Monthly Archives:
July 2017

Communicate the Value of FSAs and HSAs – Part II: Health Savings Accounts

Communicate the Value of FSAs and HSAs – Part II: Health Savings Accounts

In our most recent post, Communicating the Benefits of FSAs and HSAs Part I, we explored the benefits of flexible spending arrangements and how to help your employees to understand the value. Today, however, we would like to turn our attention to a topic that has been recently politicized, but misunderstood, Health Savings Accounts.

According to the 2016 SHRM Employee Benefits Survey, the percentage of organizations offering HSAs increased from 43 percent to 50 percent in the past year. Continue reading

Communicate the Value of FSAs and HSAs – Part I: Flexible Spending Accounts

Communicate the Value of FSAs and HSAs – Part I: Flexible Spending Accounts

Help employees navigate flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) to their advantage. Employees may just need a little reeducation about the cost-savings and value that these types of plans can provide them. Prior to open enrollment, is a great time to remind your workforce of the many reasons why to enroll and use a FSA or HSA. Continue reading

Proposed Bill Looks to Allow Employee Genetic Screening

Employers are on the hunt for some fresh approaches to containing employee healthcare costs. Medical inflation and utilization are both expected to increase this year. And debate seems to continue around the American Health Care Act (AHCA). So most companies recognize they need new strategies that move beyond tweaking plan designs and adding HDHPs. Continue reading

Time to Measure Employee Healthcare Engagement

Even though school’s out, employers might want to consider giving employees a test over the summer. Prior to open enrollment, employers can use this time to assess their employees’ readiness for and engagement in their health program. Getting a better understanding of how committed employees are to maintaining their personal health, search for a doctor online, ask about the cost of a procedure, understand key insurance terms, etc. will help determine their level of healthcare consumerism.

According to a 2016 Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) study, 73% of people who experience rising health care costs found that their best defense is to try to take better care of themselves. Research has also shown that high consumer engagement correlates to better health status and cost consciousness.

Organizations can use a brief questionnaire to measure their workforce’s level of engagement in several areas to determine what tools they need to better enable and support them in their healthcare efforts. Additionally, it provides companies with benchmarking data that they can use internally as well as externally against other organizations’ employee populations.

Benefit Magazine touched on this topic in a “Grades Aren’t Just for Providers” June article. Measurement tools provide a way for organizations to refine their strategy and execution. The article offers three ways of using measurement data to increase employee motivation and employees’ healthcare consumerism skill sets.

Deploy the Right Consumer Tools

Everyone has a different starting point of their understanding and use of healthcare. Vendors provide all different type of tools to help guide individuals through the enrollment process through to finding a provider. Using engagement data to help deploy the right type of tool, which in some cases may even be making available a health care advocacy counselor for one-one help, can produce more confident decision-making across the company.

Related: HDHPS Create Need for Accurate Price Transparency Tools

Additionally, developing the right set of tools to help employees reach their personal best health can be achieved by using engagement scores to determine which products/tools to use with various groups. For example, for employees with chronic conditions a digital health tool that prompts them to monitor their condition and sends an update to their physician can produce better health outcomes through this type of management system.

Personalize Healthcare Information & Communication

An employer that measures engagement now has the ability to fill-in the gaps and meet employees’ specific needs with tailored communication.

Related: Gain Employee Engagement Through New Communication Strategies

Low engagement scores might suggest that these employees would benefit from frequent, yet short clips of information through video, print and email to encourage awareness and motivation. While highly engaged employees need specific direction and are ready for example, of the details about who to compare costs and quality of knee surgery at three local facilities.

Related: Use Big Data to Create A Personalized Benefits Strategy

Utilize Financial Strategies

Employees’ attitudes and abilities to participate in various healthcare programs will help steer employers toward their workforce achieving these desired outcomes. The move to HDHPs has created the need to focus on engagement efforts that center around understanding current and future healthcare costs.

Related: Use Incentives to Reward Employees for Transparency Tool Participation

Employees will need the right incentive to move beyond their comfort zone and talk about price with their provider, which can greatly impact their out-of-pocket costs. Financial incentives can also be strategically aligned to guide employees through the participation of a range of educational and wellness program activities. Again, engagement scores can inform organization’s where, how and what to incentivize with various groups of employees to encourage reasonable healthy behaviors and participation.

Source:  Benefits Magazine. Grades Aren’t Just for Providers: Measuring Consumerism to Improve Health Care Strategy. June 2017. PP 42-47.

WEX Health Capitol Commentary – HSAs

In our third Capitol Commentary video (see below for links to our previous videos), we take a look at one of the most buzzed about saving tools on the market: health savings accounts. Why are people so excited about them? Will they really transform retirement savings or is it all hype? Take a look to see what our experts have to say about HSAs.

New FDA Guidance Looks to Expedite Process of Bringing Generics to the Market

Recently the FDA released new draft guidance establishing an expedited process for the review and approval of high-priority generic drugs. According to PwC’s Health Research Institute, the June announcement and subsequent guidelines are expected to decrease the standard approval process by months. Meaning some generic drugs have the possibility of getting to the market faster, which should create more competition and potentially lower drug prices.  Continue reading

Prevent ‘Presenteeism’ by Creating a Culture of Worker Wellness

Many companies today implement wellness programs to help create a healthy culture at work. To establish an environment that promotes its workforce’s wellbeing on many levels. It’s an important goal for organizations to strive for beyond just healthcare cost containment.

Yes, poor health takes approximately $576 billion annually out of the U.S. economy, according to Integrated Benefits Institute data. With 39 percent of that being attributed to lost productivity due to absenteeism and presenteeism. While absences due to illness are more easily trackable, it’s presenteeism that can have a bigger impact on a company’s bottomline.

Related: Promoting Social and Emotional Wellbeing of Employees

What is Presenteeism?

The term presenteeism is a concept that companies need to effectively manage. It’s the state of showing up for work, but not performing to full capacity.

The reasons might be due to stress, boredom, relationship issues, and also not feeling well. While survey data from a 2016 Global Corporate Challenge found that on average employees only took four sick days a year, they also reported being unproductive on the job an average of 57 days annually. That’s costing employers 11 weeks per worker of “missed” work.

Related: Five Critical Factors a Wellness Program Needs to Address

Prevent Presenteeism; Create a Culture of Wellness

That’s why an organization’s commitment to wellness at work can have a positive impact for employees and employers. Wellness initiatives aimed at boosting a staff’s health and by extension morale and job satisfaction can range in cost, giving employers the ability to budget and implement initiatives as they see fit.

Related: How to Choose a Corporate Wellness Provider

There are several initiatives that businesses can consider as outlined in the top workplace-wellness trends by the Corporate Health & Wellness Association:

  • Lifestyle Management – Provide flu shots, sleep-management programs, cholesterol screenings, and telehealth visits to help make getting and staying healthy easy.
  • Weight-loss Programs – Offer a range of solutions if possible, from gym memberships to yoga classes, and weight loss memberships to healthy snacks in the lunchroom.
  • Redesign Workspaces – Provide adjustable sit-stand desks or treadmill desks, ergonomic chairs and headsets, and Fitbit trackers to encourage movement throughout the day.
  • Smoking-cessation Programs – Ban smoking in the office and offer smoking-cessation classes to help employees kick the habit permanently.
  • Stress Management Programs – Offer guidance and instruction in activities like meditation, personal finance, elder care, and parenting.

Source:  Business West. Move Along. May 2017. PP32-35.

Learn More: Top Wellness Priorities in 2017 [Infographic]