This week in benefits

A round-up of the week’s employee benefits news, reports and controversy from around the web

Top health care reform story this week

A billion-dollar idea? Members of the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday approved a measure that would alter the formula used to determine family eligibility for federal subsidies on health insurance purchases guaranteed under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. The revised formula will include Social Security benefits as part of the income calculation to determine eligibility for federal subsidies. The measure could save the government $13 billion between 2014 and 2021. All well and good, notes The Hill’s Julien Pecquet, but the more restrictive eligibility requirements make it harder to get help for many of the people who need it most.

This week’s health care reform picks:

How doctors could rescue health care (The New York review of Books)

Everything you wanted to know about health reform, in one comic book (The Washington Post)

SCOTUS adds health care petitioner (Politico)

Health care: A new civil rights movement? (The Seattle Times)

Truth squad: Is health care reform the top reason employers aren’t hiring? (CNN)

Romney turns “Romneycare” question back on Perry (CBS News)

In seeking rate increases in New York, insurers fight to keep secrets (The New York Times)

Next occupy – Wall Street-run health insurance companies (Huffington Post)

Health insurers bid to take elderly poor out of U.S. plans (Bloomberg)

Top retirement story this week

Battling the retirement conundrum. The economic downturn is to blame for retirement plan participation leveling off this decade after sharp growth in the 1990s, according to a report released this week by the the Employee Benefit Research Institute. The volatile economy certainly hasn’t helped flagging investor optimism, but neither does ignorance. A new study by the MetLife Mature Market Institute concludes that Americans lack sufficient knowledge about how to save enough for retirement. Meanwhile, the industry is struggling find ways to help investors prepare for retirement. Next week is National Save for Retirement Week, and at least one company is launching a campaign to heighten investor awareness. Consumers also now have access to more online tools to aid in planning, and more companies are offering retirement plans for businesses.

This week’s retirement picks:

U.S. pension plan deficit reaches a post-WWII high (Mercer)

Wall Street shrinkage (The Wall Street Journal)

Why women should think differently about retirement (U.S. News & World Report)

Retirement basics for young investors (Seeking Alpha)

Are variable annuities a good deal or a ripoff? (Forbes)

The latest retirement strategy: Become a landlord (TIME)

Retirement planning for those who live past 100 (San Francisco Chronicle)

Top HR / benefits story this week

Open enrollment season. October means that open enrollment is in full swing, and that translated to lots of frenzied HR managers and baffled employees. BenefitsPro’s Liz Davidson advises ongoing and proactive benefits communication to reduce employee dependency on direct HR guidance, thereby minimizing a company’s fiduciary exposure as well as the strain on beleaguered benefits managers’ time. However, more collateral material could exacerbate the need for a one-on-one benefits consultation for employees already overwhelmed by the volume of material, forms and plan choices. Yes, employees may be suffering from rate increase sticker-shock and a plethora of choices, but at least they have access to guaranteed coverage, Andy Miller of Kaiser Health News points out. Miller offers some sensible tips to help employees survive open enrollment.

This week’s HR/benefits picks:

Do programs that pay people to lose weight really work? (The Washington Post)

Six innovative family-friendly workplace practices (Huffington Post)

A health insurance plan with a retirement kicker (Bloomberg)

Long term care: Many don’t give it a thought until too late (The Sacramento Bee)

Health care’s brave new world of compulsory wellness (Bloomberg)

Employee turnover expected to grow in next 5 years (BenefitsPro)

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This week’s BenefitsPro blog roll:

A job a day won’t keep the doctors away, by Denis Storey

Reform’s a loaded word, by Jenny Ivy

Slim down and drop premiums, by Dan Cole

Coming in six months: A focus on 401(k) fees, by Chris Carosa

Consumerism comes to the consumer, by Marty Trussell

Follow the official Twitter feed for ‘This Week in Benefits’: @BenefitsWeek

About the Author
James E. Green

James E. Green

James E. Green is the Group Editorial Director of Summit Business Media's Life & Health Group, which includes National Underwriter Life & Health, Life Insurance Selling, Agent's Sales Journal, Senior Market Advisor, Producers Web, Benefits Selling and BenefitsPro.com.


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