One of the contributors to the always worthy and interesting The Health Care Blog, Mike Turpin, has some very interesting and challenging advice for HR benefits managers as they consider how to respond to the changes wrought by the Affordable Care Act. For example, here’s a short excerpt:

Don’t be intimidated by self-insurance – Many employers underestimate the advantages of self-insurance and overestimate its complexity and risk.  But, in a post reform world, firms with more than 200 employees should give serious consideration to partial or total self-funding.  Aside from the total transparency of commissions, fees, administrative expenses and pooling charges, employers own their own data. The sooner employers get comfortable with self-insurance as a risk financing strategy, the sooner HR professionals can construct loss control programs that can mitigate claims costs.”

Mr. Turpin is currently the Executive Vice President for Benefits for the New York based broker, USI insurance Services and was formerly northeast regional CEO for United Healthcare and Oxford Health.  Great food for thought, and recommended reading.

This just out in the New York Times: the Obama administration expects Medicare Advantage premiums to drop slightly in 2011. With new power to negotiate with insurers and reject bids granted by the PPACA, “[CMS] negotiated more aggressively than in the past,” according Jonathan D. Blum, deputy administrator of the Medicare agency. According to the Times report:

“Medicare officials negotiated changes with most of the 300 plans. ‘As a result of these negotiations, Mr. Blum said, ‘plans improved their benefits by $13 per member per month, or 5 percent, on average. The average reduction of about $155 per member per year for the 966,000 beneficiaries resulted in estimated total savings of $150 million for beneficiaries in 2011.’

Good news for individuals and for employers who offer group Medicare Advantage plans to their retirees….

The Census Bureau has just released a report titled Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2009 and the trend in insurance coverage shows that health care reform is more needed than ever.  While median household income didn’t change between 2008 and 2009, both the number of households considered poor, and the number of uninsured individuals, showed significant increases. One very interesting statistic: the number of people covered by Medicare in 2009 was not statistically different than the number covered by Medicare in 2008. Read the rest of this entry »

Aon Consulting has just published its predictions for medical plan cost increases in 2011.  Based on a survey of more than 60 health insurance carriers, Aon projects that in 2011 health care costs will increase by:

  • 10.5 percent for HMOs
  • 10.6 percent for POS plans
  • 10.7 percent for PPOs
  • 11 percent for CDH plans 

For Medicare-eligible retirees over the age of 65, Aon projects rates to grow by 7.5 percent for Medicare Supplement plans and 6.7 percent for Medicare Advantage plans.

We are pleased to report that Extend Health recently debuted on the 2010 Inc 500 list of fastest growing private companies in the United States. Over the past 3 calendar years, Extend Health grew annual revenue in excess of 2,500% and is the 94th fastest growing company on the 2010 list. In addition, of the companies listed in the top 100 of the 2010 Inc 500, Extend Health is in the top 15 in terms of total annual revenue at $36 million+ in annual revenue. Here is a just a sampling of what our company has achieved:

  • Extend Health pioneered the health plan exchange concept before it became a term of art and a significant part the Health Care Reform Act which will be implemented over the next 4-10 years.
  • Extend Health has saved its clients over $1 billion in wasted health care spending over the past 3 years.
  • Extend Health is changing the way that employers deliver health care in the United States, and their retirees can choose from a range of plans instead of the one-size-fits-all group plan.
  • The public sector is waking up to the fact that they are unnecessarily overspending on retiree health care coverage. Public employer interest in an exchange model will continue to grow in an environment where financial pressures on public sector budgets will only increase.
  • Extend Health’s technology and carrier/client integrations are the industry-leading standard.

Stay tuned to this space in the months to come – we are incredibly excited about what’s coming next for Extend Health.

Extend Health, our client Volkswagen, and Ford retiree spouse Barry Wood are all part of this very interesting piece just out on Information Week. The story investigates how our web-based and call center technology, much of it developed in-house, work together with our highly-trained benefit advisors to help retirees navigate the “maze of Medicare.” Mr. Wood says that Extend Health’s services “took the fear out of making the wrong choice.” Thanks Mr. Wood – that’s exactly what we aim for: confidence that the plan you enroll in is your best possible choice.