NU Online News Service, Oct. 17, 4:25 p.m. – Benefit Partners, Omaha, Neb., has agreed to sell an employee assistance program administered by AffinityCare L.L.C., Wayzata, Minn.

The basic program offers telephone-based counseling and general advice on topics such as locating child care. A more expensive program offers face-to-face counseling sessions and more personalized telephone-based services.

Employers can buy program services on an employer-paid basis or a voluntary, employee-paid basis.

Benefit Partners is a unit of Jefferson-Pilot Financial Corp., Greensboro, N.C.

Meanwhile, in related news, Magellan Health Services Inc., Columbia, Md., the biggest provider of EAP services in the United States, is estimating that extra fourth-quarter costs resulting from the Sept. 11 attacks will amount to about $4 million, or less than 0.25% of annual revenue.

Employers and health plans that saw EAP programs doing a good job handling the crisis are probably more aware of the value of a comprehensive EAP program, according to Daniel Messina, president of Magellan.