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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 2012 Issue

In 2011, 73% of all private sector full-time workers were offered life insurance by their employers and 97% enrolled according the BLS. Basic life insurance plans offered to 95% of workers used either a flat benefit amount or a percentage of earnings formula to determine the benefit.


A survey by Buck shows that trend increases in all types of medical insurance plans are expected to be 9.9% in 2012, compared to 11% in 2011.


A Mercer study shows the top three reasons employers offer health and wellness benefits are : 60%-improve productivity and performance at individual level; 52% attract and retain talent; 40% promote employee protection and well-being.


A Cornell University study says that obesity now accounts for almost 21% of U.S. health care costs, more than twice previous estimates. That translates into $190.2 billion per year. According to the study, obese persons incur medical costs that are $2,741 per year more than non-obese persons. The survey was conducted using the medical costs from  24,000 non-elderly U.S. adults.


The latest Mercer survey of employers with 500 or more employees (that currently offer retiree medical benefits) shows that 65% said they will continue to offer a retiree medical plan. Seventeen percent will not and 18% are unsure.


Word on the street is that Unicare (a Wellpoint company) is no longer offering new Life, Disability,  Dental or Vision plans.


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

The Missouri House approved a measure by a vote of 108-44 that declares that the federal health care law is void and has no force because Congress exceeded its constitutional power in passing Obamacare. The measure now moves to the state Senate. In August of 2010, a statewide referendum approved with 71% of the vote, bars governments from requiring people to have health insurance and bars penalizing them for paying their own medical bills.

According to the 2012 Medicare Trustees Report, expenditures from Medicare's Trust Fund exceeded revenues by $27.7 Billion in 2011. Without a policy change, the Trust Fund will be depleted by 2024. Medicare helps pay medical expenses for 40.4 million people over the age of 65 plus 8.3 million individuals under age 65 who suffer from disability. Medicare Part A benefits (hospital, home health and skilled nursing) accounted for 47% of Medicare spending with 41% going to Part B and 12% to Part D (prescription drugs).

Aetna has announced that it will be selling individual health insurance policies at Costco (next to the meat counter?). The policies will be offered in AZ, CT, GA, IL, MI,NV, PA, TX and VA. Wellness kits are already being sold by Aetna at Best Buy stores (next to the video games?).

Another survey by Zywave of 7,800 employers  shows that 51% will definitely continue to offer health benefit coverage.  Twenty-nine percent will likely continue, 3% will likely discontinue, 1% will definitely discontinue or already have and 19% are unsure what they will do in 2014 when the most onerous requirements of Obamacare begin. The survey included 14 business sectors with 60% of employers surveyed having less than 100 employees.

If the Supreme Court does not strike down Obamacare, Kaiser Family Foundation says that U.S. health insurers will pay $1.3 billion in rebates to customers beginning in August. There will be $426  million in individual rebates paid ($127 per person). About 20% of large employers could receive $541 million and 25% of small employers could receive rebates totaling $377 million.

Escaping some of the worst parts of Obamacare are those companies who partially self-fund. Bloomberg Business  Week reports that 8% of companies with 3 to 49 employees use a form of self-funding. The number rises to 20% of companies from 50 to 199 employees and 48% of companies with 200 to 999 employees. Eighty percent of those companies with 1,000 employees self-fund (although it's difficult to know why this number is not 97%). New products available in the market are allowing more small companies to consider self-funding and all reporting sources we see show that more companies that can and should have self-funded in the past are now considering the option.