Bulletin 44

Spring 2013

  1. The Word of the President
  2. Editorial
  3. ESO Activities
  4. Committee Activities
  5. The Pension Fund
  6. Obituary
  7. The CERN Health Insurance Scheme (CHIS)
  8. Presence on the Internet
  9. Information Sessions (permanences)

The Word of the President

Original: French

Gertjan Bossen

Spring is here and with it our new number of the Bulletin, another flower amongst the tulips, hyacinths and daffodils (go and see Keukenhof in my native Holland) to make us forget a winter that was like in the olden days, cold and snowy, in most of Europe.

Other flowers have bloomed: rules and regulations.  Those of us who have filled in a tax form will have noticed:  more rules to respect whose meaning and utility escape us. The greed of some means constraints on everyone else.  And to stay with this example, the virtual world is everywhere.  It has become preferable to fill in one’s tax declaration online instead of on paper.  Let us take advantage of this evolution. Yes, there are some advantages.

How does all this concern us as GAC-EPA members?  Well, CERN has not escaped this tendency towards more regulation and virtual activity.

The flags carpark is no longer accessible to us because of «regulations». Much worse, the governance of our health insurance scheme is being remodelled to be in accordance with certain principles without taking into account  the efficacy and concrete results for the insured.  It looks as though the «rules» are more important than common sense.

Living in a computerised society means that the GAC-EPA is the only organism at CERN that does not use electronic voting for the election of its Committee.  This explains (but does not justify) our problems sending out voting material in due form.  The CERN services that we use such as the printshop and the mail service are less at ease with our requests to communicate with you via paper documents since communication with active staff members is now completely electronic.

Is your President too pessimistic?  Perhaps.  Fortunately, our Committee is composed of a good mixture of optimists and pessimists, of conservatives and progressives, all prompted by the desire to contribute to the good of you, our members.

Have a good summer.

Editorial

Original French)

Bernard Ducret

A news bulletin for everyone

When I took over as editor of our newsletter, I announced some changes in its form and contents, and I would now like to come back on this and tell you about the changes we wish to make.

As regards the form of our newsletter, we would like it to be as easy as possible to read, peppered with graphs, colour photos, pictograms, in short illustrations, which make it more enjoyable to read.  We are starting in this issue to include contributors’ photos and clearer graphics.

As regards the contents, we wish to make the newsletter into a real means of communication between people.  For example, we would like to know what has become of you, what you have been doing, and how you find your new life since retiring from the Organisation.  We would like to share these aspects with our readers in the form of interviews, reports or simply in the form of letters that you can send us.

In another vein, we also need to make economies whilst enlarging our audience, which is a difficult challenge. With this in view, we will reduce the mass of paper by sending you the bulletin electronically and announce its availability by e-mail. For that you need to send us your e-mail as soon as possible. Your fast reaction will enable us to produce in future a bulletin in colour, that will be more attractive, better structured in its presentation and thus more enjoyable to read. We will, however, keep the paper version for our colleagues who do not have a computer connection, but this will remain in black and white.

With these enrichments, we count on increasing the number of our readers, hoping to reach the retirees who are not yet members of our association.  This is in any case necessary, since with the present serious and worrying economic situation in Europe, we need all of you to defend our interests.

What about ESO?

 

Martin Cullum

Membership: The year stated with a New Year get together in Garching. The number of ESO members at GAC-EPA has been growing steadily and has almost doubled over the last 18 months. This is partly because of a number of recent retirees, and also because incentives to attract previously retired staff members.

Health Insurance: The re-vamped ESO Health Working Group, which has a similar function to the CHIS Board at CERN, has been working actively during the last year on a number of issues relating to the ESO health insurance contract with Vanbreda International. Although the revised list of benefits is not yet available at the time of writing, a number of changes have been introduced. An example is the simplification of the reimbursements for dental treatment that were previously incomprehensible to most mortals. The GAC-EPA delegate on the HWG is Sandro D’Odorico.

We are awaiting a reply from the ESO management to our request for ESO to contribute toward the cost of the stop-loss insurance component of the health insurance premium as it does for normal benefits. (See the previous bulletin and erratum below for more details.)

Website: The ESO management has agreed to the hosting of a website for pensioners on ESO servers. This will complement the current GAC-EPA website and will eventually be linked to it when up and running. There are a number of topics that relate specifically to ESO pensioners: for example, health insurance issues, local social events and taxation, and it is easier to respond to these with a website hosted in Garching. Aspects that relate equally to both CERN and ESO retirees will, of course, continue to be covered by the current GAC-EPA website. Klaus Banse has volunteered to implement and manage the new website. The GAC-EPA Representative for ESO members, presently Martin Cullum, will be responsible for the editorial content.

ESO Contact List: During the last year, the ESO Education and Public Outreach Department has been updating and re-organising the global contact list for the Organisation. For the first time, this list specifically identifies ESO pensioners as a category so that they are not simply forgotten when they leave the organisation. If they wish, pensioners can now receive a regular news emails about events at ESO and, at the end of last year, we also received a copy of the beautiful ESO wall calendar which was a pleasant surprise.

ESO Staff Association Statutes: The revision of the statutes of the ESO Staff Association is still on-going within a Staff Association Working Group, set up for this purpose. The WG have received concrete proposals from the GAC-EPA to to include pensioners in a similar way to the CERN SA Statutes. These have been willingly taken on board by the WG, but a number of other issues still remain to be resolved. Realistically, it can be expected that the revision will be completed by the autumn and put to the ESO staff for acceptance.

News in brief and Activities of the Committee
(period of October 2012 to May 2013)

Original French)

Mario Danesin

We are publishing a spring bulletin that covers the Committee’s activities of the past six months.

The current Committee, under the Presidency of Gerrit Jan Bossen, consists of 22 members of which 21 are elected (20 for CERN, 1 for ESO) and one permanent invitee (informatics expert).

Below we give brief details of some aspects of the Committee’s activities. Some activities are mentioned in more detail in the specific sections.

1. 2012 Election Results, Composition of the New Committee and Assignment of Duties

The present Committee (list at the beginning of the bulletin) has been in place since 1 January 2013, and was voted in during the elections that took place in the autumn of 2012 to renew 8 elected members whose mandate ended on 31 December 2012. In total 10 candidates stood for election of whom 7 were outgoing members and 3 were new candidates. One outgoing member, Jean-Claude Vialis, did not stand for election; the Committee would like to thank him most sincerely for his sterling work during his 2 successive mandates in all aspects of the Committee’s activities and especially as our representative in the Mutual Aid Fund, in social and cultural activities, and in our administrative contacts with the Pension Fund; happily, Jean-Claude is still willing to tender his advice should we need it.

There were no elections for auditors in 2012 since their mandate runs to the end of 2013; a call for candidates will go out in September 2013.

Counting of the votes by the scrutineers took place on 23 November 2012 with the following results:

Membres du groupement: 1753
Votants: 662
Bulletins validés: 614
Bulletins nuls: 48
Participation: 38%
Nom Prénom Candidature Voix Pourcentage
VITASSE Michel Candidat sortant élu 581 95%
GOUACHE Jean-Claude Candidat sortant élu 564 92%
BABOULAZ Michel Candidat sortant élu 548 89%
BARTHELEMY René Candidat sortant élu 499 81%
GHINET François Candidat sortant élu 496 81%
SEIS Irène Nouvelle candidate élue 489 80%
DANESIN Mario Candidat sortant élu 466 76%
VANDONI Carlo Candidat sortant élu 417 68%
RADERMACHER Ernst Nouveau candidat non élu 287 47%
DALP Pierre Nouveau candidat non élu 270 44%

The result of these elections was announced in December 2012 on our website and in Echo 49-50/2012, the bulletin of the Staff Association; it was also communicated officially at the Ordinary General Assembly on 27 March 2013.

We are pleased to see a slight increase in the participation (38% against 34% in 2011) and we hope that the increase will continue in the next elections.

2. General Assembly of the GAC-EPA

The Ordinary General Assembly (OGA) took place on 27 March 2013 following the convocation sent out on 25 February 2013 to all members; in parallel, this invitation was also placed on our website.

Since the Main Auditorium was undergoing some work at the time of our OGA

We had to hold the meeting in the auditorium of the Globe; this caused some parking and logistics difficulties beyond our control.

You can consult the Minutes of the Ordinary General Assembly.

These minutes keep you informed of the work of your Committee and contain information on our social protection system (Pension Fund and Health Insurance).

You will need to keep the paper copy of the minutes since you will be asked to approve them at the next Ordinary General Assembly which will take place at the end of March 2014 (date not yet decided).

3. Relations with the Staff Association

GAC-EPA Committee members cooperate closely in the work of the Staff Association : commissions on the Health Insurance scheme, pensions and pension guarantees. Nine members of our Committee take part in the Staff Council of the Staff Association (SA) with the right to vote if the subject concerns the interests of pensioners. The SA is thinking of reducing the number of members of the Staff Council (SC) by a quarter; in this case the number of GAC-EPA members would be reduced to seven.

We have seven members in the Pensions Commission. Our worries have not disappeared despite the measures taken since 2010 to try to make up the deficit in our Pension Fund; this is why we are following very closely the orientation given by the Pension Fund Governing Board (PFGB), the investment committee and by the Administrator and his collaborators and we will not hesitate to make proposals in the interest of the Fund, the retirees and future beneficiaries. Let us just mention the request by ESO for their contributions and benefits to be calculated in euros since their salaries are paid in euros. Another subject is « civil partnerships », which are not currently recognised by the Pension Fund, which means that the surviving partner is left without resources.

The CHIS and thus health insurance and its management are looked at by members of the Social Protection Commission; we have 2 permanent representatives; the Commission has taken note of the recent internal and external audits of the CHIS and Uniqa. The Commission has also given recommendations concerning the future call for tender for the management of the Health Insurance fund; these questions are of course debated in the CHIS Board as are the internal rules of the CHIS.

As hinted at above, the CCP working sub-group on Pension Guarantees has started work again, and we hope this is not just temporary. During recent meetings they were informed of a document from the CERN Management entitled  «Obligations of CERN Member States in case of withdrawal from the Organization» : this document deals with all the financial obligations of the Organization that have to be covered by the Member States and include in particular the cost of the long-term financial balance of the social protection schemes and hence the Pension Fund and Health Insurance.

 At the Legal Commission, a subject of interest for retirees is access to the CERN sites and the fact that we are not forgotten by the Administration, the last episode of our relationship with the Administrartion is not only the retirement seminar…

Another subject concerns our membership as CERN or ESO retirees of one or other of the Staff Associations; the 2 SAs are discussing this and their respective statutes will have to take account of this.

One hundred or so members of GAC-EPA have requested a 2013 membership card for the CERN SA; these cards have been available since the end of February and can be collected at the SA secretariat.

4. Relations with the CERN Administration and the Pension Fund Governing Board (PFGB)

CERN retirees have the right to access the CERN sites of Meyrin and Prévessin ; they must be in possession of an access card and a car sticker (if necessary); these documents can be obtained from the Access Service in Building 55, first floor on presentation of identity papers and the car papers.

For reasons that are not quite clear, the CERN Administration has decided to make the external CERN car park (Flags car park) virtually inaccessible except to authorized persons. As we do not form a part, whilst waiting for an unlikely change in this situation, cars must be parked inside CERN, or you must come to CERN by public transport where possible.

On june 2 of june 2013, CERN will open the « Passport Big Bang » project, a tourist and scientific route, with ten exhibition platformsin front of ten sites of the CERN inside the Pays de Gex and the Geneva district. Platforms are linked by marked out routes and a treasure hunt. This is a project supported with towns of Pays de Gex, Meyrin and Geneva tourism, for a developement of the dialog with our

neighbours.

http://passeport-big-bang.web.cern.ch/en

on the occasion of this opening, a popular and festive event is organised :

On the request of the Direction, the GAC-EPA Committee appeals its members to help as much as possible with this event.

Open Days are being organized next September; one of these days is reserved for Cernois, and this includes retirees.

As announced in the previous bulletin, Claude Genier, the designated successor to François Wittgenstein in the PFGB, is our official representative since 5 April; in the meanwhile he attended a meeting of the PFGB on 14 February as an observer.  We are keeping up our contacts with the CERN Medical Service and the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG), through our intermediary, François Wittgenstein, who took over this role played so passionately for many years by Jean-Paul Diss, who died on 6 June 2012. For the brain ageing study, the HUG are looking at the means available in the HUG and the CERN Medical Service to carry out a first neuro-psychological survey of 300 people and a blood test.

5. Relations with current and future retirees

Our aim is to keep you informed about what is happening at CERN and ESO, in particular about anything concerning retirees ; there are several means at our disposal :

The General Assembly is the main formal body of GAC ; members meet here to be informed of the activities of the Committee and take note of future objectives ; members can express their point of view and are invited to approve the actions of the Committee.

Our biennal Bulletin supplements the information given at the General Assembly, in a less formal manner with a personal touch by each author.

Jean-Marie Thomas has been the editor of the Bulletin for many years and we have all

appreciated his hard work and effort to supply us with pertinent information and put a personal note in the editorials.

Once again let us thank him heartily.

Bernard Ducret is now in charge of the Bulletin. He is assisted by Jean-Marie who will stay on the watch.

Bernard has lots of ideas to refresh the Bulletin. Here are a few of them :

Please contact Bernard, bulletin@gac-epa.org (adress no longer in use/adresse plus en service), if you wish to recount a personal experience, an adventure, make known a project or an activity which could be of interest to the community. We would be very pleased to give you some space in the Bulletin for this.

Our information sessions run by three devoted members of the Committee and held on the first Tuesday of the month except in January, July and August are very much appreciated. They can set you on the way to finding answers to your personal problems, but you must obtain confirmation of the proposed solutions by consulting the competent authorities since only they can give you an official reply.

We also inform you from time to time by post, by ECHO, the fortnightly publication of the SA, via our website, or by e-mail, but for this we need your electronic address and we also need to know if you change it; please send your e-mail address to:  treasurer@gac-epa.org

Good communication consists in sending out information in various formats (on paper and electronically) as quickly as possible; all our communications are sent in the 2 official languages. Printing costs are very high and formed a large part of the 2012 budget as mentioned by our treasurer at the OGM.

This year we did not feel the necessity to hold an informal meeting before the end of year drink. Several people were quite surprised by this especially since this meeting appeared on our website until the evening before 23 November, on Google and on the internal agendas of meetings. The lesson to be learned is that all changes must be notified in time.  Nevertheless, the drink was most appreciated and we were glad to see so many of you there.

Consult our Website for general information and also any new information on social protection;  you will also find mention of talks given at CERN and elsewhere.

We hope that the greatest number of retirees become members of our GAC-EPA group; actually on the 31st of december 2012, the group counts 1763 members on a total of 3493 retirees.
With the aim of making the group and its Committee activities better known, we will this year send the minutes of our 27 march 2013 General Assembly as well as spring Bulletin to all retirees; we attach a new application form and thereby hope that a larger number of retirees will join. The more numerous we are, the more weight we carry in the discussions and negociations with the deciding authorities.

What about Pensions?

Original French

François Wittgenstein

Since our last account, the Governing Board (PFGB) convened on 22 November 2012 and 14 February 2013. The General Assembly of 2013 will probably take place on the morning of 11 Spetember.

The site of the Pension Fund is
http://pensionfund.cern.ch/fr and
http://pensionfund.cern.ch/en

You will find there documents about the financial years, the usual statistics and the presentation (English only ) made at the General Assemblies at ESO and at CERN on 11 and 12 September 2012, as well as the latest communication of the President of the Governing Board, published in No.15/16 of the CERN Bulletin (8 April 2013)

The administration of the Pension Fuind can be contacted at No +41 22 767 8798

The financial results of 2012 have been presented at the GAC-EPA general Assembly of 27 March 2013 and can be found in the minutes of that meeting.

General Situation

In the period covered, the central banks have continued to inject liquidity into the financial circuits and the interest rates have continued to go down (Fig.1) which favours the stock market. For the moment however the risk of inflation (Fig.2) is absent. However, this technique, which consists in buying time, is always questionable. Especially when one knows that since 2007 the same banks have seen their balances multiplied by 3 !

Fig2.Evolution d’un indice combinant la variation de prix de 22 matières premières. (FuW16 avril 2013)

The European markets are still lagging behind in an international comaprison, as one can see in figures 3 and 4.

Finally, it is generally useful to compare the levels of debt of our sponsors, as seen in fig.5.

Fig5. Debts of some European states compared to their GDP (Economics in pictures)

Complements on the Pension Fund

For information I give below some details on the 2012 balance. Values are in rounded MCHF.

Actuarial commitments

As explained already numerous times, the CERN accounting and that of the Pension Fund use different parameters. For 2012 they are :

In 2012 the technical rate according to CERN accounting was lowered from 1.23% (2011) to 1.16% (2012) because the rate of interest of Swiss Confederation bonds decreased. Because of that the commitments of the Pension Fund have increased by 120MCHF. The total commitments are then :

According to CERN : 9591MCHF (40.1% cover)

According to the Fund : 5820MCHF (66.1% cover). This value is relatively pessimistic, because it does not take into account the decrease in purchasing power of the pensions. Therefore one may estimate that in reality cover is about 2% higher. Projecting forwards 30 years shows that in the best of cases the cover mgith reach 80%.

Evolution of the Fund at the start of 2013

At the beginning of the year results on investment portfolios are always good, as shown by fig.6.

Principles of administration (FuW 20 April 2013)

The standard procedures have until now been adjusted to benchmarks which often introduced high risks for portfolios. The PFGB has now adopted a different principle, based on analysis of risk and preservation of capital. This principle can be illustrated by the percentage of a portfolio that is invested in oil, without taking into account the risks from the variation of oil prices. If one uses the same reasoning on other parts of the portfolio one can see that one accumulates risks without taking them into consideration. On the other hand, taking into account the global risk of a portfolio will lead to a completely different composition of the portfolio. The basic idea of this type of management consists in trying to weigh risk against prospective return. Today the treshhold of risk is fixed at maximum of 5% (conditional value at risk) which defines the maximum loss in case a low-risk incident happens anyway ! For those interested I finish with a literary reference :

Some statistics at 31 December 2012

Over 2012 the demographic variations were as follows (units : number, KCHF, year.)

On 31 December 2011 the technical deficit of the Fund was 2119MCHF and on 31 December 2012 it was 1998MCHF. The most important differences are in these items :

If things continue as at present, it is problable that the technical deficit could decrease by 100MCHF in 2013.

Finally, the under-indexation of the technical rate of 5% represents a value of 256MCHF in the technical deficit calculation.

End of Story

According to my archives my first publication in the Bulletin appeared in No.19 of 1999…
For reasons outside my control, this chronicle ends here, though I had foreseen to end it in Bulletin 45 ! To all those who have faithfully read my contributions, I give my best regards and best wishes for good health !
My e-mail address cern is still active and I am at your disposal… if necessary.

François Wittgenstein witt@mail.cern.ch

Social Protection:
What happens in case of a dissolution of CERN?

Michel Vitasse

Pensions and health insurance

Payment Guarantee of pensions and health insurance

The two host states of CERN, Switzerland (headquarters agreement of 11 June 1955)

and France (social security agreement of 16 June 1972), entrusted the Organisation with the responsibility of ensuring the social protection of its employees.  Two entities were thus created to take care of this:  the Pension Fund and a private insurance, accident and invalidity fund, today the CERN Health Insurance Scheme (CHIS).

The Pension Fund is an integral part of CERN, which does not have its own legal personality.  In the case of dissolution of the Organisation, if nothing should have been undertaken, the assets of the Fund would be blocked and there would be nobody to manage the capital or assure payment of the pensions until the death of the last beneficiary.

A Little Chronology of Events: Progress every 10 years

A working group of the CCP is created in May 1997 to study these questions.

Then events speeded up

In order to ensure continuity in beneficiaries’ rights concerning health insurance, we now have to:

The question of joining a larger social protection scheme will also be considered.
Active Staff Pensioners
Year Insured active CERN Total Pensioners CERN Total
2010 4.02 6.47 10.49 4.02 6.35 10.37
2011 4.27 6.71 10.98 4.27 7.39 11.66
2012 4.41 6.98 11.39 4.41 7.66 12.07
2013 4.55 7.25 11.80 4.55 7.93 12.48
2014 4.70 7.53 12.23 4.70 8.21 12.91
2015 4.86 7.83 12.69 4.86 8.51 13.37

Percentage of the basic salary of active staff and the last salary position of pensioners

Interview with Claude Genier

Claude GENIER is our new representative at the PFGB. We wished to introduce him to you through an interview.

1. Your identity

Bul : Claude GRENIER, you were recently nominated to take over from François WITTGENSTEIN, as our new representative at the PFGB

we would like to get to know you better :

Can you tell us about your professional career from your university days until now?

CG : I graduated from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in mechanical engineering in 1968 at 22 years of age.  After two years as assistant lecturer at the EPFL, I went to work abroad (a company in England) as a commercial engineer.  My task was to install a hydraulic test laboratory in the University of Copenhagen (Lyngby), and then part of a 1MW hydroelectric power station in Zambia.

I joined CERN in 1972 as a mechanical engineer in the 300 GeV (SPS).  I was first accountable for the cooling and air-conditioning systems in the SPS.  I am somewhat proud of a realisation which I carried out from beginning to end and which is visible to everybody when entering CERN today, namely the cooling towers of point 6 of the SPS (opposite the main entrance of the CERN Meyrin site).

From 1982, onwards with the arrival of the first PCs, I changed group to become head of logistics in the LEP-IM group, in charge of the construction and installation of the LEP collider equipment.  I was responsible for the transport of the equipment and planning and overseeing of the installation.  Shortly after the LEP started up (14 July 1989), I was responsible for computer support in the TE Division.  I thus worked for nearly 15 years in the field of computing.

Then an opportunity came up to join PE Division (now HR Division) where I was responsible for CERN’s Temporary Work office, and HR representative for several divisions, as well as member of the section dealing with salary scales and job descriptions.  Subsequently, I spent the last 7 years of my career at CERN as head of Administration and DPO (Departmental Planning Officer) of the TE Division.

Bul : How did you become interested in questions concerning our Pension Fund ?

CG : When I started my contract at CERN, more than 40 years ago, I immediately realised the importance of the actions undertaken by the Staff Association to defend staff members’ interests.

Thus, I followed the Staff Association’s activities during all my years at CERN.  In addition, as I grew older, I naturally became interested in questions related to the Pension Fund.

Bul : What makes you think you are the right person in the right place ?

CG : I don’t think I am the ONLY suitable person for this position. Many others, certainly more qualified than I am to act as representative at the PFGB, could have taken over from François W.  As it happens, I accepted Gertjan’s and Michel’s (Vitasse) requests to fill this position and the Committee accepted my nomination during the December 2011 meeting.

It is true that the various functions I occupied at CERN, amongst others the 7 years I spent as DPO, led me naturally, I think, to be the GAC –EPA representative at the PFGB.

Bul : What personal motivations led you to accept this delicate task ?

CG : Like all of us, I am obviously interested that our Pension Fund and its capital are well run. My occupations as a retiree leave me some spare time and I wanted to be involved in GAC-EPA’s efforts concerning social matters (Health Insurance fund, Pension fund).  The GAC-EPA was looking for a representative to the Pensions Commission and I did not hesitate to get involved.

2.  Your approach to the role of representative

Bul : Claude, you know the task and the constraints of your role :

Have you been invited by the President of the PFGB, since your nomination, to attend meetings as successor to François?

CG : Yes, since my official nomination to the PFGB, I was able to attend the meeting on 14 February 2013 as an invited participant.

Bul : If yes, how did you experience these firsthand contacts ?

CG : During the meeting on 14 February, I was warmly welcomed by the President, Dr. Riska, as well as by the members of the PFGB. I was able to make contacts with certain members.  I found the working atmosphere good in the CA. Let us see how it continues …

Bul : What are your main objectives as representative of the GAC-EPA at the PFGB

CG : I represent the GAC-EPA at the PFGB. For me this means that, in collaboration with the two Staff Association representatives, I have to defend the interests of the CERN pensioners.  I believe that the ideal forum for discussing Pension Fund affairs is the Pension Commission that brings together the Staff Association representatives (President Alessandro Raimondo) and those of the pensioners. 

We, the retirees are represented in sufficient number on this Commission and I can count on the expertise of the more experienced among us to form a correct opinion on all of the points discussed.  I plan to report regularly at the GAC-EPA committee meetings on the discussions and decisions taken in the Commission.  It will also be the occasion for me, to take note of remarks that could be made by the GAC-EPA and to defend these positions in the Commission and at the PFGB.

Bul : How do you intend to react with respect to situations which could conflict with your task as representative of the GAC-EPA ?

CG : If divergent opinions should arise during discussions in the Pension Commission, I was already able to observe that the positions adopted are by consensus.  For me, it is important that the opinions of the Staff Association and those of the pensioners coincide and that we present a united front in the PFGB.  It is clear that in the event of differences of opinion, I shall come back to the GAC-EPA Committee to obtain a clear standpoint, which I will then defend in the Commission.  I will do all within my power to ensure that the Commission accepts the pensioners’ viewpoints.  Subsequently, as I said, I will defend the decisions reached by consensus in the Commission at the PFGB.  I am convinced that it is not by “going solo” that we will get our ideas across in the PFGB.   The two Staff Association representatives and the GAC-EPA representative must maintain a united front in the PFGB.

Bul : How do you intend to handle a situation that could put you in difficulty between the code of conduct of the PFGB and the position of those you represent ?

CG : As all members of the PFGB, I signed the Code of conduct. I cannot see any difficulty in respecting this Code of conduct in the exercise of my functions as representative of the GAC-EPA.  If confliction should arise, which is unlikely, I will do my utmost to delay the decision to be taken in the PFGB in order that I can contact the GAC-EPA Committee to inform them of the confliction.

3. Your convictions on how our Fund should be managed .

Bul : You know the status of our Fund and the international economic situation : do you have any ideas on the direction that the Fund’s management should take in the future ?

CG : I try to follow the international economic situation as far as possible, but as you know,

at present this is not easy and opinions differ as to what actions should be taken to improve and stabilise the economic environment. I think that our Fund manager has the necessary expertise for this position and can call on other experts if necessary, but this is not sufficient.  One has to remain vigilant and take calculated risks.  It is in this framework (risk taking) that I see the main role of the PFGB.

I believe that the opinions and advice of the experts we have in the Staff Association, but particularly in the GAC-EPA, are of great value and will enable us to defend the Fund’s interests and if necessary ask the Fund management for a change of course.

Bul : Do you think that the guarantees to sustain our Fund are currently sufficient ?

CG : This is mainly a concern of the Pension Guarantee Commission (and the Health Insurance Fund). I often consult with Michel Vitasse, our representative on this Commission, in whom I have absolute faith.  Our collaboration is excellent since Michel is in both commissions.

Conclusion:

Bul : Please sum up in a few words how you see your task as GAC-EPA representative.

CG : In three words, if you don’t mind : VIGILANCE, PROTECTION (of the pensioners’ interests) and ACTION (proactive).

Obituary

David Jacobs

For the list of deceased beneficiairies of the Pension Fund consult the list of deaths.

If you wish to write a word of sympathy to the bereaved family you can send it via the CERN Pension Fund, which has the address but is not authorised to give it to third parties.

The CERN Health Insurance Scheme (CHIS)

Original French

Michel Baboulaz

Understanding your swiss health care invoices:

TarMed and SwissDRG, the tariff systems

According to figures provided by UNIQA for 2012, CHIS reimbursements for care received in Switzerland increased by 2.33% as compared with 2011, whereas reimbursements for care received in France decreased by 2,30%. Surprising figures given the 5% bonus on reimbursements for care received in France, but maybe a reason to make an attempt at deciphering the invoices you receive from swiss health care providers.

When an invoice only shows the amount of the fee, there is nothing to understand. In some rare cases invoices are based on old coding systems, but the majority are now based on the TARMED system for ambulatory treatments, or on the SwissDRG package price for acute care in hospitals.

TarMed was introduced in 2004 and is in constant evolution. This medical rates system is not compulsory but is strongly recommended by medical practitioners associations. At the heart of this system is a register including all medical and technical acts related to ambulatory care by physicians. More than 4600 such items are described in 40 chapters. This register is publicly accessible on internet at www.tarmedsuisse.ch for online or offline browsing (2467 pages).

[note from the webmaster: this site has many navigation issues that prevent making a reference to the pages cited by Michel Baboulaz. For this reason you will see images instead of references below. I can't help it…]

Each described act is given an amount of tariff points, depending on the time required, its difficulty and the facilities needed for its performance. The doctor's invoice is then produced by multiplying the total number of points by the CHF point value set by the swiss canton, currently 0,96 CHF in Geneva and 0,98 CHF in Vaud.

You may have seen those 'basic benefits' named 'first 5mn period' and 'last 5mn period' which are charged for each consultation.

Here is the registered description of the first 5mn period, with the corresponding amount of points for both technical (PT) and medical (PM) acts :

Advice : long greetings or relating your holidays to your consulting physician may turn expensive !

Here is another example of a more complex procedure, totalling 369,21 points for medical care and 438,90 points for technical work :

SwissDRG (Diagnosis Related Groups) is a classification system of cases admitted in hospitals for acute care, providing standard package tariffs for each case group. In force in Switzerland since 2012, it has already evolved to the current 2.0 version.

A case is an inpatient admission with a defined main diagnosis. Similar cases are grouped for statistical purposes with an aim of producing the average cost of each group, in terms of length of stay, equipment needed, products and materials used, medical and nursing care required. Within a group (a DRG) variants are foreseen to consider factors like age or complications.

Each DRG is assigned a cost-weight measured with tariff points. When multiplied by the CHF value of a point, the cost-weight leads to the amount of the invoice charged by the hospital.

In the current 2.0 version of the SwissDRG, 991 DRGs are listed and classified in 21 Major Diagnosis Categories. The 5 volumes defining these DRGs total 3627 pages. Details  are accessible via internet at www.swissdrg.org.

[note from the webmaster: this site has many navigation issues that prevent making a reference to the pages cited by Michel Baboulaz. For this reason you will see images instead of references below. I can't help it…]

The CHF point value is set by each canton. In 2012 it was CHF 10'672 in Geneva for private insurances like the CHIS (Geneva clinics had claimed for CHF 16'410).

Here are examples of 2 paired DRGs, listing the procedures they include:

F18A : if age below 16 OR if severe CC (Complications or Comorbidities)

F18B : if age above 15 AND no severe CC

the cost parameters for these 2 DRGs are defined, the main ones being the cost-weight and the average length ofd stay :

Agreed, these lists and tables look tedious and some effort is needed to find one's way but the internet facilities make it possible to decode the invoices you receive from swiss health care providers.

Presence on the internet

 

Robert Cailliau

We have a site at http://www.gac-epa.org where you can find recent announcements as well as an archive of past communications (bulletins, minutes of the General Assemblies, tributes, announcements) for as far back as we could reasonably go.

Much useful information can be found there too : links to other services, reminders of rights and duties of pensioners and so on.

During 2013 we are completely overhauling the site. This is not just a matter of aesthetics, but of reorganising and clearing up.

A Forum on the net for discussions between members of the GAC-EPA will be available soon, in a test phase. I hope this will address some of the desires for better communications of our members.

We will do an experiment with the Information Sessions people, to bring to the site a digest of the most frequently asked questions and their answers.

Feel free to put any question or request about the site directly to the webmaster by e-mail to webmaster@gac-epa.org.

Information Sessions (permanences)

 

Jean François Michaud.

Gunilla Santiard, René Barthélémy and Jean François M ichaud run the GAC “permanences”, and, once again, they did not fail in their duties. 

After a rush last year, following the announcement that accounts abroad have to be declared, there were no less people consulting this year, mainly pensioners sceptical about regularisation.  As mentioned, the information that accounts abroad have to be declared has been passed on, and it only remains up to everyone now to decide what they do.

As far as liability to CSG and CRDS is concerned, more precise information is currently being sought from the French tax offices. Should we obtain, on this recurrent topic, a well documented reply, we will not fail to pass it on to you..

As every year now, you will find the annual exchange rate for income tax declaration purposes (0,83 EUR/CHF) on our site. As we remind you every year in the Bulletins and during our Annual General Meeting, in principle the “permanences” take place every first Tuesday of the month, except in July and August.

ERRATUM

In Bulletin n° 43, an approximation in the translation occured in the French part of the ESO article: it should be «la prime d’assurance pour excédent de sinistre» instead of: « la prime d’assurance la «perte d’arrêt » ».

This error has been corrected.