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May 9, 2012 Get Retirement News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe  |  Past Issues  |  Search

Employee Benefits Jobs

401(k) Plan Administrator
for Professional Capital Services, LLC in PA

Benefits Fulfillment Specialist
for Northwestern Benefit Corporation of Georgia in GA

Retirement Plan Administrator
for PENSYS, Inc. in CA

for White Horse Advisors, LLC in GA

Director of ERISA Consulting
for July Business Services in ANY STATE, TX

Director, Actuary - Valuation - Capital Markets Hedging - Annuities
for Prudential in NJ

Benefits Consultant, Small Group & Mid Market
for Northwestern Benefit Corporation of Georgia in GA

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Webcasts and Conferences

J. Mark Iwry discusses "Expanding Retirement Income Options in the Private Pension System" (NY CLE Program)
in New York on June 21, 2012 presented by WEB (Worldwide Employee Benefits Network) New York Chapter

Retirement Plan Insights Seminar
in Pennsylvania on June 12, 2012 presented by McKay Hochman Co.

Dealing with Protected Benefits Webcast
Nationwide on June 14, 2012 presented by Actuarial Systems Corporation (ASC)

We also publish the BenefitsLink Retirement Plans Newsletter (free): Subscribe

The Morning Line: Most Are Betting Health Reform Law's Mandate Will Be Thrown Out
"Over at Intrade, a 'prediction market' for current events, the betting Tuesday morning gave chances of about 58 percent that the court will disallow the mandate, which requires people to obtain health coverage or pay a fine." (National Public Radio)

Earn your CEBS (Certified Employee Benefit Specialist) Designation   [Advert.]

Sponsored by IFEBP (International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

CEBS is the most respected benefits designation in the industry. Co-sponsored by the International Foundation and the Wharton School, the program is an essential step for those who want to advance in the employee benefits industry. Learn More.

[Guidance Overview]
ML Strategies Health Care Reform Update, May 7, 2012
Weekly update on federal and state health care reform legislation, regulations and initiatives. (Mintz Levin)

Couples Retiring in 2012 Will Need $240,000 to Pay Medical Expenses Throughout Retirement
"Fidelity has calculated an annual estimate of medical expenses for retirees for more than a decade.... The estimate ... does not include any costs associated with nursing-home care and applies to retirees with traditional Medicare insur.ance coverage." (MarketWatch)

Proposed Meaningful Use Stage 2 Regs Draw Strong Reaction
"[A few paragraphs in the 68-page comment letter from the American Hospital Association have] drawn the attention and ire of patient and consumer advocate groups. Citing HIPAA concerns, the AHA disagrees with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services proposal 'to provide patients with the ability to view, download, and transmit large volumes of protected health information via the Internet.'" (HealthLeaders Media)

Second Annual Conference on Managed Care Litigation, May 22-23   [Advert.]

Sponsored by American Conference Institute

Managed Care Organizations represent “deep pockets” for potential plaintiffs and classes; defense requires meticulous planning. Only the ACI forum provides the opportunity to share defense strategies and tactics to enhance your litigation toolkit.

The ABCs of Beating Obesity: Schools Called 'Focal Point' for Prevention by Advisory Body
"The report by the Institute of Medicine, an influential independent body that advises the federal government on health policy, recommended requiring at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day in schools and considering excise taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages. It urged food companies to improve nutritional standards for foods marketed to people under 18[.]" (The Wall Street Journal)

Over 50% of Patients Consider Budget Before Making Medical Visits
"[One survey] found that 57% considered their budget before making health-related decisions. Nearly 31% attempted to be frugal by skipping or reducing annual visits to their primary care physician, and 32% passed up or cut back on follow-up appointments. Almost 27% went without or decreased visits to specialists. When it came to blood work and lab tests, almost 21% refrained from them because of cost concerns. Nineteen percent went without an imaging test." (

Employee Knowledge and Attitudes about Employer-Provided Disability Insur.ance
"The survey revealed that most employees underestimate the amount of time individuals will be away from work due to illness and injury. On average, the surveyed employees thought that 25 percent of those who become disabled and are unable to work for at least three months remain disabled for at least two years. But in actuality, it's twice that. Half of the disabled workers who are out of work for three months remain disabled for more than two years." (Consumer Federation of America and Unum)

In Japan, All-Payer Rate Setting Under Tight Government Control Proving to Be Effective at Containing Costs
"Japan's single payment system contains spending while retaining the advantages of multiple health insur.ance plans. Combining hospital and physician fees—not typically done in the U.S.—also helps achieve these objectives. Applying a single rate to U.S. providers, a growing number of whom are employed by hospitals, would simplify billing, provide incentives for physicians to practice more efficiently, and possibly encourage more physicians to locate in medically underserved areas." (The Commonwealth Fund)

Washington State's 1993 Experiment with Health Insur.ance Reforms (PDF)
"In 1993, Washington adopted one of the most extensive health care reforms ever enacted by a state. The law promised the grail of near-universal coverage while controlling costs. But the law was not implemented as intended, and as Washington residents soon discovered, unless [reforms such as premium caps] are paired with an effective personal coverage requirement, real problems emerge for employers, families and individuals." (America's Health Insur.ance Plans)

Inoculate the Budget Deficit from Health Care Reform
"As we work to restrain health care cost growth, we must, at the same time, inoculate the future deficit from the inevitable failures of health reform. We can do this by choosing a federal health care spending level and stipulating that any spending above that amount must be financed on a current basis with a tax. For example, if federal health care spending were allowed to grow at the rate of GDP plus 0.5 percent (a rate proposed by both President Obama and Rep. Ryan), any health spending in excess of that growth rate would be financed with tax revenues in the next year." (Brookings)

Fee-for-Service Model: Culprit Behind Exponential Health Care Cost Growth?
"Moving away from fee-for-service requires realigning the care delivery and payment incentives in the health care system. [Reimbursement should be] based on the quality and utility of care provided, not just the sheer volume of services. This idea—paying for 'value over volume' or 'paying for performance'—is now a common refrain in the world of health policy. Some experts even go so far as to say that too much care can be detrimental to health, such as unnecessary or redundant medical imaging scans[.]" (The Atlantic)

How to Fix Our Enormous, Inefficient Health Care System
"[C]hange will require new structures and institutions, not tweaks to the current system. That's the only way to disrupt the wasteful habits of the status quo. [The author offers] two specific proposals for new frameworks. The first ['Create Special Heath Care Courts'] is now broadly accepted by health care thought and political leaders of both sides ... but has been stymied so far by a powerful special interest. The second ['Replace Public Health Care with Comprehensive Providers'] is radical, and would be considered politically suicidal. It would also solve much of the problem of misaligned incentives." (The Atlantic)

Text of Comments by Consumer-Purchaser Disclosure Project to CMS on Health IT Meaningful Use Program (PDF)
"Stage 2 of Meaningful Use marks a significant step toward national commitment to effective management of health information to improve health outcomes. [The Project urges] CMS to finalize the progressive strides it makes in the proposed rule, especially those that enhance patient and family engagement. However, the proposed rule does not do enough to: (1) drive providers to share information with each other and (2) build the capability to report on quality measures that indicate whether providers are improving their ability to deliver high-value, coordinated care." (Consumer-Purchaser Disclosure Project)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

Employee Benefits Are Good for Employers, Too
"Harvard Business Review Analytic Services surveyed 58 of the 100 companies named to 'The Principal 10 Best' list over the past decade ... Three quarters of those polled reported that benefits contributed to employee retention and 72 percent said they impacted employee loyalty.... When asked to identify the most significant thing they are doing to impact employees' financial security, nine out of 10 respondents mentioned retirement programs and cited generous employer contributions." (MSNBC)

North Carolina Voters Approve Same-s.ex Marriage Ban
"North Carolina voters on Tuesday approved a state constitutional amendment that bans same-s.ex marriage and civil unions ... North Carolina law already blocks g.ay and les.bian couples from marrying, but the state now joins the rest of the Southeast states in adding the prohibition to its constitution." (Yahoo! News)

Benefits Administration: To Outsource or Manage In-House?
"The goal of the survey was to gain insight into what employers views are on the topic of benefits administration to include: What employers are thinking about the various trade-offs inherent to insourcing and outsourcing benefits administration? What employers are actually doing—what functions are they outsourcing and which are insourced? What employers are planning on doing—in light of the changing technological and legal landscape, are employers planning on insourcing or outsourcing more functionality?" (ADP; free registration required)

Time to Control Runaway Military Personnel Costs
"[W]hile the military's retirement program serves only a small minority of the force, it provides an exceedingly generous benefit, often providing 40 years of pension payments in return for 20 years of service. As a result, the program now costs taxpayers more than $100 bil.lion per year, an exceedingly steep price tag for a program hampered by serious flaws. This number is projected to double by 2034." (Tuscon Sentinel)

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