Hearsay & News Review
A survey of 5,173 workers on Job.com shows that 60% of
workers have resolved to find a job in 2007, which is not surprising given the
nature of the site. Of those, 35% listed “Other” as their reason for seeking
new employment when given choices of salary, improved working conditions, better
benefits, wish for a promotion or dislike their commute or boss. The question
becomes, “What is the nature of other?”
Transplant frequencies are up 3% for all types of organ
transplants in 2006 over 2005, Costs were up by 15% overall and the frequency of
multi-organ transplants increased 9% in 2006.
EBA hosted a broker roundtable where advisors who
participated said that they expected movement to CDH plans would drop off soon.
The reason seemed to be that once pricing fell into line with actual costs, the
plans would not be as attractive. Meanwhile, there is news from BenefitNews.com
that only 20% of HDHP enrollees created an HSA account for their plan. The
average HSA balance is $1,180, while the average HSA deductible is $2,378 for
CDHPs were supposed to help decrease the number of
uninsured. A survey by EBRI/Commonwealth Fund shows the impact of CDHP is no
greater than other plans. 10% of CDHP enrollees were uninsured prior to
enrolling in their current plan while 24% of those in more comprehensive plans
were also uninsured prior to their current plan enrollment.
Sun Life has agreed to acquire Genworth Financial for
$650M . That will make Sun the second largest
medical stop loss provider. Genworth offers various insurance plans to 32,000
organizations. Meanwhile, UnumProvident is changing their name back to Unum.
Researchers for the Agency for Healthcare Research and
Quality report that the top 1% of
people in the expenditure distribution of medical care, account for almost ¼ of
all medical expenses and the top 10% account for nearly 2/3. Half of the
population at the bottom of the distribution account for only 3% of all medical
spending. From 1996 to 2003, the top 1% of spenders dropped from 28% to 24% of
spending and the top 2% dropped from 38% to 33% of medical spending.
The BLS announced that employer costs for employee
compensation averaged $27.31 per hour worked in 9/06. Wages and salaries
averaged $19.12 with benefits costs at $8.18. Insurance costs averaged $2.22 per
hour (including life, health and disability), or 8.1% of total compensation.
Now let us contrast that with Teddy Chappaquiddick’s
universal health plan proposal entitled “Medicare for All.” He’ll pay for
his plan with a 7% payroll tax on business and 1.7% on workers. His web site
states that business’ now spend 13% of payroll to cover their workers (a
little different from the BLS’s figures). Kennedy says his plan will save
$380B a year with $160B saved from universal electronic medical records, $70B in
reduced insurance overhead and $50B in reduced administrative costs. Right. This
is the government we’re talking about.
In the meantime, Aaaaanold Schwarzenegger announced his
plan for insuring all Californians, including illegal immigrants. His plan will
cost $12B (or so he says). He announced that all employers with more than 10
workers will pay into a fund to provide the coverage. He is so smart that that
he is going to require all insurance carriers to accept all applicants
regardless of health and then he is going to limit insurer’s profits. After
the insurance carriers leave the state, he won’t have to worry too much about
their profitability. Plus, he is going to tax docs and hospitals, since once
everyone has insurance, the high rates they charge can be used to buy more
insurance (at least that’s how it’s supposed to work according to the
Not to be left off the bandwagon, President Bush
announced his tax credit plan for helping to cover the uninsured. While we
couldn’t locate all the details (and apparently, neither could the pundits),
apparently there would be tax credits available for coverage on up to $7,500 per
year for single coverage and $15,000 per year family. Coverage valued at more
than those figures would be subject to tax.
What is truly remarkable about all these proposals is the
lack of understanding of how the healthcare system really works. While there are
not enough details available to make light of the Bush plan (yet), the debate
over the plan illustrates the true lack of understanding of how the system works
on the part of both conservatives and liberals. There is so little understanding
that we actually had conservatives taking liberal positions and liberals taking
conservative positions and they didn’t even know it. There was more
misinformation spewed on television and talk radio in the ensuing 24 hours than
we could imagine, simply because so few people (on both sides of the aisle and
in the middle) know how the system really works. It’s really a shame that
absolutely no one hires an expert and if one happens to get on the air, they
never get more than a 15 second sound-bite. Prepare for a debate of disastrous
proportions and while they are all trying to socialize the system, ask yourself
are moving towards privatization. All this, and it’s not even election year.