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Affordable Care Act Improving Health Coverage For Californians


December 12, 2010 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) received a letter from the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), which provides health benefits to 1.6 million workers, retirees, and their families, outlining the ways the Affordable Care Act is helping improve coverage and lower costs for Californians. 

“The efforts by CalPERS to act on the important programs and provisions of the Affordable Care Act shows that this new law is bringing real benefits to consumers,” said Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  “More Californians now have the security of health insurance – and lower health care costs for better benefits.” 

In the letter, CalPERS outlined three areas where the Affordable Care Act is already bringing benefits to Californians. As a provider of health coverage for retired workers, CalPERS is participating in the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program.

Through this program, CalPERS reports it has reduced insurance premiums for more than 115,000 early retirees and their families by more than 3 percent – a savings of approximately $200 million. These savings have brought CalPERS retiree health insurance premium rates to the lowest level in 14 years.


In addition, CalPERS has acted to extend dependent coverage for young adults – and will have added more than 27,000 young Californians to their parents’ health plans by January 1, 2011. Finally, CalPERS notified HHS that, consistent with the law, it had removed lifetime benefits limits from all health plans the system offers.  This has resulted in enrolled Californians receiving better benefits and security. 

The Affordable Care Act aims to provide Americans with the opportunity to get and keep health care coverage and to lower cost growth for people who have insurance, while getting rid of some of the very worst practices of the insurance industry with a new Patient’s Bill of Rights. This news from CalPERS is an indication of how the law is helping working families and those who are retired.

The California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) is an agency in the California executive branch that "manages pension and health benefits for more than 1.6 million California public employees, retirees, and their families". In fiscal year 2007-2008, $10.88 billion was paid in retirement benefits, and in calendar year 2009 it is estimated that over $5.7 billion will be paid in health benefits.
As of December 2008, CalPERS managed the largest public pension fund in the United States with $179.2 billion in assets; however, that represented a 31% decrease from the peak value of its assets of $260.6 billion in October 2007. CalPERS is known for its shareholder activism; stocks placed on its "Focus List" may perform better than other stocks, which has given rise to the term "CalPERS effect".

Outside the U.S., CalPERS has been called "a recognized global leader in the investment industry", "one of America's most powerful shareholder bodies", "the most important, corrupted and inefficient public pension fund in the United States", and "the one public pension that lost more money than all the others combined."

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