Category Archives: Benefits

Paying for Promises

Source: Jonathan Walters, Governing, Vol. 20 no. 5, February 2007

Call it the six stages of GASB 45: anger, denial, sorrow, acceptance, study and action. That’s been the general response to a new set of governmental accounting rules that ask state and local governments to spell out the costs of their promises to provide retired employees with health care as well as other post-employment benefits.

Do Truly Comparable Public and Private Sector Workers Show and Compensation Differential?

Source: Josefa Ramoni-Perazzi and Don Bellante, Journal of Labor Studies, Vol. 28 no. 1, Winter 2007

Using data from the Health and Retirement Study, we apply propensity score matching methods to examine evidence on the rent paid to public sector workers in the United States. Traditionally, wage differentials are computed assuming that workers from both public and private sectors are comparable, without actually controlling for the comparability of the units. Using this method, we are able to control for selection bias and, at the same time, select a subsample of comparable workers in terms of their conditional probability of choosing to work in the public sector on which to estimate separate wage equations.

The 2nd Annual EBRI/Commonwealth Fund Consumerism in Health Care Survey, 2006: Early Experience With High-Deductible and Consumer-Driven Health Plans

Source: Paul Fronstin and Sara R. Collins, EBRI Issue Brief, December 2006, No. 300

This report presents findings from the EBRI/Commonwealth Fund Consumerism in Health Care Survey, 2006, the second annual version of this survey. The online survey of 3,158 privately insured adults ages 21–64 was conducted to provide nationally representative data regarding the growth of consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs) and high-deductible health plans (HDHPs), and their impact on the behavior and attitudes of health care consumers.

The Myths and Realities of Consumer-Driven Health Plans

Source: Bill Tait, Employee Benefit Plan Review, December 2006, Volume 61, no. 6

Few will argue that health care costs have increased at a record rate over the last few years in America. While much has been written on consumer-driven health plans, concerns still exist as to whether they are the best strategy for controlling health care inflation and ensuring appropriate utilization of and access to the health care system on a sustainable basis. The following are some of the most common myths about consumer-driven plans, along with the reality. 1. Consumer-driven plans are merely a cost-shifting strategy for employers to save money at the expense of their employees. 2. Consumer-driven plans force members to deny themselves necessary treatment because they have to cover more of the cost of care. 3. Prescription drug compliance rates for effective management of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, will decline with the increasing prevalence of consumer-driven plans. 4. Consumer-driven health plans will attract “adverse selection,” with only younger, healthier consumers joining them.

Are Sick Days Contagious? Connecting the Relationship Between Employee Absence and Corporate Benefits

Source: Chris Navarro and Cara Bass, Employee Benefit Plan Review, December 2006, Volume 61, no. 6

When employees call out sick, medical illness may not be the only reason keeping them out of the office. Paid time off (PTO) is one of the most expensive employer-provided benefits, yet many organizations do not have a firm grasp on how much employee absences are really costing them. Just as each organization is unique, so are the factors that influence the rate of employee absenteeism. Armed with absence data, organizations are able to take a rigorous look at absence trends to uncover anomalies and patterns, such as days of the week when absence rates are accelerated, certain departments that experience an elevated rate of absenteeism, or other issues, in addition to illness, that contribute to employees missing work. By removing the administration of absence and attendance policies with an automated process, HR professionals are able to focus on addressing productivity issues and improving morale.

The Hidden Cost of Jobs without Health Care Benefits

Source: Ken Jacobs, Perspectives on Work, Summer 2006, Volume 10, no. 2

In the last half of the twentieth century American health care financing emerged as a dual system: private, employer-sponsored care for most people was supplemented by public care for the poor and elderly. Today, however, rising health insurance premiums, shifting industrial composition, increased use of temporary and part-time workers, and a weakened bargaining position of workers in the labor market are factors leading to a marked shift in the nature of health care coverage for American workers.

Declining job-based coverage affects not only health care access and quality for those who are not covered; it also creates hidden costs for employers providing coverage and for taxpayers. Even worse; companies that pare down health benefits or adopt changes that make coverage unaffordable for workers undermine the market position of competitors, forcing them to follow suit as well. These, too, are hidden costs of non benefited jobs. Lawmakers at all levels in the United States are concerned about these issues and are looking for innovative solutions.