Encouraging retiring workers to annuitize their savings should be a top priority for the federal government.
Officials at the U.S. Government Accountability Office have included that plea on a list of suggested areas for oversight for the next Congress.
GAO officials have divided the list of oversight priorities into 3 sections: targets for near-term oversight; policies and programs that are in need of fundamental reform and re-engineering; and governance issues that should be addressed to help make sure the federal government can cope with the 21st century.
Many of the 15 items in the first category relate to national security issues of only indirect interest to life and health insurers. The one high-priority item that could have a big effect on insurers is a recommendation that Congress work quickly to enhance computer security and deter identity theft.
The second category includes 13 items. The 4 that relate directly to life insurers are recommendations that the government do more to prepare for catastrophes; strengthen Medicare and Medicaid; get better control over tax breaks; and strengthen retirement security.
In the catastrophe section, GAO officials say the federal government has to prepare for the threat of an influenza pandemic as well as for natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina.
“An effectively functioning insurance market can substantially reduce the government’s exposure to postcatastrophe payouts,” officials write.