Retiree Health Plans: A National Assessment

Source: Center for State and Local Government Excellence, September 2008

From the summary:
The Center for State and Local Government Excellence and researchers from North Carolina State University’s School of Public and International Affairs and College of Management have established a partnership to focus on state and local government retiree health care issues.

This report shines a light on differences and similarities in state health plans in a quick reference format. It includes such details as eligibility requirements for coverage and the cost to employees and to state governments for the benefit.

Employer Health Benefits 2008 Annual Survey

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation, publication #7790, September 2008

From the press release:
Premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance rose to $12,680 annually for family coverage this year – with employees on average paying $3,354 out of their paychecks to cover their share of the cost – and the scope of that coverage has changed, with many more workers now enrolled in high-deductible plans, according to the 2008 Employer Health Benefits Survey released today by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET). Key findings from the benchmark annual survey of small and large employers were also published today as a Web Exclusive in the journal Health Affairs.

Premiums rose a modest 5 percent this year, but they have more than doubled since 1999 when total family premiums stood at $5,791 (of which workers paid $1,543). During the same nine-year period, workers’ wages increased 34 percent and general inflation rose 29 percent.

This year many workers are also facing higher deductibles in their plans, including a growing number with general plan deductibles of at least $1,000 – 18 percent of all covered workers in 2008, up from 12 percent last year. This is partly, but not entirely, driven by growth in consumer-directed plans such as those that qualify for a tax-preferred Health Savings Account.

The shift has been most dramatic for workers in small businesses with three to 199 workers, where more than one in three (35 percent) covered workers must pay at least $1,000 out of pocket before their plan generally will start to pay a share of their health-care bills – rising from 21 percent last year. For workers facing deductibles in Preferred Provider Organizations, the most common type of plan, the average deductible rose to $560 in 2008, up nearly $100 from 2007.
See also:
Abstract
Summary of Findings
Chart Pack Slides
Additional Presentation Slides Slides

Personal Income and Outlays: August 2008

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, Press release, BEA 08-46, September 29, 2008

Personal income increased $61.5 billion, or 0.5 percent, and disposable personal income (DPI) decreased $93.3 billion, or 0.9 percent, in August, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased $3.9 billion, or less than 0.1 percent. In July, personal income decreased $69.0 billion, or 0.6 percent, DPI decreased $91.0 billion, or 0.8 percent, and PCE increased $14.2 billion, or 0.1 percent, based on revised estimates. The pattern of changes in income primarily reflects the pattern of payments associated with the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008

Sensible Plan for Recovery

Source: Sarah Anderson, John Cavanagh, Chuck Collins, Dedrick Muhammad, and Sam Pizzigati, Working Group on Extreme Inequality, A Project Of The Institute For Policy Studies, October 1, 2008

Program Basics
• A stimulus for Main Street: Aid to the real economy
• Make Wall Street speculators pay for the bailout: No more debt
• Shut down the casino: Rein in the unregulated financial sector
• Limits on CEO pay and prohibitions on profiteering from the bailout
See also:
Video: Wall Street Meltdown – Barbara Ehrenreich, Dean Baker, Jared Bernstein and Chuck Collins, covered on C-SPAN, from Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Trade-Offs Getting Tougher: Problems Paying Medical Bills Increase for U.S. Families, 2003-2007

Source: Peter J. Cunningham, Center for Studying Health Systems Change, Tracking Report No. 21, September 2008

About 57 million Americans were in families with problems paying medical bills in 2007–an increase of 14 million people since 2003, according to a new national study by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC). Problems paying medical bills increased for both nonelderly insured and uninsured people. Although the rate of medical bill problems is much higher for uninsured people, most people with medical bill problems–42.5 million–had insurance coverage. About 2.2 million people with medical bill problems were in families that filed for bankruptcy as a result of their medical bills, and a much larger number reported other financial consequences, such as problems paying for other necessities and having to borrow money. The increase in medical bill problems–especially among insured people–is the main reason why more people reported unmet medical needs because of cost in 2007 than in 2003.

Criminal Victimization in the United States — Statistical Tables 2006

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, August 29, 2008

Presents 110 tables with detailed data on major variables measured by the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS).

Topics covered include –
• crimes of violence (rape, gender, sexual assault, robbery, assault) and theft (pocket picking, purse snatching, burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft), with data on victim characteristics (gender, age, race, ethnicity, marital status, income, and residence)
• crime characteristics (time and place of occurrence, distance from home, weapon use, self-protection, injury, medical care, economic loss, and time lost from work)
• victim-offender relationship
• victims’ perceptions of substance use by offenders and of offender characteristics (age, race, and gender)
• police response time for reported crimes

Examining Evidence On Whether BLS Undercounts Workplace Injuries And Illnesses

Source: John W. Ruser, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Monthly Labor Review, August 2008

The BLS Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses offers many advantages over other data systems, and BLS has been working on improvements to increase its accuracy and scope; nevertheless, there is a debate about whether the survey undercounts injuries and illnesses to any significant extent

Why A Federal District Court’s Decision Is a Victory for Transsexuals’ Right Not to Face Employment Discrimination

Source: Joanna Grossman, FindLaw, September 30, 2008

In a thoughtful, well-reasoned opinion, a federal district judge handed transsexuals a significant victory against employment discrimination. The case was Schroer v. Billington, and the court was the federal district court for the District of Columbia.