10/30/2013 7:45 PM ET|
10 ways health care may change
While many plans and benefits will be similar to those in the past, corporate efforts to rein in costs and other trends will bring some changes. Here's a guide to what you may see in the coming year.
Despite all the attention the public Obamacare exchanges have been getting, the vast majority of Americans will still sign up for health insurance this year the way they always have: by using the open enrollment process at work this fall.
While many of the plans and benefits for workers will be similar to those in the past, continued corporate efforts to rein in health care costs and other trends in corporate benefits mean there may be some changes.
Here's a guide to 10 changes you may see to your health and other workplace benefits this year:
No. 1: Higher employee cost
As employers look for ways to trim costs, they've successfully transferred a larger portion of their health care premium expenses onto employees. In the past 10 years, employers' contributions to premiums have increased 80 percent, but employees' contributions have increased by 89 percent. The average worker now shells out about $4,600 per year for family coverage, more than double what was paid a decade ago, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Companies have even greater incentive to keep costs down now, given that in 2018, they'll be charged a tax for providing workers with high-cost "Cadillac" health benefits. "They're going to do everything they can to keep costs down, so that their plans come in under the prescribed thresholds," says Bruce Elliott, manager of compensation and benefits at the Society for Human Resource Management.
No. 2: A shift to private exchanges
A growing number of businesses are opting out of providing traditional insurance in favor of private exchanges, which allow consumers to search for health insurance in much the same way they'd search for a vacation package on Travelocity.com.
The companies are providing workers with a set dollar amount they can spend on the exchanges – and employees who want a more robust plan can make up the difference out of pocket. This year, about a million workers will buy their employer-sponsored coverage via private exchange, but that number is expected to surge to 40 million in the next five years, according to a recent report by Accenture.
No. 3: More options for consumer-directed plans
A whopping 80 percent of employers said they planned to offer a high-deductible health plan in association with a health reimbursement account to employees in 2014, according to a recent Towers Watson report. Right now, just 10 percent of employers offer only a high-deductible plan to their consumers, but 44 percent expect to move entirely to such plans within the next three to five years, according to a report by benefits consulting firm Aon Hewitt.
No. 4: Better behavior incentives
In recent years, more companies offer financial incentives to employees who participate in health assessments or behavioral programs aimed at improving their health. Now, businesses are starting to enforce tougher requirements in order to earn those incentives. In 2013, 16 percent of companies tied incentives to measurable improvement, while 31 percent said they are contributing to such an approach this year, according to a Towers Watson report. "If employers can get employees to maintain their health, there are benefits there on both ends," says Craig Rosenberg of Aon Hewitt.
No. 5: More voluntary benefits
In an effort to offer more customized benefits plans to their employees, companies are increasingly offering a suite of voluntary benefits – from pet insurance to prepaid legal services. "Employers started offering more voluntary benefits during the recession when they couldn't expand their more traditional benefits," says Lenny Sanicola, senior practice leader on benefits at WorldAtWork, a human resources association.
A Prudential survey (.pdf file) of corporate insurance brokers found that 44 percent expect increased demand for such benefits over the next five years. They expect the biggest increase in critical illness insurance.
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No. 6: A move toward PTO
Companies are increasingly moving toward "paid-time off" leave policies, which allocate a set number of days for all time off, rather than sorting days into buckets for vacation, sick leave and personal time. Last year 52 percent of companies had PTO policies, up from 42 percent in 2009, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.
No. 7: Expanded work/life programs
Offering increased work/life initiatives -- from flex time to caregiving assistance for both children and elderly parents -- has become a key priority for companies in a competitive global marketplace. The Prudential study found that expanding such initiatives was a top priority for employers, along with expanding wellness and preventative programs.
No. 8: The Roth 401(k) option
As more millennials enter the workplace, employers are looking for ways to tailor the 401(k) investment options to their needs. Enter the Roth 401(k), a workplace investment account on which you pay taxes upfront, but can make withdrawals tax-free for retirement.
These accounts are often a good fit for young investors, since their investments will have decades to grow tax-free, and the taxes paid now will likely be less than those they would pay in retirement. Already about half of employers allow workers to invest in a Roth 401(k), but a third of those who don't offer this option were considering adding it by 2014, according to an Aon Hewitt survey.
No. 9: Independent investment advice
Roughly half of companies offer employee access to financial advice to help them make retirement saving decisions. A growing number of employers are contracting for that advice with advisers who don't work with the plan's investment provider. Last year, two-thirds of employers gave workers access to independent investment advice, a 20 percent increase since 2008, according to the American Benefits Council. Part of the reason for the shift is the Pension Protection Act of 2006, which outlined new requirements for investment advice via employers.
No. 10: Mobile first
Employers are quickly realizing that one of the best ways to reach workers is via their mobile phones. Last year, 32 percent of employers used mobile technology for health care benefits, but 52 percent said they planned to add such technology -- including apps for insurance, prescription refills and benefits enrollment -- in the next three years, according to a study by WorldatWork.
More from The Fiscal Times:
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
I think I better liquidate and move elsewhere. I'll come back when someone with sense is running this country. Which also means perhaps never to return. Money seems to have all those people by the balls.
I mean really,, do you seriously think Washington gives a crap about Americans????
Show me the money is all they know anymore.
And it came to pass in the Age of Insanity that the people of the land called America, having lost their morals, their initiative, and their will to defend their liberties, chose as their Supreme Leader that person known as "The One".
He emerged from the vapors with a message that had no meaning; but He hypnotized the people telling them, "I am sent to save you. My lack of experience, my questionable ethics, my monstrous ego, and my association with evil doers are of no consequence. For I shall save you with Hope and Change. Go, therefore, and proclaim throughout the land that he who preceded me is evil, that he has defiled the nation, and that all he has built must be destroyed." And the people rejoiced, for even though they knew not what "The One" would do, he had promised that it was good; and they believed. And "The One" said "We live in the greatest country in the world. Help me change everything about it !" And the people said, "Hallelujah ! Change is good !".
And so it came to pass that employers, facing spiraling costs and ever-higher taxes, raised their prices and laid off workers. Others simply gave up and went out of business and the economy sank like unto a rock dropped from a cliff. The banking industry was destroyed, manufacturing slowed to a crawl and more of the people were without a means of support.
Then "The ONE" said, "I am "THE ONE" - The Messiah - and I'm here to save you ! We shall just print more money so everyone will have enough !" But our foreing trading partners said unto Him, "Wait a minute. Your dollar is not worth a pile of camel dung ! You will have to may more...." And the people said, "That is unfair !!" And the world said, "Neither are these other idiotic programs you have embraced. Lo, you have become a Socialist state and a second-rate power. Now you shall play by our rules !".
And the people cried out, "Alas, alas !! What have we done?" But yea verily, it was too late. The people set upon "THE ONE" and spat upon him and stoned him, and his name was dung. And the once mighty nation was no more; and the once proud people were without sustenance or shelter or hope. And the Change "THE ONE" had given them was a like unto a poison that had destroyed them and like a whirlwind that consumed all that they had built. And the people beat their chests in despair and cried out in anguish, "Guve us back our nation and our pride and our hope !!". But it was too late, and their homeland was no more.
You may think this is a fairy tale, but it's not. IT'S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW !!!
My youngest kid is having her second child. She, husband and one child are presently covered by company health insurance. The employee premium is $287.00 every two weeks. Yearly total $7,462.00. Office visits are $30.00 co-pay, emergency room care is $300.00 co-pay, The deductible for the year is $10,000.00 family or $2,500.00 individual. No dental coverage, no vision coverage and the prescription coverage is 75% of cost. Their cost is running about even with my wife and I on Medicare. Our total medical expense so far this year including prescriptions is just over $9000.00. Vision and dental are not covered of course. This year we are over $3000.00 for dental and vision expenses.
In reality, every one of us pays for medical treatment one way or another.
The Cadillac excise tax coming in 2018 will make sure no employee has employer majority paid health insurance. Expect your (employee) share of the premium to increase along with the deductable. In the meantime, your insurance coverage will be less and the service will be poor. Stay healthy and let's hope the ACA law changes.
Let's get over the notion that the Affordable Care Act has anything to do with lowering the cost of an individuals health care. It is all about insurance coverage. I do not believe that the government should be in the insurance business. But I also don't believe they should be in the retirement planning business, or any private sector function.
Individuals should be responsible for their own health. If I choose to reduce the risk of not being able to pay for required health care then I should purchase insurance. If my skill set is in demand and there are benefits to a company that wants those skills to offer to pay for my health insurance I might consider it as part of the overall compensation package. If on the other hand I have a friend who is a doctor that we are willing to trade services for why should I buy insurance, other than possibly catastropic insurance.
No this is a personal choice. The government should stay out of my health care decisions.
There should have been a 'public option', and there will be a public option, sooner or later. --
True. We need to have different levels of care and costs. Young people are not going to pay
150 dollars a month for something they do not use. However they do need to think about a
catastrophic accident or sudden severe illness as it does happen. My sister had a kidney stone and it cost 20,000 for the non-invasive procedure, one night in the hospital, and 900 for the ambulance ride. The stint was taken out in the doctors office 1 week later and no sedation. That 20 minute procedure cost 3,500 because some surgeon showed up and wanted to do surgery to widen the tube. This is her first stone in 60 years. She said no thanks. We really are out of control with costs.
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