Keep Your Data Safe: Our Head of Infrastructure and Operations Shares His Top 3 Tips

Keep Your Data Safe: Our Head of Infrastructure and Operations Shares His Top 3 Tips

07/02/2018

by Jesse Braasch

 

It’s rare for a week to go by without news breaking of a data breach at a top company. As such, I continually receive questions about what our Partners can do to reduce their risk of such a breach within their own business. In a previous post, we outlined the biggest threats to data security and privacy in healthcare; today, I want to share what you can do to protect the personal healthcare information (PHI) entrusted to you by your customers or employees from breach or fraud. Here are my top tips:

 

Just get started.

What should you do to keep bad actors away from your systems? My No. 1 data-protection tip for any Partner using our WEX Health Cloud platform, or even pertaining to your own data in your own business, is to get started. Consider how you’re leveraging the existing tools and services already available to you, and you don’t have to rely entirely on your IT team to do so. For instance, our WEX Health Cloud platform has numerous security and fraud prevention features built in that Partners can choose to leverage. These security features aren’t mandated; our Partners need to choose for themselves which they’re going to enable for their use of the system. It comes down to how you train your staff to leverage the tools and services available to them to reduce your risk.

 

Give data security the attention it deserves.

When evaluating SaaS solutions, many companies are most focused on availability or the performance or scale of a solution. That’s important stuff, but not as important as trust. When you bring your business and all your data to a SaaS solution and begin to look at that solution as a service provider, you must trust that the provider can provide security and infrastructure that’s not only as good as what you have now, but much better. Look for any SaaS company you partner with to take that partnership with you very seriously to ensure their services become a seamless extension of the services you provide.

 

Don’t react. Hunt.

In the world of security and fraud prevention, a lot of the technology has been structured around preventing financial and data loss. However, in data security, there’s recently been an important shift in focus away from preventing or reacting to breaches toward actively “hunting” for them. By restructuring your security processes so that you’re concentrated on hunting out a breach and limiting its negative impact rather than preventing it, you’ll ultimately do more to protect yourself and your customers. That’s because it’s not a matter of if a data breach will happen but when and you need to take proactive steps before it does to minimize its overall negative impact. While this sounds scary, this concept is exactly why we all have smoke detectors, sprinkler systems, evacuation procedures, posted exits and fire drills. Those are all proactive measures taken before a fire happens to reduce the damage when it does. To limit the negative outcomes, do your best to prevent, but detect and react fast.

 

For more on the best approach to data security, we invite you to watch our video about data security in the healthcare space:

 


Jesse Braasch

Vice President of Infrastructure and Operations at WEX Health

Jesse Braasch is the Vice President of Infrastructure and Operations at WEX Health, the largest Software as a Service (SaaS) company in the healthcare payment market today. His favorite saying is, “The most dangerous phrase in the English language is, ‘We’ve always done it this way!’” In the ever-changing, always dynamic world of consumer directed healthcare, Jesse’s dedication to innovation and excellence will continue to keep WEX Health at the forefront of the current healthcare revolution.

As the consumer driven healthcare industry grows exponentially, Jesse will help ensure WEX Health’s technical ecosystem has best-in-breed features, stability, security, and quality of service so the company is able to scale in parallel with the industry. Jesse’s passion is delivering creative yet rock solid technologies that truly solve the needs of the customer and enable speed to market.

Regarded as a veteran of the technology industry, Jesse has over twenty years of experience working for industry leading SaaS corporations and Fortune 500 companies. Most recently Jesse was Director of Infrastructure for XRS Corporation, a SaaS company providing trucking fleet management solutions, where he led server, storage, database, and IT operations teams. Prior to working at XRS, Jesse held technical and team leadership positions at Target Corporation, Fair Isaac Corporation, and Travelers Indemnity Company.

After serving in the United States Marine Corps, Jesse earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology from Capella University, and is currently pursuing his Masters of Science degree in Security. Jesse, his wife, and two teenage sons live in Maple Grove, MN, where he is an active volunteer in the community’s youth ice hockey association.

6 Things I Learned at SHRM’s Annual Conference

Our VP of Human Resources: 6 Things I Learned at SHRM’s Annual Conference

06/26/2018

by Sherry Olson

 

Last week, the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) annual conference and expedition brought over 17,000 HR professionals and 3,000 vendors to Chicago for keynotes, sessions and special events. On the exposition floor, 700 exhibitors provided a buffet of HR solutions for every need, with a focus on HR technology, talent acquisition and retention solutions, health, wellness, leadership development and more.

 

In addition to what I learned during the keynotes and sessions, I found significant value in the many opportunities for networking, which gave me a chance to connect personally, share experiences, perspectives and challenges and creatively look at new ways to approach the diverse workforce needs that WEX Health faces every day. I thought these learnings would be valuable for our partners, many of whom work in human resources. What follows are my key takeaways from the conference:

 

  1. Company culture must start in HR: This was reinforced in many of the sessions I attended, with the call to action being that HR must come to understand the strong influence they have on organizational cultures. From recruitment to engagement, the best companies don’t just assess a candidate’s fit; they look for originality (people who challenge others, processes and systems) and focus on assessing and hiring people who can enrich the culture.

 

  1. Change biases through recruiting, benefits/leave and compensation programs: Many initiatives now exist to detect biases in the workplace and to address them, including pay and gender analysis for disparities, enhanced parental and bereavement leave policies, and the use of alternative ways to review and engage candidates in the recruiting process. Human resources professionals need to continue to seek out methods for recognizing and addressing bias.

 

  1. To keep talent, expand your benefit offerings: During the conference, SHRM released its 2018 Employee Benefits survey. Among its key findings, 34 percent of organizations increased their benefit offerings in the last year, with 72 percent citing retention as a reason for doing so and over one-half saying they’ve done it to attract new talent (58 percent) and/or respond to employee feedback (54 percent). Companies are also putting a higher priority on benefits today because of historic low unemployment rates and the number of millennials entering the workforce.

 

  1. Employers are more likely to offer employees additional health-related benefits, including consumer-directed healthcare: A statistic from the 2018 Employee Benefits survey revealed that the share of employers offering consumer-directed healthcare plans linked to health savings accounts (HSAs) increased to 56 percent this year—up from 45 percent in 2014. Given the nature of HSA portability, the tax savings these accounts provide, their use in helping to mitigate first dollar costs and to create retirement accounts for the future, HSAs will continue to be a popular topic.

 

  1. Wellness wins: Of organizations that increased their benefits offerings in the last 12 months, 44 percent increased their wellness benefits, according to the SHRM survey. Many of the sessions I attended demonstrated how wellness is being customized, as employers offer to help their employees manage their stress, miss less work and reduce costly health conditions by providing fitness center subsidies, quiet rooms, online stress management and wellness challenges.

 

  1. The future of employee benefits: Emerging and leading-edge benefits include student debt repayment programs, paid leave benefits (parental leave, expanded VTO, review of PTO limits), work life/convenience benefits, financial/career benefits (incentives, awards) and professional/career development benefits (memberships, certifications, licenses, counseling, coaching)—all aimed at higher employee retention. Of special note, the SHRM survey found that the prevalence of paid parental leave increased significantly between 2016 and 2018 for every type of parental leave assessed, including maternity, paternity, adoption, foster child and surrogacy leave.

 

As an HR leader, I’ve returned to WEX from the SHRM conference feeling much more informed, inspired and equipped with tools to solve my organization’s greatest challenges.

 

For more on benefits administration, read our post about why employers should care about their employees’ financial stability.

 


Sherry Olson WEX Health VP of Human Resources

Sherry Olson

Senior Director of Product Management at WEX Health

Sherry specializes in implementation for human resources policies and practices, benefits, rewards, performance management and HR efficiencies. During her 20-plus years in the corporate world, Sherry has served in HR positions in healthcare, high-technology software development and banking. She holds designations as a SHRM Senior Certified Professional, a Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR), Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), a certified Discovery Insights Practitioner and career advisor, President-Elect for the Agassiz Valley Human Resources Association (AVHRA) organization.


Where Mobile Meets Financial & Physical Health

Where Mobile Meets Financial & Physical Health

06/20/2018

by Jackie Dornfeld

 

The financial and physical health of many Americans is alarming. About 40 percent of U.S. adults cannot cover a $400 emergency expense1, and less than three percent of Americans live a “healthy lifestyle”2.  In addition, according to the 2018 WEX Health Clear Insights Report, most U.S. workers find healthcare confusing, spend less than 30 minutes annually making benefit decisions, and are increasingly concerned about out-of-pocket medical expenses today and in retirement. All of this can result in a vicious cycle of financial insecurity, leading to stress and chronic disease, and ending in devastating medical expenses and financial ruin. Frightening.

 

Building Resilience

To help break this spiral, consumers need support in developing resilience against health and financial stress. According to the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI), helping consumers use good judgement and a strategy to spend, save, borrow, and plan can help build financial health:

Source:  CFSI, Insuring the Way to a Financially Resilient America, June 2018

 

 Enter Consumer-Driven Health and Mobile Technology

A tax advantaged, consumer-driven health account such as a health savings account (HSA), health reimbursement arrangement (HRA), or flexible spending account (FSA) accessed using mobile technology is one specific path to resilience. For instance, paying for qualified medical expenses with HSA funds can yield savings of 22 to 40 percent. And, with 79 percent of U.S. consumers now owning a smartphone3, many consumers prefer using mobile apps to manage both their personal finances and health benefits.  

 

Building the Right Consumer Experience

The WEX Health Cloud Mobile App is an example of how key features can be delivered that help consumers use their consumer-driven health account to spend, save, borrow and plan.

With the WEX Health Cloud Mobile App, Consumers Can…

  • Spend:
    • Use fingerprint login and enhanced authentication options to:
      • Pay bills using HSA, HRA, or FSA funds
      • Snap a photo of a receipt and submit with a new or existing claim
      • Request an HSA distribution
    • Save:
      • Contribute funds to an HSA or FSA to build savings
      • View HSA investment details to gauge progress against savings goals
    • Borrow:
      • Check account balances including HSA Advance, which is a WEX Health feature that allows employees to borrow against future HSA balances to cover unplanned expenses
    • Plan:
      • Scan a product bar code to determine eligibility as a qualified medical expense
      • View “Account Snapshot” graphics to assess status of account details

 

 

Looking to the Future

As consumers become more sophisticated and their digital expectations grow, opportunities exist to enhance and personalize the mobile experience even further with price transparency tools, calculators, targeted messaging, guidance tools, fitness resources, and more. By delivering mobile innovations that engage consumers in managing their financial and physical health, we empower better decision-making and accountability for millions of Americans.

 

To learn more about consumer attitudes and expectations regarding healthcare expenses, preferences for using online tools and mobile apps, and more, read the 2018 WEX Health Clear Insights Report.

 

Footnotes:

  1. Report on the Economic Well-being of U.S. Households, 2017
  2. Healthy Lifestyle Characteristics, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 2016
  3. ComScore, 2016

 


Jackie Dornfeld

Senior Director of Product Management at WEX Health

Jackie Dornfeld is the Senior Director of Product Management at WEX Health, responsible for annual product roadmap planning and the research, definition, and launch of new products including the WEX Health Cloud Mobile App.  She has over 25 years in health care including leadership positions in the areas of product development, product management, marketing and strategic planning.  Prior to joining WEX Health in 2008, Jackie held roles in the TPA, health plan, consulting, and hospital industries and is currently active on the Membership Committee of the Women’s Health Leadership Trust.  Jackie received a BA from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, and an MBA from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN.  


Observations from CFSI EMERGE Day 2-3: The Virtuous Cycle of Financial Health

Observations from CFSI EMERGE Day 2-3: The Virtuous Cycle of Financial Health

06/19/2018

by Tracy Faleide

 

It has been nearly a week since I soaked up the last bit of California sunshine outside and thought-provoking content and connections inside during closing sessions at the Center for Financial Services Innovation’s annual conference, CFSI EMERGE. Each request from colleagues to “provide a quick recap” reminds me of another insight that can spark innovative solutioning, resource we can communicate across the network of WEX Health Partners, or quote that could inspire broad mind shifts.

 

Inclusion Is a Choice

The CFSI team brought together an impressive and inspiring group of keynote speakers for this year’s forum. Almost all of them spoke about inclusion in one way or another. In all six of the 2018 Financial Solutions Lab winners I saw new products built by people who found ingenious ways to serve populations whose needs were not previously being met by mainstream financial institutions. Industry leaders Colin Walsh of Varo Money and Jacqueline Reses of Square Inc. shared how their respective missions of making money management tools and business loans easy and readily available to young people and small business owners has radically shifted mind sets and approaches. Dan Schulman, president and CEO of PayPal, inspired us with his stories of growing up with nothing, staying in a state of empathy by spending time living on the streets of New York City as a homeless person, and the responsibility and moral obligation that business leaders have to be forces of good in the world.

 

Fast Money/Slow Money

Always on the lookout for “aha” moments, I certainly was not disappointed at this event. Naveen Agarwal, chief customer officer at Prudential, explained that we all engage in “fast-money” transactions – $18 here, $30 there, $6 at the coffee drive-thru. They are quick, easy and frequent. We don’t give these transactions much thought. And then there are “slow-money” transactions like mortgages or college loans. These kinds of transactions are stressful, requiring collateral, credit checks, co-signers, legal reviews, and dozens of signatures. We’ve been programmed to avoid slow-money transactions, and this automatically informs our financial behaviors, such as renting versus buying to build up equity. When we can apply design thinking across the industry and simplify slow-money transactions to the point where they are as simple as fast-money transactions, we might all be more inclined to make wiser financial decisions.

 

Volatility Is the Real Income Problem

Daryl Collins with Bankable Frontier Associates relayed how similar her interviews were with small family-run business owners in Nigeria and Kentucky. Both had six to eight sources of income, about a third of them unpredictable. Both managed complex juggling acts, prioritizing which bills to pay and which to delay, deftly moving funds between several accounts, and somehow getting by. After having hundreds of these conversations in places all around the world, Daryl discovered a few universal needs—evening out the income streams and making temporary bridges or “floats” available to get through the tight times. I was very encouraged to hear that so many of the new products being launched by industry leaders like MasterCard, Fiserv, PayPal and Square are all about addressing these universal needs—for all people, not just those who already are accustomed to having ready access to financial services…and stability.

 

Thank you for coming along with me on this quick tour of the CFSI EMERGE Financial Health Forum. I am even more excited about the many ways WEX Health can help advance the cause of improved financial health due to our unique position at the intersection of healthcare and financial services. To read my observations on day one at EMERGE, read our post here. And for more information about the Center for Financial Services Innovation, see www.cfsinnovation.org. [https://cfsinnovation.org/]

For more news and insights from WEX Health-ers, follow us on Twitter at @wexhealthinc.

 


Tracy-Faleide WEX Health

 

Tracy Faleide

Marketing Lead at WEX Health

As Marketing Lead at WEX Health, Tracy provides direction on high-level messaging and thought leadership strategies. Tracy and her team are accountable for product marketing and ongoing internal, external and Partner communications. Although Tracy is new to WEX Health, having joined the team in late 2017, she is not new to healthcare or technology, having held several leadership roles in marketing, communications and partner/customer experience in healthcare operational management and business management software and technology companies over the past 30 years.

Observations from CFSI EMERGE Day 1: The Health-Wealth Connection

06/08/2018

by Tracy Faleide

 

I’m reporting from sunny Los Angeles, where the Center for Financial Services Innovation’s big annual conference, CFSI EMERGE, has convened more than 800 finhealth leaders and innovators across sectors to explore financial health. This is WEX Health’s first time at EMERGE, and I’m in full-on learning mode here and loving CFSI’s mission to support day-to-day financial systems that build long-term resilience and opportunity for Americans, in particular the unbanked and the underbanked. CFSI believes that finance can be a force for good in people’s lives, and that serving the needs of consumers responsibly is ultimately more profitable for the financial services industry—values that resonate with WEX Health, too.

Continue reading

5 Surprising Things You Can Use Your HSA to Pay for This Summer

5 Surprising Things You Can Use Your HSA to Pay for This Summer

06/01/2018

 

With open enrollment many months behind us, few people think much about their health savings account (HSA) during the summer. But now is a great time to take a fresh look at which expenses these accounts can cover, as you can use an HSA to pay for many of your summer essentials—and not all of them are obvious.

 

The IRS defines medical expenses as “the costs of diagnosis, cure, mitigation,

treatment, or prevention of disease, and the costs for treatments affecting any part or function of the body.” As you gear up for summer travels, remember that these things are considered HSA-eligible products and services:

 

  1. Sunscreen: You can buy thousands of over-the-counter products with your HSA, and one of them is sunscreen/sunblock, so lather it on. Lip balm with an SPF of 15+ is also covered.

 

  1. Prescription Sunglasses: You likely already know that contacts and prescription eyeglasses are a qualified medical expense, but you may not have realized that this also includes prescription sunnies needed for medical reasons.

 

  1. Allergy Testing: All those summer blooms can wreak havoc on your sinuses; feel free to use your HSA to test for allergies to pollen, ragweed or anything else.

 

  1. Band-Aids: Your boo-boos are all covered under your HSA this summer—whether you’re in the market for bandages or Band-Aids, gauze or first aid kits.

 

  1. Medical care outside the U.S.: Worst case scenario, you’re out of the country on a vacation and require medical care. You can use your HSA to pay for treatment in a foreign country as well as any prescribed drug you purchase and consume in another country if the drug is legal in both the other country and the U.S. Further, you can include amounts you pay for transportation to another city if a trip is primarily for, and essential to, receiving medical services. You can also include lodging for the person traveling with the person receiving medical care. However, you can’t include in medical expenses a trip or vacation taken merely for a change in environment, improvement of morale or general improvement of health, even if the trip is made on the advice of a doctor.

 

Things not eligible for HSA coverage: summer camps (even for dependents incapable of self-care), and dancing or swimming lessons (even if they are recommended by a doctor). For the IRS’s full list of qualified medical expenses, visit their website here.

 

Did you know most consumers are enrolling in HSAs to save for their future healthcare needs? Read findings from our new 2018 WEX Health Clear Insights report here.

Effective Uses of Personalization in Healthcare Benefits

Let’s Get Personal: Effective Uses of Personalization in Healthcare Benefits

05/22/2018

by Lisa Goldkamp

 

If you have not read the new WEX Health Clear Insights report, I urge you to take a few minutes to do so. The report is the result of a recently commissioned research study conducted to gain a deeper understanding of employees’ attitudes about healthcare benefits. One of the first things I noticed is that three-quarters of the respondents said they spend less than an hour during open enrollment evaluating the different healthcare options offered by employers. That’s not a lot of time to devote to important decisions that impact both physical and financial wellness. This indicates that there is a very short window of time during open enrollment during which to educate employees about their healthcare benefits and to impact their choices.

 

So, how do we make every one of those minutes count? Our survey respondents indicated that “getting personal” will work best, and they ranked the effectiveness of several types of materials and tools available to aid with personalization. In nearly 13 years at WEX Health, I have had the pleasure of working with hundreds of benefits administrators, consultants and advisors. One of the universal challenges these audiences have talked with me about is the education barrier that exists between consumers and healthcare benefit options. I would argue that, although our findings regarding timeframes spent by employees during open enrollment are likely a contributing factor, they support the theory that benefits education must be highly focused and occur on an ongoing basis.

 

“…benefits education must be highly focused and occur on an ongoing basis.”

 

Personalization Can Give Employees an Ongoing, Guided Tour
Think about the volume of information that employees get during open enrollment. It certainly can be overwhelming. Human nature tells us more is better, but in this case the reverse is true. People can only consume the information that is relevant to them in the present. By thinking about employees’ use of benefits as a journey, or a tour, employers can start creating multi-pronged personalized touchpoints before, during and after the enrollment period, using WEX Health Cloud Advanced Messaging capabilities.

 

Here are some examples to consider:

  1. Prior to and during open enrollment, present employees with engaging graphical images and easy to digest information about benefit options that they are not currently enrolled in, and that might help them to save money.
  2. Use specific criteria to target individuals with “people like me” messaging. For instance, provide information about the benefits of adding a LPFSA (Limited Purpose Flexible Spending Arrangement) exclusively to individuals that are have incurred dental expenses and currently have an HSA that is not paired with a LPFSA.
  3. On an ongoing basis, educate consumers about the benefits that they did select. For example, employees who are age 55 and above can be shown eye-catching reminders that they are eligible to make catch-up HSA contributions.

 

The education component must continue well beyond capturing the enrollment. The key is to find ways to help employees see themselves in the examples they receive. The encouraging news is that, while employees do not spend a great deal of time reviewing materials during open enrollment, they do want and are open to help from their employers in becoming better prepared for healthcare expenses.

 

I am explaining some of the ways WEX Health Cloud can be used to create personalized employee experiences in a webinar on Tuesday, June 12, at 1 p.m. Central Time. I’ll be joined by Jeff Bakke, chief strategy officer at WEX Health, who will share more perspective on our research findings. Register here for this 30-minute webinar. I hope you join us!

 


Lisa Goldkamp

Lisa Goldkamp

Vice President of Partner Development and Sales Solutions at WEX Health

As the Vice President of Partner Development and Sales Solutions, Lisa leads the Pre-sales Enablement and Partner Development teams. Lisa strives to ensure every Partner, whether sales distribution or administrative, has the tools to succeed and grow their business through their partnership with WEX Health. Lisa and her team members consult with prospective and current partners as deep technology and solutions experts regarding how the WEX Health offerings match up with their specific needs. Since joining our team in 2005, Lisa has worked with hundreds of partners as they have evaluated our solutions. She is a passionate member of our community who frequently presents at industry events and has used her technology and healthcare expertise to help WEX Health and our partners optimize their growth potential.

Prior to joining WEX Health, Lisa was a sales executive for a national IT training company, which is where she developed a passion for utilizing technology to solve problems and create new business opportunities.

HDHPs: Good for More than Physical Health

HDHPs: Good for More than Physical Health

05/17/2018

by Chad Wilkins, executive vice president of Webster Bank and president of HSA Bank

 

At HSA Bank, a division of Webster Bank, N.A., our goal is to empower consumers to make the most of their healthcare dollars. We work to inspire consumers to own their health by simplifying the health account experience and utilizing cutting-edge technology and innovation to help them make sure they’re on their way to a healthy financial future.

 

To that end, we recently released the HSA Bank Health & Wealth IndexSM for 2018, a new report that measures consumers’ financial and physical health. More than 1,000 U.S. adults were surveyed about their health plan enrollment status, health practices, ability to pay for health-related expenses, and confidence in their own health and wealth.

 

The results showed that while consumers are taking a more proactive approach to their physical health, that’s not necessarily the case with their financial health. In fact, 41 percent never save money for future healthcare expenses, and 35 percent never consider cost when selecting health services.

 

The good news is that consumers enrolled in high deductible health plans (HDHP) scored in the optimally engaged category. This was largely due to these consumers being more likely to frequently save speci­fically for future healthcare expenses and consider cost when selecting health services.

Consumer-directed health plans can play a role in keeping consumers both physically and financially healthy.

 

Are you enrolled in an HDHP? Do you have a health savings account (HSA)? What is your health and wealth index score? Find out here.

 


Chad Wilkins HSA Bank

Chad Wilkins

Executive vice president of Webster Bank and president of HSA Bank

Chad Wilkins serves as an executive vice president of Webster Bank and president of HSA Bank where he is responsible for leading the organization and its people toward sustainable growth well into the future. Chad joined HSA Bank in 2014, bringing with him more than 25 years of experience in the banking and health insurance industries.

 

Read the full HSA Bank Health & Wealth Index here.

Most Consumers Are Enrolling in HSAs to Save for Their Future Healthcare Needs

Most Consumers Are Enrolling in HSAs to Save for Their Future Healthcare Needs

05/16/2018

 

When faced with high deductibles, more women with breast cancer are postponing getting the care they need, according to a recent New York Times article, which profiles a woman named Pam Leonard who put off going to get a lump in her breast looked at for weeks because she feared the cost of both her deductible and medical bills.

 

A study published earlier this year in the Journal of Clinical Oncology supports this, finding that women enrolled in high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) experience delays in diagnostic breast imaging, breast biopsy, early-stage breast cancer diagnosis and chemotherapy initiation (by an average of seven months). Dr. J. Frank Wharam, a Harvard researcher and one of the study’s authors, told the Times that unlike people with chronic illnesses like diabetes, women diagnosed with breast cancer are usually not prepared for the significant expenses associated with it.

 

Unexpected healthcare costs are a significant concern

WEX Health’s new Clear Insights report supports this; a quarter of our survey respondents said they forgo healthcare services all the time or often due to associated out-of-pocket expenses. It should also come as no surprise that nearly two-thirds of those surveyed are somewhat or very worried about unexpected out-of-pocket costs of current healthcare needs or illnesses, and of those people, nearly half are also worried about the cost of healthcare in retirement.

 

HDHP plan participants feel they make smarter health decisions

More than three-quarters (82 percent) of those who participate in HDHPs told us they either somewhat or strongly agree that managing their health savings account (HSA) helps them make smarter health decisions.

 

HSAs provide relief for some

The primary reason our survey respondents enrolled in an HSAs in addition to their HDHP was to save for future healthcare needs (36 percent) and to have an ability to save for out-of-pocket and/or unexpected medical costs (29 percent). If faced with an unexpected health cost of more than $1,000, a third of the respondents with HDHPs say they would use their HSA account.

 

Education is key: Employees need help figuring out how much money to set aside

Since our survey respondents said they could use help figuring out how much money to set aside for their healthcare expenses, our report also called employers to help their employees set and achieve their financial goals with financial planning and management tools. For example, employers can gauge their employees’ capacity to pay for out-of-pocket expenses at any given time by viewing their overall Health Financial Viability Index on the WEX Health Cloud Employer Portal. And using the HSA Healthcare Savings Goal and Tracker, employees can gain more control over their healthcare finances. The Investment Dashboard, which is available on the WEX Health Cloud Consumer Portal, also makes it easier for workers to track their HSA investments. And since some workers are new to HDHPs and the stress that can accompany unpredictable out-of-pocket expenses, employers may choose to provide a safety net by enabling HSA Advance functionality that allows employees to borrow against future HSA balances to cover unplanned expenses.

 

To learn more about our 2018 WEX Health Clear Insights report findings, register here for our upcoming 30-minute webinar on Tuesday, June 12, at 1 p.m. Central Time. We’ll be sharing calls to action based on the types of experiences and communications employees expect and prefer as they work to better manage their healthcare benefits and expenses.

Why Employers Should Care About Their Employees’ Financial Stability

Why Employers Should Care About Their Employees’ Financial Stability

05/10/2018

by Jeff Bakke

 

Last week at WEX Health Partner Conference 2018, I had the opportunity to take part in a very important conversation with the industry’s leading benefits administrators, health plan providers, financial institutions and employers—and it wasn’t about technology. It was about the state of financial health in our nation, why it matters to us and all the tools we have available today to empower employers as they take on a bigger role in helping their employees achieve financial stability.

 

In our new WEX Health Clear Insights report on Easing Workers’ Concerns about the Rising Cost of Healthcare, we found that two-thirds of those surveyed are somewhat or very worried about unexpected out-of-pocket costs associated with their current healthcare needs or illnesses. Nearly half of those people are also worried about the cost of healthcare in retirement. And a quarter of respondents said they forgo healthcare services all the time or often due to out-of-pocket expenses.

 

To help us better understand the financial stressors faced by U.S. workers, we asked Sarah Gordon, chief strategy officer with the Center for Financial Services Innovation, to join our conversation. Sarah revealed a few key findings from their 2017 study on employee financial health.

  • One in three employees reports that issues with personal finances have been a distraction at work.
  • Workers with high financial stress are two times as likely to use sick time when not ill.

 

During his opening keynote at Partner Conference, Jeff Young, WEX’s president of Health, played a video featuring Jan Pynappel, vice president of consumer directed health at Fifth Third Bank, who shared many ways employers find value in the WEX Health Cloud Employer Dashboard. Jan reported that employers like to offer employees tools like the HSA Healthcare Savings Goal Calculator because they want their employees to be successful when they retire in their later years. It’s assuring to them to see that their employees are saving toward their established goals.

 

Other employers may feel that delving into workers’ financial matters is too personal. However, we found in our Clear Insights survey results that employees want and are open to more help from their employers, especially in the areas of determining the amount of money to set aside each month to cover deductibles and to put into their accounts overall.

 

Register for our upcoming 30-minute webinar on Tuesday, June 12, at 1 p.m. Central to learn more about our 2018 WEX Health Clear Insights report findings and calls to action based on the types of experiences and communications employees expect and prefer as they work to better manage their healthcare benefits and expenses.

Register Here

 


Jeff Bakke WEX Health

Jeff Bakke

Chief Strategy Officer at WEX Health

At WEX Health, Jeff oversees corporate strategy, distribution strategy, and strategic partnerships. A specialist at identifying and capturing business opportunities, Jeff has built and led innovative high-performance teams, developed new products and markets, and developed large strategic clients with exceptional recurring revenue results. He has been instrumental in WEX Health’s focus on the emerging exchange market as well as a continued emphasis on HSA market opportunities.

Jeff’s career includes working at SafeNet, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Medica Health Plans, Allianz and American Express. He earned a degree in electrical engineering from University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.