In light of the changes around Healthcare Reform that have already taken effect as well as the new mandates set forth in 2014, it appears that most employers will realize an even greater out of pocket expense to offer employee benefits. In addition to the confusion with the upcoming changes, the administrative burden for employers to maintain compliance has created even greater angst for employers. This is forcing businesses employers to examine not only the cost of insurance but the other not so obvious costs associated with employee benefits, namely the cost of administration.
The reality is that not only are employers struggling with the rising costs of insurance, so are employees. The Kaiser/HRET Survey of Employer-sponsored Health Benefits reports that employers have experienced an average of 114% increase in annual health insurance premiums for family coverage from 2002-2012, while the worker contribution has risen 147%. The recession has impacted employees as they are now working with fewer Total Benefit Dollars thus creating more pressure on them to make educated financial decisions.
Employers and employees must take a renewed holistic approach to how they view benefits. Technology is the enabler behind this approach. For the employer, its value lies in the administration of benefits. For the employee, the value lies in the distribution and use of educational tools that allow them to make educated benefit decisions that stretch their dollar further. These employees will be given more options under Healthcare Reform and will have the option to participate in the Healthcare Exchange. Employers must look to third party outsourcers to deliver the right technology solution; a solution that can address both issues to yield the most benefit to internal staff and to its employee population.
Top 5 Employee Challenges and Tips on Technology Tools
Challenge 1: Offering multiple benefit plan options is common practice, but this can often present an overwhelming decision for employees who need appropriate coverage for their specific needs while keeping costs within their means.
Tip 1: Utilize Plan Comparison Tools.
A comprehensive enrollment system will allow employees to look at plan options side-by-side, estimate their out-of-pocket costs, review the cost of each benefit and understand their coverage vulnerabilities from a single view. The new Total Benefit Dollar understanding is forcing the employee and employer to look at the planning and purchasing of all benefits more holistically – including group core, voluntary offerings and 401(k).
Challenge 2: HDHPs and CDHPs represent a foundational change in our approach to health care.
Tip 2: Enhance Education.
To address this shift, the delivery of health information needs to occur on multiple levels. Employee needs range from basic informational meetings to more in-depth resources, to in-the-moment enrollment resources like plan comparisons and cost estimators.
Challenge 3: A medical emergency is stressful enough without having to worry about the financial implications it may have.
Tip 3: Add a Voluntary Plan Offering to Ensure Comprehensive Coverage.
Many individuals are pairing voluntary plans with high deductible plans to manage out-of-pocket costs in the event of such an emergency. It seems this trend will continue.
Challenge 4: As health care reform continues to change the benefits landscape, employees need more help navigating their benefit options.
Tip 4: Provide Personalized Advice.
Offering support through a third party who can deliver the educational messages employees need to make the benefits decisions that are right for them is a definite value add. Additionally, this advice will help employers effectively manage benefits expenditures.
Challenge 5: Not all employees are created equal. Employers are challenged with variable education levels, language barriers, remote employees, and multiple locations among their employee populations.
Tip 5: Enable Multiple Communication Methods.
A sophisticated technology partner will have advanced capabilities that address each of these challenges to inform all employees of their options most effectively. This is accomplished only through a provider with an educated service staff that can provide personalized support to each employee, and a partner that understands the challenges associated with your unique workforce.