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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/   March  2011 Issue


A survey of 387 Gen Y respondents (ages 18-32) shows they are becoming more self-reliant on benefits issues. The number using insurance company web sites to learn more about benefits increased from 32% to 44% from 2008 to 2010. The number of Gen Y respondents who rely on parents for benefits information fell from 60% to 42%. The number familiar with life insurance increased from 31% to 44% and the number with familiarity with disability insurance went from 16% to 24%. Gen Y age people comprise a population of 75 million (nearly the size of the baby boomers 80 million).

Perhaps he hasn’t heard about Massachusetts, but Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin thinks he has a better idea. He has unveiled a bill that would abolish most forms of private insurance and move state residents into a publicly funded pool. However, details such as how to pay for such a system have been left out. He follows the lead of ex-Governor Howard Dean who tried to do the same thing in 1994, but failed. When it comes to funding, we can also count on this plan failing, since Dean endorsed it and said it would save a “ton of money.” The trouble is, they can never use real world economics to explain how that will happen.

A survey of 1,538 employees of companies that have at least 2,000 employees shows that more employees are going to the health plan (up to 76% from 67%) and the employer (up from 54% to 75%) for information about their plans than in 2007. Surprisingly, only 3% more were using the internet to access the information.

Physicians for a National Health Program is endorsing the “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act” sponsored by Rep. John Conyers Jr. D-Michigan. Co-sponsors include Democrats from around the country, but largely centered in the states with current failing budgets. Why are we not surprised? We note that Medicare funding is going so well now (sic), that surely the system should be expanded.

We do note that in the 12 years since 1999 that family medical insurance premiums have risen by 137.8% and single premiums have gone up 130%. However, we also note that no proposals floated so far “solve the problem” of reducing rising medical care costs, but instead focus almost exclusively on the resulting insurance costs. Again, the real world is lost in the discussion.

If you wish to be added or removed from the distribution of this newsletter, please email jseiler@ssbenefits.net

The average per capita cost of health care services covered by commercial and Medicare programs rose 6.06% over the 12 months ending December 2010 according to Standard & Poor’s Healthcare Economic Composite Index. Medicare costs increased at a rate of 3.27% while commercial costs rose 7.75% (can we say cost shifting?).The increases show a deceleration from May to December. Hospital costs rose 8.58% for commercial plans while they went up by 1.78% for Medicare. Further illustration of the cost shifting was the indices for medical professional services rising by 6.83% for commercial, but 5.16% for Medicare.

CDHP’s enrollment rose by 5% of the privately insured population in 2010. HDHP enrollment rose to 14% (17.2 million people) of the privately insured population in 2010. On the other hand, dental enrollment declined by 5.7% in 2009, which represents about 10 million fewer than the year before.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois agreed to pay $25 million to settle state and federal claims that the company denied coverage to sick children. BCBSIL did not admit any wrongdoing as part of the settlement which pays $15.5 million to the state of Illinois and $9.5 million to the federal government.

We are sure you will be happy to know that your tax dollars are being spent to help out those employers who have early retirees with claims between $15,000 and $90,000. The approved applications for claims represent nearly every sector of the economy: 32 percent of applications came from businesses, 26 percent from State and local governments, 22 percent from union sponsors, 14 percent from schools and other educational institutions, and 5 percent from non-profits.  $535 million has been paid out of the pool, which means that $4.465 billion remains to be paid.  We cannot ever remember a demand for this money, but apparently those who did not manage their early retiree expenses get to be paid with our tax dollars for their mistakes due to the generosity of the feds who are borrowing the money from the Chinese. Welcome to the U.S.A.! As pointed out by the person who was kind enough to avail us of this information. “It’s not about healthcare, it’s about who pays for it.” It’s certainly not about reducing the overall cost of medical care.