Archive for the ‘health care’ Category
February 25, 2014
As I was reviewing information from the County concerning the new 2014 healthcare rates for active employees I came across a listing for rates for 10 month employees. I asked about this and they told me that these were the employees for the Shelby County Head Start Program. I remembered the proposed 1/2% sales tax proposal for the City for a pre K type program which failed to get the votes. However I did not know about the County program. I asked how many employees were involved, what did it cost and who was paying.
The County is great and fully transparent about answering questions in contrast to the City of Memphis, the old Memphis School System and the new Shelby County School system.
Well here are some details. The Executive Director is John Lovelace and he is paid a salary of $116,471.00 per year. According to (more…)
February 20, 2014
Health Care For Public Retirees
This is another huge cost area for which the taxpayers are paying. You are paying 70% of the health care cost for City of Memphis and Shelby County retirees and 75% of the cost for MLGW retirees. The bills come each year for medical care for retirees and their families and the current annual bills are paid by the City, County and the MLGW as they occur.
But like pension liability, there is a future cost liability that is supposed to be taken care of by the OPEB funds (Other Post Employment Benefits), mainly future health care costs and life insurance for retirees). This is where the problem lies, mainly with the City of Memphis, and to a lesser extent with the MLGW and Shelby County.
The unfunded OPEB liability for the City of Memphis is $1.29 billion dollars. For the MLGW it is $420 million and for Shelby (more…)
February 11, 2014
As if Obamacare is not bad enough, trying to compare local health care rates is not easy. But I will make an attempt to compare the active employee rates and the cost to you the taxpayers for the City of Memphis, the County and the MLGW. Here we go.
First you have to look at the plans available in 2014.
The City of Memphis has three options: Premier, Basic and Value plans. Attached is a brief overview. The prices shown in red are what the employee pays twice a month or 24 times per year. This is the 30%. You, the taxpayer, pays the 70%.
The Basic family plan costs the employee $4127 per year. It costs you the taxpayer (70% of total cost) $9630 per year. It’s total cost is $13757 per year.
The Basic plan covering the employee only costs the employee $1944 per year. It costs you the taxpayer (70% of total cost) $4536 per year. It’s total cost is $6480 per year.
February 6, 2014
In reading through the Strategic Fiscal and Management Plan for the City of Memphis I keep finding things that amaze me as to the past fiscal mismanagement. It is quite clear that the City is supposed to pay 70% of the health care premiums and the employee is supposed to pay 30%. Look at the attached pages 46 through 49 of the plan. On page 46 the employees paid as low as 23.1% and as high as 26.9%. This cost you, the taxpayers, $9.2 million dollars over these three years. I presume the same was true for the OPEB retirees but I am checking. $9 million here, $5 million there and pretty soon you are talking about real money. On top of this mistake by the City, here is what the report says about the history and direction of health care cost, a huge part of the money problem.
On a fiscal year basis, from FY2008 to FY2012, the City’s General Fund contributions to the Basic and (more…)
January 23, 2014
More Info From the Memphis CAFR
Pick up the CA and you will get more articles than you can read over your morning coffee. They all point to the upcoming decisions of the Mayor and the City Council. The chickens are coming home to roost as they have been disturbed by the noise of the cans that have been kicked down the road.
As I sift through the current 2013 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) of the City of Memphis, I decided to compare several pages from the 2008 CAFR with the same pages from the 2013 CAFR.
December 30, 2013
What’s New for 2014?
Well the affordable care act (known generally as Obamacare) is going to be on everyone’s mind. On my mind for some time has been the question of how it would affect the already high health care costs of the City of Memphis, Shelby County and the MLGW. This is a big subject and I will take on first the City of Memphis. I finally got their new rates and information for active employees. Here is the information and here is the statement about the new plan and rates.
1) City of Memphis plans are no longer considered Grandfathered under healthcare reform
2) Pre-Existing Condition Limits no longer apply to anyone regardless of age
3) Dependents covered to age 26 even if the child has access to his/her own employer coverage.
4) All copayments, coinsurances and deductibles now apply toward the Out of Pocket (OOP) Maximum
5) Coverage for Clinical Trials
6) Additional guidance for Women’s Preventive Health/Contraceptive Coverage – No Cost Share
7) Vitamin D Coverage for prevention of falls in older adults
8) Medical Plans – Employee contribution increased to 30%
9) Increase in dental premiums
10) Increase to ER Copay – Medical Premier Plan Only
11) A third medical plan option – the Value Plan
12) Notarized documents no longer required; instead you must provide your Oracle employee ID number
(located on your ID Badge or your paycheck stub) along with your signature.
Obamacare has arrived, whether you like it or not, and the costs have been driven up about 16.8%. The City of Memphis is self insured and pays all the medical costs but an insurance company handles the paperwork.
The following is the conclusions of Mercer (a city hired health care consultant) in a report dated April 23, 2013) on the impact of Health Care Reform on the City of Memphis.
- Cost could increase annually by $7.6 million if all of the current waivers enroll in the plan.
- Excise tax for 2018 is $477,000 dollars and will accumulate to $50 million over the following 10 years.
- If the affordability test was based on dependent coverage contributions, City of Memphis could pay a penalty for up to 25% of their population.
- Transitional Reinsurance fee will cost the City of Memphis about $1.4 million starting 2014.
Here is a brief recap of the new rates. This is the total annual cost with the City paying 70% and the employee paying 30%.
- Premier Plan for a single $6,015.20
- Premier Plan for a family $14,201.60
- Basic Plan for a single $5,544.00
- Basic Plan for a family $13,757.60
- Value Plan for a single $3,360.00
- Value Plan for a family $11,800.00
How does this compare with what you will pay in 2014 if you know? You will have to look at the details of the plan which I have attached above. There is much more to explain but this is the first dose of the new health care landscape.
December 12, 2013
A Backdoor Tax Increase
The City Council has passed another backdoor tax increase by unloading street lighting electric cost and maintenance on the MLGW. You already see a sewer fee, a solid waste fee, a storm water fee and a mosquito/rodent control fee on your utility bill.
The utility expects the fee to raise a total of $12.9 million per year, of which roughly half would go toward electricity for the streetlights and half would go toward maintaining them. This is an expense that is covered by the services paid for by property taxes. Now the City Council wants to take it out of their expense budget and bill it directly to the taxpayers through the MLGW billing process.
Here is what I investigated and found out. If you will look at the 2012 operating budget. The City shows an actual cost of $4.3 million for street lighting in 2010 but a 2012 adopted budget of $12.1 million. Then look at the 2014 operating budget and they show an actual (more…)
November 14, 2013
There was a very interesting article in the Wall Street Journal last Monday (November 11) that was titled “The Pros and Cons Of Concierge Medicine”. With the looming advent of Obamacare everyone should be looking at options for their future medical care.
Here are some of the points made in the article which describes the features of MedLion clinics of which there are 16 locations in five states. They charge $59 for monthly membership and $10 per visit. The concierge business ranges from high end practices charging thousands of dollars per month for lavish celebrity-style treatment to the other pared down clinics which charge $50 to $100 a month for basic primary-care medicine. Of the estimated 5,500 concierge practices nationwide, two thirds charge less than $135 per month on average.
Unlike high-end concierge practices, the lower cost practices don’t accept insurance. Instead they charge patients directly for (more…)
November 4, 2013
This is an issue that the City of Memphis is trying to sneak by the voters in a vote that will probably have a low turnout. These are the reasons to vote NO. Early voting starts today. As they say in Chicago, vote early and often.
- The Commercial Appeal writes that 63% ($30 million) goes to Pre-K and the rest (1$17 million) to property tax reduction. However look at the wording of the Ordinance which states that the money goes to a Pre-K Commission appointed by Mayor Wharton which will make the decisions. Do you trust such a commission?
- Our sales tax is already very high (9.25%) and this would take it to 9.75%, the highest in the state, a very regressive tax.
- There is no evidence that Pre-K works and has any long term benefits,.
- There should be no new taxes until the City of Memphis and the City Council reform pensions and health care costs and get on a path to reduce unfunded liability as pointed out by the State of Tennessee.
October 3, 2013
The Unfunded Liability of the United States
Is the shutdown of government a bad thing? What has happened is that 800,000 nonessential employees have been furloughed. Federal agencies have the power to designate their employees’ status in the event of a government shutdown. The last time Congress and President Obama stalemated, in 2011, the administration estimated that 800,000 of the 2.1 million employees in the federal workforce would be furloughed. Now that the there is a stalemate, we will see how it works. If we can get along without the 800,000 nonessential employees it will give us some indication of how much fat and waste there is in government. I have no doubt that these nonessential employees will be rehired and paid but it is a great demonstration of how much is our government overweight.
We have had one federal program after another and each has cost more than the government projected. Starting with social security, then the war on poverty, then medicare, medicaid, food stamps and now Obamacare. Here is the headline from the CA just yesterday. “Shelby County expects big bill to comply with Affordable Care Act”.
We have to face up to the unfunded liability of the federal government as well as our local government. We have not had a federal (more…)