When you read this, the elections for the partial renewal of your Committee (and for the auditors) will have taken place.
A dozen of those members of the Committee whose two-year mandate finishes on 31 December must have asked themselves if they wish to present themselves for a new mandate, knowing that to properly fulfil their function they need to know the people with whom they have to deal at CERN. Evidently as time passes one knows fewer people.
To put it another way, the presence of young retirees on the Committee is in my opinion a plus.
On a positive note, the financial situation of our Pension Fund has improved as you can see later in the bulletin. This shows that the measures adopted in 2010 are bearing fruit.Communication of the manager to the retirees has improved after our persistent requests for more transparency.
Nevertheless some information is still missing in order to correctly evaluate the current management of our Fund and dissipate (one hopes) our last worries. The Committee is working on this and is closely watching developments in the Fund, and also in the Health Insurance Scheme.
The tulips of my previous article had already faded when you received the Spring bulletin. We hope that the autumn colours are still alive when you receive this document.
The end of the year is approaching. I send you my best wishes for the festive season and for a happy and prosperous year in 2014. I hope that many of you will be present for the end of year drink on 27 November.
The previous number of the bulletin, Spring 2013, was addressed exceptionally to all CERN pensioners. The idea was to reach non-members of our Association and to enlarge the audience of our publication.
I am pleased to announce that we inscribed fifty or so new members in the months that followed. This might appear to be a modest increase, but I find it quite encouraging.
Reaching out to non-members is a useful exercise, but it is an expensive one since we sent out the bulletin on paper again. We could have done it via e-mail, but for this we need to know the e-mail address of non-member pensioners, which is impossible at the moment. It is already difficult enough to obtain the e-mail address of members. As for the rest...
There is another, cheaper way of making oneself known : word of mouth. How does one make this happen ? The answer is by publishing a quality semi-annual bulletin. I am convinced that a good publication is the best means of popularizing our activities.
So, if we want our publication to be read, it has to be attractive since the competition is very strong. This requires some changes : a more agreeable format, attractive content, a constant form of presentation so that one can easily find one’s favourite section and come back to it when one wants. It also has to be distributed by modern means, i.e., the Web. This produces other constraints but reduces costs.
I shall come back next Spring with more details. Meanwhile, make time to read the bulletin and talk about it to your friends. With Jean-Marie who has returned to help I shall endeavour to find the best formula to encompass the above principles and to present you with the new publication of the CERN retirees.
Until next time,
What about ESO?
The ESO Health Working Group (HWG) has continued to be active in reviewing the conditions of the ESO health care insurance with Vanbreda International. This year, a number of improvements have been made, particularly in the coverage for dental costs. In the past, it was very unclear to most beneficiaries how much would be reimbursed for these, and this led to many complaints. The new scheme is much more transparent and, according to ESO HR, the change should be cost neutral, but this is obviously an area that the HWG will be closely monitoring.
On the initiative of the ESO retirees, ESO had drafted for the first time, a Healthcare Policy that aims to clarify a number of policy issues which were previously hidden in obscure documents. The starting point for this came from the fact that the ESO Staff Regulations state that ‘beneficiaries of the CERN Pension Fund ... may remain insured under the terms of the Health Insurance Agreement concluded by the Organisation for members of personnel’. However, the details of this Agreement were never openly available, either to retired staff or to active staff. Although the policy has not yet been finally approved by the HWG, ESO has nevertheless accepted the need for greater transparency. Also on the initiative of retired staff, the conditions for the Long Term Care insurance have also been clarified to the benefit of the beneficiaries. ESO HR and the HWG are also investigating the possibility of an optional complementary care insurance, which would offer increased benefits over the current LTC scheme.
An on-going issue that was mentioned in the previous bulletin relates to our request for ESO to contribute to the “stop-loss” insurance for pensioners that covers healthcare cases in which the costs exceed a certain threshold. After a five- month delay, we eventually received the reply informing us that ESO was not willing to contribute to this cost and that pensioners must continue to pay 100% of this premium. This was despite the decision of ESO Council in 2004 to pay 65% of the cost for health care premiums, without any qualification that this would only apply to the low cost medical cases (the so-called ‘in-kind benefits’). To make matter worse, in 2010 ESO unilaterally changed the stop-loss threshold for pensioners from € 40000 to € 25000, which caused the premiums for pensioners to be more than doubled. We maintain that this decision was incorrect, as ESO pays nothing towards the cost of this insurance, and should be reversed. Currently, retired ESO staff pays a minimum of 33% more for healthcare premiums than do active ESO staff. This issue will continue to be pursued together with the ESO Staff Association.
The ESO website for pensioners is currently being set up and should be operational within a few weeks. ESO IT department using their standard CMS tools will provide support for implementation.
ESO Staff Association Statutes:
The ESO Staff Association working group that has been preparing new statutes for the association has recently presented a ‘final draft’ of the document. The proposals from the ESO GAC-EPA representative have been fully incorporated and, when approved by the staff General Assembly later this year, it will allow ESO members of the GAC-EPA to be members of the ESO Staff Association in the same was as CERN GAC-EPA members are in the CERN Staff Association.
News in brief and activities of the Committee — Period from May 2013 to October 2013
In this 2013 autumn bulletin our aim is to give you information to follow up the spring bulletin and the minutes of the AGM held on 27th March 2013. These last documents reached you a little late in July, due essentially to the heavy workload of the CERN print shop; we ask you to forgive us for this delay. Nevertheless we hope that these documents made good reading for you, as you lay under the sun umbrellas, together with other interesting summer reading and leisure activities.
As indicated in the previous bulletin, the Committee is composed of 22 members being 21 elected plus one, the IT expert who has a standing invitation to attend; it usually meets on the first Friday of the month, except in January, July and August, with an average attendance of 16 or 17.
Here is, on next page, an overview of topics discussed during the reference period.
Composition of the new committee, distribution of functions, 2013 elections
Since 1st January 2013 there has been no change in the membership of the Committee.
Members retain the same functions as before; however it should be noted that, as already annonced, as from 5th April 2013 Claude Genier took over from Francois Wittgenstein as our delegate on the Governing Board of the CERN Pension Fund, while François Wittgenstein remains our link person with the CERN Medical Service and with the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG). He also continues to be a member of the Commission on Pensions and of the Staff Association Council.
You were informed in our letter of 2nd September 2013 of the call for candidates for the partial renewal of the Committee for 2014-2015: at the end of this year 13 members reach the end of their current mandate.
Only 12 members of GAC-EPA have submitted applications, among whom 11 members whose mandate is expiring.
This year we also have to renew the mandate of 2 auditors; however only 1 of the old members has chosen to stand again.
At the end of the call of candidates, we had to notice that we had less candidates than vacancies applied; in view of this situation the Commitee decided to opt for tacit elections. A letter from our President, attached to this bulletin, explains this stance.
The following candidates are representatives for the 2014-2015 exercise:
As members of Commitee from 1st January 2014 to 31st December 2015 :
Michel Boffart Gerritt Bossen Martin Cullum Bernard Ducret Claude Genier Monique Häusermann David Jacobs Jean-François Michaud André-John Naudi Gunilla Santiard Françoise Thévenet Jean-Marie Thomas
…As auditor for 2014 and 2015:
The minutes of the AGM of 27 March 2013 were mailed to you in July at the same time as our spring bulletin.
We invite you to refer to these documents; they contain a lot of information about your Committee and also subjects of interest to pensioners such as the Pension Fund, the Health Insurance Scheme, Pensions Guarantees, and the permanences.
Please keep your copy of the minutes as we shall ask you to approve them at the next AGM which will be held at the end of March 2014 (date not yet fixed).
Relations with the CERN Staff Association
The fact that we are attached to the CERN Staff Association means that we can take part in preparing the approach to the various aspects of our social welfare protection and thus ensure that the interests of pensioners are taken into account.
In our previous bulletin we informed you of our participation in various Staff Association working groups, and thus on this occasion we shall not return to this subject.
As from 2014, we shall have only seven members of the Staff Council instead of nine; this reduction follows the modification of the statutes of the Staff Association which has a similar reduction for members representing current staff.
We informed you in the previous bulletin that the sub-group of the Standing Concertation Committee working on Pension Guarantees where we are represented, has restarted its work, and we wish that it perseveres in this because this is a very important subject; with this aim, our representative has proposed a detailed work plan which will be discussed in our Pension Commission; you will find more details about this in the article on Social Protection and Pension Guarantees.
Relations with the Administrations of CERN and of ESO and with the Governing Board of the Pension Fund
Following the redefinition of the role of the CHIS Board (see the article on our Health Insurance Scheme later in this bulletin), we would have wished that our delegates to this Board could take part in the official meeting of the Standing Concertation Committee (SCC) during which decisions were to be taken about Health Insurance. The CERN Administration objected to such participation as being contrary to the statutes of the SCC ; also some of the executive committee of the Staff Association were reticent about this. This question is still unresolved, but we intend to persist and achieve our objective.
We have no other major items to report in this field, but it is worth noting the following :
As you are aware, retired staff have the right to access the CERN sites at Meyrin (gates A and B) and Prévessin but, like current staff, must have an access card and a vignette (renewed annually) for their car.
No changes are foreseen for the "parking des drapeaux", just outside the Meyrin site. We no longer have access to this parking, thus we should either park inside CERN (if possible) or use public transport.
We hope soon to have news from the Geneva Hospitals (HUG) about the study on cerebral ageing (see previous bulletin).
At ESO, the discussions on Health Insurance are ongoing, and you will find further details in the article "About ESO" later in this bulletin.
Finally, we are expecting to receive from the Administration of the Pension Fund information about its investments, but there has been a delay. The article on the Pension Fund which appears later in this bulletin gives you further information on this subject.
Relations with present and future retirees
Almost one CERN and ESO retiree in two is a member of GAC-EPA, with in total almost 1800 members out of 3500 retirees. The GAC- EPA Committee works for the benefit of every retiree, it is thus legitimate that we try to increase our membership.
In order to spread the word about GAC-EPA and the work of our Committee, we decided to send to all retirees the minutes of our AGM of 27th March 2013 and our spring bulletin. We are sure that this initiative will lead to new members, and as of now we have around 50 more.
Our monthly permanences (information sessions) have restarted after the summer break, with three members of our Committee. They receive you and listen to your concerns in a relaxed atmosphere, and try as far as possible to resolve your problems.
Many of our members resident in the department of Ain informed us that, in 2012, the tax administration of the Ain has submitted private incomes from our CERN pension fund to the CSG and CRDS, even if the taxpayer does not use the French Social Security; we looked into this problem and you will find in this bulletin an article on this subject as well as, separatly, a template letter of application for review that persons could address, if affected, to the locale tax administration near their place of residence.
Our previous bulletin gives you a fairly complete survey of the various means which we use to try to keep you informed in all the areas which are of interest to pensioners. For formal reasons, we still use postal mail for all official communications (AGM, bulletin, etc). Of course you can find all this information on this web-site.
Something new to which we wish to draw your attention
The Committee has set up a public discussion forum for GAC-EPA members who have internet access at home. We invite you to use this. An email was sent on 19th june 2013 to every member whose email address we know. Here is a reminder of the description and the instructions about the forum, also how to register.
We could avoid heavy expenses for printing and mailing if we could communicate with you electronically. We are not there yet, nevertheless we encourage you, if you have not already done so, to send your email address to us: firstname.lastname@example.org (adress no longer in use/adresse plus en service).
This will allow us to send you information in a timely fashion.
Finally we hope that you will be able to accept the invitation which will be sent to you to attend our 2013 end-year drink, which will take place on Wednesday 27th November at 16h30; it will not be preceded by an information meeting, because the present bulletin contains much useful information, and there are no "hot topics" at present.
What has been happening at the Pension Fund…
…since the report in the previous Bulletin made by my predecessor Francois Wittgenstein, whom I thank for the excellence of his contributions to the GAC-EPA Bulletins for many years.
As you are aware, since April 2013 I represent GAC-EPA on thr Governing Board of the Pension Fund (GBPF), and in this capacity I stand up for the interests of CERN and ESO pensioners while respecting the professional code of ethics of the Governing Board which applies to all its members.
In this Bulletin of autumn 2013 I will bring you up to date on basic information about the Pension Fund which concerns us all, following the very complete information given by Francois Wittgenstein in last spring’s Bulletin ; noting that some important decisions are to be taken in the next few months, which I will be able to share with you in the spring Bulletin of 2014.
Since the start of my mandate the GBPF has met four times, on April 25, May 16, June 28 and September 25 2013. May I remind you that in the Pensions Commission of the CERN Staff Association, which includes current staff members and members of the GAC-EPA Committee, we discuss, among other matters, each agenda item of the forthcoming meeting of the GBPF and agree a coordinated approach to current issues.
The AGM of the Pension Fund took place on September 10 (at ESO) and September 11 (at CERN). A good deal of information of general interest may be found on the Pension Fund web-site.
There you will find inter alia documents concerning financial years, the usual statistics, the presentation (only in English) given at the AGM and also the reports made by the Chairman of the PFGB in the CERN Weekly Bulletin.
Recently the site has had added to it a quarterly report on the state of the fund in the form of a Report on the Performance of its Investments, which anyone may consult. I encourage you to consult the site regularly. Note also that the Benefits Service of the Pension Fund is situated on the 5th floor of Building 5 at CERN, and may be contacted at +41 22 767 8798
The state of the assets of the Pension Fund
Due to this good performance, State Street, which guarantees the assets of our Fund, confirms to us that these are noticeably increasing and as of August 31 2013 amount to nearly 4 thousand million Swiss francs (an increase of around 2% with respect to Decembre 31 2012). I remind you that the assets of the Fund are composed of approximately 31% in bonds, 32% in equities, 14% in real estate, 12% in alternative investments, the rest being shared between private equities, commodities and cash).
Every three years the Pension Fund’s independent actuary carries out an actuarial study to determine the rate of cover of the Fund over the next 30 years. This triannual study is currently underway, carried out by the new actuary for the Fund, Buck Consultants of London. The results of this study will be discussed in the next meetings of the GBPF and will be published at the end of 2013. This time the study will take into account all the new parameters which could influence the commitments which the Fund has to honour, and in particular the financial impact agreed by the pensioners from the non-indexation of our pensions for as long as the cost of living has not exceeded 8%. In addition, this actuarial study will be based on life expectancy tables which are more relevant to the CERN population. At the end of 2012, rate of cover was 66.1% (40.1% if one uses the rather unrealistic reference hypotheses IPSAS), and if one takes into account the new arrangements, this rate of cover, as of 1/1/2013 (the base for the current actuarial study) was 69.3%. The first preliminary resukts of the present study indicate that the projection over 30 years gives encouraging results, which means that the efforts agreed by all parties are beginning to bear fruit. I will be able to give you more information on this at the AGM in March 2014 and in my report to the Bulnext spring.
Performance of the Fund
As shown in the monthly performance report on the Fund’s investments (see the end-August 2013 report below), our Pension Fund is in a rather good state. As of 31/8/13 the yield was 3.49%, the objective being an annual increase of 3% above inflation (in other words 5% in the long term). The latest performance figure as of September 18 even showed a yield of 5.09%. But one should remain vigilant, because this good result is due essentially to very favourable yields on our shares, and it is well known that the stock exchange is very volatile, especially at present. So let’s be prudent! Nevertheless ORTEC, the expert firm which monitors the risks for our Fund confirms that our Fund is managed with an exposure to risks which is entirely within the limits fixed by the GBPF. (see table on next page)
The Health Insurance Scheme
The late arrival of the complete statistics for 2012 from UNIQA means that we need to come back to this subject to impart some supplementary information. This also completes the data published in CHIS Bulletin number 37 of May 2013.
The insured population has increased regularly over recent years with the arrival of young people (students, fellows, doctoral students, staff members with limited duration contracts). The comparison of the curves of the number of insured by age group for the years 2002, 2007, and 2012 shows this evolution as well as the progression in age of the largest age group, i.e., those aged 71 to 75.
In 2012, 107 insured persons died with 10 under the age of 65.
Insured population by age:
On 31-12-2012, of 5051 pensioners and their dependants insured by the CHIS, 2926 (58%) lived in France, 1724 (34%) in Switzerland and 401 in other countries.
There are more people over the age of 80 living in Switzerland (346) than in France (340).
As indicated at the General Assembly in March 2013, the increase in reimbursements was moderate.
In 2012 (1.9%) and the rate of cover of medical expenses (87.4%) was similar to that of 2011 (87.9%).
These results show that the new reimbursement rules that took effect on 1 January 2012 did not make an imbalance in our insurance and gave better cover for serious cases.
A general rule is described in the first article with the definition of the Costs borne by the insured member (FCA) and the levels at which the change of the rate of reimbursement is set for 80% to 90% and 100%.
The reimbursement of the most common expenses (doctors, pharmacy, analyses) follows the General Rule without a limit. Other benefits are limited.
For a semi-private hospital stay in an agreed establishment (public or private) the General Rule applies, whilst in a non-agreed establishment the rate of reimbursement is fixed at 80%.
Hospitalization : these reimbursements represented 45% of the total in 2012 as in 2011. Ninety per cent of this was in Switzerland. The other 10% was spread over 24 other countries.
Serious cases : in 2012 the cases of reimbursement greater than 25 000 CHF represented 4.6% of the 12017 cases, and amounted to 48% of total reimbursements. In 2011, this percentage was 4.3% of cases for 45% of total reimbursements. With time one will be able to evaluate whether this increase is a result of the new reimbursement rules.
LongTermCare programme : as already indicated in the minutes of the General Assembly of March, the number of beneficiaries and the amount of daily care benefits continued their increase, with 175 persons at 31 December 2012 and a total of 4 700 kCHF spent on daily care benefits in 2012. Since the beginning of this captalized programme in 2001, 398 persons have benefited from its financial help.
CHISBull number 37 gave the principal financial results for 2012. These are positive thanks to the excess of contributions over expenses and the return on investment of the CHIS funds.
Administration of the CHIS
After an internal audit report on the functioning of the CHIS Board, recommendations were proposed to the CHIS Contract Manager. These recommendations clarify the functions of each party in the running of our health insurance scheme : the HR Department and its contract responsible, the accounting and purchasing services of the Finance Department, and the CHIS Board where the representatives of the insured persons sit (Staff Association and GAC-EPA). The new mandate of the CERN Health Insurance Scheme Board indicates clearly that this committee is a sub group of the Permanent Concertation Committee to whom it can make recommendations, but it has no decision-making power.
The re-adjudication of the contract for the administration of reimbursements has suffered another delay. This adjudication, initially foreseen in 2012, is now foreseen in June 2014 after a new market inquiry. The contract with UNIQA will thus be extended to 2014.
Some numbers on 30 June 2013
The level of reimbursements after 6 months is not significant, but is not indicative of a tendency. The insured population is higher than at the end of the year (13714) because of the temporary presence of summer students. With 14301 persons, there is an increase of 2% compared with 30 June 2012.
A large increase in the number of persons deemed to be dependent is to be noted with 199 persons benefiting from LTC compared with 160 in June 2012.
Social protection: System warranty?
Pension guarantees (Health Insurance). Let us recall that it was in September 2012, after a long period of inactivity, that the sub-group of the Standing Concertation Committee on the guarantees for our system of social protection in the event of the dissolution of the Organisation (henceforth the SCC sub-group) restarted its work.
Then in December 2012, CERN Management reminded the CERN Council of the obligations of Member States in the case of withdrawal from the Organisation and notably that all the obligations of CERN must be financed by the contributions of the Member States, that these commitments include, among others, covering the cost of maintaining the long term financial equilibrium of the two social protection schemes of the Organisation (health insurance and pensions), that the amount of these commitments is given in the CERN accounts, which are audited by the external auditors and approved annually by Council , and that on this basis the commitments of CERN, at the end of 2012, amount to more than 8 GSF, which corresponds to approximately eight years of annual contributions. We acknowledge with thanks the CERN Legal Service which prepared the document which summarises very clearly all the obligations of the Member States according to the CERN Constitution.
Since then, although the SCC sub-group has not met again, we (the representatives of the Staff Association and of GAC-EPA in the sub-group) have been working on the basis of the study of what would happen to the CERN Health Insurance Scheme in the event of the dissolution of the Organisation, carried out by the legal adviser to the Staff Association.
This addresses the four following questions:
Can the CERN Health Insurance Scheme (CHIS) be maintained in the event of the dissolution of the Organisation ?
If so, will those insured by CHIS be able to retain their acquired rights even after the disappearance of the Organisation ?
Which would be the relevant jurisdiction in this case ?
If not, which other options could be envisaged in order to guarantee equivalent health insurance cover ?
It seems to the legal adviser that in the event of the dissolution of the Organisation the most evident solution from a legal point of view would be to transfer the funds of the CHIS and everything involved in the management of the Scheme to another international organisation. This would permit acquired rights to be kept, in particular world-wide coverage, and the right to benefits and the mechanisms for internal appeals as set out in the CHIS regulations. He proposes, among other points, that as soon as possible a paragraph should be added to the CHIS Regulations stating that the CERN Council will take the necessary steps to ensure that beneficiaries can remain in the health insurance scheme existing at the time of dissolution, or, failing that, to enrol them in a scheme which has comparable social protection and subscription costs.
This study has now been transmitted, for discussion, to the other members of the SCC sub- group. Let us hope that this group has not already returned to the state of hibernation from which it has barely emerged.
To be continued.
Information sessions (permanences)
The text of this column has not been translated in English; it concerns an attempt by the French tax authorities to levy a social security tax on the CERN pension of French citizens who are resident in France and receive a French pension.
The GAC-EPA Committee has drafted a letter which may be sent by those concerned to the French tax authorities.
Presence of GAC-EPA on the Internet
2013 was a rather tumultuous year for the informatics of the association,we therefore are behind with the new version of the site, but do not despair: it will come !
New members of the GAC-EPA, by the very nature of the times, are more and more computer- literate.
At the same time I have been the expert in these matters for ten years now. That is a long time,
so I take the opportunity to call for a successor from among the young retirees.
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.
News from retired persons
The editorial staff recently received some news from a group of friends dating back to the days of the ISR. They sent us some photos illustrating that they still enjoy each other’s company and have maintained regular contact since retiring from cern (see below).
We take this opportunity to encourage you to send us your news, which we will be pleased to pass on via the bulletin. Get writing…
In the previous Bulletin n° 44, the pagination of internal pages in the printed version is incorrect, it should read:
« GAC-EPA Bulletin No 44, Année/Year 2013 »
« GAC-EPA Bulletin No 43, Année/Year 2013 »
Thanks to David Dallman for his remark.
A little bit of everything…
REMINDER 1: We strongly encourage pensionners who have enrolled in GAC-EPA and who have not yet given us their e-mail address to send it to us as soon as possible at following address: email@example.com (adress no longer in use/adresse plus en service). Many thanks.
A REPORT was to be included in this 45th issue of autumn 2013. This innovation, which I mentioned in a previous issue, was to inaugurate a series of articles devoted to the life of CERN and ESO pensioners. To save money, it has been held over to the next issue, due in spring 2014. This will be well worth waiting for.
ELECTIONS: For the second time in the GAC- EPA history, the number of candidates for the committee and auditors is lower than the number of vacancies. The Committee decided this year to proceed by tacit elections, see the letter announcing this.
REMINDER 2: We remind you that a new annual fee will took force since the 1st of January 2014. Please remember to modify your payment orders with your banking organisms.
SEARCHING: The editors are looking for translators to help the two persons currently in charge.