Moving Into the Home Stretch
January 16, 2003
ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits; Other Organizations

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