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Week 1 1. Benefit plans Employer-sponsored benefits reflect the culture and business of the organization, and plans should be crafted and selected accordingly. Think about your current (or former) organization’s benefit plan. Did it help to improve the quality of your work as well as your personal life? Why or why not? Was it a generous benefits program or were there specific benefits you felt should have been included? We want more time off Today people are looking for benefits what will help them manage their work-life life-styles better.

Today, with the help of technology, employer is now starting to be more capable of offering flexible options with great results. Time off, seems to be another area that, I think, needs major improvement across the whole country. The average of two weeks’ vacation is way below the standard offered in all other countries, even third world countries have mandated better time off benefits embedded in their labor laws. I feel that we Americans work too hard, with little time to be more involved in raising our kids or even taking care of ourselves.

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No time for soccer practice with my kinds, no time to go to the gym so I can lose some weight, no time to cook a good health meal for the family. Our lives are hassle and hassle and hassle. To me, when it comes to benefits, time off carries a lot of weight. I rather have an additional week of vacation that 5K more in my pay. Benefit plans Our company is into sales, entertainment, sports. I think it would be kinda hard to model a plan accordingly. Our plans are more designed to the type of family you have because we have a big mixture of people.

I personally am not covered so I can’t really speak in terms of how it benefits my life. Of course I do have vacation time and such, which does allow me to take some to myself. One thing I think would help in my quality of work or personal life is a flexible schedule. What I do sometimes affect payroll, so I have to map out times off or half days. However there are times when I really could use off and not really need to be in, so I wouldn’t mind working an extra hour each day to have a half day later, or coming in earlier so I can leave earlier.

Mainly because I prefer working in teh morning. I feel it helps me stay more attentative. Benefit discussion Providing workers with paid vacation time is extremely common, and generally considered a low-cost benefit to offer. Two weeks paid leave is fairly standard for a small business in the U. S. Many companies start workers at two weeks and reward them with additional time off as they accrue seniority. Some companies will also pro-rate vacation time, so that new hires that start on or after July 1 are only offered a week’s vacation time in their first year. . Benefit Planning Process (graded)| As part of conducting a benefit plan needs assessment, a human resource professional must consider the organization’s business strategy as well as its compensation philosophy. What do you think is the next step that should be taken? What are some of the possible outcomes of a benefit plan needs assessment? depends of what stage of the life cycle of the organization is | Mark Lema | 4/25/2012 7:11:46 AM| | I guess It depends of what stage of the life cycle of the organization we are, and the industry we are.

I think that if we are new start-up business in the technology industry, we might need the best talent out there; therefore our strategy should be to offer very competitive benefits to attract and retain the best. Specially if they are highly skilled and in big demand. If I were to be in the “decline” stage or the organization, I might have to reduce cost and offer cost effective benefits to offset the costs and minimize expenses. | | RE: depends of what stage of the life cycle of the organization is | Harpreet Sandhu | 5/4/2012 7:53:32 PM| | Modified:5/4/2012 7:54 PM | I agree with my classmates that first it all depends on what stage the organization is in. Along with this in my opinion, the immediate external environment and the changing needs of the organization are the priority too. If there is lot of external competition then the organization might need to reevaluate its benefit plans to attract, retain and reward valued employees. In order to do this, human resources should conduct a thorough review of the current plan and gain a clear understanding of short and long term strategic and financial objectives. | What do you think is the next step that should be taken? | Catherine Flynn | 4/30/2012 11:46:54 AM| | I think they need to look at the employees themselves and what their needs are. Easier for smaller companies, but even for bigger companies you can do online surveys. Finding out what the employees want is kinda imperative because you may not have similar workers. You may have some single people who don’t need child care benefits, or older people who are into saving more so would really be interested in a 401k or Pension more than an FSA account necessarily. | RE: What do you think is the next step that should be taken? | Lynn Peirce | 5/1/2012 12:34:40 AM| | Hi Catherine, thanks for your post…. I think, as I have seen through my readings… companies simply are not offering pension plans. I would rather have that than a 401K. I think compnies should use surveys and interviews with kep personnale to see what employees really want after a needs assessment…. I imagine the results would be surprising. Management always seems to be disconnected from the “real” hard working backbone employees. | | RE: What do you think is the next step that should be taken? | Aaron Jones | 5/1/2012 6:04:19 AM| | This is true but they should reconnect themselves so they can find out what is really going on with there employees, the hard backbone employees need to know that they are notice for there hard work and when mangerment does  surveys and needs assessment this shows the employees that the organzation is concern about there hard working employees. | | Outcomes of an assessment | Catherine Flynn | 5/1/2012 11:18:52 AM| | I’m not sure what the book says.

However I would assume there could be many outcomes such as needs that might be too expensive to cover. Or perhaps not enough people want the same coverage or not enough people to meet the limit requirement for the insurance company. You can also find out that the benefit plan might not suit anyone at all and a serious change is needed. | | RE: Benefit Planning Process | Harpreet Sandhu | 5/6/2012 8:41:42 PM| | Most successful companies utilize business strategic planning to set priorities and goals for the organization’s future; outcomes include short-term goals and long-term strategies.

A clearly written, well designed strategic plan can align business units, divisions and employees so that the vision of the management team and the mission of the company can be fulfilled. As companies evolve and the environment changes it is critical for companies to maintain a disciplined execution of the strategic plan. However, if they are not aligned with the business strategy, are done independently, and are not linked to a multi-year strategy they can become a source of frustration and may create unintended outcomes.

By adopting a strategic benefit planning process, companies can make decisions regarding their benefits and health care with significantly less stress. Addressing the changing environment of health care will be approached with a more thoughtful long-term perspective and will be tied to the values and philosophy of the  company. | benefit plan | Manqing Liu | 5/4/2012 10:36:41 PM| | There are several external environmental factors considered in strategic benefits planning: Industry prospects, economic conditions, and forecasts Employer costs for compensation and benefits

Government regulation of employee benefits Changing demographics of the labor force| Next Step | Natasha Wylie | 5/11/2012 2:13:56 PM| | I think the next logical step would be for the company to do an evaluation in terms of both cost and employee need, to maintain a balance between direct wages and benefits. Wage increases and benefit changes independently can lead to excessive increases in payroll costs where the organization loses control of the situation. When benefits or one benefits costs are rising quickly, it impacts the organization’s ability to raise other parts of the compensation package. |

Week 2 discussion Role of Government (graded)| Other than the mandates of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) and a few other ineffectual reporting and disclosure requirements, benefit programs were practically unregulated by the federal government. Before the major shift that came with the enactment of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974, which was primarily aimed at traditional defined benefit (DB) pension plans but applicable to other employer sponsored retirement and benefit programs. What is the government’s current role in regulating the administration of employee benefits?

Do you think there is too little or too much government intervention? Why? Role of the government | Aaron Jones | 5/5/2012 4:23:24 AM| | 1. * Government regulates retirement plans, health benefit coverages, unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation benefits. Effects * Government regulation on unemployment insurance pays benefits to the unemployed. By regulating workers’ compensation benefits, states can control the amount an insurer pays, the kind of drug testing it requires and whether businesses with fewer employees are exempt from these laws.

With the 1974 Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the federal government establishes standards for retirement and health coverage that private businesses must offer. Liability * In states like North Carolina, the government subjects new employers to a standard tax rate at first. Once it has determined their actual rate, the state’s Employment Security Commission notifies the business by letter of its liability to pay unemployment taxes.

Significance * Not only do federal and state regulations on benefits guarantee certain types of coverage, they also establish minimum reporting standards and disclosure requirements for businesses that must document their compliance. Size * An expansive program, ERISA regulates benefits given to a company’s current and discontinued employees. It also mandates compliance with the Newborns’ Act, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, to name a few. information from: Government Regulations on Employee Benefits | eHow. om http://www. ehow. com/facts_5554578_government-regulations-employee-benefits. html#ixzz1tzOVqKAW. | RE: Role of Government | Sylvia Privette | 5/6/2012 8:53:03 AM| | Lynn and Aaron I agree with both of you. I don’t think the government intervenes enough. I believe they waited to long to help with this issue as they do with all issues. They wait until they are out of control or the government is tired of paying for the people because they are short on funds, so they attack. Had this issue been dealt with before the backlash would not be so drastic. As Aaron stated it took this particular president to do something.

I look back at the wheel and the economy if you don’t work for the big companies, then its difficult for the smaller ones to give great benefits. The Healthcare plan is a good one, but possible at an inconvenient time for companies financially. In response to Lynn I too believe the government should provide healthcare coverage but to the needy. If you are employed then your employer should offer heathcare and the employee should be covered, contributing or not. The government is now complaining that are not only giving health care to the needy and companies can help bare some of the cost.

We all know healthcare is expensive | | RE: Role of Government | Manqing Liu | 5/12/2012 9:54:07 PM| | The government’s role in the retirement income area has been dictated primarily by historical factors. Beginning in the late 19th century, the economy of the United States changed fairly rapidly from predominantly agricultural to predominantly industrial and service oriented. Coinciding with this change—and probably in response to it—the large, supportive extended family of the agricultural economy was largely replaced by smaller, more fragmented family units.

The shift away from agriculture reduced the amount of economically useful work available to older people, and family structural changes reduced the amount of family support for the aged. | | RE: Role of Government | Aaron Jones | 5/7/2012 6:04:07 AM| | This is the way the system likes to operate, they will let an situation like this one get so far out of hand then have meeting about the matter and really get nothing done instead they fight on issues that they know should have been address  long before Barack Obama came along.

Now that he is here he just wants do do the job he was put in office for taking care the American people and use all the funds in a wisely matter so all can live a more comfortable life. Healthcare is expensive and with the right program in place the cost can be handle if they  take the right action regarding this matter. | Do you think there is too little or too much government intervention? Why? | Catherine Flynn | 5/9/2012 8:26:36 PM| | All benefits are so complex it takes a lot to work plans out, so having regulations I think is helpful.

However I don’t feel that the government should get more involved than they already are because I feel that they are almost trying to control what I can and cannot have, and that is what I don’t agree with. I mentioned before about the Individual Mandate Clause in the new healthcare plan that is being voted on and I personally do not appreciate being told what I can and cannot buy. It should be my choice to purchase health insurance if I want it or not, and this clause is taking that choice away from me. | | Do you think there is too little or too much government intervention? Why? Norma Vega | 5/9/2012 11:32:52 PM| | I think there are too little. While there are some penalties and sanctions imposed by ERISA, through the Department of Labor, these are for violations on the administration of the employee benefits programs of those who voluntarily designed employee benefits plans. How about for those who opted not to voluntarily design employee benefits plans and programs? REFERENCES:Pndyck, Robert S. (2005). Microeconomics. Pearson Education, Inc. http://www. dol. gov/compliance/guide/erisa. htm#who | | To ensure there is fair environment for competition | Mark Lema | 5/10/2012 7:15:33 AM| In my opinion, the government’s role is to primarily set a minimum standard. As they do for the minimum wage. Then to enforce de law, and to ensure there is fair environment for competition and no monopolies are developed. Competition will drive the quality of benefits. | Government Mandates | Professor Blanco | 5/10/2012 1:12:34 PM| | Class-   intereesting that many of you feel that “government should provide benefits”. Let’s take a look at that. Benefits are very expensive, we know. But why? What is driving the cost of these benefits? How do you propose the “government provided benefits” will be paid? | RE: Government Mandates | Crystal Johnson | 5/10/2012 4:30:08 PM| | One thing that is raising the cost of benefits is specialty drug prescriptions. Specialty drugs for  multiple sclerosis can cost $2,500 to $3,800 a month. The cost of staying alive on drugs is sky rocketing. Prescription drug companies are making a killing with their patents and over charge the public to fix erectile dysfunction or having long lashes. However, drugs that actually extend your life and true quality of life should be augmented so everyone can benefit or at least let people have reasonable access to them.

I know that sex and long eye lashes are meaningful to quality of life, but not as much as asma medication or kidney cleansing drugs for dialys patients. http://www. shrm. org/hrdisciplines/benefits/Articles/Pages/SpecialtyDrugs. aspx | | | RE: Government Mandates | Manqing Liu | 5/11/2012 11:15:52 PM| | I found something interesting about government provided benefits: A 2008 poll of 1,400 Americans by the Cornell Survey Research Institute found that when people were asked whether they had “ever used a government social program,” 57 percent said they had not.

Respondents were then asked whether they had availed themselves of any of 21 different federal policies, including Social Security, unemployment insurance, the home-mortgage-interest deduction and student loans. It turned out that 94 percent of those who had denied using programs had benefited from at least one; the average respondent had used four. http://www. nytimes. com/2011/09/20/opinion/our-hidden-government-benefits. html| | | What is the government’s current role in regulating the administration of employee benefits | Natasha Wylie | 5/13/2012 5:43:14 PM| The basis of ERISA is to provide protection of employee benefit rights. ERISA has a few major objectives, they are: To ensure that workers and beneficiaries receive adequate information about their plans To set standards od conduct for those managing employee benefits plans  and plan funds To determine that adequate funds are being set aside to pay promised pension benefits To ensure that workers receive pension benefits after they satisfied minimum requirements To safeguard pension benefits for workers whose pension plans are terminated | | | Do you think there is too little or too much government intervention?

Why? | Natasha Wylie | 5/13/2012 6:05:23 PM| | I’m on the fence about whether there is too much government intervention in the administering of employee benefits. I’m sure that both sides could argue where oversight is needed and where there is too much involvement. Whether the oversight is handled by the government or another agency, I do believe that someone should look out for the best interest of employees, and ensure things related to benefits are handled in a proper manner. |

Government Mandated Benefits (graded)| There are certain benefits that are legislatively mandated and cannot be altered or dropped by an organization for any reason other than the organization is closing its doors for good! Social Security and Medicare, unemployment insurance, worker’s compensation, COBRA and FMLA are all federal and state mandated programs. What do you think determines the types of programs that the government chooses to make mandatory? Do you feel these programs are efficient and effective?

Why or why not? | Government Mandated Benefits | Lynn Peirce | 5/6/2012 2:55:19 AM| | My feeling is that the U. S. economy plays a large part in determining the types of programs the government makes mandatory, in order to help and protect U. S. citizens in times of need, for example, COBRA. Some of these programs go back many years in their enactment, such as the Social Security Act of 1935, when the U. S. had the foresight to help aid in retirement of older workers (and that was post-Depression and pre-WWII).

Some of these programs are efficient, such unemployment insurance (even though it should last longer), and some are not, such as Medicare (seniors still have to purchase supplemental insurance or pay out-of-pocket costs). Social Security may not even be around in another 25 years. I think these programs started out well, and the intentions are good, but they became financially strapped. See http://www. socialsecurityreform. org/problem/index. cfm. | | RE: Government Mandated Benefits | Sylvia Privette | 5/6/2012 8:06:52 PM| | I agree with both of you.

The government does what it feels is necessary when monies are tight for them and for companies. The state of the economy determines in which way the wheel should turn. If it too expensive for the government then they want more from employers, however they also know that employers will want something in return i. e. , tax incentives. The government should have stepped in long ago before these problems became bigger problems. Aaron you make a good point. The government should make sure that the employees they have working in these positions are educated nough to do so. The proper training and supervision is most important. Mishandling of funds is a big issue for the government and it seems as if they need the corporations help in bailing them out financially. I am grateful for the programs that the government has mandated, however, I think the government could regulate more benefits programs. | RE: Social Security ; Government Benefits | Lynn Peirce | 5/10/2012 11:03:05 PM| | Jill, as we discussed in class, Social Security was implemented in 1935, after the Depression, and was only meant to be temporary.

Since the system is already broken, and the government is trying to fix it, healthcare will be regulated by the federal government… but as we discussed in class, Obamacare will have to be tweaked in order to satisfy those who are opposed to it, as well as make it more feasible to implement and operate. I imagine this will be a nightmare. I found this great article about Social Security, written from the viewpoint of a sociologist, on the origins of Social Security and how it is being “reformed”: http://www2. ucsc. edu/whorulesamerica/power/social_security. tml If the current social security dliemma, is not fixed, I feel that the consequences will be dire. | Do you feel these programs are efficient and effective? Why or why not? | Natasha Wylie | 5/13/2012 7:35:53 PM| | Personally speaking I think that these programs are effective. I have used FMLA, after giving birth to my daughter. T he Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives eligible employees 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for themselves or a relative suffering from a serious health condition, a newborn baby, recently adopted child or a new foster child.

Also covered are emergencies that occur when a relative who is a member of the National Guard or Reserves is called to active duty. To qualify, employees must work for a covered employer for a minimum of 1,250 hours during the designated 12-month qualifying period. Its a relief to not worry about securing your position while out on FMLA. There were times when if an employee needed to be out of work for and extended period of time, there positions weren’t held. | Week 3 discussion Healthcare Cost Management (graded)|

Many Americans benefit from the investments in healthcare; however, the recent cost growth, coupled with the economic downturn and rising national deficit, has placed a great strain on the financial systems used to finance healthcare, including private employer-sponsored health insurance coverage and public insurance programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid. What is the responsibility of individuals for the cost of their care? Are health savings accounts and high-deductible insurance policies an approach that should be expanded? What are the concerns for low-income individuals?

Healthcare cost management | Aaron Jones | 5/12/2012 7:12:54 AM| | The Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes a provision similar to AMA policy on individual responsibility, which is scheduled to take effect in 2014. The Congressional Budget Office predicts the ACA will expand coverage to 32 million more Americans by 2016. Several of the new benefits included in the health reform law, such as an end to coverage denials based on pre-existing conditions, are only made possible by increasing the number of Americans participating in the health insurance market.

Individual responsibility for health insurance allows patients to take ownership of their health care needs, decreases the number of uninsured — now estimated at 50 million nationwide — and helps make popular insurance market reforms possible. By promoting individual responsibility and increasing the number of insured individuals, we improve the health of Americans and keep hidden costs from being passed along to all of us * HSA/HDHPs are a highly tax-advantaged savings vehicle appealing to people who have high incomes and to those who are expected to have low use of health care services.

For the uninsured, these approaches are less attractive since they often have low income and neither benefit significantly from the tax advantages now have the financial assets necessary to cover the large deductibles associated with the plans. * Their ability to reduce system-wide spending is very limited. * The plans have the potential to increase segmentation of health care risk in private insurance markets unless employers set premiums to offset the healthier selection into the plans or government subsidizes the higher costs associated with the remaining non-HSA market.

The plans have thus far been less attractive that prononents envisioned, the authors add, so their potentially negative ramifications on populations with high medical needs have been limited. However, they say, “efforts to expand enrollment in these plans through further tax incentives, for example, could place growing financial burdens on those least able to absorb them, leading to more barriers to medical care for the low-income and the sick and fewer insurance options. www. rwjf. org/pr/product. | Healthcare Cost Management | Lynn Peirce | 5/12/2012 10:39:30 PM| I think that individuals should be responsible for their own healthcare, whenever possible and affordable, but since the economy has been so bad for so long, a lot of people go without, which places a strain on the financial systems used to finance government-managed programs. I, myself, am fortunate enough to receive Medicaid, but it was not handed to me, as one must be medically-needy (an individual can make $47,500 per year and receive Medicaid). There are two programs within Medicaid in New Jesey, one is the Workability Program, which I am in; the other is for people who are unable to work.

Health insurance is very expensive for employers ot provide, as we have been discusssing in class the past few weeks. I feel that high-deductible policies are not the way to go, but health savings accounts may be a great option to explore. The concerns for low-income individuals are that they simply do not have the means to invest in a health-savings account, and if they don’t qualify for Medicaid, they are stuck in clinic care, which doesn’t really do the job. “More than 60 percent of nonelderly Americans receive health-insurance (HI) coverage through employers, either as policyholders or as dependents.

However, rising health-care costs are leading many to question the long-term viability of the employer-based insurance system. Concerns about the economic burden of providing HI are particularly acute for small businesses, which are both less likely than larger firms to offer HI and more sensitive to price when deciding to offer insurance. Small firms may have difficulty containing costs due to their limited bargaining power and their inability to hire experts skilled in negotiating with insurance companies.

Further, while few recent studies have systematically explored differences in the quality of HI plans that small and large firms offer, small firms may offer health plans of lower quality” (http://www. rand. org/pubs/technical_reports/TR559. html). | Healthcare Cost Management | Norma Vega | 5/13/2012 11:20:31 PM| | I would say it depends on the institution. There are great medical facilities all over the US but many are closing down because of different law violations. I think it is a mix of both money and helping patients though. The good facilities I think concentrate on the genuinely helping people part from top down.

As they hire staff, I would hope that is one requirement they look for while in the interview process. I think with a good staff and employees that truly care and provide excellent service are the ones that are successful and make more money. | The importance of becoming a smart consumer | Mark Lema | 5/15/2012 1:30:07 PM| | Becoming a smart consumer is a must when it comes to utilizing your healthcare benefits. The high cost of benefits is not under the control of employers, therefore, employer have no option but to offer all other  possible options to reduce the cost of healthcare and minimize the passing of that cost to their employees.

Unfortunately, there is very little employers can do. As they cost for healthcare increases, employer have to become more creative in developing a healthcare pla that will not upset employees and  that will not place the company on bankruptcy. HSA and FSA type of accounts are some of those alternatives that employer use to help employees better manage their healthcare costs. Unfortunately, the lack of understanding how these plans work, and the fact that it requires a lot of time andn preparation to comply with the processes and submit receipts, has pushed back many current and potential participants.

In my case these option do help. My wife, who is the smart one, fully understands the procedures and requirements of HASs and FSAs and has save us  in the last years 100’s of dollars in healthcare costs, this dedication and full understanding of my family healthcare needs, has by far offset the time-burden it requires to manage them. | | What are the concerns for low-income individuals? | Catherine Flynn | 5/16/2012 5:17:20 PM| | For low income families it’s a big struggle to be able to afford insurance. Sometimes it can even be something that they just don’t think about cause it may not be the firs thing on their mind.

When you’re worrying about other bills, that could take precedent over insurance. Until someone gets sick, then you realize that on top of all the bills, you need money for when you or your child is sick or needs hospital care. For my family when I was growing up, we knew insurance was important because I was a pretty sick kid, so I was always needing doctor visits and medicines, and of course ER visits since I was also clumsy. Then my mother’s health started to decline as I got older. So having some sort of insurance was extremely important and I always knew that it’s beneficial to have some type of funds available should emergencies occur.

When I was in college there were a few years I had to go without benefits. Today and even then I felt extremely lucky I didn’t get sick because if I had I would have had a lot of bills. Not only because of that but because My mother and I had assistance, I’m very grateful for it. However not everyone has that, and not everyone is eligible for it because they work. But their salaries may not be enough to get them health care, so they have the option of finding a job that might offer benefits, or get a second job to try and get a plan on their own.

It can be very difficult, and it’s something you need to ask yourself. Are you going to try your hardest to protect yourself with insurance, or are you going to risk it? I think it depends alot on each persons circumstances. | What are the concerns for low-income individuals? | Michael McArdle | 5/18/2012 10:43:39 AM| | Personally I just feel that low-income people are in trouble of never being able to afford healthcare. There are people that can go to Health Clinics but there is still a fee of $5, $10 or $20, based on income level, and many people cannot even afford to pay the amounts that are listed.

Sometimes when I visit to see the Dentist because I don’t a dental plan, I pay $20, I hear the stories of the people talking to each other makes me almost want to melt in my seat hearing about their life stories and the struggles they have. It is just so sad that all of these people I see in the waiting room are unable to afford to see a Family Doctor, it makes me feel sad. | RE: What are the concerns for low-income individuals? | Aly Traore | 5/18/2012 4:34:25 AM| | what you said is very true and sad, but unfortunately it is the reality. n my opinion, to better live in USA in these days, you have to be at least in middle class that is the level where you can benefit from the system of economy in particular healthcare system. “low- income” is just a beautiful word to cover the word “poor” in the government vocabulary. | | Consumer Driven Healthcare (graded)| Consumer driven healthcare has become popular over the past few years as employees seek tax advantages and cost savings on healthcare. What are some of the key features of a consumer driven healthcare plan? Does your company currently offer any of these plans?

If so, are you taking advantage of them? Why or why not? | RE: Consumer Driven Healthcare | Sylvia Privette | 5/15/2012 10:02:36 PM| | Lynn I agree, with healthcare becoming more and more expensive, for the little things people are starting to self heal as much as possible. Those over the counter medicines are on the rise for purchases because its cheaper. Individuals wait until self healing is no longer working to go to the doctor. I am starting to see more people looking for the cheaper health plans. The plans offered by the government based on income determines your contribution.

Some of these plans depending on pay scale are cheaper the what employers are asking. Also free clinics are on the rise for health care, the medical buses we see sometimes like to get your blood pressure checked, or free screenings, free flu shots, mammograms and the use of the department of health especially for children. These are some of the cheaper ways people are staring to use. | | | RE: Consumer Driven Healthcare | Manqing Liu | 5/20/2012 10:49:22 PM| | Many large employers are offering consumer-driven plans, also known as high-deductible plans.

These plans require employees and beneficiaries to be more involved, not less, in health care issues. Employee health and well-being affect not only absenteeism, but also bottom-line issues such as disability, workers compensation, and productivity. | | RE: Consumer Driven Healthcare | Aaron Jones | 5/16/2012 4:23:00 AM| | With the high cost that comes with healthcare people are becoming smart consumers when looking for the right healthcare package, it may not have all the benefits people are looking for but as long is the price is right people will just get what they can afford these days.

Free clinics, over the counter medicines, whatever will work for that person helps the consumer deal better with healthcare issues. | | consumer-driven plans | Mark Lema | 5/16/2012 1:17:52 PM| | The term consumer-driven evolved out of a concept of a defined contribution in contrast to a defined benefit. Many large employers are offering consumer-driven plans, also known as high-deductible plans. These plans require employees and beneficiaries to be more involved, not less, in health care issues.

Employee health and well-being affect not only absenteeism, but also bottom-line issues such as disability, workers compensation, and productivity. | Does your company currently offer any of these plans? If so, are you taking advantage of them? Why o | Catherine Flynn | 5/16/2012 5:22:55 PM| | Our company offers two separate plans, and one of them does fall under this category. Alot of our employees actually do take advantage of this particular plan versus our personal choice plan. I however do not, so unfortunately I lack alot of the specifics about it.

I think our biggest question right now is what’s going to happen in June, because that will affect our negotiation meetings with our brokers that are coming up soon. It could not change at all, or it could change completely. I will say that because I’m not to familiar with both plans yet I can’t say that I know which one is best for me. I do know however that I am very prone to getting sick, and often, so I suppose that would play a big factor in my choice of benefits. | | RE: Does your company currently offer any of these plans?

If so, are you taking advantage of them? W | Aaron Jones | 5/17/2012 4:48:37 AM| | This is a tough situation to be in but like most companies we all have to sit back and look over the choices we have when it comes to making the right choice for health care and I am sure you will sit down and make the best choice for you and your family. Just pray that the company does not make to many changes to the healthcare and if they do it works out for all that is involved in this situation. Good Luck! consumer driven healthcare | Aly Traore | 5/17/2012 10:14:56 PM| | consumer-driven health care is a good idea, and even better a good system, but with a deregulated health care system environment, it will be very hard for employee to stick to it for long, because the cost of health care is increasing every day. in my opinion, to be better enjoy all the health care benefits, the system has to be regulated. | | Does your company currently offer any of these plans? | Michael McArdle | 5/18/2012 10:51:13 AM| Our company does offer a lower cost plan if a person has a primary doctor, and it does cost less than a PPO, however the cost of seeing a doctor is still very high, close to $50, and if someone gets a prescription, they pay close to the full price that the prescription would have been to someone without insurance, so overall it is worth paying more for a PPO because the cost to see a doctor or get a prescription is much lower, and if you have a major accident and need surgery, a person is more likely to get the treatment they need over not getting help if their insurance was low cost and does not cover surgeries for emergencies. FSA’s | Natasha Wylie | 5/20/2012 1:25:27 PM| | My company offers flexible spending accounts. Flexible Spending Accounts permit employees to pay for specified health care cost that are not covered by an employee’s insurance plan. For the upcoming benefit year I did elect a pre=tax contribution to FSA. This year I expect to have dental work done  and having access to the money upfront and pre-tax is an added and much needed benefit. | | RE: FSA’s | Norma Vega | 5/21/2012 6:39:29 PM| | Hello Natasha,Same here.

I am going to be getting some dental work as well as some minor nasal corrective surgery done and being able to pay the $500 out of pocket cost with a pre tax card is such a luxury. I really have no idea how anyone could not like these benefits. I think it comes down to people being scared of having money taken out, not realizing they’re going to spend it anyway post tax. I also think that some people can’t comprehend exactly how much they are saving from taxes. | What are some of the key features of a consumer driven healthcare plan? | Natasha Wylie | 5/20/2012 1:38:03 PM| The key features of consumer driven health care plans are: It helps employers maintain control over cost Enables employees to lower the cost of insurance premiums through high deductibles Puts a restriction on employees ability to make choices about who they want to receive treatment though via in ; out of network providers | | key features of a consumer driven healthcare plan | Manqing Liu | 5/20/2012 10:42:17 PM| | Transforming the third-party reimbursement system into one that puts economic purchasing power — and decision-making — in the hands of the consumer.

Supplying the information and decision support tools needed, along with financial incentives, rewards and other benefits that encourage personal involvement in altering health and health care purchasing behaviors. Letting consumers, rather than health plans, control health care decisions. | Week 4 discussion Life Insurance Plans (graded)| A major concern for most employees is caring for their families in the event of the employee’s death. Many employers provide life insurance for employees. Does your organization offer a group insurance policy?

If so, what is the basic plan design of your organization’s life insurance policy, and for how much are you covered? RE: Group life insurance plans | Manqing Liu | 5/27/2012 10:52:00 PM| | Group life insurance is term insurance covering a group of people, usually employees of a company or members of a union or association. Individual proof of insurability is not normally a consideration in the underwriting. Rather, the underwriter considers the size, turnover and financial strength of the group. Contract provisions will attempt to exclude the possibility of adverse selection.

Group life insurance often includes a provision for a member exiting the group to buy individual coverage. | Group life insurance plans | Aaron Jones | 5/19/2012 7:08:48 AM| | There are three different types of group insurance and this company uses number one for there employees from what I was reading out of the company policy. 1) Basic group term life—This is the most typical coverage, providing basic coverage and often paid for by the employer. The premiums (up to $50,000) paid for by the employer are considered to be an employee income tax-free benefit. ) Supplemental group term life—Often offered by employers in conjunction with a basic group term life policy, this type of coverage provides the flexibility for the employee to purchase additional amounts of coverage. The employee chooses the type and amount of coverage to suit personal needs and circumstances and pays the cost for the premiums. 3) Portable term life—Employees who lose the employer’s group eligibility (they either leave the group or retire) can take this coverage with them to continue their insurance protection generally until they reach age 70.

They make their payments directly to the insurer, many times through electronic funds transfers. From what I saw when I was reading the company policy when it comes to life insurance they use the typical coverage for there employees, they have there reasons why they do things the way they do it because everybody have different reasons for life insurance mostly this company uses number 1 for there employees. | Life Insurance Plans | Catherine Flynn | 5/20/2012 2:46:40 PM| | We offer voluntary life insurance plans for employee, their spouse, and dependents. Each are available in increments of $10,000.

Each plan has a maximum benefit of $500,000 except for dependents, this insurance is only available in $2,500, $5,000, $7,000 or $10,000. This is only available for 30 days after you acquire the dependent (birth, marriage, adoption). I personally feel as though it’s important for me to make sure my family, even though small, should be protected if I can afford it. Accidents happen, and if I have the available funds why not put money away for that purpose? I’ve always been a squirrel when it comes to money so saving plans like these are a good fit for me. | Commonwealth life insurance plan | Crystal Johnson | 5/20/2012 7:22:50 PM| From what I understand, my life insurance plan matches my base pay. Base pay is $20,000 to $25, 000 less than my actually income because of the amount of over time that I do. If I get killed on state property it suppose to be three times my base pay. Rumored has it that the hostage situation that happened in 1998 where a staff was killed by another staff member the grieving family had to go to court to get the triple pay out. The insurance company said that the death was not caused by a patient so they did not want to pay. Even though the killer staffer was upset about upper management decision to fire him.

Group Life InsuranceThe Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provides life insurance coverage for permanent employees through The Prudential Insurance Company of America. The amount of life insurance is equal to your annual salary (rounded to the nearest $1,000) as of the date of hire, up to a maximum of $40,000. The amount of insurance is adjusted on January 1 of each year to account for pay changes. There is a 90-day waiting period from your date of hire before coverage takes effect. Eligible employees will receive a “Welcome Kit” from Prudential within three months of hire.

The kit will include the Booklet/Certificate that confirms coverage and outlines the contract provisions that apply, as well as a Group Insurance Beneficiary Designation/Change form. | | RE: Commonwealth life insurance plan | Natasha Wylie | 5/28/2012 11:34:36 AM| | Life insurance should really be called “death insurance. ” Like other types of insurance, life insurance is protection against the unknown. When you buy life insurance, you’re paying for the peace of mind that your family will be taken care of in the event of your sudden demise. Life insurance is the life jacket in the fishing boat..

You hope to never have to use it, but it’s nice to know it’s there. Some people call life insurance gambling. They think that you’re throwing away a bunch of money on the off chance that you’ll die young. But when life insurance is handled correctly, it isn’t gambling at all. It’s simply part of a larger economic plan whose goal is the financial security of your family. It’s a shame that often times its not handled correctly. | Imputed Income | Crystal Johnson | 5/24/2012 5:55:52 PM| | Income that may not be seen as cash, but instead comes in the form of a benefit… ometimes by having another pay an expense… sometimes by having a benefit provided. Examples: The value of a car provided by your employer that you may use for personal use. That value is imputed income. Likewise, the value of having some other benefits – over $50,000 a year of life insurance provided by your employer (the value of the insurance is imputed income). An employer sponsored (even if what it does just work to make the costs lower) of an on site cafeteria – imputed benefit. Having a below market rate loan… that some employers provide certain employees… he lower interest that they forgoe is a benefit to you… and hence imputed income. Read more: http://wiki. answers. com/Q/What_is_imputed_income#ixzz1vpnMNB4x| Definition of Imputed Income | Lynn Peirce | 5/24/2012 9:33:06 PM| | As per our discussion in class tonight, imputed income is defined, as follows: “Imputed income is the addition of the value of cash/non-cash compensation to an employees’ taxable wages in order to properly withhold income and employment taxes from the wages. Imputed income is taxable to the assignee (unless specifically exempt).

Because it is delivered for the performance of services (related to employment) it must be included in the assignee’s Form W-2 to accurately reflect the assignee’s taxable wage-related income” (see http://definitions. uslegal. com/i/imputed-income/). I didn’t want to add too much because Crystal also defined it in her post. | | Life Insurance | Natasha Wylie | 5/28/2012 11:28:45 AM| | Employee sponsored life insurance gives employees a peace of mind in the event of death. Having life insurance relieves some of the financial burden left on grieving loved ones.

Employee-sponsored life insurance  protects family members by paying a specified amount to n employees beneficiary upon the employees death. | Disability Plans (graded)| In addition to replacing household income when an employee either retires or is no longer working, he or she may also carry some type of income-replacement plan in the event they become disabled. Does your current (or former) employer offer disability coverage for employees? What are the specifics of your coverage? Do you feel the need to purchase supplemental disability insurance? Why or why not? | RE: Disability coverage | Crystal Johnson | 5/22/2012 2:08:29 AM| Jobs that offer short term disability insurance as part of a benefit’s package creates more loyalty in employees than jobs that do not offer it. Human beings are going to acquire bumps and bruises as part of the “age and wisdom” baggage. Short term disability insurance gives you the luxury to fully heal while keeping a roof over your head and raman noodles on your plate. When employees know that they will be able to recuperate without financial stresses from standing-on-the-stool-to-change -a-light-but-crashed-landed-into-the-wall, they are more willing to go stay where they are appreciated and valued. Disability Coverage | Lynn Peirce | 5/20/2012 1:51:31 AM| | Of course, the firm I currently work for does not offer disability insurance; since I am a Medicaid recipient, I currently would not need it. As far as purchasing supplemental disability insurance, I found an example of coverage from Combined Insurance Company, as follows: “Disability income insurance is paid directly to you for covered disability for up to two years* when you are totally disabled and can’t work due to accident or sickness. You are protected, on or off the job, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

You are considered totally disabled when you are under the regular care of a physician and are unable to perform the substantial and material duties of your own occupation. Income Protector works in conjunction with Social Security and Workers’ Compensation to help you maximize your benefits. When no social benefit** is paid, Combined Insurance pays you the full benefit amount of your selected plan. When a social benefit is paid, our disability income protection makes up any shortfall between your target replacement paycheck and your social benefit payment. ** However, Combined Insurance will never pay less than 40% of the benefit amount purchased” (http://www. combinedinsurance. com/insurance-types/disability-insurance. html). I think it is probably a good idea, if you have a family and can afford it, but on the other hand, we are already paying into Disability, and it seems like another money-maker for insurance companies. I mean, there is insurance for just about everything anymore (like pet insurance). How far does it go, and how much should an employer provide when the cost of health insurance is already so high? | | Aflac | Crystal Johnson | 5/20/2012 7:38:08 PM| | I am not a saver. I know I should be more responsible and put money away for rainy days. I know that I should put away 10% of my income for life’s financial thunderstorms. I don’t have a financial umbrella. I like dancing in the rain so I got Aflac. Aflac gave our union a group rate for disability insurance and secondary life insurance. My coworkers allowed Aflac to take out money out of their check because the wanted a stronger piece of mind and plan B to their savings plan.

I choose to have Aflac take out money out of my check because I cant be trusted to do it myself. | | RE: Disability Plans | Lynn Peirce | 5/23/2012 5:08:32 PM| | They have to pay people/employees to do this, so they have to make it worth everyone’s while. The cost to the employer has to be validated in order for it to continue. | | RE: supplemental disability insurance | Aaron Jones | 5/24/2012 6:21:07 AM| | I am sure that a whole lot of people will need this type of insurance when they get to a point in their life and hopefully the insurance will cover the things they will need cover once it kicks in.

The rules always change when the person really needs this type of coverage this is why the person must make sure evrything is still good before the insurance is needed. | Disbility plans | Harpreet Sandhu | 5/23/2012 10:20:53 PM| | Short term disability insurance can replace a portion of income during the initial weeks of a disabling illness or accident whereas, long term disability can replace a portion of income after those initial weeks, for an extended period. Some people have one or both of these through their employer.

Many people also choose to purchase individual disability insurance on their own. Individual Disability Income Insurance can provide protection for people who do not have disability insurance available through their workplace or may be used to supplement group coverage through their workplace. Some of the benefits of MetLife’s Individual Disability Income Insurance include: Monthly Benefit Payments—after an initial waiting period, benefits are paid for each month you can’t work through the policy’s maximum benefit period.

Noncancelable and Guaranteed Renewable Coverage Available – Provided premiums are paid on time, MetLife cannot cancel or change your coverage or premium rates until the first premium due date on or after your 67th birthday. www. metlife. com/individual/insurance/disability-insurance/index. html | | Do you feel the need to purchase supplemental disability insurance? | Manqing Liu | 5/25/2012 8:13:45 PM| | Most people don’t realize the risk of becoming disabled, permanently or temporarily, at some point in their lives. But the reality is that at age 40, your chances of becoming disabled for 90 days or more prior to age 65 is 43%. Source: 2004 Field Guide, National Underwriter). I think it is necessary to purchase a disability insurance. | | RE: Do you feel the need to purchase supplemental disability insurance? | Aly Traore | 5/25/2012 8:49:59 PM| | why would you want to buy an additional insurance, if you can invest your money somewhere else to make profit over the time period. in my opinion,  I think if your goal is to buy that supplemental insurance just to have more money in a case where you get disable or retired,  this is not a good option. | RE: Mental Health Paridy Act | Sylvia Privette | 5/25/2012 8:46:06 PM| | Modified:5/25/2012 8:47 PM | The Mental Health Parity Act (MHPA) provides for parity in the application of aggregate lifetime and annual dollar limits on mental health benefits with dollar limits on medical/surgical benefits. A plan that does not impose an annual or lifetime dollar limit on medical and surgical benefits may not impose such a dollar limit on mental health benefits offered under the plan. MHPA does not apply to benefits for substance abuse or chemical dependency. Health plans are not required to include mental health benefits in their benefits package. MHPA only applies to those plans that do offer mental health benefits. ttp://www. dol. gov/dol/topic/health-plans/mental. htm | | disability benefit | Manqing Liu | 5/26/2012 9:44:15 PM| | Monthly disability benefit depends on your average lifetime earnings. The amount also may be affected by your receipt of other government benefits. If you are getting workers’ compensation, civil service, military, state temporary disability or state and local retirement benefits based on disability, the total amount combined with your Social Security disability benefits may not exceed 80 percent of your average earnings at the time of your disability.

Should your total government benefit go over that amount, your Social Security benefit will be reduced. Disability payments from private sources do not affect your SSDI benefits. | Does your current (or former) employer offer disability coverage for employees? | Natasha Wylie | 5/28/2012 12:35:42 PM| | My organization offers short and long term disability. Short-term disability provides income if employees are not able to work due to a non-work related illness or injury.

Long-term disability coverage allows employees to continue receiving a portion of their salary for a period of time if they are disabled and cannot perform the duties of your regular job or injured. This employer-provided benefit provides 60 percent of base pay up to $10,000 per month maximum. | Disability Plans | Natasha Wylie | 5/28/2012 1:43:49 PM| | There are four laws that influence the design and implementation of company sponsered disability plans: ERISA ADEA The americans with disabilities Act State  Workers compensation and Social Secuity Disability Regulations |