AccessMyLibrary provides FREE access to millions of articles from top publications available through your library.
Retiree health benefit plans are facing serious challenges as a result of a growing retiree population, continuing enhancements in medical technology, and increasing healthcare costs. The drive for healthcare reform and changes in the Financial Accounting Standard Board (FASB) regulations is gaining strength. These regulations will require companies to book special reserves for health benefit expenses anticipated in the future.
The nation's companies are grappling with the problem by making significant changes in retiree health programs. A majority will require larger contributions from working employees and some are actually eliminating retiree health benefits for future retirees. Many firms will attempt to reduce expenses by imposing greater cost-sharing through higher health coverage deductibles and copayments, and increased premium contributions paid by the retiree.
It is clear that the era of open-ended health plans has come to a close; nevertheless, there continues to be a strong consensus to maintain some level of medical benefits for retired workers.
Healthcare costs in the United States exceed 13 percent of the gross domestic product, a proportion higher than that in any other nation. Efforts to control healthcare costs have not been successful, because they have focused solely on the supply side of the problem--trying to control access to care with reimbursement strategies after the fact and by shifting costs. Some of these supply-side approaches have actually ended up costing more than they have saved because of the administrative personnel and systems required to review medical practice and document effect.
While trying to regulate the supply of medical services, we often overlook the source of the problem. To control heathcare costs effectively, we must take a more balanced approach to focus on reducing the need for care and thus the demand for medical services. This …