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2012 Iowa Employer Benefits Study©

David P. Lind BenchmarkWe are very pleased that over 1,200 Iowa employers have responded to our 2012 Iowa Employer Benefits Study©, which is the highest response in the 14 years of performing this survey! To put this response into meaningful perspective, the 2012 Kaiser/HRET Employer Health Benefits Survey, a highly-regarded national survey, reported 604 respondents in the Midwest Region that consists of 12 states (including Iowa).  In other words, our survey has twice the respondents…in just ONE state! This means that we are able to accurately report the specific benefits offered by Iowa employers using extremely credible data.

In addition to having this phenomenal response, we will unveil new and exciting enhancements with this year’s study in mid-October. Some of the changes include:

  • The Overall Summary report of the 2012 Iowa Employer Benefits Study© will now be available in an electronic format, allowing employers to access this report on our website. This summary will be very similar to the printed summaries produced in the past. Printed studies will no longer be available.
  • Employers who have responded to the 2012 Survey will be sent an invitation in mid-October to download this report using a specific pass code.
  • Employers that have not participated in the 2012 Survey will be able to download this Overall Summary report.  A fee will be required to access this report.
  • Separate industry reports will also be available for purchase. The industries we report on include:
    • Manufacturing
    • Retail
    • Finance and Insurance
    • Healthcare and Social Services
    • State and Local Governments (including Public Education)
    • All Other Industries (included in the Overall Report only)

In addition to the above enhancements, we’ll be introducing a new benchmarking tool during the first quarter 2013, allowing employers to compare their specific benefit offering with other Iowa employers. The benchmarking tool is being developed with simplicity and intuitiveness in mind. Please visit our website frequently to learn when this tool will be available.

Learn when all six reports will be available in October by subscribing to our blog.

Study Factoids Worth Noting…

David P. Lind BenchmarkEvery now and then I will provide a few slides of study information that demonstrate a quick trend on benefits offered by Iowa employers. Each slide requires little if any commentary from me, as it will allow you to draw your own conclusions about the potential consequences within the Iowa employment community.

The first slide illustrates the average contributions paid by employees with single and family health coverage from 1999 to 2011.

David P. Lind Benchmark

The next two slides provide a great example of how consistent the employee contributions for both single and family coverage have been since the year 2000.

 David P. Lind Benchmark

David P. Lind Benchmark







Health Care Snow Globe Continues…

David P. Lind BenchmarkIn May, 2010, I posted a blog on the website of Jensen Consulting making an analogy between a snow globe and the newly-created Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Recently at lunch, almost two and one half years following the passage of this mammoth law, I was asked by a colleague what insight I had on the ACA. I responded by using the snow globe analogy…which continues to be very relevant in 2012 and beyond.

Below is the blog written over 30 months ago.

Imagine, if you will, living in a snow globe for many years. I know, this lifestyle sounds very limiting (if not downright corny!). Such an existence would most likely result in familiarity with your surroundings, including most events and activities, possibly generating some boredom. A snow globe life also allows for a more consistent and a relatively predictable world for all others who live with you in this globe.

Then, without much notice and beyond your control, the snow globe is picked up by an external, ‘omnipotent force’ who proceeds to shake the living daylights out of the globe, rocking your world to its core. After numerous violent shakes, the snow globe is set back down on the table … upside down! You find yourself in a mountain of snow, feverishly digging out of the suffocating mess to view the new arbitrarily created terrain. Your environment now looks frighteningly foreign. In fact, it remains a blizzard for the unforeseeable future, most likely for years to come.

The above analogy fits appropriately for all employers, insurance companies, health care professionals, benefit consultants and countless other individuals and entities who are (or will be) affected by the recently passed health care reform law. Also known as The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), the provisions within PPACA are massive in scope and will require extensive clarification and regulation by the various governmental agencies, including state agencies. Some provisions, such as the Small Business Federal Health Care Tax Credit and the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program will take place in 2010. The extension of coverage to employees’ adult children up to age 26 and the elimination of lifetime dollar limits on medical insurance plans will take effect for plan years beginning on or after September 23, 2010. Many other provisions will apply in 2011, 2012 and in 2013 … too many to list in this particular blog.

But the year 2014, will most closely resemble the ‘upside down’ analogy of the snow globe. New rules will require insurers to accept every individual or employer who applies for coverage, which is not a bad thing, but there will be additional associated costs with this. The new law establishes state-run health exchanges, which will act like purchasing cooperatives for individuals and small businesses with up to 50 employees. An individual mandate will go into effect, which means that anyone caught without health insurance faces only a $95 penalty, but this fine will get bigger every year, maxing out at the greater of $695 or 2.5 percent of a person’s taxable income in 2019. Employers with 50 or more employees that elect not to provide health insurance coverage will face a $2,000 fine per employee if an employee receives subsidized coverage from the federal government. The employer penalty may look attractive, especially when the average annual premium in Iowa, based on our 2009 Iowa Employer Benefits Study©, is $4,440 for single coverage and $11,556 for employees who have family coverage. In other words, why would larger employers offer health coverage if paying the penalty is a cheaper option? The specifics of the above provisions are extremely complicated and convoluted, if not problematic to administer. Since the government would subsidize much of the health insurance cost for low-income workers available through the exchanges, the incentives for retaining an employer plan could very well erode altogether. (2011 Study data is found here).

With all legislation, there are both intended and unintended consequences.  But with this colossal law, a clear understanding of the intended and unintended consequences will not come for many years. Reform will certainly include more of the currently uninsured within the insured ranks, but we really don’t know at what additional cost. In my opinion, this legislation has not addressed the fundamental issues of rising health care costs, which means that health insurance costs will continue to increase at unabated rates. The snow will continue to fall for quite some time, requiring all of us to keep our shovels close by.

After reading this blog now, I realize that the snow continues to fall while we look to replace the shovel with a snow blower.

Hmm, it appears we all live in a perpetual health care snow globe.