Thursday, August 29, 2013

Fwd: qotd: The tycoons seem to care less about our health care

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-------- Original Message --------
Subject: qotd: The tycoons seem to care less about our health care
Date: Thu, 29 Aug 2013 11:29:42 -0700
From: Don McCanne <>
To: Quote-of-the-Day <>

National Business Group on Health
August 28, 2013
Large U.S. Employers Project a 7% Increase in Health Care Benefit Costs
in 2014, National Business Group on Health Survey Finds

The cost of providing employee health care benefits at the nation's
largest employers is projected to increase 7% in 2014 – the third
consecutive year employers have budgeted this amount, according to a new
survey by the National Business Group on Health, a non-profit
association of more than 365 large U.S. employers. The survey – one of
the industry's first look at costs and plan design changes for 2014 –
also found that some employers believe health insurance exchanges could
be a viable option for certain populations. Additionally, more companies
plan to offer workers a consumer-directed health plan as their only
health benefits option in 2014.

While large employers will not be eligible to participate in state
health exchanges until 2017 at the earliest, employers expect that
certain populations may find exchanges to be a viable option on an
individual basis in 2014. Roughly four in ten (41%) employers believe
COBRA plan participants might find public health exchanges to be the
most cost effective option. Additionally, more than one-fourth (26%)
felt that some pre-65 retirees might opt to join exchanges, while 20%
believe that some part-time employees will do the same.

"Private exchanges are another option some employers are considering. In
the last year, there has been an increase in the number of private
exchanges that are being launched. And while some employers are
considering private exchanges for active employees sometime in the
future, very few (3%) are considering eliminating health care coverage
entirely," said Darling.

More Employers Embracing Total Replacement CDHPs

The survey found that implementing a consumer-directed health plan
(CDHP) was considered the most effective tactic to control rising costs,
cited by more than one-third of respondents (36%). In fact, nearly
three-quarters of employers (72%) now offer at least one CDHP. This
number has remained relatively steady over the last couple of years.
However, the number of employers that are offering only a CDHP to
employees continues to rise, with 22% planning to implement a total
replacement CDHP next year, up from 19% this year.

(The National Business Group on Health members are primarily Fortune 500
companies and large public sector employers — including the nation's
most innovative health care purchasers — who provide health coverage for
more than 55 million U.S. workers, retirees, and their families.)

Comment: The National Business Group on Health survey is important
because it represents the views of the nation's largest employers who
provide coverage for over 55 million workers and their families -
supposedly the best health benefit programs available. Three findings in
this survey should have us concerned.

1) The costs of providing health care benefits have increased at the
rate of 7 percent for each of the past three years, considerably higher
than the rate of inflation. This indicates that health care costs
continue to increase at unsustainable rates, regardless of the
implementation of several programs supposedly designed to slow spending

2) Although large employers cannot use the state health exchanges until
2017, interest in both private exchanges and state exchanges is
increasing. A major attraction of the exchanges is that employees are
most likely to select plans with actuarial values of only 60 to 70
percent because of their lower premiums. This offers employers the
opportunity to shift from defined health benefits to defined
contributions for the exchange plans. This shifts more of the health
care costs to employees.

3) About three-fourths of employers now offer consumer-directed health
plans (CDHPs), and next year 22 percent will offer CDHPs as the only
option. CDHPs are high deductible plans that shift more costs to
employees and their families. Some may be associated with a health
spending account, but that is little more than a tax gimmick that favors
higher income employees. Whether these accounts are funded by direct
employee contributions or by employer contributions representing forgone
wage increases makes little difference as far as whether or not health
care is more affordable. It is ultimately the employee that is
responsible for the increases in out-of-pocket costs.

The National Business Group on Health represents two-thirds of the
Fortune 100 companies - the biggest of the biggest. They should be
offering the very best. But instead, these trends should make us want to
accelerate our movement away from employer control of individual health
plans and toward enactment of a single, publicly-financed national
health program that would include everyone and treat all of us fairly.
The tycoons seem to be losing interest in the welfare of their
employees, so what chance would the rest of us have without converting
to an improved Medicare that covered everyone?

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