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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/ March 2006 Issue

In a survey of 434 employers by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, 62% of respondents reported that they offer wellness programs such as health education and screenings. Fifteen percent planned to add the programs and 23% did not. More than 80% reported an average participation of 50% or below.

President Bushís State of the Union address seemed to endorse HSA expansion. A Mercer study shows that HSA adoption has risen from 12% to 22% among businesses of more than 20,000 employees. The study showed CDHP coverage average cost was $5,480 PEPY including employer contributions to accounts vs. normal PPO at $6,518 PEPY.

Met Life reports that 39% of employees surveyed were happy with their benefit plans, up from 34% in 2004. Principal Financial reports that among firms with 10 to 1000 workers, health benefits are ranked as the number one benefit in the eyes of the worker.

In the area of no surprises, an EBRI survey showed that 63% of those who have comprehensive health coverage are extremely or very satisfied with their health plans. The number drops to 42% with consumer driven plans and 33% with high deductible plans. The percentage of participants who reported delaying or avoiding medical care because of cost was 17% with comprehensive plans, 35% with CDHP and 31% with HDHP. The percentage  who were extremely or likely to stay in their plan if given the opportunity to switch was 60% for Comprehensive, 46% for CDHP and 30% for HDHP.

The Segal expected trend report for 2006 is out. PPO/Rx trend was projected at 12.7%, POS at 12.2%, HMO at 12% and HDHP PPOs at 12.8%. Dental indemnity is 7%, dental PPO at 6.3% and DMO at 5.2%.

At the end of January, Congress passed a bill to increase the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.ís annual premium from $19 to $30 per participant for single employer plans retroactive to January 1st to help shore up the PBGC.

A survey of benefits professionals still shows that the cost of benefits is at the top of their list of concerns within their company.  However, recruiting and retention was at the top of the list of other concerns. Eighty-two percent of respondents said they planned changes to their health and welfare benefits in the coming year.

In the federal governmentís HDHP with HSA, 43% of those enrolled made $75,000 or more a year. Only 14% of new plan enrollees in general and 23% of federal employees in other plans made the equivalent amount of money.

The brainchild of the HR Policy Association, National Health Access had ten employers participating and 909,000 eligible workers thought to be without insurance. It turns out that most had coverage elsewhere, leaving a pool of 133,000 employees with no insurance. Only 5,726 employees signed up for the plans offered by National Health Access. Of those, 4,000 were Avon representatives. Eighty percent of those signing up opted for limited medical plans. So far, even with the hype when it was set up, National Health Access has been the bust we expected.

Aetna is no longer offering DMO plans as of 4/1/06 in Illinois for individual customers. PPO dental will be the only plan offered.

GE is selling its remaining stake in the Genworth Insurance Company.

In the wake of Maryland ís law requiring Wal-Mart to pay a certain percentage of payroll for health benefits, approximately 29 other states have propositions for similar laws. In the meantime, Wal-Mart has expanded their offerings to company employees and offered new low cost plans with reduced eligibility waiting periods. Wal-Mart is also contracting with outside firms to build and operate health clinics in their stores for the general public on a nationwide basis. The company currently has a total of 9 pilot clinics in four states. What is next? Reduced price MRIís in aisle 8? Angiogram sales in aisle sixteen, next to the toasters?

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.