Healthcare Issues

Employers are on the hunt! Says a new survey…

Seems like everyone wants to know what’s on the minds of employers and what they are thinking about insurance. A new survey conducted by Wells Fargo Insurance interviewed 70 employers across the U.S. Results show that as employers and their employees face higher costs, deductibles and copays the employers are searching for ways to control costs and help employees improve their health.

The survey findings also show the top three employer product innovations this year include:

  • Accountable Care Organizations (ACO’s)
  • increased wellness programs
  • narrow provider network offerings

47% of survey respondents say they will develop their own private proprietary exchange by 2015.

Read the full article at Wall Street Journal online, Survey: Cost of Healthcare Claims Continue to Rise; Interest in Private Exchanges Increases

Are you an employer? What are you thinking about insurance?

Hobby Lobby Politics – will the “brand” win or lose?

Have you been keeping up with the controversial Hobby Lobby case in the Supreme Court of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby? The company has taken a very public position against certain provisions of The Affordable Care Act, specifically as it relates to covering contraception for women. They cover male contraception in the form of vasectomy, but take issue with providing contraception for women. David Green, founder of the very successful family-owned retail chain, wants the court to expand the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 so that businesses like his can opt out of certain provisions of Obamacare on religious grounds.

Whatever your political or religious views on contraception, consider what politics and religious views can have on your company’s brand. Mary Buffett, writer for The Huffington Post does an excellent job of laying out the facts and the potential toll this case may have on the successful brand name Hobby Lobby has made for itself over the past several years. Why Hobby Lobby Loses Even if it Wins at the Supreme Court.

Open Enrollment is Over. So Now What?

Media outlets have been buzzing since Tuesday about the passing deadline of open enrollment and what the next phase of implementing the new health care system will bring. There is a lot of “noise” about whether the 7.1 million number of new enrollees reported by the White House is an inflated number, mostly because many believe there is a large percentage of enrollees who have yet to pay for their insurance. Also, there is a great deal of speculation that insurance companies will raise their rates next year along with reports that indicate the implementation of the new health care system will weigh heavy on large employers, causing their expenses to rise [additionally] by nearly 6% [over and above what they would already spend] over the next ten years.

Kaiser Health News offers a round up of commentary from several sources in
Open Enrollment is Over — What’s Ahead for the Health Law Now?

Meanwhile, Marketwatch by Wall Street Journal reports ADP just released it’s 2014 ADP Annual Health Benefits Report. This is their second annual report, based on actual, aggregated health benefits data from U.S.-based companies with 1,000 or more employees. According to a press release by ADP, “…the report provides employers with benchmarks to better gauge the effectiveness of their current strategies and to help plan for changes on the horizon.”

The data was collected by a survey of employees (anonymous) from a group of employers spanning from 2010 to 2014. Key findings of the report include:

  • Premium increases are leveling off
  • Employers are contributing slightly less
  • Overall participation is steady, but varies with age
  • Costs vary by state

You can download a free copy of the ADP report here.

Your employees. Are they medicaid eligible?

There are many opinions about Medicaid expansion and my post is opinion free.

Employers across all sectors of the economy are likely to have Medicaid eligible employees/dependents in their population. Many do not know they are Medicaid eligible and some may be on the employer plan.

What does this mean?

Like anything, researching it may be the best first step. Simply finding out if this exists in an employer population may make sense.

Then what?

Some employees will be delighted to know they qualify, some may be upset. Some employers will take advantage of Medicaid expansion to reduce the rolls on the employer-sponsored plan while others may hate the idea and avoid it all together.

We respect all opinions but we also are developing a tool to determine eligibility and — if the employer would like — assist in the enrollment process. We will be launching it next month.

We want to help any employer that wants to know who in their population is eligible for Medicaid and then listen to find out if there is anything the employer would like to do about it.

What is Medicaid?

  • Medicaid is funded largely by the federal government but run by the states
  • Unlike Medicare, Medicaid eligibility is based on income.  The Affordable Care Act expanded medicaid to reach well beyond prior eligibility pools (it will now 133% of poverty level).
  • Medicaid operates as nearly 100% coverage for all medical expenses.
  • Medicaid networks are more restrictive than Medicare or commercial policy networks
Medicaid used to be accessible only to children and low (really low) income parents with dependent children. Single people did not qualify. Parents with eligible children did not qualify often. Eligibility now is much much wider.
In the next few weeks we will be rolling out a tool to assist any employer/employee evaluate Medicaid eligibility.
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