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Opinions and views from expert CFOZone members.

Tag >> benefits
Apr 28

How to communicate health-care changes to employees

Posted by Jeremy Smerd in healthcarehealth insurancehealth care reformhealth carecommunicationsCareers/Managementbenefits

Jeremy Smerd

The new health reform law will keep employer associations like the US Chamber of Commerce employed for a long time. While the Chamber vigorously opposed the legislation, the group is busy telling its members how to comply with the law.  

On Monday, the Chamber released a primer on the new law that includes an easy to follow breakdown of the issues now facing employers: how to weigh the cost of providing health insurance against the penalty of not providing it; if a company does provide insurance, should it fully insure or simply send employees to buy insurance on the state-run exchanges that will be established by 2014; and the benefits to your employees of the subsidies that are only available on the exchange.  

Apr 26

Another health-care tempest in a teapot

Posted by Jeremy Smerd in heatlh carehealthcarehealth insuranceemployeesCareers/Managementbenefits

Jeremy Smerd

The percentage of employers offering health benefits has been dropping for years, mainly because small employers can't afford the premiums. And while health reform is supposed to reverse that trend, an analysis by federal actuaries predicts fewer workers will have insurance through an employer as a result of the new law. Still, that's not the whole story.

The number of people with employer insurance will total 164.5 million by 2019 compared to a predicted 165.9 million who would have been insured through an employer had the system not been changed. Employers currently provide 159 million people with health insurance, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Apr 22

Lack of data on hospital quality drives up employers' costs

Posted by Jeremy Smerd in healthcarehealth insurancehealth carebenefits

Jeremy Smerd

As any CFO knows, we live in a data-driven world. That is, until it comes time for employers to choose the hospitals they include in their health care networks.

Of course, not all hospitals are equal. People get that. But in determining which hospitals are best, reputation often trumps objective data. Each year, for instance, U.S. News and World Reports publishes its list of top 50 hospitals in the United States. The reach of the magazine is deep and wide and therefore what it says matters both to patients and to the revenue and reputation of the hospitals they evaluate.

Apr 15

COBRA subsidy provides stealth economic stimulus

Posted by Jeremy Smerd in healthcarehealth insurancehealth careCOBRACareers/Managementbenefits

Jeremy Smerd

On Monday, the Senate stopped a filibuster after four Republicans voted with all 59 Democrats to take up a bill, most likely Thursday, that would extend a federal subsidy to help newly laid off workers stay on their employers' health insurance.

The subsidy is indeed generous. The federal government will continue to pay 65 percent of a laid-off worker's health-care premium. Congress passed the first premium subsidy at the height of the Great Recession when scores of people were laid off. The subsidy is good for at least 18 months. 

Apr 01

Medicare’s likely new chief seen as key to reform

Posted by Jeremy Smerd in retirementhealthcarehealth insurancehealth carebenefits

Jeremy Smerd

On Tuesday, I wrote that the new health reform law, for various reasons, will further erode employer-sponsored retiree health benefits. For employers bent on maintaining the primacy of the employer-based health care system this is a disappointing development. But it need not be all bad.

Here’s one way to look at it. The erosion of retiree health will lead more patients into Medicare, further burdening the federal program and making more urgent the need to change the way health care is paid for in the United States.

Mar 30

A last gasp for employer-provided retiree drug benefits

Posted by Jeremy Smerd in RegulationJeremy Smerdhealth insurancehealth careFASBCFObenefits

Jeremy Smerd

Time was you could work for a company for life and it would give you health care till your dying day. No longer. The number of companies offering retiree health benefits has been on the decline for years.

The current tempest over the repeal of a tax-free subsidy to companies that provide prescription drug coverage to retirees is, at heart, one final and dramatic last gasp of a system that has been in its death throes for years.

Nov 10

Pearls before swine-flu skeptics

Posted by RedConn in John GoffH1N1benefits


Senator Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) on Tuesday introduced legislation that would guarantee employees paid sick leave if they come down with swine flu or other infectious diseases.

Dodd's proposal is similar to one introduced by California Representative George Miller last week. Both pieces of emergency legislation require an employer to provide an H1N1-infected worker with up to five days of sick leave. To qualify for the paid sick leave, the worker must be directed to stay home by the employer.

Oct 29

Business lobby says the public option would help insurers

Posted by Ron F in PricewaterhouseCoopersObama Administrationhealth insurancehealth carebenefits

Ron F

The Business Roundtable has weighed in on health-care reform by arguing, in effect, that the Congressional Budget Office doesn't know what it's talking about.

The argument, which echoes one made by other critics, is that health-care legislation that includes the so-called public option, where the government would let some patients without private insurance choose a taxpayer-subsidized plan, would lead to higher insurance premiums on private plans.

Oct 23

Excise tax the AMT of health care?

Posted by RedConn in John Goffhealth insurancehealth carebenefits


When pundits and politicians get on the air and start talking health care -- in thirty-second sound bites, no less -- it's hard not to wince.

Few issues are as complicated as the U.S. medical system. Opponents of reform can easily cherry-pick proposals that, when taken by themselves, sound idiotic. They can also have a field day with studies and forecasts.

Oct 08

Baucus health plan will cut the deficit: CBO

Posted by RedConn in John Goffhealth insurancehealth carebenefits


It looks like the tide may be turning in favor of health-insurance reform.

The Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation on Thursday released a preliminary analysis of the health-insurance bill currently being debated by the Senate Finance Committee. That bill's principal sponsor is Sen. Max Baucus, the blue dog Democrat from Montana.

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