Tuesday’s Tidbits

Govexec.com reports that the Senate leadership has unveiled a continuing resolution to fund federal government operations at current fiscal year levels through December 3, 2010. The Senate may vote on the resolution tomorrow. However, according to the Politico, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D La) has placed a hold on Senate floor consideration of the nomination of Jacob “Jack” Lew to be Office of Management and Budget Director.

Hewitt Associates, the benefits consulting firm, published a survey of 350 large employers projecting “an 8.8 percent average [health benefits] premium increase for employers [in 2011], compared to 6.9 percent in 2010 and 6.0 percent in 2009.” OPM should be releasing 2011 FEHB premiums soon. The FEHBlog, who is not an actuary, found this fact surprising:

In 2010, Hewitt saw average cost increases of 7.8 percent for health maintenance organizations (HMOs), 6.9 percent for point-of-service (POS) plans and 6.3 percent for preferred provider organizations (PPOs).

For 2011, Hewitt forecasts that companies will have average cost increases of 8.5 percent for PPOs and POS plans. Companies will see an average cost increase of 9.4 percent for HMOs. That means from 2010 to 2011, the average cost per person for major companies will increase from $8,671 to $9,408 for PPOs; $9,373 to $10,254 for HMOs; and $9,747 to $10,575 for POS plans.

This may result from the fact that HMOs tend to be concentrated in higher cost urban areas. Hewitt reports that

In 2010, a few U.S. markets experienced rate increases significantly higher than the national average. Five major metropolitan areas in California, for example, experienced rate increases of 10 percent or higher: Los Angeles (10.2 percent), Orange County (10.6 percent), Sacramento (10.7 percent), San Diego (10.8 percent), and San Francisco (10.4 percent). Other U.S. cities experiencing higher-than-average rate increases included Charlotte (9.7 percent); Newark, NJ (10.8 percent); Philadelphia (10 percent); and Tampa (9.2 percent). Conversely, Columbus, Ohio (4.3 percent); Dallas/Ft. Worth (3.7 percent); Portland, OR (4.6 percent); and Washington D.C. (4.0 percent) experienced lower-than-average rate increases in 2010.

The Labor Department has posted on its EBSA website the 145 public comments submitted on the June 28 Affordable Care Act regulations implementing the patient protection provisions.  Also posted there are the archives of the Labor Department’s webinar on the Affordable Care Act presented earlier this month. You’ll find them under the Webcasts heading on the upper right hand side of the page.