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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 :jseiler@ssbenefits.net                                              http://www.ssbenefits.net/   April 2012 Issue

Of course the big news was that the U.S. Supreme Court listened to oral arguments on Obamacare. The hearings were quite entertaining from the standpoint of listening to the Solicitor General trying to defend the indefensible. On the issue of severability, Justice Scalia had the line of the day when told that the Justices could decide which pieces of Obamacare to keep and which should go: JUSTICE SCALIA: Mr. Kneedler, what happened to the Eighth Amendment? You really want us to go through these 2,700 pages?(Laughter.)
JUSTICE SCALIA: And do you really expect the Court to do that? Or do you expect us to give this function to our law clerks?(Laughter.)
The 8th amendment relates to cruel and unusual punishment- the basic acknowledgement that nobody who voted for the law even knew all that was in it.


The Maine Supreme Court ruled that Anthem's proposed rate hike of 9.7% should be reduced to 5.2%, despite Anthem saying they needed the increase to reach a profit margin of 3%.


Meanwhile, the HHS has ruled that rate increases by health insurance companies in 9 states are "excessive" and should be blocked.


The Council for Affordable Health Insurance released it health mandates study which shows that state mandated benefits increased to 2,262 mandates from 2,156 in 2010. Rhode Island and Virginia led the way with 70 mandates each.


HCSC, the parent of BCBS-IL, OK,NM and TX has booked more that $1 billion in net income in 2011. The company expects to issue $88.2 million in rebates related to Obamacare MLR's, with $84 Million of that going to individual policyholders.


The NAIC estimated MLR rebates to be received based on 2010 data would have been $2 billion, with 53% going to individual plans, 23% to small group plans and 15% to large group plans. In December, the Obama administration estimated 9 million people would receive $1.4 billion in rebates (an average of $155.00 per person).


Prudential is discontinuing sales of its individual long term care policies as of April 1, 2012. Group policies will remain for sale.

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The U.S. Department of HHS now says the cost of Obamacare will increase by $111 billion between 2014 and 2021. The staggering increase in cost estimates is being called a budgeting "technicality" by administration officials.

A 2012 Health Reform Survey by Willis shows that 56% of employers surveyed said Obamacare has raised costs. Employers identified cost drivers of adult child coverage to age 26 and removal of annual and lifetime limits for "essential health benefits."

GOP lawmakers passed a measure in the House by a 223-181 margin repealing the Independent Payment Advisory Board that would decide what services would be paid for and how much could be spent in Obamacare. The rationing board measure will likely not get a hearing in the Senate.

Express Scripts has announced completion of the $29.1 billion acquisition of Medco Pharmacy.

As part of Obamacare, Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plans (PCIP) have been formed in 23 states and the District of Columbia by the federal government. 27 states run their own PCIPs using federal dollars. The plans are meant to provide insurance for people with pre-existing conditions that can't find coverage elsewhere. The plans are meant to be affordable. However, enrollment has been less than expected and claims costs much higher than expected. Some groups are picking up the premium payments to put people into the programs, Hospitals would benefit by doing this for people who have serious medical needs. The American Kidney Fund is one such organization that has been picking up people's premiums. Some states do not allow third party payments. If the Obamacare mandates stand, will they mandate that people purchase insurance and then not allow one party to purchase it for another in 2014? Oh what a tangled web they have woven.