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March 26, 2012

You Don’t Know What You Have…Until You Need It!!

Filed under: General HR Buzz7:00 am

Anyone who has children knows that some years may be better than others when it comes to health insurance utilization.  This year is not one of the better years.  But I hesitate to complain because I am fortunate to be in the position to have adequate health insurance coverage for my family.  I am reminded of that every time I read the Explanation of Benefits that outlines very clearly the actual cost of the medical services vs. what I actually have to pay.  And there clearly is a huge difference.  I sometimes become guilty of not appreciating the value and benefit health insurance provides until I need it.

Employers assist many of us by providing health insurance as an option, and also by footing a large percentage of the premium.  However, it is becoming more and more challenging for employers to continue to offer the rich benefits that once were standard and customary.  According to the 2012 Towers Watson/National Business Group on Health Employer Survey, employers plan to use different methods over the next several years to manage rising health care costs.  Interestingly, they also plan to engage in different methods to improve the health of their employees which is truly where we all can benefit.

The survey, which was completed by 512 employers between December 2011 and January 2012, represents 8.0 million employees.  The respondents, on average, spend $10,982 per employee on health care.   You do the math – 8,000,000 x $10,982 – this is BIG money and a huge budget line item.  No wonder it demands so much attention.  Following are some of the highlights of their findings:

  • Employers continued to confirm their commitment to providing health care benefits for active employees through 2015; however, this confidence declines over the long-term.
  • Nearly a quarter of employers will be reviewing health care benefits as part of their total rewards strategy, analyzing the effect changes have on items such as retention or engagement.
  • Health care vendors may be asked to provide more in the areas of transparency and accountability.
  • Account-based health plans – plans with deductibles offered together with a personal account such as health savings account – will continue to be on the rise.
  • Employers are committed to increasing their use of employee wellness programs and other incentives to assist in improving overall health and decrease health care costs.

Health insurance will continue to be in the headlines as we near the implementation of some of the additional regulations within the Patient Care Protection Act.  So stay tuned.  In the meantime, to read more from this survey click here.

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