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links for 2009-07-15

Princeton Health Plan Beneficiary Audit

Paul Krugman is bemused:

A trivial but telling example: Example of what? Of the absurdity of the US health care system. Today’s mail brought a letter from Princeton: all faculty members must supply copies of their marriage licenses and of their 2008 tax forms if they want to have their spouses continue to receive health benefits. I don’t know exactly what that’s about — are there a significant number of my colleagues just pretending to be married? We’ve checked — we don’t know where our marriage certificate is. We’ve already sent to California for a copy — but given the state of that state, God knows when or whether it will actually be delivered. I assume the university has some good reason for doing this; but from a social point of view it’s just bizarre.

My wife Ann Marie Marciarille says:

This started about two years ago, when Ford Motor Company as part of its austerity plan did an audit of who was receiving benefits--and found that as many as 1/4 of those non-employees claimed as family members were, under the terms of the contract, not entitled to benefits: children who had aged out, ex-spouses, et cetera.

Other organizations watched. And now an audit of beneficiary status is a standard move that organization human resource departments make when demands for economy come down from on high.

This is, of course, a pointless waste of time from a social-welfare standpoint--but it does stand to save Princeton some money.

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