Category Archives: Health Care

2017 Workplace Benefits Report

Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch, ARKRNPFQ, 2017

From the summary:
Bank of America Merrill Lynch works with employers across the country to help provide employee education, guidance and retirement plan solutions that help employees take charge of their financial lives. As part of this ongoing effort, we conduct an annual study — the Workplace Benefits Report (WBR) — to talk to employers and employees about retirement readiness and larger financial wellness topics. Our current report examines how employees feel about their financial situation and the role employers play in supporting their overall financial wellness.

On behalf of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Boston Research Technologies conducted an online survey with a national sample of 1,242 employees between September 22, 2016 to October 7, 2016. Understanding the ever-evolving retirement landscape, monitoring and keeping abreast of these key indicators and opinions, helps us empower employers to stay ahead of the curve while helping meet the varied needs of their employees.

Related:
/2017_WBRInfographic_R6_060217.pdf”>Infographic Presentation
Millennials Supplement
Healthcare Supplement

The perk your employer is most likely to give you, and it’s not a raise
Source: Maria Lamagna, Marketwatch, March 27, 2018

How Many Paid Sick Days are Enough?

Source: LeaAnne DeRigne, Patricia Stoddard Dare, Linda M. Quinn, Cyleste Collins, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Published Ahead of Print, February 12, 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Objective: 
This study analyzes the relationship between number of paid sick days and reported preventive health care service usage among older US workers.

Methods: 
Using a 2014 cross-section of 3,235 US workers age 49–57 from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, this study is the first to measure paid sick leave as an ordinal variable in an effort to refine our understanding of sick leave, and identify the ideal range of sick days necessary for people to access preventive health care services.

Results: 
We find workers with 10 or more paid sick days have increased odds of reporting five different preventive health care services.

Conclusion: 
To support worker and public health, policy planners may want to consider the number of paid sick days that are needed before changes in preventive service use are observed.

Drug Overdose Rates Are Highest in Places With the Most Economic and Family Distress

Source: Shannon Monnat, Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire, National Issue Brief #134, Spring 2018

From the summary:
The U.S. drug overdose problem has reached epidemic levels, prompting President Trump to declare a public health emergency. Since 2000, 786,781 people in the United States have died from drug overdoses and other drug-related causes, with nearly 40 percent of those deaths occurring in the last three years alone.

The news media regularly portrays the drug overdose epidemic as a national crisis, but some places have much higher drug mortality rates than others. On average, rates are higher in counties with higher levels of economic distress and family dissolution, and they are lower in counties with a larger per capita presence of religious establishments. These findings hold even when controlling for demographic differences, urban or rural status, and health care supply.

KEY FINDINGS
– In 2016, the national drug-related mortality rate per 100,000 persons ranged from a low of 9.9 in Nebraska to a high of 60.3 in West Virginia.
– From 2006 to 2015, counties with the highest levels of economic distress experienced an average of 7.9 more drug-related deaths per 100,000 persons than counties with the lowest levels. This difference is the equivalent of nearly 40,000 excess deaths in the most economically distressed counties over the 10-year period.
– Counties with the highest levels of family dissolution (divorce/separation and single-parent families) had an average of 8.1 more drug-related deaths per 100,000 persons than counties with the lowest levels.
– Counties with the highest per capita presence of religious establishments had an average of 4.7 fewer drug-related deaths per 100,000 persons than counties with the lowest presence of religious establishments.

Related:
Press Release

Employment Effects of the Affordable Care Act Medicaid Expansions

Source: Pauline Leung, Alexandre Mas, Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Volume 57, Issue 2, April 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
We examine whether the recent expansions in Medicaid from the Affordable Care Act reduced “employment lock” among childless adults who were previously ineligible for public coverage. We compare employment in states that chose to expand Medicaid versus those that chose not to expand, before and after implementation. We find that although the expansion increased Medicaid coverage by 3.0 percentage points among childless adults, there was no significant impact on employment.

Warning: Short-Term Health Plans = Higher Premiums for Older Adults

Source: Jane Sung and Lina Walker, AARP Blog, Thinking Policy, March 21, 2018

You might have thought that efforts to unravel the Affordable Care Act (ACA) were over, but newly proposed regulations and legislation are once again threatening to have similar harmful effects for older adults ages 50-64 who rely on individual market coverage. On February 21, 2018, the Trump Administration proposed new federal rules calling for significant expansion of a category of insurance products known as “short-term limited duration” insurance plans. More recently, Congress is considering legislation that would block states, who typically regulate these plans, from taking steps to protect consumers from the harms of these proposed federal rules once they are finalized. Unfortunately, these changes would result in much higher premiums for older adults and people with preexisting health conditions buying individual policies through the ACA Marketplace.

Criteria: U.S. And Canadian Not-For-Profit Acute Care Health Care Organizations

Source: Jennifer J. Soule, S&P Global Ratings, March 19, 2018
(subscription required)

S&P Global Ratings is publishing its methodology for assigning ratings to U.S. and Canadian not-for-profit acute care stand-alone hospitals and health care systems. Our methodology classifies the primary credit factors that we review as part of either the enterprise profile or the financial profile. While many of an organization’s activities affect both profiles, we believe our approach clearly identifies the various ways that strategic and operational activities affect an organization.

State Prison Partnerships Can Improve Public Health and Safety

Source: Maria Schiff and Stephen Fehr, Stateline, March 19, 2018

Nearly all people in prison eventually leave, many of them with chronic diseases or behavioral conditions that may affect public health and safety in the communities where they will live. In a positive trend, corrections departments are partnering with health care agencies in some states to make it possible for offenders’ conditions to be treated when they re-enter the community.

Officials say the collaborations – in states such as Connecticut, Iowa, Missouri and Ohio— are promising because they can improve public health and safety while providing states with a better return on the money spent on treating offenders while they are in prison. Departments of correction collectively spent $8.1 billion on prison health care in fiscal 2015…..

U.S. tax law fuels changes to employee benefit and compensation programs

Source: Willis Towers Watson, February 21, 2018

Willis Towers Watson’s recent pulse survey on impacts from the new tax law reveals that the most common changes organizations have made or are planning or considering include expanding personal financial planning, increasing 401(k) contributions, and increasing or accelerating pension plan contributions. Other potential changes include increasing the employer health care subsidy, reducing or holding flat the employee payroll deduction, or adding a new paid family leave program in accordance with the Family Medical and Leave Act’s tax credit available for paid leave for certain employees.

Related:
Press Release

The Potential Impact of Short-Term Limited-Duration Policies on Insurance Coverage, Premiums, and Federal Spending

Source: Linda J. Blumberg, Matthew Buettgens, Robin Wang, Urban Institute, Research Report, February 2018

From the abstract:
On February 20, 2018, the Departments of Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services released a proposed regulation that would increase the maximum length of short-term, limited-duration insurance policies to one year. These plans, sold to individuals and families, are not federally required to comply with the Affordable Care Act regulations that prohibit annual and lifetime benefit limits, require coverage of all essential health benefits, and otherwise prohibit insurers from setting premiums or choosing whether to sell coverage to particular people based on applicants’ health status and health history. As such, these plans do not meet minimum essential coverage standards under the law; thus, the Congressional Budget Office does not consider them private insurance. If implemented, the rule would permit these plans to compete against the ACA-compliant plans.

Importantly, this change would be implemented on top of an array of other significant policy changes made since the beginning of 2017. We analyze the implications of the 2017 policy changes relative to the ACA as originally designed and implemented, in addition to the potential consequences of the proposed expansion to short-term limited-duration policies. In estimating the effects of these changes on insurance coverage, premiums, and federal spending, we take into account the variations in state circumstances and state-specific laws on short-term plans.

This brief was updated February 26, 2018. The title and notes for table 4 were altered to remove references to current law that had been inadvertently copied from tables 1–3.