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S&S Benefits.....Opinion, Hearsay & News Review

S&S Benefits Consulting, Inc.  219 Darien , Dundee , IL 60118   Phone: 847-428-5353, Fax:847-428-9876

Email click: mailto:jseiler@ssbenefits.net                                              http://www.ssbenefits.net/ April 2006 Issue

It’s time to Sping forward. Turn your clocks ahead one hour on Saturday night. Enjoy the extended daylight!

A confirmed (from several credible sources, not to be revealed) rumor says that Private Health Care Systems (PHCS) is up for sale and that bid requests went out to over 30 potential buyers. The most frightening thought from the TPA market is the rumor (unconfirmed) that UHC is the lead bidder. A recent article on UHC’s long term strategy said that UHC was not planning any mergers in the near future. In the meantime, one of the PHCS owner companies (Trustmark) sold their stop loss business to Aetna . As owner of the CoreSource TPA, they also acquired another TPA, NGS America, out of Detroit .

The GAO did a study for Chappaquiddick Teddy and found that inflation adjusted total compensation costs for private employers grew by 12% from 1991 to 2005. Benefits costs, which represent about a quarter of total compensation, jumped by 18% while wages grew by 10%. Health insurance costs rose by 28% (just?) since 1991, causing health benefit expenditures in 2005 to actually equal (a first in GAO history) costs for paid leave, which grew by only 5% since 1991.

About 83% of CEOs, 78% of CFOs, 72% of HR execs and 65% of benefit managers say CDH will help contain medical costs according to an Online Benefits survey of 283 companies from 41 states. However, only 27% of managers think CDH will” improve employee health and wellness.” Also, 18% of benefit managers were skeptical CDH plans would improve healthcare management, while 14% thought CDH plans could actually improve healthcare management. More are likely to consider HSAs in the future (31%) than HRAs (17%).

According to a Principal survey of 1,374 full-time employees, 44% estimated their anticipated medical expenses for 2005 to within $100 for their FSA set-aside. Of those who missed the mark by more than $100, 39% underestimated and 16% overestimated. We are not sure what happened to the other 1%, but figure they are somewhere within a decimal point of cyberspace.

A BI article says that stop loss premiums are increasing from 11% to 26% on average, with a Tillinghast survey pointing to 15% as the average increase for a $50,000 specific. The survey was based on responses from 28 insurers and MGUs and health plans in 50 metropolitan areas. The property/casualty market is hardening and those who use health stop loss from those markets may see more significant increases.

The Segal Co. did a survey that says that 24% of vendors incorrectly processed 5% or more of health claims last year, down from 35% doing the same thing in 2004. The numbers seem extremely high, but what one must remember is that Segal deals heavily in the union market where many unions process their own claims. Such statistics would not be tolerated in the normal private sector for performance purposes.

Cancer is the leading cause of LTD claims (12%) according to Unum. Pregnancy complications are in second place.

Lincoln National and Jefferson Pilot shareholders have stamped their approval on the merger of the two for $17.5B in cash and stock being the price to “merge” JP. Expected closure is in April.

The HIPAA Security compliance deadline is on April 20th. Thank the federal government for the waste of your time and money. Given the complexity of the regs, 100% of those we surveyed (sic) hate unnecessary government intrusion.

A Mercer study of 2,999 employers says that health costs rose an average of 6.1% in 2005, down from 7.5% in 2004. Rx costs were up 11.5%, but a reduction from a 14.3% increase in 2004. Roughly 22% of employers offered CDH in 2005, up from 12% in 2004. DM grew from 32% to 41% and Health Risk Assessment use was up from 14% to 18%. About 25% of employers offer some form of health insurance for part-timers and 7% apply a surcharge to coverage for any spouses who have access to coverage elsewhere or who refuse coverage in that situation.

The WSJ and Harris Interactive poll recently conducted said that just 14% of U.S. adults would be willing to pay significantly higher premiums for access to better quality healthcare, while 55% said they would not do so. In showing their total lack of knowledge that all costs are eventually paid by the consumer/employee, 33% said that insurance companies should pay more for quality (even though they themselves wouldn’t?). There is some hope in that 55% said that they weren’t sure what to think about the issue.

To find out more about S&S Benefits Consulting, Inc. and how we can help your company, visit our website at www.ssbenefits.net and order our free CD. To be removed from the newsletter list, just send us an email or fax.