Source: Craig Palosky, Larry Levitt, and Maurissa Kanter, Kaiser Family Foundation, Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Out-of-Pocket Costs for Retirees Continue to Rise for Employer Health Coverage
About One in 10 Firms Eliminate Retiree Health Benefits for Future Retirees
As the new Medicare drug benefit nears its second year, nearly eight in 10 large employers expect to continue to offer drug coverage to their retirees and accept subsidies from the federal government to offset some of those costs, according to a new survey of 302 large private-sector employers conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Hewitt Associates.
Source: BNA Pension & Benefits Reporter, Vol. 36 no. 16, April 17, 2007
Consumer-directed health care plans cost working-age women about $1,000 more per year out of pocket than men, and are therefore “discriminatory” against women, according to a report by Harvard Researchers at Cambridge Health Alliance. CDHPs also cost middle-aged adults far more than younger participants, and raise costs substantially for those with even mild chronic conditions, the report says.
Source: Robert Fazzi and Lynn Harlow, Caring, Vol. 26 no. 3, March 2007
If you thought the past of home care and hospice was something, wait until you see the future. Home care and hospice are going to grow in the number of people they serve, and in the scope, clinical, and programmatic sophistication of their services. We will do more, serve more, and play a far bigger role in the future of health care than most people can imagine, and it’s inevitable.
Before you start thinking that these are the dreams of home care and hospice professionals, consider what the United States Department of Labor (2005) says; “The home health care services industry, which provides such in-home services as nursing and physical therapy, has the distinction of becoming the nation’s fastest growing employer by 2014.”
Source: Marie Gottschlak, New Labor Forum, Vol. 16 no. 1, Winter 2007
Today, health benefits are once again a major arena of labor-management strife. And once again universal calls for universal health care by labor leaders mask important differences between them over health care reform. Some labor leaders are advocating a bottom-up mobilization in support of a single-payer solution that would dismantle the system of job based benefits based on private insurance. Others are staking their health care strategy on wooing key business leaders to become constructive partners in some kind of unspecified comprehensive reform of the health system.
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: National Association of State Personnel Executives Healthcare Taskforce, NASPE, September 2006 (the paper can be downloaded from one of the frames on this page)
No matter how you look at healthcare, it cannot be overlooked as a huge overall expense for state governments as well as all large employers—General Motors recently announced that $1,500 of the average cost of per vehicle sold is attributed to employee healthcare costs. Starbucks spends more on employee healthcare than it does on coffee beans. In state governments, an additional 9-16 percent of total payroll goes toward providing healthcare for employees. The Central States Compensation Association reports that with an average salary of $19.16 per hour for its member state workforces, an additional average of $2.16 is spent on healthcare or 11 percent. Southeastern States Compensation Association reports a salary of $14.94 and an average of $1.98 per hour for healthcare or 13 percent. From a total compensation standpoint, healthcare trails only cash (salary, wages) as state governments largest cost factor in most states and is the most administratively complex.
Source: Robert Loews, Medical Economics, December 15, 2006, Vol. 83 no. 24
His bargain-basement version of concierge medicine has stirred up interest—and opposition.
Source: Karen Imas, State News, February 2007, Vol. 50 no. 2
Several states are implementing comprehensive health care reform plans, bringing the issue to the forefront of national discussion 10 years after the Clinton health proposal failed.
Source: Dean Baker, Challenge: The Magazine of Economic Affairs, January-February 2007, Vol. 50 no. 1 (subscription needed)
The Democrats regained control of Congress in November in part as a result of the corruption and incompetence of the Republicans, but also in part because of their promises to make things better for the average family. Their ability to stay in power will depend on their ability to make good on these promises. Two areas that are central to the economic security of average workers are health-care reform and trade policy. The Democrats will have to put forward a clear progressive agenda in these areas if they expect to be taken seriously in future elections.