I frequently come across interesting information that, while not lending itself to a full blog post, is still worth sharing. This post is part of a periodic series in which I summarize this information and provide links for those who want to learn more.
• “About 53% of consumers are oblivious to costs and tend to go along with whatever is suggested. Only one in 10 is inclined to be price sensitive,” says Paul H. Keckley, PhD, executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. That quote just about says it all about the current state of health care consumerism. The full study cited in the article is available here.
• The U.S. Census Bureau offers a glimpse into the demographic future. Although most companies are not planning as far ahead as 2060, the data indicate that for the foreseeable future we should expect more of the demographic trends we are already seeing, including greater diversity, an aging population and a pool of workers that will increase in number but decline as a percentage of the overall population.
• CFOs interested in pension risk transfer should take note of a federal district court ruling in Texas that refused an injunction against Verizon’s plan to transfer some $7.5 billion in pension liabilities by purchasing annuities through Prudential. Attorney Carol Buckmann offers information for pension plan sponsors interested in tracking pension risk transfer developments: “This recent decision should allay plan sponsor concerns. Annuitizing retiree benefits is not a new development, and is authorized in regulations issued under ERISA. PBGC did ask for public comments a few years ago about whether annuity purchases prior to plan termination should be restricted, expressing concern about possible issues, but announced in 2010 that it would not pursue any rule-making on these annuity purchases.”
• The Kaiser Family Foundation released a snapshot comparing costs, employee contribution levels and coverage rates between small firms (3 to 199 employees) and large firms (200 or more employees). The report also provides a regional breakdown of average premiums for single and family coverage.
The report concludes that differences in accessibility, affordability and coverage of employer-sponsored health insurance varies considerably between small and large firms. “The smallest firms are about half as likely to offer coverage to their employees as are large firms. While family premiums are less expensive at small firms, covered workers face higher premium contributions and higher cost sharing in the form of higher deductibles. The lower offer rate combined with greater cost-sharing responsibilities for workers in small firms may limit the ability of small firms to attract and retain employees.”
However, the authors conclude that, “While the ACA (Affordable Care Act) will meaningfully impact the availability and scope of insurance coverage, many of the contributing factors to the differences in cost sharing and premiums between small and large employer health benefits are likely to remain.”