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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 2011 Issue


A MetLife Benefit trends study says the top three benefits objectives remain the same as last year. 1) Controlling costs.2) Retaining employees. 3) Increasing employee productivity. Of surveyed employers, 45% offer some form of wellness program.

A Fidelity study of HSA account holders found the following patterns: 36% are spenders of more than 90% of their contributions. 40% use between 10% and 90% of their accounts. 24% use less than 10%. 95% carryover some balance and the average contribution was $2,620.

House Republicans want to probe the 37 million member AARP for supporting PPACA (Paying Plenty for All Covered Americans{thanks to Ron for that little twist on an acronym!}). AARP is expected to make $1 Billion over 10 years due to the disappearance of Med Advantage plans as part of PPACA. AARPís 2009 licensing fees totaled $657 Million for the Medigap plans they offer that will take the place of Med Advantage Plans.

The Washington Examiner has discovered the bailout package in Obamacare for unions, state public employees and large corporations that we have discussed here previously. The Early Retiree Reinsurance Program has paid the UAW $207 Million. Other large recipients are AT&T ($140M), Public Employees of Ohio ($70M), Government Motors ($19M), CALPERS ($58M). The $5 billion fund was supposed to last until 2014 and is being closed, since the money is almost used up.

The ruling that Obamacare is unconstitutional by Florida Judge Vinson for 26 states is being appealed and arguments will be heard June 8th in Atlanta by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. In the meantime, the Supreme Court has turned down Virginiaís request for an early hearing on Obamacare. In the meantime, the suffering goes onÖ.

Some things to think about for group LTD plans: 100% Employer funded disability plans means the benefits are taxable to the employee. Many group plans donít protect variable compensation for employees who depend on commissions or bonus income. High earning executives can be maxed out so that if disabled, they may not receive 60% of their earnings.

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In a brief moment of sanity, Obama signed the repeal of the 1099 Obamacare requirement. The annoying and expensive requirement of Obamacare was to have businessí file 1099 tax forms for every vendor selling the business more than $600 in goods or services. Also repealed was the voucher program that employers were supposed to offer to all employees under 400% of the poverty level with contributions between 8% and 9.8% of household adjusted gross income. Two brief moments in 2 Ĺ years.

The S&P Healthcare Economic Composite Index indicates the average per capita cost of healthcare services increased by 6.19% over the twelve months ending February 2011.

Wells Fargo Insurance Services surveyed 60 insurance companies and found that claim costs were increasing by 10% for PPOs and Rx costs were increasing by 8.7%.

Aetna has announced the acquisition of Prodigy Health Group which owns the nationís largest TPA (Meritain Health) and Scrip World PBM along with American Health medical management. Aetna hopes to use the platforms to not only grow its self-funded business, but also offer services for Accountable Care Organizations (ACOís) that are envisioned by Obamacare.

Hospital mergers continue around the country and in Chicago. Alexian Brothers will be acquired by Ascension Health of St. Louis. Sherman Hospital which recently built a huge new facility in Elgin, IL is in talks with Advocate. Loyola has signed a deal to join Trinity Health out of Michigan and Provena Health and Resurrection Health are doing due diligence on a proposed merger. We donít expect these mergers to do anything more than drive up costs, just like ACOís are more likely to keep costs up by reducing competition.