SIXTH ANNUAL STUDY OF EMPLOYEE BENEFITS: TODAY & BEYOND

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1 PRUDENTIAL GROUP INSURANCE SIXTH ANNUAL STUDY OF EMPLOYEE BENEFITS: TODAY & BEYOND Insight into the Next Generation of Employee Benefits The Prudential Insurance Company of America 751 Broad Street, Newark, NJ

2 Sixth Annual STUDY OF EMPLOYEE BENEFITS: TODAY & BEYOND Table of Contents Welcome 1 Study Overview 2 Methodology 3 Key Themes 7 The Growing Importance of the Workplace 9 Gauging the Success of Voluntary Benefits 25 Grappling with a Changing Benefits Landscape 35 Putting Technology Front and Center 47 The Evolving Role of the Broker/Consultant 61 Summary of Key Findings 70 About Prudential 72

3 WELCOME The slowly recovering economy and the passage of last year s health care bill continue to weigh heavily on the business environment. It is against this backdrop that we introduce our latest research report, the Sixth Annual Study of Employee Benefits: Today & Beyond, which I am once again pleased to share with you. Focused on five themes, this research offers the in-depth perspectives of plan sponsors, plan participants, and the brokerage community. After six years of conducting this research, we have built a solid foundation on which to effectively gauge where the industry is headed over the next five years, and where it was. In this year s report, we see a fundamental shift in how employers think about and deliver benefits. Interestingly, cost looms large, but is not the primary driver of change overall. For 2011, the following trends have emerged: Employees are obtaining personal insurance and savings products on the job in greater volume. Technology has grown in importance, even if it produces uneven results. Benefits decisions are being made differently not just to save money but to attract and retain employees. Brokers/consultants are changing the way they service their clients and do business. Employers are happy with their voluntary benefits programs but are looking for ways to better measure success. I encourage you to review this report in its entirety and share this information with key benefits stakeholders in your organization. I m confident you will find this report a valuable tool as you plan your benefits strategies for 2012 and beyond. Sincerely, Lori High President, Prudential Group Insurance 1

4 STUDY OVERVIEW Today, more than ever before, companies are being pulled in many directions. There is a greater need within companies to cut costs and run more efficiently. Outside companies, consumers are demanding better prices and higher quality products. With recent economic trends and market influencers, companies more commonly are using words such as collaboration, accountability, sustainability, and transparency. This is trickling down to employee benefits departments and decisions as well. This report shows the changing landscape of benefits around several trends changes in the decision-making process, consolidation of carriers, and outsourcing of benefits administration. Results will highlight who is doing what, what is working well for some, where there have been changes over the past few years, and what the outlook is for the future. Research Objectives For the sixth consecutive year, Prudential has conducted research among a representative cross-section of benefits plan sponsors and benefits plan participants across the United States. Also, as in our 2010 study, we include the views of employee benefits brokers and consultants. This year s study addressed many of the emerging issues and trends facing employers, their employees, and group insurance intermediaries with respect to workplace benefits, including: Voluntary benefits offerings and participation The role and usage of technology in employee benefits Changes to and current involvement in the decision-making process for employee benefits Specific employee experiences with employee benefits such as life, disability, long-term care, and retiree benefits Objectives, strategies, and roles of benefits brokers/consultants Five Key Themes from This Research 1. The Growing Importance of the Workplace 2. Gauging the Success of Voluntary Benefits 3. Grappling with a Changing Benefits Landscape 4. Putting Technology Front and Center 5. The Evolving Role of the Broker/Consultant 2

5 METHODOLOGY The Sixth Annual Study of Employee Benefits: Today & Beyond was fielded via the Internet during March and April 2011 and consists of three distinct surveys: one among benefits plan sponsors, another among benefits plan participants, and the third among group employee benefits brokers and consultants. This allows us to compare and contrast opinions of employers, employees, and brokers/consultants on key benefits issues. This year s study was conducted for Prudential by the Center for Strategy Research, an independent Boston-based market research firm. Overview of Plan Sponsor Survey Plan sponsor results are based on a national survey of 1,501 employee benefits decision-makers. Respondents included business executives, business owners, human resources professionals, and financial management professionals. The survey sample covers all industries, including government, and is nationally representative of all U.S. businesses with at least 50 full-time, benefits-eligible employees. Data shown in this report are weighted to reflect the actual proportion of U.S. businesses by company size, industry, and region based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The margin of error is +/- 2.5% at the 95% confidence level. Below is a breakdown of survey respondents by survey participant region, job function, industry, company size, approximate 2010 sales, years in business, and business ownership. Region Job Function Industry West 25% South 32% $200 million to under $500 million 8% $500 million to under $1 billion 7% $1 billion or more 8% Don t know 11% Other 10% Accounting/ Finance/Treasury 16% Executive/ Owner 45% Other 28% Services 32% Northeast HR/Employee Wholesale 21% Midwest Benefits 6% Retail 22% 29% Manufacturing 10% 4% Health Care Construction 10% 10% 2010 Sales or Fee Income Years in Business Business Ownership Under $10 million 17% Fewer than 10 9% Private 82% $10 million to % Public 17% under $25 million 21% % Don t know 1% $25 million to 50 or more 31% under $50 million 14% Mean 44 years $50 million to Number of Employees under $200 million 14% Median 31 years 5,000+ 5% 1,000 4,999 17% % % % 3

6 METHODOLOGY Overview of Plan Participant Survey Plan participant results are based on surveys conducted among 1,216 employees, age 22 or older, who work full time for a company with at least 50 employees. The survey of employees was conducted during the same time period as the plan sponsor and broker/consultant surveys. The survey sample is nationally representative of all U.S. workers at companies with at least 50 full-time employees. Data shown in this report are weighted to reflect the actual proportion of U.S. workers by gender, region, race and ethnicity, education level, household income, and age based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau. The margin of error is +/- 3.0% at the 95% confidence level. Below is a breakdown of survey respondents by region, age, household income, racial and ethnic background, gender, education level, as well as employer industry and size. Region Age Household Income Northeast 19% West 23% Midwest 23% South 35% % 60+ 7% % % $150,000 or More 12% $100,000 $149,999 Under $50,000 29% % $75,000 $99,999 17% $50,000 $74,999 25% Education Level Some High School 8% High School Graduate 27% Some College or 27% Technical School College or Technical 21% School Graduate Post-Graduate School 17% Employer Industry Education 13% Public Administration 13% Manufacturing 12% Professional Services 9% Retail Trade 8% Financial 7% Health Care 6% Information 5% Construction 1% Other 26% Employer Size % % % 1,000 2,499 11% 2,500 4,999 9% 5,000 9,999 7% 10,000 24,999 9% 25,000 or more 20% Racial Background White 81% African American 11% Asian 6% Other 2% Ethnic Background Hispanic 15% Non-Hispanic 85% Gender Male 56% Female 44% 4

7 Overview of Broker/Consultant Survey As in 2010, we engaged leading employee benefits brokers and consultants to participate in this year s study to help in providing a clearer picture of the current and future trends and issues facing the industry. The group insurance intermediaries surveyed have the following characteristics: Focused on employee benefits over two-thirds spend 75% or more of their time in these activities. Experienced more than half (57%) report working in the field for more than 10 years. Broad product perspective 75% or more sell or service medical, life, disability, dental, and vision insurance. Half or more sell or service long-term care and other voluntary insurance products. Work for large firms nearly 5 in 10 are in companies with 1,000 or more employees. Work with plan sponsors of all sizes and in all major industries. (On average, less than 25% of business from clients have fewer than 50 employees.) Broker/consultant results are based on surveys conducted among 744 group employee brokers/consultants. We also categorized them into three groups based on the size of clients they predominantly serve: 33% are Small Market 60% or more of their business comes from clients with fewer than 100 employees. (On average, 83% of their clients have fewer than 100 employees.) 38% are Mid-Market The majority of their business comes from clients with employees. (On average, 56% of their clients have between 100 and 999 employees.) 35% are Large Market 50% or more of their business comes from clients with 500 or more employees. (On average, 76% of their clients have 500 or more employees.) The survey of group employee brokers/consultants was conducted during the same time period as the plan sponsor and plan participant surveys. The margin of error is +/- 4.0% at the 95% confidence level. 5

8 METHODOLOGY Below is a breakdown of survey respondents by size of firm, size of clients served, region, age, gender, years in employee benefits and top employer industries. Size of Broker/Consultant Firm 5, % 1,000 4,999 21% % Fewer than % % % Age 65+ 4% Under 35 15% % Size of Clients Served Large Market 29% Mid-Market 38% Small Market 33% Gender Male 59% Female 41% Northeast 28% West 24% Region South 26% Midwest 22% Top Employer Industries* Manufacturing 40% Professional/Scientific/ 37% Technical Services Health Care/Social Assistance 28% Finance/Insurance 27% Educational Services 19% Public Administration/Government 16% Construction 6% Retail Trade 14% Information 13% Other Services 12% (except Public Administration) Administrative/Support/ 12% Waste Management/ Remediation Services Transportation/Warehousing 8% Accommodation/Food Services 7% Years in Employee Benefits 5 years or fewer 19% 6 10 years 24% More than 10 years 57% * Benefits brokers/consultants were asked to indicate the three industries in which they have the highest concentration of clients. Numbers will add up to more than 100%. 6

9 KEY THEMES This report examines some of the most pressing issues facing the benefits industry and projects how those trends will evolve over the next five years based on insights from plan sponsors, plan participants, and group insurance intermediaries. Following are the key themes that emerged from the research. 7

10 8

11 The Workplace 1THE GROWING IMPORTANCE OF THE WORKPLACE 9 9

12 The workforce continues to be impacted by difficult economic factors, causing employees to remain focused on short-term needs. Economic trends such as unemployment and foreclosure rates remain high as inflation puts pressure on household budgets and weighs on consumer confidence. Unemployment rates in the spring of 2011 have remained at or slightly below 9.0%. This is an improvement from the average unemployment rate for 2010 (9.6%), but still represents close to 14 million people out of work. 1 Home foreclosures in the first quarter of 2011 accounted for 28% of all home sales; this is much higher than foreclosure rates in a normal housing market, which average below 5%. 2 Inflation, particularly in food and energy products, pushed the Consumer Price Index (CPI) up 3.2% over the 12-month period ending in April Plan participants continue to feel the impact of the slow economic recovery or what many have termed the new normal. These answers are consistent with responses from plan participants in both 2009 and When asked how they have been personally affected in the past six months by recent economic conditions, more than half (53%) report they have been either very or somewhat negatively affected. About one-third (32%) report the economy having a neutral effect on them, and 15% report a positive effect. Those most negatively affected tend to have lower household income and tend to be younger on average. IMPACT OF RECENT ECONOMIC CONDITIONS ON PLAN PARTICIPANTS 2009 TO Positively 17% 13% 15% Neutral 26% 33% 32% Somewhat negatively 34% 32% 31% Very negatively 23% 22% 22% Unfavorable economic conditions contribute to worker concerns focused on immediate needs such as job security and being able to pay the bills. When plan participants are asked to rate the importance of various financial and personal needs, roughly four in five identify job security and making ends meet as highly important to them; among a list of 15 needs, these two concerns rated the highest in importance. Not surprisingly, almost the same number rate having appropriate health insurance as highly important. Concerns about debt are still strong with just under 7 in 10 rating paying off or reducing household debt as a highly important issue Table A-1: Employment Status of the Civilian Population by Sex and Age, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2 Foreclosure Sales Down; Mortgage Rates Dip Again, The Associated Press, May 26, Economic News Release: Consumer Price Index Summary, April 2011, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics,

13 These results indicate that consumer confidence and financial concerns have not improved significantly since the recession. Important long-term needs such as having financial security if a wage earner can no longer work due to a disability or serious illness, needing to save for retirement, having a financial plan for achieving major financial goals, and having financial security in the event of a premature death continue to fall out of the spotlight, as workers continue to focus on the short term. The Workplace Fewer than two in three plan participants cite these concerns as highly important this year. At the very bottom of the list in importance are less immediate needs such as having enough money for a child s education and finding a trusted source for financial advice, with only 3 in 10 participants rating these issues as highly important. IMPORTANCE OF NEEDS AND CONCERNS PERCENTAGE OF PLAN PARTICIPANTS SAYING HIGHLY IMPORTANT Highly Important Having job security 84% Making ends meet (i.e., paying your mortgage, paying utility bills, 80% buying groceries) Having appropriate health insurance 79% Having your retirement savings last as long as you need it to 75% Maintaining a healthy lifestyle 72% Paying off/reducing household debt 68% Reducing your stress level and improving emotional well-being 66% Having financial security if wage earner can no longer work due to 63% a disability or serious illness Needing to save for retirement 63% Achieving a better balance between work and personal life demands 60% Having a financial plan for achieving major financial goals 53% Having financial security in event of a premature death 50% Having to provide for long-term care needs of either yourself or a spouse 33% Having enough money for children s college education 30% Finding a trusted source to provide financial advice 28% 11

14 In the midst of continued economic uncertainty, the workplace has emerged as an important source for personal insurance and savings products. Three in 10 plan participants say it has increased greatly. Almost half (47%) report some level of increase in importance. Only 10% report that the workplace has decreased in importance on some level. Those more likely to say the workplace has increased: Tend to be younger; those under 35 are more likely to say increased (58%) versus those ages (46%), those ages (41%), and those ages (41%). Are more likely to have a lower household income (under $50,000). When asked to rate the importance of the workplace as a source for personal insurance and savings products currently, almost two-thirds (64%) of plan participants rate it as a very important source. Combined with those who rate the workplace as somewhat important, this group grows to 80% who view the workplace as an important source for these products. Those rating the workplace as a very important source: Those not married (divorced or widowed) are more likely (74%) than those married (63%) and never married (62%) to say the workplace is a very important source. Are more likely to own more financial and insurance products overall. Asians are more likely to rate the workplace neutral or not important. The benefits of personal insurance and savings products offered in the workplace range from convenience and price to a more financially secure workforce. As economic trends continue to buffet plan participants, these benefits will take on even greater importance and employers who offer competitive benefits packages will be more desirable. EXTENT WORKPLACE HAS CHANGED AS SOURCE FOR PERSONAL INSURANCE AND SAVINGS PRODUCTS IN THE PAST FIVE YEARS PERCENTAGE OF PLAN PARTICIPANTS Somewhat 17% Neutral 41% Decreased 10% Increased Greatly 30% Don t Know 2% 12

15 IMPORTANCE OF WORKPLACE AS SOURCE FOR PERSONAL INSURANCE AND SAVINGS PRODUCTS PERCENTAGE OF PLAN PARTICIPANTS The Workplace Somewhat Important 16% Neutral 10% Very Important 64% Not Important 9% Don t Know 1% It is those who have been most negatively impacted by the economy in the past six months who are more likely to rate the workplace as a very important source of personal insurance and savings products. In contrast, those who have felt no effect of the economy rate workplace importance at lower levels (58% say very important ). Those negatively impacted by the economy in the last six months state that the workplace is growing as a source for personal insurance and savings products. More than half (53%) of those very negatively impacted and just under half (46%) of those somewhat negatively impacted say the workplace has increased in importance; this is significantly more than those impacted in a neutral way (37%). WORKPLACE AS SOURCE FOR PERSONAL INSURANCE AND SAVINGS PRODUCTS BY IMPACT OF ECONOMY PERCENTAGE OF PLAN PARTICIPANTS Somewhat Very Neutral Negatively Negatively Those saying the workplace is a very important 58% 62% 70% source of insurance and savings products Those saying the workplace has increased as 37% 46% 53% a source of insurance and savings products in the past five years 13

16 Plan participants own a variety of insurance and savings products as part of their financial safety net. Plan participants were given a list of different insurance and savings products and asked which of them they own. The large majority (94%) of plan participants report owning at least five and just over 4 in 10 (44%) participants report owning nine or more. Less than 1 in 10 (6%) indicate they own fewer than five insurance and savings products. Nearly all plan participants currently own a checking account and/or ATM/debit card, medical insurance, and auto insurance (95% or greater). Most report having dental insurance (89%), life insurance (83%), a retirement savings plan (80%), and home insurance (75%). A far lower percentage report owning an IRA (37%), long-term care insurance (21%), or an individual annuity (12%). Workplace retirement savings plans, owned by 80% of participants, are substantially more common than IRAs (37%) and individual annuities (12%) among plan participants. INSURANCE AND SAVINGS PRODUCTS OWNED PERCENTAGE OF PLAN PARTICIPANTS SAYING YES % Currently Own Checking account and/or ATM/debit card 99% Medical insurance 97% Auto insurance 95% Dental insurance 89% Life insurance* 83% Retirement savings plan, e.g., 401(k)/403(b) 80% Home insurance 75% Disability insurance (i.e., insurance that provides income in the case 66% of a serious injury or illness for an extended period of time) Pension plan 42% Individual Retirement Account (IRA) 37% Long-term care insurance (i.e., insurance that covers the cost of 21% an extended stay in a nursing home, assisted-living facility, or for at-home care) Individual annuity 12% * The percent of participants owning life insurance reported in this study is generally higher than reported in industry news. This could be due to the sample of this study, i.e., full time employees at companies of 50+ employees. 14

17 Certain insurance and savings products such as checking accounts and medical insurance show little variation in ownership between age and income brackets. Others, however, highlight important differentiations. The Workplace Demographics and life stage play a role to some extent as to the type of financial products a person owns, whether out of availability or necessity. It s not surprising to find that plan participants in the youngest age bracket tend to have lower ownership of nearly all products, most notably life insurance, home insurance, retirement plans, IRAs, and pension plans. Life insurance ownership jumps from 73% for those under 35 to 82% when participants reach the age bracket. Ownership is significantly higher for ages Long-term care insurance ownership is highest amongst 65+ (38%). INSURANCE AND SAVINGS PRODUCTS OWNED BY AGE PERCENTAGE OF PLAN PARTICIPANTS SAYING YES Under * Medical insurance 94% 95% 99% 99% 100% Dental insurance 90% 87% 91% 87% 86% Disability insurance (i.e., insurance that provides income 61% 68% 69% 69% 54% in the case of a serious injury or illness for an extended period of time) Life insurance 73% 82% 91% 91% 86% Long-term care insurance (i.e., insurance that covers 19% 22% 23% 18% 38% the cost of an extended stay in a nursing home, assisted-living facility, or for at-home care) This indicates a significant difference from all other age groups. *Please note the base size is too small for significance testing. 15

18 Employees already rely heavily on the workplace for many personal insurance and savings products. As part of the competitive landscape for attracting employees, most employers offer certain benefits such as medical insurance. Larger companies usually offer more benefits. For plan participants in this survey, medical, dental, and disability insurances are mainly provided by employers (over 90%). Home and automobile insurance and banking products are purchased largely outside the workplace (greater than 95%). When it comes to life and long-term care insurance, the workplace is more often the place where they are purchased. But these products are also purchased outside of the workplace in many cases (38% for life insurance and 14% for long-term care insurance). Income and age are drivers of where life and long-term care insurance are purchased. Those who are older and have more financial resources are more likely to purchase these products outside of the workplace than younger and lower income workers who rely much more heavily on the workplace. WHERE PRODUCTS WERE OBTAINED PERCENTAGE OF PLAN PARTICIPANTS WHO OWN PRODUCTS Spouse s Outside Don t Employer Employer Workplace Know Medical insurance 91% 9% 2% <1% Dental insurance 91% 9% 2% 0% Disability insurance (i.e., insurance that provides 93% 3% 6% 1% income in the case of a serious injury or illness for an extended period of time) Life insurance 77% 6% 38% <1% Long-term care insurance (i.e., insurance that covers 80% 4% 14% 4% the cost of an extended stay in a nursing home, assisted-living facility, or for at-home care) Home insurance 3% 1% 96% <1% Auto insurance 3% 1% 96% <1% Checking account and/or ATM/debit card 4% <1% 97% 0% 16

19 WHERE PRODUCTS WERE OBTAINED PERCENTAGE OF PLAN PARTICIPANTS BY AGE The Workplace Under * Life Insurance Employer 85% 74% 76% 74% 66% Spouse s employer 7% 7% 5% 5% 11% On own 24% 34% 46% 46% 63% Don t know <1% 1% 0% 0% 0% Long-Term Care Insurance Employer 82% 90% 87% 51% 42% Spouse s employer 0% 3% 6% 15% 0% On own 9% 9% 11% 34% 43% Don t know 9% 0% 1% 3% 15% This indicates a significant difference from all other age groups. *Please note the base size is too small for significance testing. For products traditionally purchased outside of the workplace, the line between what would be obtained through the employer or privately has begun to blur slightly. Plan participants at companies with between 10,000 and 24,000 employees are more likely than those at companies with 50 to 499 employees to purchase auto and home insurance from their workplace, 5% and 7% compared to 1% and 2%, respectively. Additionally, those at larger companies (10,000 24,999 employees and 25,000+ employees) are more likely to receive a checking account or ATM/debit card through the workplace, as compared to those at smaller companies (50 499). Those who work in Public Administration are more likely to purchase home insurance from the workplace than other employee groups. Plan participants who work in Finance or Insurance are the most likely to source a checking account or ATM/debit card from their workplace. Purchasing these products from the workplace still represents a small percentage of total purchases. But evidence does exist that employers may be widening their offerings, especially larger companies that may be looking to build benefits to attract and keep valuable employees. 17

20 Employers who provide a well-rounded benefits package are likely to have an advantage in attracting and retaining employees as the economy recovers. When asked about their top employee benefits objectives, plan sponsors rated retaining employees as the second most important objective, with 53% stating this is a very important objective; this is second to controlling health care-related costs. Attracting employees is another objective that falls not far behind retaining employees and is mentioned by 41% of plan sponsors as a very important objective. Many employers are focused on increasing employee satisfaction with the value of the overall benefits package. Just over 40% rate this as a very important objective. Yet, only some plan sponsors are realizing the competitive advantage they can reap with a comprehensive benefits package. About one-third (36%) strongly agree with the following statement, Offering significantly better or more generous benefits than others in our industry gives our company a significant advantage, including having positive effects on attracting and/or retaining the employees we seek. Additionally, the same number (36%) highly agrees with the statement: Our company offers its employees a wide range of benefits. Those who feel their employees are very satisfied are more likely to agree that offering significantly better or more generous benefits than others in our industry gives our company a significant advantage, including having positive effects on attracting and/or retaining the employees we seek, as compared to those plan sponsors who say their employees are somewhat satisfied or neural/not satisfied (63% saying they highly agree vs. 35% and 18%). The same holds true for our company offers its employees a wide range of benefits : plan sponsors who say their employees are highly satisfied are more likely to agree with this than those saying somewhat satisfied or neural/not satisfied (68% saying they highly agree vs. 33% and 18%). Plan participants overwhelmingly report that employee benefits are critical when deciding to stay with a company or take a new job. The majority of plan participants (87%) say employee benefits are at least somewhat important when deciding whether to take a new job or not; roughly half (46%) say they are extremely important. Those plan participants who see more value in their employee benefits are even more likely to say employee benefits are essential in deciding which company to work for (94% saying benefits are at least somewhat important in the decision, compared to 73% for those who see little to no value in their benefits). 18

21 IMPORTANCE OF EMPLOYEE BENEFITS OBJECTIVES PERCENTAGE OF PLAN SPONSORS SAYING VERY IMPORTANT The Workplace Very Important Controlling health care-related costs 65% Retaining employees 53% Reducing the cost of benefits administration 52% Increasing employee productivity 48% Attracting employees 41% Increasing employee satisfaction with the value of your overall 41% benefits package Helping employees make better benefits decisions 35% Addressing the diverse benefits needs of your employee population 28% Increasing enrollment in voluntary and/or optional plans 25% Education and communication are essential in making benefits a competitive advantage. An employer can offer the best benefits in the industry, but unless their employees understand how those benefits work and what their value is, then the benefits are most likely underappreciated and overlooked. For offerings such as life, disability, and long-term care insurance, research suggests that plan participants need further education as to the benefits and value of these products. Plan participants were asked about the importance of various financial needs and concerns as well as the importance of specific employee benefits. Gaps in perception are seen when comparing responses. Nearly two in three plan participants identify having financial security if the wage earner can no longer work due to a disability or serious illness as highly important; yet only two in five rate disability insurance as highly important. Similarly, 50% of employees rate having financial security in event of a premature death as highly important to them, yet only 40% cite life insurance as a highly important benefit a 10-point gap. In the 2009 study, plan participants were asked how they plan to fund their own and/or their spouse s long-term care expenses. Three in 10 plan participants said they didn t have a plan or didn t expect to need long-term care services, demonstrating a clear need for education around the value and benefits of long-term care insurance. 19

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