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4th Quarter 2008

Quote of the Quarter: “A problem is a chance to do your best.” Duke Ellington

Report Says Medicare Is Stronger Insurance Model Than Federal Employees Health Benefits Program
Excerpt: “Medicare’s relatively low overhead makes it a better model for a publicly run health insurance option for people without employer-provided coverage than the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, a health care expert said on Wednesday. ‘The Medicare program, as it’s currently constituted, needs reform,’ said Jacob Hacker, co-director of the University of California-Berkeley School of Law’s Center on Health, Economic and Family Security. ‘But I argue that a new public plan could embody many reforms and in doing so, could set a high standard for private plans.'” (

The Medicare Part D Coverage Gap: Costs and Consequences in 2007
Excerpt: “This study quantifies, for the first time, the number of Medicare Part D plan enrollees in 2007 who reached a gap in their prescription drug coverage known as the ‘doughnut hole,’ as well as the changes in beneficiaries’ use of medications and out-of-pocket spending after they reached that gap. The analysis excludes beneficiaries who receive low-income subsidies because they do not face a gap in coverage under their Medicare drug plan.” (Kaiser Family Foundation)

[Guidance Overview] Solving Small Employers’ GASB 45 Puzzle
Excerpt: “GASB 45 has already placed requirements on large government entities. Now smaller public employers face their own deadlines. GASB 45 poses a particular challenge to these entities because of the cost of valuing the liability and the potential size of the liability relative to their overall budget. This article outlines a sensible approach for these smaller public employers.” (Milliman)

Some Medicare beneficiaries do not understand benefits

One-third of Medicare beneficiaries surveyed said they are either unfamiliar or very unfamiliar with their health benefits. Researchers say understanding Medicare benefits is linked to outcomes and quality of care, so educational programs and simpler policies could have a major effect on people’s ability to get needed care. The Washington Post/HealthDay News (11/25)

National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems Produces Report on OPEB Challenges for Retiree Medical Benefit Programs
Excerpt: “National Conference on Public Employee Retirement System has issued a beautifully-done publication entitled ‘The OPEB Challenge – Mapping a comprehensive strategy for public employers.’ Many public sector employers provide retiree medical benefits as a supplement to ‘traditional’ pension benefits. With limited accounting recognition and pay-as-you-go funding, these benefits have not always received the attention that most agree they deserve. That situation is changing . . . .” (Cypen & Cypen)

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