Monthly Archives:
April 2017

Highlights From Partner Conference 2017

April 25-27, 2017

The Diplomat Beach Resort | Hollywood, Florida

 

Partner Conference 2017 (PC2017) is the ideal opportunity to network in one location with WEX Health Partners, team members, and vendors. We encourage all members of the consumer-driven healthcare community to participate in PC2017’s inclusive roundtable discussions on industry trends, insightful panels on best practices for consumer engagement, and informative product innovation presentations. Continue reading

Healthcare Reform to Travel Down One of Three Paths

Talk about the “repeal and replace” of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been circulating throughout the industry and in the media for months now.  Repeal and replace are actually two very different concepts in terms of affecting different aspects of the ACA. There’s also a third possibility that would be synonymous with “repair”. No matter the term or path, the outcomes therefore, would have vastly different consequences for every group involved – insurers, providers, hospitals, employers, etc.

Three Futures of the ACA

Although there are three paths lawmakers can take, there are many, many ways no matter which path they take, to enacting what they decide on. Meaning even once a decision is made it could be rolled out in a piecemeal approach under various administrative actions, stand-alone legislation or through state legislature moves.

Repeal Only

Looking at the first scenario this would essentially “repeal” the ACA budget-related provisions through a special budget process called reconciliation and not provide any health-reform replacement provisions. According to the Congressional Research Service paper, there are several aspects of the ACA that could be impacted by reconciliation in a repeal scenario:

  • Repeals the individual and employer mandate penalties
  • Eliminates the 40% excise tax for employer-sponsored “Cadillac Plans”
  • Repeals federal government subsidies for individuals to purchase exchange coverage
  • Repeals Medicaid expansion
  • Restores Disproportionate Share Hospital Funding

Repair

The second path lawmakers could take would be to “repair” the ACA, keeping most of it intact and making adjustments to a few of the provisions through the legislative process. ACA items that may be repealed/revised under this scenario are:

  • Repeals the employer mandate
  • Revises the individual mandate through a replacement option, such as a continuous coverage mechanism
  • Expands health savings account usage
  • Funds high-risk pools
  • Expands Medicaid, giving state more flexibility in plan design
  • Widens age-rate bands, increasing higher and lower rating flexibility

Replace

Lastly, the ACA can be “replaced” by one of several current proposals being considered by lawmakers. There is widespread concern that repealing the ACA without providing any replacement plan could cause destabilization in the markets, particularly in the individual market. Plans vary to the degree of addressing the following efforts:

  • Repeals individual mandate
  • Replaces income-based tax credits with age-based tax credits
  • Funds high-risk pools
  • Transforms Medicaid into block grants
  • Restores Disproportionate Share Hospital Funding

Conclusion

The health industry and employers need to consider the above scenarios and prepare their businesses accordingly. Companies will need to be flexible and resilient as the market undergoes future changes.  The evolving landscape will create a new healthcare environment for everyone.

Source: PwC Health Research Institute and Strategy&.  Health Reform 2.0: A guide to developing resilience amid an uncertain future for the Affordable Care Act.  April 2017.

How to Choose the Right Corporate Wellness Provider

As employers’ wellness efforts increase so has their interest in vendors who provide corporate wellness programs.  According to IBISWorld’s 2016 industry report organizations have many options to choose from as there are currently 951 companies who specialize in corporate wellness offerings. IBISWorld projects continued growth for this industry putting revenue at $7.6 billion annually by 2021. Continue reading

National Health Trends Show Mixed Progress 

As if there aren’t enough reasons to live in Hawaii, it just ranked first in the nation for the fifth year in a row for having the healthiest residents, according to the 2016 America’s Health Rankings Annual Report from the United Health Foundation.

The annual health rankings report has been tracking trends in health behaviors, policies, care and outcomes since 1990. It offers a comprehensive look at the nation’s health as a whole in addition to the health of people in individual states. Hawaii had the lowest rates of preventable hospitalizations and low rates of uninsurance along with the second-highest public health funding rate in the country. It also ranked second for low rates of obesity and cancer death. Massachusetts, Connecticut, Minnesota, and Vermont received the next highest rankings.

Positive National Trends

As reported in The Nation’s Health Feb/March issue, some positive national trends identified a decrease in unhealthy health activities. For example, smoking rates dropped by 41 percent since 1990. The uninsured rate has decreased by 35 percent from 16.2 percent in 2011 and preventable hospitalization for those on Medicare decreased by 35 percent over the past 10 years.

Individual Behaviors Need Improvement

Other trends need to address individual behaviors to make the U.S. healthier. The obesity rate increased to 29.8 percent, which is up from 11.6 recorded in the first report. Also for the first time since 1990, cardiovascular death rates increased to 251.7 from 250.8 deaths per 100,000 people. Additionally, drug deaths rose 4 percent from 2015 to 2016.

Efforts at the community or workplace level can be impactful in helping alleviate unhealthy habits/lifestyles such as physical inactivity and obesity by encouraging participation in wellness initiatives and providing access to healthy food options. Improving individual outcomes will positively influence state and national trends as well. Opportunities for progress need to continue for more promising results to be yielded next year.

Source:  The Nation’s Health. Rankings find improvements in health, but concerns linger. February/March. PP 1.