Monthly Archives:
September 2018

The Impact of Sleep on Productivity—and Other Health-Wealth Considerations Employers Need to Know

The Impact of Sleep on Productivity—and Other Health-Wealth Considerations Employers Need to Know

09/26/2018

by Phil Kading

#HRTechConf

 

Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos tries to get at least eight hours of sleep a night because it helps him make far better decisions, while Elon Musk’s reported 120-hour workweek is taking a toll on his health and on the soundness of his business decisions. The respective sleeping habits of these two prominent leaders is something I heard referenced several times earlier this month at the 2018 Human Resource Executive Technology Conference & Exposition (HR Tech). This got me thinking about how, early in my career, working an all-nighter meant you put in super long hours to meet a deadline. It also meant you moved up a few notches on your company’s unofficial respect ranking. But today, an all-nighter means sleeping for at least eight hours so you can be your best self. Alas, most Americans get only 6.9 hours on a typical work night.

Where is all this talk of sleep (or the lack thereof) coming from? Its growing place in conversations among HR professionals has everything to do with the industry’s focus on holistic employee wellness, with many HR Tech sessions and conversations centering on the “health-wealth connection” and how employers can use technology—and even highly lo-fi solutions such as allowing your employees to nap on the job—to build wellness in both areas.

In a Thursday morning keynote, speakers Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post and Jennifer Morgan of SAP shared that roughly 70 percent of U.S. employees feel burned out.

With nearly 8 of 10 companies identifying stress as a top workforce health risk, there is widespread recognition that something needs to change. There’s where technology comes into play. Companies are looking for technology to help their leaders and employees make better decisions and lifestyle choices.

 

Here are four more top wellness-related technology solutions that companies today are considering:

Artificial intelligence (AI) is being used to enhance decision-making and self-service. Because the low unemployment rate is making it more difficult to recruit the best talent, companies are looking to AI to apply advanced logic to find and screen potential candidates based on role-specific criteria.

Companies are stretching the definition of talent management to include ongoing talent engagement. Knowing that healthy employees are more likely to be productive and innovative contributors, companies are seeking technology solutions that help keep employees engaged from recruitment through performance management and beyond.

Leading players in payroll/professional employer organizations are moving into the human capital management space by expanding their offerings beyond payroll. Companies like Paychex and Paylocity are adding functionality in the areas of talent acquisition, recruitment and engagement.

More employers see HSAs as a “health and wealth” planning and savings tool for employees. Embedded in the many sessions and conversations about the evolving landscape of employee benefits were examples of the ways tax-free HSA dollars help employees save on healthcare costs while easing anxieties surrounding planning for out-of-pocket and unexpected medical costs. Several speakers and solution providers at HR Tech made the connection between reducing worries over financial challenges and thriving talent engagement programs.

 

For the many employer Partners WEX Health serves, I see these trends further emphasizing the importance of having deep, data-driven insight about their employees. Then comes the part where employers have to put those insights to use to deliver flexible and innovative benefit plans that encourage wellness, deeper levels of engagement and more “all-nighters” of worry-free sleep.

Want to learn more about Americans’ financial wellness? Read our posts about how excessive healthcare costs are reducing retirement contributions and how more than half of employers now offer HSAs to help with recruitment and retention.

 


Phil Kading WEX Health

Phil Kading

Senior Director, Strategic Business Development at WEX Health

Phil leads the Business Development Team in driving enterprise business development campaigns and strategic partnerships that deliver innovative and incremental growth of consumer driven health solutions.  Phil has over 15 years’ experience in the healthcare and IT arenas spanning multiple sales, marketing and business development leadership roles.  Prior to his tenure at WEX Health, Phil spent 10 plus years at UnitedHealth Group where he had progressively enhanced leadership roles focused in commercial health insurance, wellness and data analytics highlighted by running client engagement for Optum Health’s Innovation Lab.  In addition, Phil spent 2 years in health insurance and pharmacy benefit management consulting delivering analytical consultation to large employers. Phil received his BA in Business Administration- Human Resource Management and his MBA in Finance from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN.


Get Inside Their Heads: What Consumers Care About During Open Enrollment

Get Inside Their Heads: What Consumers Care About During Open Enrollment

09/25/2018

by Angela Greenhalgh

Originally posted on BenefitsPro.com

 

Americans are frustrated with the cost and complexity of health care. And since employers provide health insurance coverage for the majority of the population (roughly 56 percent of Americans), disenchanted consumers are increasingly looking to their employers for help managing health care expenses and weighing their benefits options. In turn, employers are calling on benefit brokers to help educate their employees and to supply tools to engage them with their benefits. The ultimate goal: to empower employees to make smarter health care decisions.

To enhance your approach with trusted clients and forge relationships with new employer groups, it’s helpful to begin with an understanding of what their employees value most and are most concerned with today. Here are four insights to guide you as we move into open enrollment season:

 

1)   Employees enroll in high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) to save for future needs.

In 2018, WEX Health surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. workers with employer-provided health insurance. Among the most interesting of the findings, published in the 2018 WEX Health Clear Insights report: Even though more than three-quarters of those who participate in HDHPs think that managing their health care spending account helps them make smarter health decisions, there’s still a knowledge gap that needs to be addressed. In fact, although survey participants primarily intend to use health savings accounts (HSAs) as a savings vehicle, many aren’t aware of their full savings potential and aren’t aware that they can invest their HSA funds in stocks, mutual funds and other investment vehicles. During open enrollment this year, it’s important to not only educate employees on the benefits of engaging with their HSA but to provide tips and tricks on how to make the most out of it.

 

2)   Employees’ satisfaction with benefits can be enhanced through personalized experiences.

By tailoring educational tools and experiences to employees’ specific needs, brokers and employers are better able to make every minute with employees count. The Vitals for Change Scorecard, a guide for employers from Mercer and Catalyst for Payment Reform, found that one-third of senior leaders are now making efforts to understand what their different workforce segments or demographic groups value in terms of benefits, programs and policies. Understanding the employee population and working closely with employers to tailor benefits design can lead to more employees enrolled in programs that fit their needs, ultimately leading to better satisfaction.

 

3)   They prefer online and mobile tools for education and engagement.

Most senior leaders believe that programs encouraging employee engagement with health and well-being are an important means of achieving their overall HR and business objectives, according to the Vitals for Change Scorecard. But what’s the best way to engage employees, especially when they’re inundated daily with information from several sources and devices? Knowing which online and mobile tools and resources work best for different groups of employees can make a big difference in the effectiveness of education and engagement programs. When asked to select all the tools and resources they would find most helpful, employees who participated in the WEX Health survey ranked highest those personalized online tools that compare plans, estimate costs and calculate savings. In particular, employees say they need help figuring out how much money to set aside to cover deductibles and to put in their HDHP account. Post-enrollment, providing personalized messaging can help employees stick to their savings goals.

 

4) But don’t disregard the value of an in-person presentation or consultation.

While it may be tempting to discard all of the more traditional ways of relaying benefits information to employees, it’s important to recognize the diverse settings and needs of employee populations and to consider those factors when delivering educational content. If, for example, you’re delivering a benefits presentation in an industrial setting like a manufacturing plant floor versus in a large auditorium, some of the “old-school” methods and tools—i.e., handouts and discussion—remain the most helpful. And in the WEX Health survey, respondents selected fact sheets as the most useful of all educational resources. In-person presentations during which employees can get immediate answers from human resources and benefits administration representatives also ranked high, with more passive videos and webinars ranking lower.

 

Armed with this information, benefits administrators and brokers can help employers develop personalized engagement strategies that will result in higher plan satisfaction, retention and overall increased revenue—beginning with open enrollment education and lasting throughout the year.

 


Angela Greenhalgh

Angela Greenhalgh

Vice President of Vertical Sales at WEX Health

Angela Greenhalgh has over 25 years working in health care and supporting the needs of employers, health plans, consumers, and members. She has been with WEX Health for almost 2 years where she focuses on educating and nurturing relationships with brokers and consultants. Previously, Angela spent nearly 9 years at Truven Health Analytics (now part of IBM Watson Health) where she worked to solve the data analytic, consumer engagement, and data warehousing needs of those same constituents. Her varied positions and collaborations with many brokers and consultants has fostered an understanding of the powerful role trusted confidants and relationship building plays when assisting employers with their benefits designs.


Data Talks. Are You Listening

Data Talks. Are You Listening?

09/18/2018

by Becky Kinder

 

At the World Congress Health Plan Consumer Experience and Retention Summit last week, I spoke alongside two other panelists about the importance of listening to the many ways that data talks. My fellow panelists shared that by listening to data extracted from their call center, they had been able to improve the experience of their members—many of whom had questions about how much of their health plan deductible they had met. A simple analysis of call data allowed them to significantly improve an online experience for their members. When paired with the stat from our 2018 WEX Health Clear Insights report that nearly two-thirds of employees are somewhat or very worried about unexpected healthcare needs and associated costs, you get a sense that people can have high levels of anxiety about pre-deductible and unexpected out-of-pocket spending.

Data-listening made simple and actionable

At WEX Health, we work hard every day to help consumers be better prepared—and less worried—about healthcare expenses. One of the ways we do this is by listening to the vast amount of data that’s collected as consumers interact with their benefit accounts.

Data is only useful if you have the right tools to make it actionable.

 

To help our partners leverage data to guide consumers to take the next step, we built powerful analytics tools that reveal useful insights for us and our partners: administrators, employers and consumers.

The data-driven insights found within WEX Health Cloud can be used by our partners to drive a consumer experience that is highly personable and relevant to the next step that a consumer may need to consider. That next step can be small, like contributing through payroll to a health savings account (HSA) or enrolling in a tax-saving dependent care account. Or it can be very daunting—like deciding how and whom to pay when you or a family member succumb to illness. Regardless of where consumers are in their healthcare journey, we want to be there with technology that helps make a difference in their lives.

Using data to personalize outreach to different consumer groups

Listening to data is also important when it comes to understanding how to personalize and reach different consumer segments. For instance, by analyzing aggregate consumers’ interaction with our portals and mobile apps, we found the 35 – 44 age group was more engaged than the 18 – 25 age group. This was a bit of a surprise to some who assumed that the younger population of users would be more likely to use these online tools. Armed with this information, you would want to vary the experience. Online campaigns and engagement may be preferred for the older segment, while outbound phone calls, employer-sponsored events or more interactive experiences may work better for younger audiences. This example is also a good reminder that we must listen to data with “open ears” to avoid missing insights that don’t map to our preconceived notions.

Data inevitably reveals a wealth of ideas that you can translate into action. I’m excited for what WEX Health will uncover as we continue to listen to data, and I’m even more excited about what we will be able to deliver into the hands of consumers through our continuous study. My hope is that we will reduce stress and anxiety and help consumers feel better about their financial wellness.

 

If you have not yet seen the 2018 WEX Health Clear Insights report, you can download it using this link. Also, see this recent blog post exploring the ways that WEX Health Cloud capabilities can be used to analyze, segment and effectively engage with consumers.


What Is a QSEHRA? by Becky Kinder

Becky Kinder

Director, Product Management at WEX Health

As a seasoned member of our Product Management team, Becky drives the definition and development of features for several different functional areas of the software, serving as the voice of our partners, employers, and consumers to our development teams. Specific areas of focus include notional accounts, debit card, admin operations, and the consumer and employer portals. Becky has over 15 years’ experience collaborating on the delivery of technology solutions for the IT and healthcare industries. Since joining the team in 2007, she has defined and launched hundreds of features on WEX Health Cloud platforms.

 

How Healthcare Expenses Are Putting American Workers’ Retirement in Peril

How Healthcare Expenses Are Putting American Workers’ Retirement in Peril

09/11/2018

 

The old and faded American Dream version of retirement calls up sun-drenched images of fun and leisure, and perhaps even ideals about reinvention and new beginnings. But the reality today is much more ominous: Looming retirement is more likely to evoke Americans’ anxiety and/or to serve as an indicator of our naivety (numerous studies show that most of us are terribly unequipped for retirement, but not necessarily aware of it).

In the last couple of weeks, WEX Health has been tracking two new reports, each of which unpack the ways in which healthcare’s rising costs in particular are imperiling retirement for so many Americans. “Health Care USA: A Cancer on the American Dream,” co-released by Willis Towers Watson and the Council for Affordable Health Coverage, and “Preparing for Tomorrow by Fixing Today—Helping Low- and Moderate-Income Americans Thrive in Retirement,” released by the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI), both contained some key takeaways for WEX Health Partners:

 

 

Excessive healthcare costs are reducing employers’ contributions to retirement benefits.

According to the Health Care USA report, compensation for most workers grew between 2000 and 2010, but during that same time period health premiums and the cost of retirement benefits grew 2.25 and 3.25 times the 1990s rates, respectively.

In this report, Willis Towers Watson estimates that employer allocations to health and retirement benefits in 2001 were 41.9 percent for health and 58.1 percent for retirement. By 2015, the split was in the other direction: 63.5 percent for health benefits and 36.5 percent for retirement benefits. As a result, between 2010 and 2015, employers’ average hourly contributions to retirement plans declined by $0.22 compared to the prior decade.

 

 

The situation is worse for people with low and moderate incomes.

The United States is home to 6.4 million seniors who live below the poverty line. The new report from CFSI takes a look at the challenges faced by Americans living at, or even right above, the poverty line. According to Census Bureau data, the typical household that earns less than $67,200 a year has no retirement savings. And only 19 percent of Americans with low and moderate incomes (LMI) say they could make ends meet for at least six months, much less long enough to sustain them during retirement.

 

It’s not necessarily that Americans are less prepared than we once were for retirement; rather, it’s that we once didn’t have to be so prepared for it.

 

We used to be able to count on employer-sponsored defined benefit plans to supply most of our income during retirement, along with income streams from Social Security and our accumulated individual savings. That’s certainly not the case anymore. CFSI data shows that 27 percent of Americans report having less than $1,000 saved for retirement.

 

 

Financial services innovators are needed to educate and empower Americans to prepare for retirement.

CFSI calls on financial services providers to help LMI retirees enjoy a financially healthier retirement by developing ideas and solutions that rethink the user experience, customer service, marketing and distribution from the consumer’s point of view.

 WEX Health’s guiding purpose to “simplify the business of healthcare” is far more than a tagline. As a proud member of the CFSI Financial Health Network, we are partnering with CFSI to find more ways to make it easier for individuals to better prepare for healthcare expenses and retirement. Learn more about CFSI and the CFSI Financial Health Network here.