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Premiums and Stability in the Individual Health Insurance Market: The Effects of Young Adult Enrollment and Subsidies

November 19, 2014 Comments off

Premiums and Stability in the Individual Health Insurance Market: The Effects of Young Adult Enrollment and Subsidies
Source: RAND Corporation

Key Findings

  • Eliminating the Affordable Care Act’s premium tax credits would substantially increase premiums and reduce overall enrollment in the individual market.
  • Reduced enrollment of young adults in the individual health insurance market would lead to modest premium increases.
  • Alternative types of subsidies — such as vouchers — could cause premiums to become more sensitive to the age mix of enrollees.
  • Eliminating the individual mandate would cause small increases in premiums but large declines in enrollment.

See also: Assessing Alternative Modifications to the Affordable Care Act: Impact on Individual Market Premiums and Insurance Coverage

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Toward Meaningful Military Compensation Reform: Research in Support of DoD’s Review

November 14, 2014 Comments off

Toward Meaningful Military Compensation Reform: Research in Support of DoD’s Review
Source: RAND Corporation

Key Findings

Deficiencies in the Current System

  • Because service members do not receive retirement benefits unless they have served for 20 years, most members (about 86 percent of officers and 66 percent of enlisted personnel) receive no benefits.
  • The military compensation system emphasizes compensation in the form of deferred payments, despite the fact that the typical service member is young and has a preference for current over deferred compensation. As a result, compensation costs are higher than necessary.
  • The vesting point at 20 years of service and immediately available retirement benefits induces similar career lengths in all occupational specialties, but optimal career length may well differ by occupational specialty.

A Modernization Proposal

  • A hybrid system that combines elements of a defined-benefit plan (the military’s current system) and a defined-contribution plan (popular in the civilian sector) could address criticisms of the current system while maintaining key advantages.
  • Earlier vesting (before 20 years of service) in the proposed system can improve equity by increasing the likelihood that a service member will become vested.
  • A hybrid plan can increase efficiency and enable the services to flexibly manage the force via decisions about how the defined-benefit element is computed, how retirement eligibility criteria are defined, and when payouts are made.
  • RAND analysis indicates that a hybrid plan is able to create a steady-state force level and experience mix equivalent to the current force despite changes in the timing and amount of compensation and earlier vesting.
  • The hybrid plan could incorporate a streamlined disability retirement benefit that is both simpler and fairer than the current system’s.

Improving Strategic Competence Lessons from 13 Years of War

November 10, 2014 Comments off

Improving Strategic Competence: Lessons from 13 Years of War
Source: RAND Corporation

This report contributes to the ongoing debate about the lessons from the past 13 years of war and the requirements for addressing future conflicts. It addresses a particular disconnect in the current debate on the future of national security strategy and the role of landpower caused by an inadequate examination of the national level of strategy made by the U.S. government. The disconnect exists because there has been no systematic effort to collect and analyze insights from those who have been actively engaged in making policy and strategy from 2001 to 2014. A RAND Arroyo Center workshop provided a mechanism for eliciting insights from policymakers and academic experts involved in the formation of national-level strategy and its implementation over the past 13 years. This study analyzes and develops those insights in the context of the debate on future national security strategy. It applies those insights to the future operating environment, which will include irregular and hybrid threats, and identifies critical requirements for land forces and special operations forces to operate successfully in conjunction with other joint, interagency, and multinational partners.

The Federal Civil Service Workforce: Assessing the Effects on Retention of Pay Freezes, Unpaid Furloughs, and Other Federal-Employee Compensation Changes in the Department of Defense

October 31, 2014 Comments off

The Federal Civil Service Workforce: Assessing the Effects on Retention of Pay Freezes, Unpaid Furloughs, and Other Federal-Employee Compensation Changes in the Department of Defense
Source: RAND Corporation

Planners and policymakers must be able to assess how compensation policy, including pay freezes and unpaid furloughs, affects retention. This study begins to extend the dynamic retention model (DRM) — a structural, stochastic, dynamic, discrete-choice model of individual behavior — to federal civil service employment. Models are developed and estimated,using 24 years of data, and then used to simulate the effects of pay freezes and unpaid furloughs. A permanent three-year pay freeze decreases the size of the retained General Service (GS) workforce with at least a baccalaureate degree by 7.3 percent in the steady state. A temporary pay freeze with pay immediately restored has virtually no impact on retention. When pay is restored after ten years, the retained GS workforce falls by 2.8 percent five years after the pay freeze and 3.5 percent ten years after it. An unpaid furlough, similar to the six-day federal furlough in 2013, has no discernible effect on retention. For all subgroups of GS employees for which the model is estimated, the model fit to the actual data is excellent, and all of the model parameter estimates are statistically significant. In future work, the DRM could be extended to provide empirically based simulations of the impact of other policies on retention; to estimate effects on other occupational areas, other pay systems, or specific demographic groups; or to create a “total force” model (military and civilian) of DoD retention dynamics and the effects of compensation on those dynamics.

Mental Health Stigma in the Military

October 30, 2014 Comments off

Mental Health Stigma in the Military
Source: RAND Corporation

Despite the efforts of both the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the Veterans Health Administration to enhance mental health services, many service members are not regularly seeking needed care when they have mental health problems. Without appropriate treatment, these mental health problems can have wide-ranging and negative impacts on the quality of life and the social, emotional, and cognitive functioning of affected service members. The services have been actively engaged in developing policies, programs, and campaigns designed to reduce stigma and increase service members’ help-seeking behavior. However, there has been no comprehensive assessment of these efforts’ effectiveness and the extent to which they align with service members’ needs or evidence-based practices. The goal of this research was to assess DoD’s approach to stigma reduction — how well it is working and how it might be improved. To address these questions, RAND researchers used five complementary methods: (1) literature review, (2) a microsimulation modeling of costs, (3) interviews with program staff, (4) prospective policy analysis, and (5) an expert panel. The priorities outlined in this report represent a first step for where additional program and policy development and research and evaluation are needed to improve understanding of how best to get service members with mental health disorders the needed treatment as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Alternative Futures for Syria: Regional Implications and Challenges for the United States

October 29, 2014 Comments off

Alternative Futures for Syria: Regional Implications and Challenges for the United States
Source: RAND Corporation

The civil war in Syria poses a thorny problem for U.S. policymakers. The conflict has morphed from a popular uprising against an autocratic regime into a multi-sided battle involving government forces, pro-government militias, Hezbollah, Iraqi Shi’ite militias, secular/moderate rebels, Kurdish separatists, traditional Islamist rebels, nationalist Salafi-jihadist rebels, and the transnational Salafi-jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) movement. Most neighboring states and several Persian Gulf states have sent arms and money to one or more of the factions in this war. Iran and Russia have consistently supported the Assad regime, including providing advanced weaponry, since the onset of the conflict. The outcome of the conflict will affect Middle East stability and regional political dynamics for years — perhaps decades — and could exacerbate a wider Shi’a-versus-Sunni sectarian conflict in the region.

Momentum has shifted several times during the course of the conflict. Defections from the Syrian army, rapidly growing rebel ranks, and the regime’s loss of key ground convinced many observers early on that the Assad’s demise was only a matter of time. The Assad regime has exploited rebel weaknesses and its own superior weaponry and external support to shift the momentum once again in its favor. The lineup of antagonists is complex and confused. While still seeing the Assad regime as an adversary based on its patron-client relationship with Iran and its implacable hostility toward Israel, U.S. decisionmakers are also dealing with the threats caused by the dramatic recent gains made in Iraq by ISIS and the influence it wields within the Syrian rebel movement. To examine these challenges, this perspective draws on a December 2013 RAND workshop to assess four possible future scenarios for the conflict in Syria: prolonged conflict, regime victory, regime collapse, and negotiated settlement. The authors update and reassess these scenarios based on developments in Syria and Iraq through August 2014 and explore the implications that each has for Syria, the region, and the United States.

The Cost of Non-Europe in the Single Market: Free Movement of Goods

October 24, 2014 Comments off

The Cost of Non-Europe in the Single Market: Free Movement of Goods
Source: RAND Corporation

Cost of Non-Europe Reports identify the possibilities for economic or other gains and/or the realisation of a ‘public good’ through common action at EU level in specific policy areas and sectors. This Cost of Non-Europe Report seeks to analyse the costs for citizens, businesses and relevant stake-holders of remaining gaps and barriers in the European Single Market, building on and updating the 1988 Cecchini Report, which quantified its potential benefits. This particular study uses an econometric model to estimate the potential benefits of removing existing barriers to foreign direct investment and non-tariff trade barriers within the European Union. The removal of existing trade barriers could boost total intra-EU merchandise exports up to 7 per cent in the long-term. These effects will vary by Member State, and by sector of the internal market.

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