Source: Christopher G. Reddick and Jerrell D. Coggburn, Review of Public Personnel Administration, Vol. 27 no. 1, March 2007
Employer-sponsored health benefits are an important but relatively understudied area in public sector human resource management. This study examines the choices that state governments make in the United States and the views of state human resource directors (HRD) on health benefits. Survey data, gathered from state HRDs in fall 2005, reveal several important findings: In terms of choices, the most common plan offered is the preferred provider organization (PPO); less than one third of states offer health benefits to nontraditional partners; health benefits improve employee satisfaction and the performance of the state government; and cost to the state government is the most important factor that affects choice of plan. There is not a high level of agreement on what strategies state government should pursue to reduce costs of health benefits; however, there is some agreement that premiums will be increasing in the near future.
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.
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.
Source: Alan Greenblatt, Governing, January 2007, Vol. 20 no. 4
A number of states and cities are experimenting with merit pay plans for teachers.
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.
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.
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.
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.