As Cost of Benefits Rises, Employees See Shift in Spending

Have you seen a reduction in the amount of money your company spends on their employee benefits program? Take a look at this interesting column by Royce Swayze of Employee Benefits Adviser on how the rising cost of employee benefits is causing employers to look for new ways to lower their costs while trying to help increase their employees financial and physical well-being.

Are employees getting the benefits they really want? Maybe not, a recent Willis Towers Watson analysis found. The study, “Shifts in Benefit Allocations Among U.S. Employers,” revealed that from 2001 to 2015 the cost of employer-provided benefits, measured as a percentage of pay, rose 24%, and, during that time, employers shifted benefit dollars to areas that may not meet employee preferences.

Specifically, the study shows the overall cost of benefits — retirement, healthcare and post-retirement medical benefits — climbed from 14.8% of pay in 2001 to 18.3% of pay in 2015, for a total increase of 24%, driven largely by a doubling in healthcare benefit costs.

While healthcare costs more than doubled from 5.7% to 11.5% of pay, retirement costs, which include defined benefit, defined contribution and post-retirement plans, decreased by 25%, falling from 9.1% to 6.8% of pay.

In the past decade and a half, benefit costs have done an about-face.

“In 2001, active healthcare costs comprised about two-fifths while retirement benefits made up the remaining three-fifths,” the analysis reads, “By 2015, the ratio had flipped, with active healthcare benefits accounting for slightly less than two-thirds of costs and the retirement share dropping to slightly more than one-third.”

“Healthcare benefits are eating up a larger portion of dollars while the amount spent on retirement programs is on the decline,” says John Bremen, managing director of the Human Capital and Benefits division at Willis Towers Watson. “This reallocation has major implications for employers and employees alike.”

The study explains that the decrease in retirement costs is a result of the large shift in employers offering a traditional defined benefit plan to usually replacing them with enhancements to their defined contribution plan. Even though defined contribution plan costs rose by 1.6 percentage points between 2001 and 2015, this increase was not sufficient to offset the 2.9 percentage point decrease in the cost of defined benefit plan costs.

While Willis Towers Watson’s Global Benefits Attitudes Survey notes that employees value their healthcare benefits just as much as their retirement benefits, many employees seem to have reached the maximum they are able or willing to pay for healthcare benefits. Also, employees are concerned about their current and future financial circumstances and worry that they will not have sufficient funds saved for retirement and will thus have to work past the usual retirement age.

Taming costs
Alexa Nerdrum, a senior retirement consultant at Willis Towers Watson, says there are a couple of ways employee benefit advisers can help employers tame these costs.

“I think one would be for employers really to identify and understand the financial needs and the priorities of the workforce. I think for a long time we’ve had employers kind of construct this as a one-size-fits-all,” says Nerdrum.

Nerdrum suggests that employers may need to reevaluate how benefit dollars are allocated to better fit the needs and concerns of their employees. While each company’s solution would be different, Nerdrum notes that employers could explore using tax-efficient saving mechanisms, like health savings accounts, and also just spend more wisely on healthcare.

“The other big piece would be improving financial literacy. By and large, a lot of employees just don’t understand what they need to be doing and how to make the right choice,” says Nerdrum. “So — to the extent employers can invest in education, technology and tools to improve financial literacy — I think that’ll go a long way toward somebody not just continuing the status quo and making a right decision for them. In turn [this leads] to healthier choices, which kind goes down the line of lowering employer costs and improving the financial wellness of the workforce.”

See the original article Here.

Source:

Swayze R. (2017 August 4). As cost of benefits rises, employees see shift in spending [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/news/as-cost-of-benefits-rises-employees-see-shift-in-spending?brief=00000152-1443-d1cc-a5fa-7cfba3c60000


Alternative Facts: The Alarming Trend Impacting 85% of Hiring Managers

Are you going through the process of hiring a few new employees? Make sure you are not getting caught up in the "fake news" supplied by a few of the applicants. Here is a great article by Jared Bilski  from HR Morning on how you can spot if an applicant is telling the truth or giving you "fake news".

Planning on adding staff some time in the near future? It appears that there’s some new urgency to double- and triple-check those resumes and ask plenty of follow-up questions during the interview process. 
Reason: A staggering 85% of employers discovered lies on job applicants’ resumes in the past year, according to a recent 2017 Employment Screening Benchmark Report by HireRight.

That’s  a huge jump from the 66% of employers that said they found lies on resumes just five years ago.

While lying on a resume is nothing new, the steep jump hiring managers uncovering untruths in such a short time frame is certainly disturbing.

Won’t hold gaps against you

Why the jump?

Mary O’Loughlin, the vp of global customer experience at HireRight, thinks the increase in resume lies could be attributed to a recent wave of Baby Boomers retiring. Hoping to cash in on Boomers’ former roles, roles that generally required greater skills and experience than the rest of the labor force, job hopefuls are inflating their credentials and skills, O’Loughlin says.

Another possible reason: Job applicants may have been out of work during the Great Recession and don’t want those years to go missing on their resumes.

Of course, being caught in a lie is far worse than explaining a gap in employment. As O’Loughlin put it:

“In reality, most employers are going to be more upset about the lying than someone not having a job for a period of time. Employers understand that there were a number of people who were unemployed during that period or at some point during their career and most won’t hold it against [them].”

 3 lies to look for

So what should HR pros do to avoid falling victim to a lying job candidate. As we’ve covered previously, the best defense is being aware of the more common resume lies.

Here are three of the more common resume tweaks, according FakeResume.com, a Web site that advises job seekers on how to bend the truth and get away with it:

1. Covering up employment gaps

Many candidates are concerned about explaining periods when they were out of work. FakeResume’s recommendation: Pretend you were volunteering.

It’s a lot tougher to verify volunteer work than employment history. But if you’re suspicious, don’t just brush past the issue. Ask probing questions about the work and, if possible, check references at the organization.

Another tactic to cover employment gaps or inflate experience is the so-called “functional resume,” which lists experience and accomplishments grouped by type, followed by a list of previous employers, rather than a chronological list of past positions. Not everyone who uses a functional resume is lying — but it might put you on alert.

2. Fake references

Most resume lies can be caught by checking references — so candidates who are serious about their dishonesty will provide references that are fake or impossible to check.

FakeResume recommends candidates provide the name and phone number of a fictitious supervisor at a large company. The number actually belongs to a friend who pretends to be an admin and tells the caller the company only provides references via letter. The candidate then mails a fake reference letter.

Candidates also place “typos” in a former employer’s address or phone number, hoping HR won’t bother when they can’t contact the person.

If you’re concerned about the references someone gives, experts recommend finding the company’s Web site and contacting the supervisor through the main phone number.

3. Phony responsibilities

Most fraudulent resumes don’t contain outright lies. More often, candidates stretch the truth, beefing up previous titles and exaggerating the responsibilities they had in previous positions.

The best way to catch those fibs is to ask detailed questions and not let the candidate off easy if you get vague or suspicious answers. Another tactic: Bring in somebody who’s already doing a job similar to the one the person’s applying for. Dishonest applicants will try to fake their way through an interview using buzzwords and generalities but break down when someone who’s actually experienced in the field asks for details.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Bilski J. (2017 May 10). Alternative facts: the alarming trend impacting 85% of hiring managers [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.hrmorning.com/alternative-facts-the-alarming-trend-impacting-85-of-hiring-managers/


Mmmhhh Pasta Night

Our August Dish is brought to you by our very own Scott Smeaton!

Since 1988, Scott has been providing Employee Benefit and Business Risk Management services to businesses throughout N.E. Wisconsin. Scott was recently awarded the designations of Certified Risk Manager (CRM) & Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) by The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research.

When it comes to eating out, Scott enjoys Il Angolo in downtown Appleton. If you've never been there, you should definitely try the pan seared scallops wrapped in Applewood smoked bacon over mushroom risotto! Need directions?


Pasta Bolognese

Here's what you need:

  • 1 large onion or 2 small, cut into 1­inch dice
  • 2 large carrots, cut into 1/2­inch dice
  • 3 ribs celery, cut into 1­inch dice
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • Extra­virgin olive oil, for the pan
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 pounds ground chuck, brisket or round or combination
  • 2 cups tomato paste
  • 3 cups hearty red wine
  • Water
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 bunch thyme, tied in a bundle
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano­Reggiano
  • High quality extra­virgin olive oil, for finishing

What to do:

  1. In a food processor, puree onion, carrots, celery, and garlic into a coarse
  2. In a food processor, puree onion, carrots, celery, and garlic into a coarse
    paste. In a large pan over medium heat, coat pan with oil. Add the pureed
    veggies and season generously with salt. Bring the pan to a medium­high
    heat and cook until all the water has evaporated and they become nice and
    brown, stirring frequently, about 15 to 20 minutes. Be patient, this is where
    the big flavors develop.
  3. Add the ground beef and season again generously with salt. BROWN THE
    BEEF! Brown food tastes good. Don't rush this step. Cook another 15 to 20
    minutes.
  4. Add the tomato paste and cook until brown about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the red
    wine. Cook until the wine has reduced by half, another 4 to 5 minutes.
    Add water to the pan until the water is about 1 inch above the meat. Toss in
    the bay leaves and the bundle of thyme and stir to combine everything. Bring
    to a boil and reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. As the water
    evaporates you will gradually need to add more, about 2 to 3 cups at a time.
    Don't be shy about adding water during the cooking process, you can always
    cook it out. This is a game of reduce and add more water. This is where big
    rich flavors develop. If you try to add all the water in the beginning you will
    have boiled meat sauce rather than a rich, thick meaty sauce. Stir and
    TASTE frequently. Season with salt, if needed (you probably will). Simmer for
    3 1/2 to 4 hours.
  5. During the last 30 minutes of cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil over
    high heat to cook the spaghetti. Pasta water should ALWAYS be well salted.
    Salty as the ocean! TASTE IT! If your pasta water is under seasoned it
    doesn't matter how good your sauce is, your complete dish will always taste
    under seasoned. When the water is at a rolling boil add the spaghetti and
    cook for 1 minute less than it calls for on the package. Reserve 1/2 cup of the
    pasta cooking water.
  6. While the pasta is cooking remove 1/2 of the ragu from the pot and reserve.
    Drain the pasta and add to the pot with the remaining ragu. Stir or toss the
    pasta to coat with the sauce. Add some of the reserved sauce, if needed, to
    make it about an even ratio between pasta and sauce. Add the reserved
    pasta cooking water and cook the pasta and sauce together over a medium
    heat until the water has reduced. Turn off the heat and give a big sprinkle of
    Parmigiano and a generous drizzle of the high quality finishing olive oil. Toss
    or stir vigorously. Divide the pasta and sauce into serving bowls or 1 big
    pasta bowl. Top with remaining grated Parmigiano. Serve immediately.

This sounds awesome Scott! Thanks so much for sharing with us!

 


6 Promising Wearables Tips for Wellness Programs

Have you been trying to implement wearable technology in your wellness program? Check out this great article by Jessica Grossmeier from Benefits Pro for some great tips to know when integrating wearable technology into your company's wellness program.

Wearable devices can be a powerful element in a workplace wellness program. They add a fun factor to fitness challenges, and allow individuals to more clearly see the progress they’re making toward their goals.

A new report and video from the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) identifies six promising practices for effectively integrating wearables into wellness programs.

Read on to find out how these companies increased participation in wellness programs and even decreased health cost trends for some participants.

1. Remove financial barriers

While many people have discovered the value of wearables, more than half of Americans still believe the devices are too expensive, and that may be enough to keep them from participating in a wellness program. Giving the devices to employees for free or at reduced cost removes a significant barrier and makes it easier for everyone to participate.

2. Choose culturally relevant incentives

Having goals can help drive change, and the data fitness trackers generate make it simple and fun to track progress toward those goals. Offer employees incentives for reaching targets, but make sure the incentives make sense for your workplace. For example, some employees may value prime parking or internal recognition more than a cash prize or a gift card.

3. Cultivate support at home

Convincing employees to walk more is easier if they have someone to walk with. When you involve spouses or domestic partners in the program, employees have someone at home motivated to hit the trail with them rather than settling in for an evening on the couch.

4. Get the details right

There’s a lot to consider when you add wearables to a wellness program, and it’s not always possible to think of everything before you start. Working out the details with a small pilot program creates an opportunity to identify challenges and opportunities, streamline processes, and set meaningful goals for the program once it expands companywide.

5. Shake things up

Wearables can add a fun factor to your wellness program, but even fun activities can wear out their welcome. It’s important to keep things fresh in your wearables strategy, so watch how employees use their devices, and change things up when you see an opportunity to increase engagement.

6. Keep your eye on the prize

Wearable devices show great promise, but a device isn’t a magic solution. Success with wearables requires planning. Before you hand out your first device, make sure you know what you want to accomplish, how the device fits in your broader well-being strategy, and how you’ll measure success.

The employers who participated in the HERO report saw increased participation in wellness programs — employees enjoyed using the devices. And at least one company saw decreased health cost trends for participants. They attribute their successful integration of wearables to these six promising practices.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Grossmeier J. (2017 July 31). 6 promising wearables tips for wellness programs [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.benefitspro.com/2017/07/31/6-promising-wearables-tips-for-wellness-programs?page_all=1


How Health Coaching can Revitalize a Workforce

Do you need help revitalizing your workforce? Check out this great column by Paul Turner from Employee Benefit Advisor and see how health coaching can be a great way to increase engagement and productivity among your employees.

Nearly 50% of Americans live with at least one chronic illness, and millions more have lifestyle habits that increase their risk of health problems in the future, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, pulmonary disease and other conditions account for more than 75% of the $2 trillion spent annually on medical care in the U.S.

Employers have a stake in improving on these discouraging statistics. People spend a good portion of their lives at work, where good health habits can be cultivated and then integrated into their personal lives. While chronic diseases often can’t be cured, many risk factors can be mitigated with good health behaviors, positive and consistent lifestyle habits and adherence to medication and treatment plans. Moreover, healthy behaviors — like smoking cessation, weight management, and exercise — can help prevent people from developing a chronic disease in the first place.

Companies that sponsor well-being programs realize the benefits of a healthier and more vital employee population, with lower rates of absenteeism and improved productivity. Investing in such programs can yield a significant return — particularly from condition management programs for costly chronic diseases.

Digitally-based well-being programs in particular are powerful motivators to adopt healthy behaviors. Yet for many employees, dealing with difficult health challenges can be daunting and digital wellness tools may not offer them sufficient support. Combining these health technologies with the skill and support of a health coach, however, can be a winning approach for greater workplace well-being. The benefits of coaching can also extend to employees that are currently healthy. People without a known condition may still struggle with stress, sleep issues, and lack of exercise, and the guidance of a coach can address risk factors and help prevent future health problems.

Choosing a health coach

Coaching is an investment, and the more rigor that employers put into the selection of a coaching team, the better the results. Coaches should be a credentialed Certified Health Education Specialist or a healthcare professional, such as a registered nurse or dietician, who is extensively trained in motivational interviewing. It also helps when a coach has a specialty accreditation in an area such as nutrition, exercise physiology, mental health or diabetes management. Such training allows the coach to respond effectively to highly individualized needs.

This sort of personalization is essential. A good coach will recognize that each wellness program participant is motivated by a different set of desires and rewards and is undermined by their own unique combination of doubts, fears and temptations. They build trust and confidence by helping employees identify the emotional triggers that may lead them to overeat, smoke or fail to stick with their treatment plans and healthy lifestyle behaviors.

What works for one employee, does not work for another. A 50-year-old trying to quit smoking may need the personal touch of a meeting or phone conversation to connect with her coach; a 30-year-old focused on stress management might prefer email or texting. It’s important for the coaching team to accommodate these preferences.

Working with our employer clients, WebMD has seen what rigorous coaching can achieve:
· A 54% quit rate for participants in a 12-week smoking-cessation program
· Successful weight loss for 68% of those who joined a weight-management program
· A nearly 33% reduction in known health risks for relatively healthy employees in a lifestyle coaching program
· A corresponding 28% health risk reduction for employees with a known condition who received condition management coaching.

Coaching is more likely to succeed when it is part of a comprehensive wellness program carried out in an environment where employee well-being is clearly emphasized by the employer and its managers. WebMD popularizes the saying that ‘When the coach is in, everybody wins.’ Qualified health coaching may be the missing ingredient that helps an employer achieve its well-being goals and energize its workforce.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Turner P. (2017 July 27). How health coaching can revitalize a workforce [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/opinion/how-health-coaching-can-revitalize-a-workforce?feed=00000152-1387-d1cc-a5fa-7fffaf8f0000


Vacation Time can boost Employee Performance

Who doesn't love taking a vacation from work? Vacation time is a great benefit that employers can offer that has been shown to improve performance among employees.  Find out more about how vacations can be beneficial for both employees and employers in this great article by Amanda Eisenberg from Employee Benefit News.

Employers who want to boost employee performance may want to encourage workers to take a break from working.

New research indicates that high-performing employees take more vacation time, suggesting that a generous — or unlimited — vacation policy benefit has a positive impact on the workplace.

The report from HR technology company Namely analyzed data from more than 125,000 employees and found that high performers take about 19 days of paid time off a year, five more than an average performer under a regular PTO plan.

Still, vacation time is underutilized, the firm said. Nearly 700 million vacation days went unused last year, but 80% of employees said they felt more comfortable taking time off if a manager encouraged them.

Namely said that unlimited vacation policies may be beneficial for employers, adding that it’s a myth that employees with such benefits abuse the policy. For the 1% of companies that offer unlimited vacation days, employees only take about 13 days off, according to Namely’s “HR Mythbusters 2017” report.

“Unlimited vacation time can be a strong benefit that increases employee engagement, productivity, and retention — but only if the policy is actually utilized,” according to the report.

Computer software company Trifacta, for example, encourages its employees to use their paid time off with a recognition program.

“We offer a discretionary PTO policy because we want people to truly take the PTO they need,” says Yvonne Caprini Sorenson, Trifacta’s senior manager of HR. “We have a recognition program called Above + Beyond. Employees can nominate high-performing peers, and the winners receive $1,000 to spend toward travel. It’s a great way to encourage vacation use and to make it clear that Trifacta supports work-life balance.”

See the original article Here.

Source:

Eisenberg A. (2017 July 30). Vacation time can boost employee performance [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.benefitnews.com/news/vacation-time-can-boost-employee-performance?brief=00000152-14a7-d1cc-a5fa-7cffccf00000


Kaiser Health Tracking Poll – August 2017: The Politics of ACA Repeal and Replace Efforts

With the Senate's plan for the repeal and replacement of the ACA failing more Americans are hoping for Congress to move on to more pressing matters. Find out how Americans really feel about the ACA and healthcare reform in this great study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

KEY FINDINGS:
  • The August Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds that the majority of the public (60 percent) say it is a “good thing” that the Senate did not pass the bill that would have repealed and replaced the ACA. Since then, President Trump has suggested Congress not take on other issues, like tax reform, until it passes a replacement plan for the ACA, but six in ten Americans (62 percent) disagree with this approach, while one-third (34 percent) agree with it.
  • A majority of the public (57 percent) want to see Republicans in Congress work with Democrats to make improvements to the 2010 health care law, while smaller shares say they want to see Republicans in Congress continue working on their own plan to repeal and replace the ACA (21 percent) or move on from health care to work on other priorities (21 percent). However, about half of Republicans and Trump supporters would like to see Republicans in Congress keep working on a plan to repeal the ACA.
  • A large share of Americans (78 percent) think President Trump and his administration should do what they can to make the current health care law work while few (17 percent) say they should do what they can to make the law fail so they can replace it later. About half of Republicans and supporters of President Trump say the Trump administration should do what they can to make the law work (52 percent and 51 percent, respectively) while about four in ten say they should do what they can to make the law fail (40 percent and 39 percent, respectively). Moving forward, a majority of the public (60 percent) says President Trump and Republicans in Congress are responsible for any problems with the ACA.
  • Since Congress began debating repeal and replace legislation, there has been news about instability in the ACA marketplaces. The majority of the public are unaware that health insurance companies choosing not to sell insurance plans in certain marketplaces or health insurance companies charging higher premiums in certain marketplaces only affect those who purchase their own insurance on these marketplaces (67 percent and 80 percent, respectively). In fact, the majority of Americans think that health insurance companies charging higher premiums in certain marketplaces will have a negative impact on them and their family, while fewer (31 percent) say it will have no impact.
  • A majority of the public disapprove of stopping outreach efforts for the ACA marketplaces so fewer people sign up for insurance (80 percent) and disapprove of the Trump administration no longer enforcing the individual mandate (65 percent). While most Republicans and Trump supporters disapprove of stopping outreach efforts, a majority of Republicans (66 percent) and Trump supporters (65 percent) approve of the Trump administration no longer enforcing the individual mandate.
  • The majority of Americans (63 percent) do not think President Trump should use negotiating tactics that could disrupt insurance markets and cause people who buy their own insurance to lose health coverage, while three in ten (31 percent) support using whatever tactics necessary to encourage Democrats to start negotiating on a replacement plan. The majority of Republicans (58 percent) and President Trump supporters (59 percent) support these negotiating tactics while most Democrats, independents, and those who disapprove of President Trump do not (81 percent, 65 percent, 81 percent).
  • This month’s survey continues to find that more of the public holds a favorable view of the ACA than an unfavorable one (52 percent vs. 39 percent). This marks an overall increase in favorability of nine percentage points since the 2016 presidential election as well as an increase of favorability among Democrats, independents, and Republicans.

Attitudes Towards Recent “Repeal and Replace” Efforts

In the early morning hours of July 28, 2017, the U.S. Senate voted on their latest version of a plan to repeal and replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA). Known as “skinny repeal,” this plan was unable to garner majority support– thus temporarily halting Congress’ ACA repeal efforts. The August Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, fielded the week following the failed Senate vote, finds that a majority of the public (60 percent) say it is a “good thing” that the U.S. Senate did not pass a bill aimed at repealing and replacing the ACA, while about one-third (35 percent) say this is a “bad thing.” However, views vary considerably by partisanship with a majority of Democrats (85 percent), independents (62 percent), and individuals who say they disapprove of President Trump (81 percent) saying it is a “good thing” that the Senate did not pass a bill compared to a majority of Republicans (64 percent) and individuals who say they approve of President Trump (65 percent) saying it is a “bad thing” that the Senate did not pass a bill.

The majority of those who view the Senate not passing an ACA replacement bill as a “good thing” say they feel this way because they do not want the 2010 health care law repealed (34 percent of the public overall) while a smaller share (23 percent of the public overall) say they feel this way because, while they support efforts to repeal and replace the ACA, they had specific concerns about the particular bill the Senate was debating.

And while most Republicans and supporters of President Trump say it is a “bad thing” that the Senate did not pass ACA repeal legislation, for those that say it is a “good thing” more Republicans say they had concerns about the Senate’s particular legislation (21 percent) than say they do not want the ACA repealed (6 percent). This is also true among supporters of President Trump (19 percent vs. 6 percent).

WHO DO PEOPLE BLAME OR CREDIT FOR THE SENATE BILL FAILING TO PASS?

Among those who say it is a “good thing” that the Senate was unable to pass ACA repeal and replace legislation, similar shares say the general public who voiced concerns about the bill (40 percent) and the Republicans in Congress who voted against the bill (35 percent) deserve most of the credit for the bill failing to pass. This is followed by a smaller share (14 percent) who say Democrats in Congress deserve the most credit.

On the other hand, among those who say it is a “bad thing” that the Senate did not pass a bill to repeal the ACA, over a third place the blame on Democrats in Congress (37 percent). About three in ten (29 percent) place the blame on Republicans in Congress while fewer (15 percent) say President Trump deserves most of the blame for the bill failing to pass.

HALF OF THE PUBLIC ARE “RELIEVED” OR “HAPPY” THE SENATE DID NOT REPEAL AND REPLACE THE ACA

More Americans say they are “relieved” (51 percent) or “happy” (47 percent) that the Senate did not pass a bill repealing and replacing the ACA, than say they are “disappointed” (38 percent) or “angry” (19 percent).

Although two-thirds of Republicans and Trump supporters say they feel “disappointed” about the Senate failing to pass a bill to repeal and replace the ACA, smaller shares (30 percent and 37 percent, respectively) report feeling “angry” about the failure to pass the health care bill.

MAJORITY SAY PRESIDENT TRUMP AND REPUBLICANS IN CONGRESS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ACA MOVING FORWARD

With the future of any other replacement plans uncertain, the majority (60 percent) of the public say that because President Trump and Republicans in Congress are now in control of the government, they are responsible for any problems with the ACA moving forward, compared to about three in ten Americans (28 percent) who say that because President Obama and Democrats in Congress passed the law, they are responsible for any problems with it. Partisan divisiveness continues with majorities of Republicans and supporters of President Trump who say President Obama and Democrats are responsible for any problems with it moving forward, while large shares of Democrats, independents, and those who do not approve of President Trump say President Trump and Republicans in Congress are responsible for the law moving forward.

Moving Past Repealing The Affordable Care Act

This month’s survey continues to find that more of the public holds a favorable view of the ACA than an unfavorable one (52 percent vs. 39 percent). This marks an overall increase in favorability since Congress began debating ACA replacement plans and a nine percentage point shift since the 2016 presidential election.

The shift in attitudes since the 2016 presidential election is found regardless of party identification. For example, the share of Republicans who have a favorable view of the ACA has increased from 12 percent in November 2016 to 21 percent in August 2017. This is similar to the increase in favorability among independents (11 percentage points) and Democrats (7 percentage points) over the same time period.

NEXT STEPS FOR THE ACA

The most recent Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds that after the U.S. Senate was unable to pass a plan to repeal and replace the ACA, the majority of the public (57 percent) wants to see Republicans in Congress work with Democrats to make improvements to the 2010 health care law but not repeal it. Far fewer want to see Republicans in Congress continue working on their own plan to repeal and replace the ACA (21 percent) or move on from health care to work on other priorities (21 percent). About half of Republicans (49 percent) and Trump supporters (46 percent) want Republicans in Congress to continue working on their own plan to repeal and replace the ACA, but about a third of each say they would like to see Republicans work with Democrats on improvements to the ACA.

Six in ten Americans (62 percent) disagree with President Trump’s strategy of Congress not taking on other issues, like tax reform, until it passes a replacement plan for the ACA while one-third (34 percent) of the public agree with this approach. Republicans and Trump supporters are more divided in their opinion on this strategy with similar shares saying they agree and disagree with the approach.

MOST WANT TO SEE PRESIDENT TRUMP AND REPUBLICANS MAKE THE CURRENT HEALTH CARE LAW WORK

Regardless of their opinions of the ACA, the majority of the public want to see the 2010 health care law work. Eight in ten (78 percent) Americans think President Trump and his administration should do what they can to make the current health care law work while fewer (17 percent) say President Trump and his adminstration should do what they can to make the law fail so they can replace it later. About half of Republicans and supporters of President Trump say the Trump administration should do what they can to make the law work (52 percent and 51 percent, respectively) while about four in ten say they should do what they can to make the law fail (40 percent and 39 percent, respectively).

This month’s survey also includes questions about specific actions that the Trump administration can take to make the ACA fail and finds that the majority of the public disapproves of the Trump Administration stopping outreach efforts for the ACA marketplaces so fewer people sign up for insurance (80 percent) and no longer enforcing the individual mandate, the requirement that all individuals have insurance or pay a fine (65 percent). While most Republicans and Trump supporters disapprove of President Trump stopping outreach efforts so fewer people sign up for insurance, which experts say could weaken the marketplaces, a majority of Republicans (66 percent) and Trump supporters (65 percent) approve of the Trump administration no longer enforcing the individual mandate.

The Future of the ACA Marketplaces

About 10.3 million people have health insurance that they purchased through the ACA exchanges or marketplaces, where people who don’t get insurance through their employer can shop for insurance and compare prices and benefits.1 Seven in ten (69 percent) say it is more important for President Trump and Republicans’ next steps on health care to include fixing the remaining problems with the ACA in order to help the marketplaces work better, compared to three in ten (29 percent) who say it is more important for them to continue plans to repeal and replace the ACA.

The majority of Republicans (61 percent) and Trump supporters (63 percent) say it is more important for President Trump and Republicans to continue plans to repeal and replace the ACA, while the vast majority of Democrats (90 percent) and seven in ten independents (69 percent) want them to fix the ACA’s remaining problems to help the marketplaces work better.

UNCERTAINTY REMAINS ON WHO IS IMPACTED BY ISSUES IN THE ACA MARKETPLACES

Since Congress began debating repeal and replace legislation, there has been news about instability in the ACA marketplaces which has led some insurance companies to charge higher premiums in certain marketplaces.  Six in ten Americans think that health insurance companies charging higher premiums in certain marketplaces will have a negative impact on them and their family, while fewer (31 percent) say it will have no impact.

There has also been news about insurance companies no longer selling coverage in the individual insurance marketplaces and currently, it’s estimated that 17 counties (9,595 enrollees) are currently at risk to have no insurer on the ACA marketplaces in 2018.2 The majority of the public (54 percent) say health insurance companies choosing not to sell insurance plans in certain marketplaces will have no impact on them and their family. Yet, despite the limited number of counties that may not have an insurer in their marketplaces as well as this not affecting those with employer sponsored insurance where most people obtain health insurance, about four in ten (38 percent) of the public believe that health insurance companies choosing to not sell insurance plans in certain marketplaces will have a negative impact on them and their families.

The majority of the public think both of these ACA marketplace issues will affect everyone who has health insurance and not just those who purchase their insurance on these marketplaces. Six in ten think health insurance companies choosing not to sell insurance plans in certain marketplaces will affect everyone who has health insurance while about one-fourth (26 percent) correctly say it only affects those who buy health insurance on their own. In addition, three-fourths (76 percent) of the public say that health insurance companies charging higher premiums in certain marketplaces will affect everyone who has health insurance while fewer (17 percent) correctly say it will affect only those who buy health insurance on their own.

MAJORITY SAY PRESIDENT TRUMP SHOULD NOT USE COST-SHARING REDUCTION PAYMENTS AS NEGOTIATING STRATEGY

Over the past several months President Trump has threatened to stop the payments to insurance companies that help cover the cost of health insurance for lower-income Americans (known commonly as CSR payments), in order to get Democrats to start working with Republicans on an ACA replacement plan.3 The majority of Americans (63 percent) do not think President Trump should use negotiating tactics that could disrupt insurance markets and cause people who buy their own insurance to lose health coverage, while three in ten (31 percent) support President Trump using whatever tactics necessary to encourage Democrats to start negotiating. The majority of Republicans (58 percent) and President Trump supporters (59 percent) support negotiating tactics while most Democrats, independents, and those who disapprove of President Trump do not (81 percent, 65 percent, 81 percent).

See the original article Here.

Source:

Kirzinger A., Dijulio B., Wu B., Brodie M. (2017 Aug 11). Kaiser health tracking poll-august 2017: the politics of ACA repeal and replace efforts [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.kff.org/health-reform/poll-finding/kaiser-health-tracking-poll-august-2017-the-politics-of-aca-repeal-and-replace-efforts/?utm_campaign=KFF-2017-August-Tracking-Poll&utm_medium=email&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-9GaFJKrO9G3bL05k_i4GzC04eMAaSCDlmcsiYsfzAn-SeJdK_JnFvab4GydMfe_9iGiiKy5LR0iKxm6f0gDZGbwqh-bQ&_hsmi=55195408&utm_content=55195408&utm_source=hs_email&hsCtaTracking=4463482c-5ae1-4dfa-b489-f54b5dd97156%7Cd5849489-f587-49ad-ae35-3bd735545b28


3 takeaways from the 2017 Cost of Data Breach Study

IBM has just released their findings on their cost of data breaches study. Check out this great by Denny Jacob from Property & Casualty 360 and find out what they key findings from IBM research means for you.

As companies continue to infuse technology into their business models, they must also keep up with an ever-changing digital landscape. In 2017 and beyond, companies need to consider their cybersecurity practices.

As cyber attacks continue to rise in frequency and sophistication, companies should also consider where data breaches are occurring. For those looking to understand data breaches by country, the latest report from IBM Security and Ponemon Institute sheds light on such a topic.

Sponsored by IBM Security and conducted by Ponemon Institute, the study found that the average cost of a data breach is $3.62 million globally, a 10% decline since 2016.

To explore the complete report, visit the IBM Security Data Breach Calculator, an interactive tool that allows you to manipulate report data and visualize the cost of a data breach across locations and industries, and understand how different factors affect breach costs.

Or, keep reading for highlights from the study's key findings.

The costs by region.

In the 2017 global study, the overall cost of a data breach decreased to $3.62 million, which is down 10% from $4 million last year. While global costs decreased, many regions experienced an increase.

In the U.S., the cost of a data breach was $7.35 million, a 5% increase compared to last year. When compared to other regions, U.S. organizations experienced the most expensive data breaches in the 2017 report. In the Middle East, organizations saw the second highest average cost of a data breach at $4.94 million  an uptick of 10% compared with the previous year. Canada ranked third with data breaches costing organizations $4.31 million on average.

European nations experienced the most significant decrease in costs. Germany, France, Italy and the U.K. experienced significant decreases compared to the four-year average costs. Australia, Canada and Brazil also experienced decreased costs compared to the four-year average cost of a data breach.

Time is money when you're containing a data breach.

For the third year in a row, the study found that having an Incident Response (IR) Team in place significantly reduced the cost of a data breach. IR teams, along with a formal incident response plan, can assist organizations to navigate the complicated aspects of containing a data breach to mitigate further losses.

According to the study, the cost of a data breach was nearly $1 million lower on average for organizations that were able to contain a data breach in less than 30 days compared to those that took longer than 30 days. The speed of response will be increasingly critical as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is implemented in May 2018, which will require organizations doing business in Europe to report data breaches within 72 hours or risk facing fines of up to 4% of their global annual turnover.

There's still room for improvement for organizations when it comes to the time to identify and respond to a breach. On average, organizations took more than six months to identify a breach, and more than 66 additional days to contain a breach once discovered.

Additional key findings.

  • For the seventh year in a row, healthcare topped the list as the most expensive industry for data breaches. Healthcare data breaches cost organizations $380 per record, more than 2.5 times the global average overall cost at $141 per record.
  • Close to half of all data breaches (47%) were caused by malicious or criminal attacks, resulting in an average of $156 per record to resolve.
  • Data breaches resulting from third party involvement were the top contributing factor that led to an increase in the cost of a data breach, increasing the cost $17 per record. The takeaway: Organizations need to evaluate the security posture of their third-party providers  including payroll, cloud providers and CRM software  to ensure the security of employee and customer data.
  • Incident response, encryption and education were the factors shown to have the most impact on reducing the cost of a data breach. Having an incident response team in place resulted in $19 reduction in cost per lost or stolen record, followed by extensive use of encryption ($16 reduction per record) and employee training ($12.5 reduction per record).

See the original article Here.

Source:

Jacob D. (2017 August 8). 3 takeways from the 2017 cost of data breach study[Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.propertycasualty360.com/2017/07/05/3-takeaways-from-the-2017-cost-of-data-breach-stud?ref=rss&_lrsc=05d8112f-7bfb-4c4d-916f-0e2085debd9a&slreturn=1502379703&page_all=1


Employers Spend $742 per Employee for Wellness Program Incentives

How much money are you spending on your employees and their wellness program? Check out this great article by Brookie Madison from Benefits News on how employers are encouraging more of their employees to sign-up for company sponser wellness programs.

Wellness programs are popular with employers but employees continue to need motivation to participate. Seventy percent of employers are investing in wellness programs, while 73% of employees say they are interested in wellness programs, but 64% of employees undervalue the financial incentives to join the wellness programs, according to UnitedHealthcare’s Consumer Sentiment Survey entitled “Wellness Check Up.”

Only 7% of employees understand the four basic terms of health care —premium, deductible, copayment and coinsurance — which is why UHC didn’t find it surprising that workers underestimate their financial incentives in wellness programs, says Rebecca Madsen, chief consumer officer for UnitedHealthcare.

Despite this disconnect between what employers are offering to help ensure their employees’ health and what employees are willing to do to maintain a healthy well-being, the most appealing incentives to employees for wellness programs are health insurance premium reductions (77%), grocery vouchers (64%) and health savings accounts (62%).

Employees find the financial incentives of the wellness programs appealing, yet only 24% of employees are willing to give up one to three hours of their time per week to exercise, attend wellness coaching sessions or research healthier recipes to eat.

“Unwilling to engage is part of the problem why a third of the country is obese and another third is overweight. We have a real problem in terms of keeping people healthy and that’s what we want to help address,” says Madsen.

Madsen recommends that employers promote their wellness programs and incentives multiple times throughout the year. Gift cards, reduction of premiums and contributing to health savings accounts are leading ways to reward employees. “Incentives on an ongoing basis get people engaged and motivated to participate for a long period of time,” says Madsen.

Wellness programs also provide a way for employers to adjust their benefit packages to be customized and be more than a ‘one size fits all’ approach. “Look at your insurance claims, work with insurance providers and identify common health challenges. See where you have prevalent healthcare needs and who your high risk populations are to develop programs that target those results,” suggests Madsen.

Wellness programs need endless support from advisers, insurance providers, consultants, consumers, friends, family members and employers in order to encourage employees to live healthy lifestyles, according to UnitedHealthcare.

Madsen suggests that employers have onsite biometric screenings. “Helping people know their numbers will help them understand where they have an opportunity to improve their health, which would make them motivated to engage more,” says Madsen.

New trends of wellness programs incorporate the use of activity trackers. Twenty-five percent of employees use an activity tracker and 62% would like to use one as part of a wellness program.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Madison B. (2017 July 17). Employers spend $742 per employee for wellness program incentives [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.benefitnews.com/news/employers-spend-742-per-employee-for-wellness-program-incentives?feed=00000152-18a4-d58e-ad5a-99fc032b0000


Safety Focused August 2017

When traveling for work, even for short periods of time, it is important to take precautions to protect yourself from cyber criminals.

Cyber Tips for Traveling

Staying safe while traveling involves more than simply locking your valuables in a hotel safe. Today, cyber crime is just as prevalent as conventional crime. In fact, your digital property may be more valuable to criminals than your personal property. Before packing for your next business trip, take the following precautions to protect yourself and your belongings while away:

  • Turn off home and work computers before you leave. Computers that are always left on are more vulnerable to hacks.
  • Back up all data. Store sensitive files either on a removable storage device locked in a safe or in a secure facility in the cloud.
  • Be cautious when using public Wi-Fi. If it is necessary to go online in public, use a secured connection. If you have to use an unsecured connection, avoid checking bank balances or visiting any site that asks you for personal information, which can be easily stolen.
  • Enable a pass code on your smartphone. This can prevent hackers from accessing sensitive information should you lose your phone.
  • Use a credit card instead of a debit card for purchases. A cyber criminal can deplete your bank account with your debit card.

How to Avoid Distractions While Driving

Driver distractions have joined alcohol and speeding as leading factors in crashes that cause fatal and serious injuries. However, cellphones aren’t solely to blame. Anything that takes 100 percent of your attention away from driving is a distraction. There are three main types of distractions:

  • Visual—Taking your eyes off the road
  • Manual—Taking your hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive—Taking your mind off of driving

Whether driving for work or for personal reasons, it is important to remember that any activity that you engage in while driving is a potential distraction that increases your risk of crashing. Taking the following precautions can help you avoid distractions while driving:

  • Silence your mobile devices and keep them away from you while driving to avoid being distracted by incoming calls or texts. If you must receive phone calls while on the road, pull over before answering, even if using a hands-free device.
  • Set destinations in navigational devices before you depart.
  • Make a playlist on your smartphone before you leave to avoid the temptation to change radio stations.
  • Avoid eating while driving. Take proper breaks to allow yourself time for meals.
  • Speak up if you’re a passenger of a distracted driver. Offer to take over the driving responsibilities if possible.
  • Review ’s safe driving policy to ensure that you are fully aware of the best practices when it comes to road safety and know what to do in an emergency.

To download the full article click here.