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Milliman’s top 10 publications of 2013

December 26th, 2013 No comments

In 2013, Milliman again published a wide variety of articles and videos, including timely analysis related to issues such as sinkhole peril, improving claims analytics through text mining, predictive modeling and analytics, and Solvency II developments. In addition, we published extensively on ongoing challenges related to managing healthcare costs, healthcare reform, retirement planning, and insurance and risk management issues.

Here are this year’s ten most viewed articles and reports:

10. Fees: What everyone is NOT talking about!
By Douglas A. Conkel

How do plan sponsors ensure that actual fees paid by each participant are fair and reasonable when compared to other participants within the plan?

9. Planning for NAIC ORSA
By Chris Suchar, Joy A. Schwartzman, Matthew G. Killough, Wayne E. Blackburn

Sophisticated risk assessment will be key to complying with U.S. ORSA requirements.

8. Operational risk modelling framework
By Joshua Corrigan, Paola Luraschi

Current methods and emerging practices in operational risk across the world.

7. ACA: An act of unknown consequences for workers compensation
By Derek A. Jones

How will healthcare reform mandates for preexisting condition coverage and broader healthcare access affect workers’ compensation claims and costs?

6. President Obama’s transitional policy for canceled plans
By Hans K. Leida

The November 14, 2013 announcement that health insurance issuers would be permitted to renew certain canceled health insurance policies has raised new questions for the individual and small group marketplaces in 2014.

Read more…

Top 10 Milliman blogs items for 2013

December 19th, 2013 No comments

Milliman publishes blog content addressing complex issues with broad social importance. Our actuaries and consultants offer their perspective on healthcare, retirement plans, regulatory compliance, and more. The list below highlights Milliman’s top 10 blogs in 2013 based on total pageviews:

10. In their blog “Five keys to writing a successful qualified health plan application,” Maureen Tressel Lewis and Bonnie Benson highlight several best practices insurers should consider when submitting a qualified health plan application to the Health Insurance Marketplace.

9. “Understanding ACA’s subsidies and their effect on premiums” offers perspective into the relationship between healthcare premiums and federal subsidies for low-income individuals.

8. Funding for future Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans(CO-OPs) was eliminated as a result of the fiscal deal that was signed in December 2012. Tom Snook takes a look at how the deal affects CO-OPs in his blog “CO-OPs: An endangered species?

7. Robert Schmidt discusses why the methodology used to determine COBRA premium rates is essential in his blog “The growing importance of COBRA rate methodologies.”

6. A second blog by Maureen Tressel Lewis and Mary Schlaphoff entitled “Five critical success factors for participation in exchange markets” highlights tactics that insurers offering qualified health plans may benefit from implementing.

5. “Pension plans: Key dates and deadlines for 2013” offers Milliman’s three retirement plan calendars (defined benefit, defined contribution, and multiemployer) with key administrative dates and deadlines throughout the year.

4. In her blog “Fee leveling in DC plans: Disclosure is just the beginning,” Genny Sedgwick explains how investment expenses and revenue sharing affect the fees paid by defined contribution plan participants.

3. Maureen Tressel Lewis and Mary Schlaphoff’s blog “Five common gaps for exchange readiness” describes items issuers of qualified health plans have to resolve before their plans can be sold on the Health Insurance Marketplace.

2. In the lead up to implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), debate often centered on how the law would affect healthcare premiums. Our “ACA premium rate reading list” offers perspective on how rates may be affected.

1. In his blog “Retiring early under ACA: An unexpected outcome for employers?,” Jeff Bradley discusses the impact that the ACA could have on both early retirees and plan sponsors.

This article was first publish at Milliman Insight.

And the winner is….

November 27th, 2012 No comments

Milliman published a cartoon caption contest in the September issue of DB Digest. Wayne Rancourt of Boise Cascade authored the winning caption.

 

Retirement Town Hall rewind

June 18th, 2012 No comments

News and views centered on defined benefit (DB) plans were the focus of our latest Retirement Town Hall discussions. If you weren’t able to read our posts as they were published, don’t fret, we have you covered.

Pension gains evaporate in May
June’s Pension Funding Index was released earlier this month, revealing that a $30 billion decline in assets and a $60 billion increase in liabilities in May combined to erase year-to-date gains in the pension funded status of the nation’s largest 100 defined benefit plans. Read the complete roundup of June’s pension funding index.

Locked in
Milliman’s John Ehrhardt spoke to the Wall Street Journal and offered his perspective on GM’s decision to lock in high pension obligations. The company will make a lump sum payment option available to about 42,000 salaried retirees and enroll the remainder of salaried retirees into a group annuity purchased from Prudential Insurance Co.

Milliman Protection Strategy
We also featured a new video highlighting the Milliman Managed Risk Strategy, a sophisticated futures-based portfolio hedging strategy. The video showcases the type of risk management that saved insurers $40 billion during the 2008 economic crisis.

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2012 healthcare costs for American family exceed $20,000

May 15th, 2012 No comments

Milliman today released the results of its 2012 Milliman Medical Index (MMI), which measures the average healthcare costs for a typical American family of four receiving healthcare through an employer-sponsored preferred provider organization (PPO) plan. The average cost of care for this typical family in 2012 is $20,728. While the 6.9% increase over 2011 is the lowest rate of increase in the 12 years tracked by the MMI, the $1,335 increase surpasses last year’s record of $1,319.   

“The average rate of increase this year dips below 7% for the first time since we began analyzing these costs, but the total dollar increase is still the highest we have seen,” said Lorraine Mayne, principal and consulting actuary with the Salt Lake City office of Milliman. “This helps illustrate the challenge of controlling healthcare costs. When the total cost is already so high, even a slower rate of growth has a serious impact on family budgets.”

The MMI’s release date falls during an uncertain time for American healthcare, with the nation awaiting the outcome of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the future of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). To date, the PPACA has had only a limited effect on healthcare costs for families covered by an employer-sponsored PPO plan; longer term, the implications may be more pronounced, and will depend on a number of dynamic and interrelated factors.

“We face a number of different potential scenarios depending on the future of reform,” said Chris Girod, principal and consulting actuary with the San Diego office of Milliman. “With this year’s MMI we have tried to map out what those different scenarios may mean for consumers, employers, care providers, and the government.”

As has been the case in prior years, this year’s analysis examines several key medical cost components:

  • The MMI includes analysis of healthcare costs in 14 cities, thereby showcasing the role that geography plays in healthcare costs. This year, the average cost of care for the typical family in all but three of these cities exceeds $20,000. Of the 14 cities analyzed, Miami is the most expensive, at $24,965, while Phoenix is the least expensive at $18,365.
  • The MMI examines how employers and employees share the cost of healthcare. This year employers will on average contribute $12,144 of the $20,728 total while employees—through payroll deductions and out-of-pocket expenditures—will pay the remaining $8,584.

“Some families may be surprised to hear their total average healthcare costs are exceeding $20,000 this year,” said Scott Weltz, consulting actuary with the Milwaukee office of Milliman. “While everyone knows the cost of healthcare is increasing, most people who receive health insurance through their employer are insulated from the true costs associated with the care they receive.” 

To view the complete MMI, click here.

Retirement Town Hall rewind

April 5th, 2012 No comments

As we transitioned from winter to spring we’ve focused on moving from our winter of discontent toward a hopeful spring. If you haven’t been here in a while, we’ve got you covered with this Retirement Town Hall rewind.

Winter of our discontent
With the release of the 2012 Pension Funding Study, John Ehrhardt recently gave us his summary of the last year in pensions: Falling interest rates define 2011 for corporate pensions. In this post, Ehrhardt highlighted all of the major factors that led to 2011’s record funding deficit increase.

Tim Connor and Genny Sedgwick continued their series on What to Look for in 2012 with a look at Funded status and at-risk, in which they note that many plans will continue to be considered “at-risk” according to the Pension Protection Act’s definition in 2012. Further, Connor and Sedgwick anticipate that the debate over PBGC-related issues will continue through the year. Connor and Sedgwick also looked at plans De-risking in 2012 and offer several strategies plans can take to minimize and mitigate risk.

Hope springs eternal
More recently Ehrhardt’s look at the latest full month’s Pension Funding Index, Market rally and rising interest rates reduce corporate pension deficit in March, offered some hopeful news.

Enough about us…
The past few weeks have also included several opportunities for you to tell us how you see the future. First we asked How long is Social Security’s half-life? and found that a third of readers believe Social Security will make up 20%-39% of their retirement income.

Next, Julie Cannaday reminded us of The power of personal touch and asked who’s helping you plan for your retirement. This poll is still fresh so the votes are still coming in.

So now that you’re all caught up, why not share your thoughts and vote in this and other Retirement Town Hall polls right now?

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Putting the plus in 50-plus

March 9th, 2012 No comments

At the age of 50 workers are given a chance to stow a little more money away in their 401(k) plans. The current 401(k) contribution limit for workers who are 50 and over is $22,500. That’s $5,500 more than the younger workers’ contributions limit this year.

Considering that a 2011 Gallup poll revealed that 70% of 50- to 64-year-olds were moderately or very worried about not having enough money for retirement, we’re wondering if these fears lead to bigger contributions from the 50 and over crowd.

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Skipping town

March 2nd, 2012 No comments

Census Bureau data shows that just 3% of people age 65 and older relocated between 2010 and 2011. This is partially just the economy.  Demographers say we’re at the lowest level of migration in the United States since World War II. Today’s retirees are facing a host of problems, including record-low interest rates battering portfolios, that may be thwarting their plans to make a move.

Still, retirement, for many, has been synonymous with moving to sunnier climes and downsizing from a big empty nest. Getting out of the nest isn’t as easy as it used to be, though. A recent study from the University of Michigan’s Retirement Research Center on how the recession is affecting those nearing retirement cites a 23% decline in net housing wealth as another major problem. With all of this going on we’re wondering how your retirement plans are being affected.

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Retirement Town Hall rewind

February 23rd, 2012 No comments

If you’ve been too busy this month planning some special event for your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day (or a party for that big Abe Lincoln/George Washington fan in your life) here’s what you’ve missed on Retirement Town Hall.

An early start
When’s the best time to start on your nest egg? As soon as you’re out of the nest. That’s why we highlighted the keys to Retirement planning for Millennials in a recent post. We began wondering if those in the retirement benefits world practiced what we preached. So we followed the Millennials post with a poll question asking you about Getting started in your own retirement planning.

Fashionably late
Recently we asked readers to tell us how long they would be Delaying gratification before starting to claim Social Security. Speaking of waiting it out, Zorast Wadia noted that the wait was over for pension contributions to start reaching record levels and why he is Looking ahead to $90+ billion in contributions.

Better late than never
Of course the big news of the month so far has been John Ehrhardt’s report that Pension plans begin 2012 by narrowing a record deficit. Ehrhardt stayed busy and participated in a Pension funding discussion on CNBC.

Right on time
Is now the time to move to liability-driven investing (LDI)? A lot of people think so. Do they know what to expect in the process? Not always. That’s why Will Clark-Shim recounted his experience with the twists and turns of Liability-driven investing: Putting it into practice followed by his Two longs make it right? post.

Finally, we always keep you up to speed on the latest in notices and requirements in  the retirement benefits world as they happen. Here are some key announcements to consider from the past few weeks:

To stay up to speed on other important dates on the benefits practitioner’s calendar, be sure to follow us on Twitter @millimaneb.

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Retirement Town Hall rewind

January 27th, 2012 No comments

Earlier this month we took a look back at The most important retirement stories of 2011 and what they could mean for 2012. In the meantime, we have been amassing quite a collection of stories in 2012 so it’s time we rewind the young year and catch you up on what you might have missed.

Echoes of 2011
First off, it’s no secret that 2011 battered many a pension. John Ehrhardt noted this in his Bad year for pensions ends badly, recapping December’s Pension Funding Index numbers. We also excerpted some of Ehrhardt’s comments in Pensions & Investments in What to look for from pensions in 2012.

So what happened? Volatility played a big role in last year’s problems and we kicked off the new year by looking at A new approach to pension risk. Meanwhile Jeff Marzinsky offered his Pension plan investment returns: Some thoughts and observations and Stuart Kliternick showed the direct effect of 2011’s Historic low for discount rates on pension plan funding.

What does it all mean looking forward? We’ll have to see how things play out, but it seems clear we should Get ready for record pension contributions. We are continuing to update this blog entry as large employers announce their pension contributions.

Looking ahead
In regulatory news, Tim Connor pointed out that there are New FASB rules on multiemployer plan disclosures and the importance of gathering your information early this year.

Your vote counts
We started the year with our Allocation nation poll and found that over 76% of voters didn’t change their 401(k) asset allocations for 2012. Have you? Recently, our poll on employee communications, The medium for your benefits message, asked benefits practitioners how they talk to their employees. You might be surprised by how people are using social media to talk retirement benefits based on the early returns.

That’s the latest from Retirement Town Hall, but be sure to follow us on Twitter @millimaneb to stay up to date on blog posts and important dates on the benefits practitioner’s calendar.

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