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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/   May 2007 Issue


As of now same sex domestic partners are unlikely to try to benefit from HSA accounts. Due to federal restrictions, the employee cannot pull money from an HSA to cover the medical expenses of a domestic partner without paying income taxes plus a 10% penalty tax, unless the partner qualifies as a dependent.

Hewitt analyzed ten years worth of data which shows that HMOs are not more efficient on a national basis than any other type of health plan, except in California , where they said HMOs are more efficient than PPO and POS plans. Now what are they telling their clients where they were advocating national triple option plans for many years?

CFO magazine lists the top three business concerns (in order) of CFOs as being: (1) Cost of labor-46%. (2) Cost of health care-39%. (3) Consumer demand-34%.

Great West Life is buying an 80% stake in Benefit Management Corp., a U.S. third party administrator.

A Harv ard Medical School professor says that HDHP’s are harder on women than men and unfair to women because they spend more on routine care ($1,200) than men (less than $500). Dr. Steffie Woolhandler analyzed data on 33,000 people in 2003 to arrive at her conclusion. Critics of her study said that HDHP plans can be designed to eliminate much of the cost difference for women by covering preventive care.

Harris Interactive discovered that 73% of U.S. adults think patients who have medical conditions experience problems due to over-treatment, while 83% think the same is due to under-treatment. 52% believe over-treatment is due to lawsuit concerns while 41% believe over-treatment is caused by doctors wanting to make more money. Harris also said 51% of full-time workers believe their employer pays 30% or less, over and above their wages, for other benefits. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the actual cost of benefits is 43% over and above wages for benefits such as life, health and disability insurance, plus retirement and paid time off. According to the National Business Group on Health, 75% of U.S. workers consider a health plan to be the most important employee benefit and would rather receive health benefits through their employer than being paid a higher salary to purchase their own benefits.

When it comes to data, a Booz Allen Hamilton survey of 600 docs shows that just 19% make safety and medical error information available and just 16% plan to do so in the next few years. It looks like transparency has a way to go.

The number of new and refill scripts per capita in retail pharmacies varies from 6.5 in Alaska to 15.5 in Tennessee with a U.S. average of 10.6 in 2004.

Coventry Health Care is acquiring Mutual of Omaha’s Federal Employee Health Benefits administration business in Nebraska and Iowa , plus other fully insured and self-funded business in those states. Symetra (Safeco) is acquiring the MGU Medical Risk Managers in Connecticut .

PricewaterhouseCoopers (a firm that could actually use a name change) says that 96% of companies found increased health care costs contributed to slowed profit growth in the last 12 months and that 22% of employers said that will cause them to lower wage increases. However, 87% of companies said they are opposed to moving away from employer sponsored health coverage and 66% said employees with unhealthy behaviors should pay more for coverage (up from 48% in 2005).


Shameless Plug for S&S

If you read this newsletter you have an idea of the personalized approach we take to your business. If you are not receiving the personal service your company deserves, consider calling on S&S Benefits Consulting, Inc. to help with your health and welfare plan needs. We’ll analyze your plan from top to bottom and give you ideas to build upon in planning for the future.