The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Health Reform Source offers an excellent, and we do mean excellent, “Reform Implementation Timeline” tool. Easy to use, easy to understand, it’s the definitive guide to when provisions of the ACA kick in between now and 2018. Highly recommended resource for individuals, employers, insurance carriers, and anyone else with questions about health care reform.

The state of Nevada will work with Extend Health to move Medicare-eligible retired government workers from group Medicare insurance to private coverage. In the process, the state expects to save $8 million and retirees will pay less for their Medicare gap insurance.

“By purchasing individual plans on a health insurance exchange, retirees will have more choice and control over their health care coverage, and the opportunity to select plans that are right for them,” according to James Wells, executive director of the Nevada Public Employees Benefit Program.

You can read more about the state’s decision in this Bloomberg Business Week article.

Our CEO Bryce Williams recently talked to the San Francisco Business Times about our exchange and how this model can provide cost savings both for employers and their retirees. You’ll need to subscribe (at no cost) to the e-journal to read the whole article, but here’s an excerpt of the discussion:

“Extend Health offers clients — mostly big firms — control over costs by ditching the high premiums of group plans for lump sums placed into employee health care accounts. So far, the company has saved its clients over $1 billion; the average family saves $500 annually….

“The one-size-fits-all model is dead and going to continue to die off,” Williams said. “There is a massive amount of overspending for health coverage today that doesn’t need to be happening.”

 In “Retiree Benefits Are Cheating Our Children,” his latest column for Newsweek Magazine, Robert J. Samuelson urges state and local governments to reduce or eliminate health care benefits for retirees. Extend Health feels that Mr. Samuelson’s suggestion is unfair to the teachers, firefighters, police, and yes, even the administrative personnel who took  jobs in the public sector in good faith that a lifetime of service for the public good would not put their or their families’ health and well being at risk when they retired.

We suggest that there’s a better way. State and local governments facing budget-busting health care liabilities can use a Medicare exchange now and get better buying power for their Medicare-eligible retirees with actuarial certainty of future spending. In 2014, early retirees can use the new state-run exchanges to buy individual policies at competitive prices, and their employers can manage long-term financial obligations by limiting their contribution – without breaking commitments made in good faith to people who chose a life of service. It’s a win-win solution that is working today – so that neither retirees nor their children and grandchildren are cheated.

We announced today that Wellesley, Massachusetts-based Harvard Pilgrim Health Care has joined our exchange, bringing the number of carriers to 67 and the number of Medicare supplemental plans to more than 3,500. Harvard Pilgrim plans have consistently been rated “excellent” by NCQA. Read the press release here or visit Harvard Pilgrim’s web site here.

Employee Benefit Research Institute has just published an issue brief that estimates how much money someone retiring at 65 will need to pay for health care costs throughout retirement.  The good news: due primarily to the closing of the Part D “doughnut hole,” costs have dropped significantly since 2008, the last time EBRI did this analysis. The bad news: it’s still quite a lot of money. Read the rest of this entry »