Family premiums for employer plans top nearly $20,000

Posted by Emily Kubis on Wed, Oct 17, 2018 @ 09:10

Costs outpace wages, inflation

Annual family premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance rose five percent to $19,616 in 2018, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation Employer Health Benefits Survey.

On average, workers are paying $5,547 toward the cost of family coverage, with employers picking up the rest of the tab. Annual premiums for single coverage increased 3 percent this year, to $6,896, with workers paying an average of $1,186.

The data confirms what most employers already know — that group health plan costs are increasingly taking up bigger and bigger portions of company budgets.

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Tags: group plan, group benefits, self-insurance, self-funded, employers

How employers can lower group health plan claims

Posted by Emily Kubis on Mon, Oct 15, 2018 @ 09:10

Three ways to lower claim costs

As healthcare prices continue to rise, most employers would like to have more control over their group health plan and its costs. However, this requires better visibility into medical claims incurred by employees, and fully-insured plans typically provide almost no transparency into where the employer’s dollars are going.

Alternatively, self-funded plans give employers better insight and control over their claims spend. As a result, self-insuring is becoming a more attractive options for groups of all sizes, especially as fully-insured rates continue to rise at unsustainable levels for small and mid-sized businesses.

There are three main ways to reduce claims spend.

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Tags: group plan, group benefits, self-insurance, self-funded, employers

UnitedHealthcare launches Association Health Plan option for Texas small employers

Posted by Emily Kubis on Thu, Oct 04, 2018 @ 09:10

New option could produce premium savings for some groups

UnitedHealthcare announced this week the launch of a state-wide geographically-based Association Health Plan (AHP) for small employer groups in Texas.

This new United product provides another option for Texas employers with 2 to 50 employees. For up to half of small employers in the Texas market, the AHP option could potentially produce premium savings of 5 percent to 15 percent, as compared to traditional, fully-insured small group rates.

The new option takes advantage of the executive order to expand AHPs from the Trump Administration. In the past, employers could only band together to offer health coverage if the association was trade-based. Now employers in a shared geographic area can also take advantage of economies of scale. (More: What employers need to know about the new Association Health Plan regulations)

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Tags: group plan, group benefits, employers, association health plans, AHPs, Texas

Are hospitals driving drug costs for employers?

Posted by Emily Kubis on Fri, Sep 28, 2018 @ 11:09

Study puts blame on hospital markups

Who is responsible for high healthcare costs, and high pharmaceutical costs in particular? The back and forth between drug makers, providers and insurers on this issue continues, with a new study laying the blame for high drug prices on hospital markups.

The new study, commissioned by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America reports that nearly one in five hospitals markup drugs up to 700 percent or more. The study compared 3,792 hospitals and data from the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The study notes that drug price markups often lead to higher reimbursements from health plans. Higher claim rates can often result in big premium increases for employers, and these costs are often then further passed on to employees.

Of course, hospitals are not the only source of prescription drugs for employees, and efforts to address skyrocketing drug prices will have to address inflation across the delivery system, including drug makers and prescription benefit managers.

However, self-funded employers may want to pay particular attention to hospital markups. In a self-funded plan, employers are responsible for paying claims up to a stop-loss threshold, and so prescription spending in the hospital setting can be a cost driver. Here are three tips for reducing prescription spend at hospitals for self-funded groups:

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Tags: group plan, group benefits, self-insurance, self-funded, employers

Tips to reduce out-of-network claims

Posted by Emily Kubis on Mon, Sep 24, 2018 @ 09:09

Out-of-network claims increase cost pressure on employers

A new study released by the Kaiser Family Foundation reports that nearly one in five inpatient admissions includes a claim from an out-of-network provider, putting additional cost pressures on employees and employers.

Even when patients use in-network facilities, 15 percent of admissions included a claim from a non-network provider.

While a few states have passed legislation around balance billing and the use of out-of-network providers in in-network facilities, most have not, which means employees nationwide are at risk for surprise bills.

Here are three tips for employers for reducing out-of-network claims

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Tags: group plan, group benefits, self-insurance, self-funded, employers

Five questions HR should ask about benefits software

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Wed, Sep 19, 2018 @ 09:09

Featured in HR Technologist:

In a competitive job market, a comprehensive benefits package is a key tool for recruitment and retention. But according to the International Federation of Employee Benefit Plans, half of the employees don’t understand the benefits their employer offers.

As a result, many employers aren’t maximizing the value of their investment in benefits. In other words, if employees don’t know which benefits they have access to, or how to use them, the employer likely isn’t seeing the recruitment and retention advantages of offering them.

Benefits administration software can help employees make better, more informed decisions when it comes to the coverage options their employer provides. Most platforms make it easy for employers to provide more robust benefits communication and decision support tools, including PDFs, videos, and other functionality.

As a result, employees more effectively use their benefits, improving retention and maximizing the employer’s investment in those offerings.

But with many different kinds of benefits and HR software systems marketed to employers, how should the HR department think about finding and implementing the benefits system that is right for their organization? 

Most all-in-one HR systems will report a benefits administration feature, but employers and HR leaders should carefully consider the functionality of the platform before purchasing.

Here are five questions to ask when it comes to finding a system to better manage benefits eligibility and enrollment.

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Tags: HR Technologist, employers, benefits software

When it comes to benefits, think like a CFO

Posted by Brian Tolbert on Wed, Aug 15, 2018 @ 15:08

How to get more transparency and better control over healthcare costs

Benefits are typically the largest expense item in a company’s budget next to payroll. Traditionally, managing the benefits budget hasn’t been like managing other business expenses, as employers have had little to no transparency into these costs. While most employers would be averse to accepting annual increases of 10 or 15 percent on other business expenses, they have never been able to apply the same level of scrutiny to their healthcare spend.

But things are changing. As healthcare spending continues to rise with no end in sight, maintaining the status quo is simply no longer an option. Fortunately, action steps similar to those you’d take in other parts of your organization are available for your health plan. At Bernard Health’s 8th Annual Health Reform Luncheon, our team explained how small and mid-sized company leaders can think about their benefits like a CFO. Here are some of the highlights.

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Tags: employer digest, health insurance small employers, employers, health savings accounts, HSAs

Three things employers should know about the new HSA bills

Posted by Emily Kubis on Mon, Aug 06, 2018 @ 09:08

New bills could expand qualified expenses and contribution limits

In July, the House of Representatives passed two new bills affecting Health Savings Accounts. The new bills could expand the list of qualified medical expenditures, as well as nearly double contribution limits.

With adoption of high-deductible health plans still on the rise, the new regulations would expand the opportunity for employers to maximize the value of their benefits plans and support employees in opening accounts.

Here’s what employers should know about the new bill:

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Tags: employer digest, health insurance small employers, employers, health savings accounts, HSAs

Tips for optimizing an HSA benefits strategy

Posted by Emily Kubis on Wed, May 02, 2018 @ 08:05

Health Savings Account use continues to rise

A new study from the National Center For Health Statistics shows significant growth in the number of consumers with HSA-eligible plans and consumers with HSAs, though opportunities for increased adoption remain.

The study, which covered the first nine months of 2017, found that nearly half of privately insured consumers under the age of 65 have high-deductible, or HSA-eligible, health plans.

Eighteen percent of those enrollees also have a Health Savings Account, though a quarter of consumers with HSA-eligible plans do not yet have a Health Savings Account.

These percentages are on the rise. The percentage of people enrolled in HSA-eligible plans has increased almost 18 percent since 2010, and the percentage of people with HSAs has more than doubled since 2010.

Does your organization struggle with HSA adoption? Many do. Here are three challenges and solutions to an optimized HSA-eligible benefits strategy:

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Tags: employer digest, health insurance small employers, employers, health savings accounts, HSAs

Is your recruitment strategy tech-savvy?

Posted by Rebekah Michel on Wed, Apr 18, 2018 @ 08:04

Three ways to use HR tech to reach recruits where they are

U.S. employers have recruitment on the brain. With unemployment at near-historic lows, finding and keeping good talent is one of the top priorities for the HR department these days.

But is your organization’s recruitment strategy tech-savvy? Millennials are now the largest generation in the workforce, and finding new talent requires meeting them where they are—and that’s online.

Here are three tips for bringing your recruitment process online.

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Tags: employer digest, employers, hr software, recruitment, HR, HR tech, hiring, Small Biz Daily

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