Home Up Services About The Truth Useful Links Accomplishments Creative-Cost Plus OBAMACARE Newsletter Archive


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 2010 Issue

Health Reform revisited:

Of course, now all the garbage in the health reform bill is coming out of the landfill. Remember how the bill was supposed to save money according to CBO scoring? Well, the CBO scores what Congress gives them to score within certain parameters. But now the chief actuary of CMS says the bill will cost more! Is anyone surprised? You are if you were a Democratic member of Congress who voted for the bill. In addition, Waxman and Stupak were going to have a hearing to beat up on CAT, Deere, AT&T, et al., for announcing crushing earnings charges. However, they then chose to quietly cancel their inquisition when their staff found out that the earnings charges were indeed legitimate. And that little law about having to cover dependent children up to age 26? Remember that one? Well, now the IRS has issued regulations saying that benefits costs are tax deductible up until age 27 for an adult child. More government tripping over more government. Why to age 26 for one provision and age 27 for another? One other overlooked provision requires employers with more than 50 employees to furnish a private space, other than a restroom, for mothers to express milk for infants who are up to one year old.

For young adults, the Associated Press found that insurance coverage could cost up to 17% more under the health reform law beginning in 2014. This revelation is not surprising, but it probably is also vastly understated since insurers are not allowed to have rates for the oldest insureds exceed those for the youngest by more than a 3 to 1 ratio.

In other news, a Hewitt survey of nearly 600 large employers shows that 47% already use or plan to use financial penalties for employees who do not participate in health improvement programs.  Of those, 81% say they will do so through higher premiums, 17% say the penalty will be higher deductibles and coinsurance. A Towers Watson survey found that 67% of companies with programs designed to change employee behavior thought that their vendor fell short  in achieving their goals and 66% found that their vendors were not at all or only slightly effective in changing member behavior. This effectively proves the old adage that you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. The survey also found that those companies who had CDHPs for the last several years were seeing costs rise at the same rates as other programs.

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

A Crain’s survey of 3,698 employers found that 65.7% strongly agree that they will continue to offer health coverage  (after Obamacare is fully enacted) because the coverage is a crucial part of recruiting and retention efforts. Only 8.7% of those surveyed disagreed with that position.

 Cigna and Humana have announced an alliance to provide group Medicare Advantage network products to their employer group clients to help with those client’s retiree needs.

In a MetLife survey, for the first time since 2006, controlling benefits costs edged out employee retention as the top concern of employers. Employee productivity concerns ranked third. Also in the survey, 68% of employees were feeling a heightened sense of job insecurity. Sixty-six percent of those who are very satisfied with their benefits are not as worried about unexpected health and financial issues.

A survey of workers comp costs by OCI (a data integration and software services provider) found that claims and benefit costs under workers comp rise as headcounts for employers go down. The survey attributes staff reductions to more high risk claims on the job, probably due to higher stress levels and longer hours for those who remain employed.

Consumer Reports did a survey of employee health plans in 2009 and found that 15% of HMO employees had trouble receiving care, compared to 14% of those who had PPO coverage. Eleven percent of PPO members say they were sent bills that they were not obligated to pay, compared to six percent of HMO members.

If you visit www.ssebenfits.net you will be able to link to a full copy of the health reform bill and reconciliation act as well as a summary of the reform provisions under the “Obamacare” tab.

Met Life reported that 3 in 5 individuals who were out of work at least six months due to disability did not have disability income protection. 88% of those with inadequate coverage said the disability had a major devastating impact on their feelings of financial security and 77% of them withdrew money from their savings, investments and retirement accounts. Too bad, since the coverage is so inexpensive on a group basis.