What medical conditions are driving employer healthcare costs?

Do you which medical conditions are driving your healthcare cost? Check out this great article from Employee Benefits Advisor about the cost associated with your employer healthcare by Phil Albinus

Healthcare costs surrounding diabetes reached $101 billion in diagnoses and treatments over the past 18 years — and the cost grew 36 times faster than the cost of ischemic heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S. Further, out of 155 medical conditions, only 20 accounted for half of all medical spending, according to a JAMA analysis of 2013 healthcare costs.

The third-most expensive medical condition, low back and neck pain, primarily strikes adults of working age while diabetes and heart disease is primarily found in people 65 and older.

The JAMA study found total health spending for these conditions totaled $437 billion in 2013. Diabetes, heart disease, low back and neck pain, along with hypertension and injuries from falls, comprise 18% of all personal health spending. All in all, 20 conditions make up more than half of all spending on healthcare in the U.S.

These stark figures shed light on the rising healthcare costs that employers pay when addressing their workforce’s ailments.

According to Francois Millard, senior vice president and chief actuarial officer for Vitality Group, one of the study’s sponsors, this is the first study to dig into the details of the leading ailments of the U.S. and its costs to employers and families as they deal with the conditions.

“In absolute terms, most money for care is in the working age population,” he says. “It impacts households and employers and contributes to the financial burden of families.”

“What we see is the financial burden increases as the disease increases, and while the paper doesn’t go into detail, we already have a significant knowledge of diabetes and heart condition. It is related to modifiable behavior.”

The JAMA study noted the differences between public health program spending from personal health spending, including individual out-of-pocket costs and spending by private and government insurance programs.

“While it is well known that the U.S. spends more than any other nation on healthcare, very little is known about what diseases drive that spending,” said Dr. Joseph Dieleman, lead author of the paper and assistant professor at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, in a press statement. “IHME is trying to fill the information gap so that decision-makers in the public and private sectors can understand the spending landscape, and plan and allocate health resources more effectively.”

Despite using figures from 2013, the information can help employers as they identify where their healthcare dollars are going.

“Given the biggest increases in healthcare spending on impact working age populations, it requires employers to improve their work environments and facilitate good health. And [this study can] help increase the transparency of health within their populations,” says Millard.

“Employers need to think what they do that impacts beyond the four walls of the employers and create a symbiotic relationship with health within their societies,” he adds.

The study can also boost transparency into the healthcare data. “This study is also an accountability and outcome of the money they are spending on health treatment,” Millard says. “Is it sufficient to still pay for services or can we push for more accountability for health outcomes? The other thing this facilities is that employers get the adequate level of data. They can ask the right questions and determine accountability for the huge amounts of healthcare.”

He adds, “With all the uncertainty around 2017, perhaps this transparency will give employers a voice to all of the money that they are spending.”

The top 10 most costly health expenses in 2013:

1. Diabetes – $101.4 billion
2. Ischemic heart disease – $88.1 billion
3. Low back and neck pain – $87.6 billion
4. Hypertension – $83.9 billion
5. Injuries from falls – $76.3 billion
6. Depressive disorders – $71.1 billion
7. Oral-related problems – $66.4 billion
8. Vision and hearing problems – $59 billion
9. Skin-related problems, such as cellulitis and acne – $55.7 billion
10. Pregnancy and postpartum care – $55.6 billion

See the original article Here.

Source:

Albinus P. (2017 January 12). What medical conditions are driving employer healthcare costs?[Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/news/what-medical-conditions-are-driving-employer-healthcare-costs?brief=00000152-1443-d1cc-a5fa-7cfba3c60000


Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangements and ERISA

Make sure to stay up-to-date with the most recent compliance alerts from our partners at United Benefits Advisors (UBA).

Starting on January 1, 2017, certain small employers have the option to reimburse individual health coverage premiums up to a dollar limit through Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangements (QSE HRAs) under the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures Act).

The Cures Act amends the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) to exclude QSE HRAs from the ERISA definition of group health plan; however, the Cures Act does not specifically exclude QSE HRAs from the rest of ERISA.

Small employers that plan to offer QSE HRAs should be cautious before presuming that ERISA would not apply to a reimbursement arrangement. ERISA generally covers employee welfare benefit plans that are established or maintained by any employer engaged in interstate commerce or in any industry or activity affecting interstate commerce.

Under the Cures Act, QSE HRAs are excluded from one of ERISA’s two definitions of “group health plan.” QSE HRAs are excluded from the definition of group health plan that applies only to ERISA’s Title I, Part 7, that governs group health plan requirements. In summary, Part 7 includes requirements relating to portability, access, renewability, mother/newborn benefits, parity in mental health and substance use disorder benefits, reconstructive surgery, dependent student coverage, and additional market reforms.

Outside of the group health plan definition above, ERISA provides a broader definition of an employee welfare benefit plan: generally, it is any plan, fund, or program established or maintained by an employer to provide participants or their beneficiaries with medical, surgical, or hospital care or benefits, through the purchase of insurance or otherwise.

Further, in the legislative history of QSE HRA’s exclusion from ERISA’s group health plan definition, the House Committee on Ways and Means’ Report stated, as part of recommending the bill’s passage: “While these arrangements are not considered group health plans for purposes of the employer penalty, H.R. 5447 is not intended to change the extent to which these plans are employee welfare benefit plans under ERISA.”

Because QSE HRAs are new, the issue of whether the remainder of ERISA applies to QSE HRAs remains undetermined by an administrative agency or court. In consideration of the limited ERISA group health definition exclusion and the law’s legislative history, a risk-averse small employer should treat a QSE HRA as an employee welfare benefit plan covered under ERISA and comply with applicable ERISA requirements such as having a written plan document and summary plan description as well as following ERISA’s fiduciary and other rules.

A small employer who intends to offer a QSE HRA without complying with ERISA’s employee welfare benefit plan requirements should consult with its attorney before proceeding

Download the release here.


Handling of Retaliation Complaints under Section 1558 of the Affordable Care Act

Great article from our partner, United Benefit Advisors (UBA) by Nancy Bourque

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently released a final rule on the procedures for the handling of whistleblower complaints under Section 1558 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The regulations protect employees (which includes former employees and applicants for employment) who may have been subject to retaliation for seeking assistance under certain affordability assistance provisions, or for reporting potential violations of the ACA’s consumer protections.

Employers are prohibited from discharging or retaliating against an employee who:

  • Receives credit under section 36B of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, 26 U.S.C.36B, or a cost sharing reduction under the ACA, or has been deemed eligible for advance payment of the premium tax credit (APTC);
  • Provides, or is involved in, the provision of information related to an employee’s reasonable belief of an employer’s violation of the ACA;
  • Testified, or is about to testify, in a proceeding concerning a violation;
  • Assisted, or participated, or is about to assist or participate, in such a proceeding; or
  • Objected to, or refused to participate in, any activity, policy practice, or assigned task that the employee reasonably believed to be a violation.

A covered employee, or a person acting on their behalf, may file a complaint within 180 days of an alleged violation. Section 18C’s whistleblower protections do not replace any protections that a whistleblower may have under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) Section 510. Whistleblowers may bring claims under either, or both statutes if their whistleblowing is protected under both.

The complaining employee must demonstrate:

  1. That the employee engaged in protected activity;
  2. The employer knew, or suspected that the employee engaged in the protected activity;
  3. The employee suffered an adverse action; and
  4. The circumstances were sufficient to raise the inference that the protected activity was a contributing factor in the adverse action.

If OSHA finds there is reasonable cause to believe a violation has occurred, the employer’s obligations include reinstatement of the complaining employee to his or her original position, back pay with interest, compensatory damages and legal expenses.

Practically speaking, this means that both large and small employers should ensure that employees who apply for, or receive, an APTC or tax credit are not singled out, retaliated against, or treated differently from employees who do not receive a tax credit. Employers should consider ensuring that individuals, who have access to that information, properly protect and firewall information relating to Marketplace coverage, enrollment, subsidies, or tax credits.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Bourque N. (2017 January 10). Handling of retaliation complaints under section 1558 of the affordable care act[Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://blog.ubabenefits.com/handling-of-retaliation-complaints-under-section-1558-of-the-affordable-care-act


Work Comp Insights: Creating a Workers' Compensation Process

For the unprepared, workers’ compensation (WC) issues can be both confusing and costly. Fortunately for employers, there are ways to actively engage WC issues to influence their outcomes.

Through management controls and active involvement in the WC process, your organization can effectively influence related costs. To do so you will have to establish a number of your own processes that guide decision making throughout your organization.

Areas requiring WC management can be divided into three main categories. These categories include facets that may range from the simple to the complex, but as a whole, address vital issues that can negatively influence WC costs in your company.

Workplace Safety Means Fewer Claims

Simply put, reducing claims reduces costs. Establishing a safety-minded culture throughout every level of your company is essential to keeping workers injury free. However, establishing such a culture isn’t an overnight solution. To be successful, an ongoing commitment to safety must be made. Such a commitment must be supported by management and given the necessary resources to succeed.

Developing comprehensive safety policies for employees builds a firm foundation for your safety culture to grow. Such policies also encourage OSHA compliance, further improving your safety efforts while helping you avoid costly fines.

Mitigate Loss After an Injury

Unfortunately, even with all the right programs in place, it is still possible for accidents to happen. When a workplace incident occurs how you respond can greatly influence the outcome of the claim. Prompt claim reporting is essential to keeping costs down. It is also important to have a designated injury management coordinator, someone who can supervise open claims and work with both employees and medical personnel to facilitate the timely recovery.

The longer an employee is out of work the more expensive their claim will be. Return-to-work programs that allow injured employees to come back to work at a limited capacity during the recovery process, are one of the most effective tools business owners have to reduce the severity of a claim.

Managing Your Mod

Insurers use what is known as an experience modification factor, or mod, to calculate the premiums you pay for workers’ compensation coverage. By managing your exposures and promoting safety it is possible to manage your mod and decrease your premium rates.

Like a good safety program, controlling your mod is an ongoing process. To reap the benefits of lower premiums you will have to keep in regular contact with your insurance provider to ensure they have the most accurate data to use in their calculations.

See the original article Here.


Disconnect between employers, employees over wellness, health plan satisfaction

Check out this great article from Employee Benefits Adviser about the disconnect between employees and employers about their company's wellness programs by Cort Olsen

More than 1,500 employer decision-makers surveyed about the future of healthcare say wellness programs within companies continue to show positive growth among employers and employees alike. However, the study by Transamerica Center for Health Studies also found a strong disconnect in communication between employers and employees regarding healthcare and benefit satisfaction and the commitment from employers to maintain a healthy workspace.

At least 28% of employers have implemented a wellness program for their employees in the past 12 months — a steady increase from 23% in 2014 and 25% in 2015. About four in five companies report their wellness programs have positively impacted workers’ health and productivity, and about seven in 10 have seen a positive impact on company healthcare costs.

More than half of the employers surveyed (55%) say they offer wellness programs to their staff, yet some employees seemed to be unaware that their company offers these programs. Of the 55% of employers who say they offer a wellness program, only 36% of employees with employer coverage say they work for an employer who offers a wellness program.

Employer versus employee perspective
This miscommunication may also contribute to the level of commitment employees think their employer has in maintaining a wellness program within the workplace. While 80% of employers say leadership is committed to improving the health of their employees, only one-third of employees say they agree with that statement.

When it comes to overall healthcare satisfaction there is a similar disconnect, with 94% of employers saying employees are satisfied with the health insurance plan their company offers, while only 79% of employees say they are satisfied with their health plan.

In addition, 90% of employers say employees are satisfied with the healthcare benefits other than health insurance, but only 79% of employees say they are satisfied.

However, while employers and employees may not share the same amount of satisfaction in their healthcare offerings, many companies are making the effort to reduce the cost of their healthcare for their staff.

At least 41% of companies have taken measures to reduce costs, while 71% of companies have taken positive measures in the last 12 months. The percentage of midsize businesses reporting to provide insurance for part-time employees has increased significantly since July 2013 from 13% to 21%.

Still, lack of communication continues over cost concerns as well. While about four in five employers feel their company is concerned about the affordability of health insurance and healthcare expenses, just over half of employees feel the same — even after employers said cost concerns would not be felt by employees.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Olsen C. (2017 January 05). Disconnect between employers, employees over wellness, health plan satisfaction[Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/news/disconnect-between-employers-employees-over-wellness-health-plan-satisfaction?brief=00000152-1443-d1cc-a5fa-7cfba3c60000


IRS Memo on Fixed Indemnity Health Plan Benefits Tax Treatment

Stay up-to-date with the most recent compliance alerts from our partners at United Benefits Advisors (UBA).

On January 20, 2017, the IRS released a Memorandum on the tax treatment of benefits paid by fixed indemnity health plans that addresses two questions:

  1. Are payments to an employee under an employer-provided fixed indemnity health plan excludible from the employee’s income under Internal Revenue Code §105?
  2. Are payments to an employee under an employer-provided fixed indemnity health plan excludible from the employee’s income under Internal Revenue Code §105 if the payments are made by salary reduction through a §125 cafeteria plan?

The IRS concluded that an employer may not exclude payments under an employer-provided fixed indemnity health plan from an employee’s gross income if the coverage’s value was excluded from the employee’s gross income and wages. Further, an employer may not exclude payments under an employer-provided fixed indemnity health plan if the plan’s premiums were made by salary reduction through a §125 cafeteria plan.

Background
A fixed indemnity health plan pays a specific amount of cash for certain health-related events (for example, $40 per office visit or $100 per hospital day). The amount paid is neither related to the medical expense incurred, nor coordinated with other health coverage. Further, a fixed indemnity health plan is considered an “excepted benefit.”
Under HIPAA, fixed dollar indemnity policies are excepted benefits if they are offered as “independent, non-coordinated benefits.” Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), excepted benefits are not subject to the ACA’s health insurance requirements or prohibitions (for example, annual and lifetime dollar limits, out-of-pocket limits, requiring individual and small-group policies to cover ten essential health benefits, etc.) This means that excepted benefit policies can exclude preexisting conditions, can have dollar limits, and do not legally have to guarantee renewal when the coverage is cancelled.

Further, under the ACA, excepted benefits are not minimum essential coverage so a large employer cannot comply with its employer shared responsibility obligations by offering only fixed indemnity coverage to its full-time employees.

Some examples of fixed indemnity health plans are AFLAC or similar coverage, or cancer insurance policies.

Analysis
Generally, the Internal Revenue Code imposes taxes on wages paid with respect to employment. For federal income tax withholding, the Internal Revenue Code generally requires every employer who pays wages to deduct and withhold taxes on those wages.

In the context of an employer-provided fixed indemnity health plan, when the employer’s payment for coverage by the fixed indemnity plan is excluded from the employee’s gross income, then the payments by the plan are not excluded from the employee’s gross income.

In contrast, when the premiums are paid with after-tax dollars, the payments by the plan are excluded from the employee’s gross income.

Download the release here.


Employees putting billions more than usual in their 401(k)s

Interesting article from BenefitsPro about employee's increased input into their 401(k)s by Ben Steverman

(Bloomberg) -- Saving for retirement requires making sacrifices now so your future self can afford to stop working later. Someday. Maybe.

It’s not news that Americans aren’t saving enough. The typical baby boomer, whose generation is just starting to retire, has a median of $147,000 in all of his retirement accounts, according to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies.

And if you think that’s depressing, try this on: 1 in 3 private sector workers don’t even have a retirement plan through their job.

But the new year brings with it some good news: If people do have a 401(k) plan through their employer, there’s data showing them choosing to set aside more for their later years.

On average, workers in 2015 put 6.8 percent of their salaries into 401(k) and profit-sharing plans, according to a recent survey of more than 600 plans. That’s up from 6.2 percent in 2010, the Plan Sponsor Council of America found.

An increase in retirement savings of 0.6 percentage points might not sound like much, but it represents a 10 percent rise in the amount flowing into those plans over just five years, or billions of dollars. About $7 trillion is already invested in 401(k) and other defined contribution plans, according to the Investment Company Institute.

If Americans keep inching up their contribution rate, they could end up saving trillions of dollars more. Workers in these plans are even starting to meet the savings recommendations of retirement experts, who suggest setting aside 10 percent to 15 percent of your salary, including any employer contribution, over a career.

While workers are saving more, companies have held their financial contributions steady—at least over the past few years. Employers pitched in 4.7 percent of payroll in 2015, the same as in 2013 and 2014. Even so, it’s still more than a point above their contribution rates in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

One reason workers participating in these plans are probably saving more: They’re being signed up automatically—no extra paperwork required. Almost 58 percent of plans surveyed make their sign-up process automatic, requiring employees to take action only if they don’t want to save.

Automatic enrollment can make a big difference. In such plans, 89 percent of workers are making contributions, the survey finds, while 75 percent make 401(k) contributions under plans without auto-enrollment. Auto-enrolled employees save more, 7.2 percent of their salaries vs. 6.3 percent for those who weren’t auto-enrolled.

Companies are also automatically hiking worker contribution rates over time, a feature called “auto-escalation” that’s still far less common than auto-enrollment. Less than a quarter of plans auto-escalate all participants, while 16 percent boost contributions only for workers who are deemed to be not saving enough.

A key appeal of automatic 401(k) plans is that they don’t require participating workers to be investing experts. Unless employees choose otherwise, their money is automatically put in a recommended investment.

And, at more and more 401(k) and profit-sharing plans, this takes the form of a target-date fund, a diversified mix of investments chosen based on a participant’s age or years until retirement. Two-thirds of plans offer target-date funds, the survey found, double the number in 2006.

The share of workers’ assets in target-date funds is up fivefold as a result.

A final piece of good news for workers is that they’re keeping more of every dollar they earn in a 401(k) account. Fees on 401(k) plans are falling, according to a recent analysis released by BrightScope and the Investment Company Institute.

The total cost of running a 401(k) plan is down 17 percent since 2009, to 0.39 percent of plan assets in 2014. The cost of the mutual funds inside 401(k)s has dropped even faster, by 28 percent to an annual expense ratio of 0.53 percent in 2015.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Steverman B. (2017 January 5). Employees putting billions more than usual in their 401(k)s [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.benefitspro.com/2017/01/05/employees-putting-billions-more-than-usual-in-thei?ref=hp-news&page_all=1


Top 7 401(k) questions employees may have

Interesting article from BenefitsPro about some of the questions your employees will ask about 401(k)s by Marlene Y. Satter

At the start of a new year, lots of folks are thinking about resolutions.

And, if they’re also thinking about saving for retirement, they may have realized they don’t know all that they should about their retirement plan—or they may simply have decided that they need to know more.

If that’s the case, they’ll have questions about their 401(k) plans.

And regardless of what kind of 401(k) education you or your plan provider may furnish, you’ll likely be hit with inquiries about various aspects of the company plan.

Here are the top 7 questions you may get from workers this year.

7. How do I manage my investments?

Employees will want to know whether there are online tools to track investments, access statements and change their portfolio holdings.

They’ll also want to know about educational resources, whether online or in group or individual sessions, so that they can do the best they can. If you don’t already offer access to a financial advisor to help them better understand what they need to do, this could be a potential plan upgrade—particularly since many people prefer interacting with a human being to relying on online tools, especially for educational purposes.

6. What kind of investments are available?

Particularly if they’re trying to educate themselves better on how to make their 401(k) investments perform at peak efficiency, employees will want to know what they’re putting their money into.

Which mutual funds does the plan use? What other options are available? Are there alternative investments in the plan? Managed accounts? Bonds? Individual stocks? Money market funds? Are there plenty of options available, so that the portfolio is sufficiently diversified?

And if they don’t like the sound of the 401(k)’s options, they might ask you about providing a Roth 401(k) instead.

5. How high are the fees—and can they be lowered?

Savvy employees will be concerned about the fees involved in the various investments in the plan. Even more savvy ones might push you to consider lower-fee investments, such as Class R6 shares rather than Class A and target-date funds, which have preset portfolios and should be cheaper.

They’ll probably also ask about the presence or absence of index funds, and question whether the plan provider engages in revenue sharing or provides institutional pricing on all funds.

4. When and how can I withdraw money from the plan?

In case of emergency—a death in the family, a serious illness or perhaps a less depressing need, such as a home purchase or the kids’ college education—employees might need to get their hands on some of their 401(k) funds. Does your plan allow that?

And if so, how? Is it a difficult process? Are only hardship loans allowed? How long does it take to get the money? Can employees continue to contribute to the plan after they take a withdrawal?

3. What’s the employer matching contribution?

Employees will want to know, if they don’t already, how much you’re going to kick in in matching funds when they start contributing to the plan.

Do you match 50 cents, for instance, per dollar up to a certain percentage of the employee’s salary? Say, 3 percent or 6 percent? Or do you do a dollar-for-dollar match up to whatever your limit is? Or perhaps you have a dollar limit rather than a percentage.

2. When am I vested?

Employees—particularly millennials, who tend to move from job to job with increasing frequency—will probably want to know how quickly they’ll be able to keep any employer contributions.

They probably already know that whatever they themselves contribute to a plan is theirs to take whenever they leave for a new job, but since vesting rules can vary widely from company to company, they’ll want to know whether employer contributions vest at 5, 10, 25 or 50 percent per year, or at 100 percent after a certain number of years.

1. What are the eligibility requirements?

New employees in particular will want to find out about this, but existing employees who perhaps hadn’t signed up in the past may also be checking on whether they work enough hours per week (for part-timers) or have been with the company long enough to start contributing.

Make sure that employees know what’s required for them to be able to participate—and if you don’t already have it, you might want to consider adding auto enrollment as a feature next time you modify the plan.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Satter M. (2017 January 03). Top 7 401(k) questions employees may have [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.benefitspro.com/2017/01/03/top-7-401k-questions-employees-may-have?ref=hp-news&page_all=1


Stepping away from traditional workplace wellness programs

Interesting article from Employee Benefits Advisors about workplace wellness programs by Brendan Weafer

Many of today’s business owners are throwing a lot of money into workplace wellness programs because they understand the financial value of healthy employees. They aren’t, however, putting the same amount of thought into what type of wellness programs employees might actually use.

Employers have seen reports like the 2014 study by Virginia Tech College of Engineering that showed unhealthy workers are less productive, most likely to get injured, and need longer rest breaks than employees with a well-rounded lifestyle. They realize that unfit employees also have a higher turnover rate, which results in additional onboarding and training costs for employers. But simply offering a company wellness program doesn’t guarantee a reduction in employee healthcare costs, especially if the programs aren’t teaching healthy lifestyle training.

Many of the workplace wellness programs being offered today still rely on traditional ideas that have proven ineffective. Many programs are metrics-focused, recommending tasks like walking 10,000 steps a day or offer small — often taxable — incentives in an attempt to motivate participants to lose weight in a short amount of time. This kind of goal-oriented program does not actually teach the day-to-day wellness choices that are fundamental to building a healthy lifestyle. A number of programs incorporate wearable technology that measures walking, but walking is only one component of health, just as broccoli is a single component of a well-rounded diet. If you were only eating broccoli, that wouldn’t be a healthy lifestyle.

Moving and breathing

Workplace culture holds the key to fixing the national health crisis, and there are better ways for employers to ensure that an employee wellness program will actually work and provide employees with lasting change.

Since you can’t meditate to a smaller waistline or diet to a better night’s sleep, here are three things that employers should make sure to incorporate into the company wellness programs — things that can actually help employees learn and maintain a healthier lifestyle:

· Improve mobility with movement that can be done right at their desk, or on the fly.

· Increase strength with a bodyweight exercise program that starts small and builds throughout the year.

· Improve their diet with nutritional guidelines and tips including recipes, best times of day to eat, and how to optimize food choices — even for the holidays.

It is commonly misunderstood how small choices made on a daily basis can undermine wellness efforts. By providing achievable daily challenges to reinforce healthy choices, workplace wellness programs that take the holistic approach in teaching healthy lifestyle habits will see better results. Small changes, practiced routinely over time, become the tools of a sustainable healthy lifestyle that produces significant long-term results.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Weafer B. (2016 December 14). Stepping away from traditional workplace wellness programs [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/opinion/stepping-away-from-traditional-workplace-wellness-programs?feed=00000152-1387-d1cc-a5fa-7fffaf8f0000


Don’t expect tech to solve benefits communications problems

Great article from Benefits Pro about using technology to communicate with your employees by Marlene Satter

Although technology has spawned multiple methods of communication with employees on benefits, that doesn’t mean they’re solving all the problems in conveying information back and forth between employer and employee.

In fact, generational and demographic differences, varying levels of comfort with a range of communication methods and the complexity of information all mean that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution in workplace benefits communication.

A study from West’s Health Advocate Solutions finds employees’ expectations cover a wide range in benefits, health and wellness program communication. As a result, human resources and benefits managers have to dig more deeply in finding ways to convey information to employees.

One finding which may surprise them is employees prefer live-person conversations, although some do prefer the option to use digital communication channels in certain benefits scenarios. And 41 percent of employees say their top complaint about employers’ benefits programs is that communication is too infrequent.

Employee benefits in 2017 will feel the effects of political change as well as cultural change. Here are some trends...

The top choice of employees for communicating about health care cost and administrative information is directly by phone (73 percent) with a live person; second choice was a website or online portal (69 percent), while an in-person conversation was the choice of 56 percent.

For information about physical wellness benefits, 71 percent opt for the website/online portal, while 62 percent want to talk to someone on the phone and 56 percent wanted an in-person conversation. Interestingly, 62 percent of men and 44 percent of women prefer in-person conversations.

For personal/emotional wellness issues, 71 percent want that chat with a person on the phone, 65 percent want an in-person conversation and just 60 percent want to interact with a website/online portal.

When it comes to managing a chronic condition, 66 percent prefer to talk to someone on the phone, 63 percent would prefer the website/online portal option and 61 percent want an in-person conversation. Sixty-seven percent of men, compared with 53 percent of women, prefer in-person conversations, while 35 percent of women, compared with 18 percent of men, prefer mobile apps.

And there are generational differences, too, with millennials wanting in-person interactions more than either Gen X or boomer colleagues. But they all want multiple options, and the ability to choose the one they prefer, rather than simply being restricted to a single method.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Satter M. (2016 December 14). Don't expect tech to solve benefits communications problems [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.benefitspro.com/2016/12/14/dont-expect-tech-to-solve-benefits-communications