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Benefits Education

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.


5 Reasons WEX Health Is a Great Place to Work

08/27/2018

by Sherry Olson

 

How does WEX Health simplify the business of healthcare? With the help of great people. By the end of this year, we anticipate hiring at least 50 more creators, innovators and leaders to join our staff. To accommodate our continued growth, we’ll have positions to fill across our offices. And on the heels of our very successful WEX Health Career Fair, I want to tell you what sets WEX Health apart as an employer and why you may want to consider joining our team:

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Brokers, Look for an HSA Provider Who Does These 4 Things

Brokers, Look for an HSA Provider Who Does These 4 Things

08/14/2018

by Angela Greenhalgh

Originally posted on BenefitsPro.com

 

When securing new employer group clients, a strong HSA vendor can be one of a broker’s greatest allies. Not only can the right vendor make the job easier for both you and the employer, but it can further your reputation, leading to retention and more revenue. The ideal HSA vendor should provide expertise that complements your own in the following ways:

 

They know how to empower employers to help employees make better healthcare decisions.

The 2018 WEX Health Clear Insights Report, which surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. workers with employer-provided health insurance, found that most consumers with consumer-directed healthcare (CDH) plans need help figuring out how much money to set aside to cover deductibles and help with managing their doctor bills. Keeping consumers’ limited health literacy in mind, your HSA vendor should have a tight grasp on these and other employee pain points and have a plan to educate employer groups in ways that allow them to influence the desired action during open enrollment and beyond. This includes providing employers with consumer-facing education pieces, tools and continued support to ensure that employees understand how to manage their accounts outside of the open enrollment season. There are now platforms and apps, for example, that allow employees to scan a product bar code to instantly determine whether an expense will be covered by their HSA and online dashboards that show employees their spending trends year-over-year, by expense type and even by family member.

 

They understand the power of personalized employee engagement.

When asked to select all the tools and resources they would find most helpful to become educated about their healthcare plan options, consumers ranked highest those that compare plans, estimate costs and calculate savings—all tools that yield personalized results. Deloitte’s 2017 survey of U.S. healthcare consumers corroborates this, finding that personalization—including clear communication and sensitivity—was rated as respondents’ top healthcare priority. To grab and hold employees’ attention and drive desired behaviors, your HSA vendor should offer numerous ways for you to customize messaging, allowing employer groups to send data-driven communications directly to employee populations.

 

They bring one integrated platform to the table. 

Your CDH vendor should provide an intuitive technology platform that removes the complexity of managing multiple accounts, allowing employer groups to manage numerous plans and products seamlessly as well as to customize plans and portal designs. This will lessen the administrative burden on both you and the employer group, which helps to save on time and costs, not to mention resulting in less confusion for employees. Look for a platform’s integrated capabilities to include claims and EDI feeds, payroll, claim reimbursement invoices and automatic investment allocation.

 

Their reputation precedes them.

You should ask a lot of your HSA vendor: They should make the entire enrollment process seamless for your employer groups and their employees, increasing engagement and ultimately enrollment. But that’s not all. Vendors must also be known for their ability to pair up complex CDH account strategies that will satisfy the needs of employees while helping to control costs for the employer (such as pairing an HSA with a limited-purpose FSA). The best vendor will also continuously monitor—and demonstrate thought leadership on—industry trends and technology advancements. This will ensure that your clients receive top-tier services and are properly informed about any trends that could affect their benefits plan designs.

As a broker, you’re well-aware how relationship-based this market is. To reinforce your important relationships with employer groups, partner only with the best-of-the-best CDH vendors.

 

Want more? Download the Clear Insights Report here.

 


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.


More Than Half of Employers Now Offer HSAs to Help Them Recruit and Retain Talent

More Than Half of Employers Now Offer HSAs to Help Them Recruit and Retain Talent

07/31/2018

by Sherry Olson

 

In 2018, employee benefits make up approximately one-third of a company’s total compensation costs. To maximize an employer’s return on this investment, it’s critical for HR departments and organizations as a whole to take a strategic approach to designing their benefits packages. This will also make it easier to recruit and retain talent in a candidate-driven market at time when the unemployment rate has declined by approximately 20 percent between 2015 and 2017, and in the last year, 14 states set record lows for unemployment.

 

A good place to start when looking to inform your approach to benefits planning? In addition to WEX Health’s Clear Insights report, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)’s annual Employee Benefits report should be required reading. Springing from its survey of U.S. employers, it tracks the evolution of benefits offerings including healthcare, wellness, paid leave, retirement savings and planning, work/life and convenience, financial and career, professional and career development, travel and relocation benefits. Below are four key findings we pulled out that are relevant for our WEX Health Partners.

 

  1. More Than a Half of Employers Now Offer Employees Health Savings Accounts

Given the increase in the prevalence of organizations offering Consumer-Directed Healthcare Plans (CDHPs) since 2014 (30 percent in 2014 versus 40 percent in 2018), it is not surprising that Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) have also increased in popularity, with more than one-half of employers offering this benefit in 2018 (56 percent), as compared to 45 percent of employers in 2014.

 

  1. Popularity of Health Reimbursement Arrangements Remains Steady, While Interest in FSAs Has Declined Slightly

In contrast, the percentage of organizations offering health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) has remained steady at 17 percent to 20 percent over the past five years; flexible spending accounts (FSAs) have declined from 68 percent in 2014 to 63 percent in 2018.

 

  1. PPO Plans Are Still the No. 1 Choice, with Consumer-Directed Healthcare Plans in Second Place

Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans continue to be the most popular (84 percent), followed by CDHPs (40 percent), Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans (35 percent), high-deductible health care plans not linked to an HSA or an HRA (29 percent), and point of service (POS) plans (17 percent); less than 10 percent of organizations offered other types of healthcare plans.

 

  1. The Prevalence of CDHPs Has Been Volatile the Past Five Years But Things Are Looking Up Again

In a 2016 SHRM survey, 28 percent of HR professionals indicated that offering CDHPs was the most successful activity in terms of helping their organization control the costs of healthcare. However, the prevalence of CDHPs has been volatile over the past five years, falling by 11 percentage points between 2015 and 2017 and then increasing 17 percentage points (to 40 percent) between 2017 and 2018.

 

More than two-thirds of organizations increased their benefit offerings to retain employees in the last year. According to SHRM, “Second to compensation planning, designing a strategic benefits plan is the most important step organizations can take to stay competitive. Once a strategic benefits program is in place, the next step is to ensure effective communication of benefits to both current and potential future employees.”

 

The WEX Health Cloud platform can help employers personalize communications with their employees and customize data to help employees make the most of their CDHP. Learn more here.

 


Sherry Olson WEX Health VP of Human Resources

Sherry Olson

Vice President of Human Resources 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.


How Today’s Financial Advisors Are Viewing and Thinking About HSAs

Survey Says: How Today’s Financial Advisors Are Viewing and Thinking About HSAs

07/26/2018

by Helene Cole

 

The results are in, and the National Association of Plan Advisors (NAPA)’s survey of more than 500 retirement plan advisors has yielded some insights that we think our WEX Health Partners will find illuminating. Of particular interest were the findings about how advisors are viewing and thinking about health savings accounts (HSAs) in terms of retirement and financial planning.

The inaugural NAPA 401(k) Summit Insider survey was sent to financial advisors after NAPA’s annual summit, the largest gathering of retirement plan advisors in the nation, this past spring.

Among the key findings relevant to our Partners:

  • Fifty-six percent of financial advisors said they would like more information about HSAs—in the form of white papers, email newsletters, online articles and webinars—more so than any other topic.
  • Client Retention was the most important issue raised by the advisors with 57% advisors rating it either “very important” or “important”. Concerns about fee compression followed closely behind client retention, and fiduciary regulation came in as the third biggest concern. WEX Health Partner benchmarks show that offering more than one account or plan increases client retention by more than 40%.
  • The advisors’ second most common challenge when it comes to HSAs? Finding trusted HSA administrator partners for their clients, cited by more than a third (36 percent) of advisor respondents.
  • Advisors also reported issues understanding HSA compliance regulations, complaints about “low investment opportunity and potential” and concern regarding consumers’ ability to save healthcare dollars. WEX Health and its network of Partners work hard to develop tools and technology to help employees better understand and use their healthcare benefits to save costs and ease the burden of healthcare. HSAs are the cutting edge way to not only save for the unexpected costs of healthcare – but also help you save for retirement as well.

 

Sponsored by WEX Health, the NAPA 401(k) Summit Insider report correlated financial advisors’ increased interest in HSAs to growing concerns about the cost of healthcare in retirement. The report cites Fidelity’s Retiree Health Care Cost Estimate, which said that a 65-year-old couple retiring in 2017 will need an estimated $275,000 to cover healthcare costs in retirement, up from an estimated $245,000 in 2015.

Have questions about health savings accounts? We have answers; review our FAQ here.

 


Helene Cole WEX Health

Helene Cole

Vice President, Financial Institution Market at WEX Health

Helene has been focused on helping partners and clients meet their goals for her entire career.  Most recently she has been at WEX Health, driving strategy and partner relationship for our Financial Institutions Partners. Our goal is to ensure our platform enables our partners to best solve their clients healthcare challenges while also facilitating the merger of health and wealth. Focus is on how best to create unique account offerings (HSA, HRA, FSA) for each of our partners to support growth, strengthen client relationships and create new opportunities for cross-selling and relationship building.


Insights and Actions from AHIP Institute & Expo 2018

Insights and Actions from AHIP Institute & Expo 2018

07/10/2018

by Becky Wagner

 

At this year’s America’s Health Insurance Plans’ (AHIP) Institute & Expo 2018, which I and several of my WEX Health team members attended, one session—“Navigating Uncertainty, Health Reform and Market Transition”—hinted at the great need to simplify the business of healthcare. WEX Health works to do just that—through feedback from real members, it powers CDH account and COBRA administration forms that make managing healthcare engaging and easier to understand.

With sessions like “Technology, Trends and Business Insight,” “Data, Analytics and Actionable Intelligence” and many others, one thing that struck me above all is that technology was part of every conversation. It’s clear that technology sits front and center among the methods and tools to improve healthcare for consumers, payers and providers. Needless to say, its value goes way beyond creating engaging consumer portals and one-to-one journeys. It stretches into how new technologies can help people better manage their health to cut down on the need for unnecessary care and help reduce healthcare costs. And WEX is committed to advancing technology to better serve its customers for all those reasons and more.

 

Some additional highlights we gleaned from the San Diego Convention Center include:

Consumer-health literacy remains a problem. This means that it is more important than ever for health plans to simplify messaging and documents they share with their members. For consumer-directed healthcare to continue on its growth trajectory, consumers must be provided with not just accurate information but information that is presented in ways that are easily understood.

There is a continued desire to slow the growth of and reduce healthcare costs by providing innovative ways to seek care. Some of these methods include telemedicine, cost comparison tools and machine learning. Though the tools are available, they have been met with some resistance from consumers in deploying them. Therefore, the next step is to encourage people to take advantage of tools to make smarter decisions.

Leaders in this industry must learn to build a team of people with a wide array of expertise to ensure organizational success, because the field requires such wide-ranging skills as it expands and seeks to meet the needs of consumers. Successful leadership, in other words, means realizing that it’s not always about being the best and the brightest individually—but it’s more about being the best team for the business.

AHIP CEO Matt Eyles gave an engaging presentation on the growing recognition from payers that social determinants significantly impact chronic disease. These factors must be accounted for—and mitigated, whenever possible—by efforts to address them earlier in the consumer healthcare journey.

 

We left the expo with the conviction that consumer-directed healthcare is on the path to flourish. The businesses and organizations who tend to the industry are engaging in lively conversations and smart and strategic plans to ensure that it does.

It’s no secret that using technology to influence smarter healthcare decisions is top of mind. The WEX Health Clear Insights Report sheds light on how members prepare for open enrollment and saving for healthcare expenses.

Click here to view the report: https://wexhealthinc.com/clearinsights-ahip2018/.

 


BeckyWagner_WEXHealth

Becky Wagner

Senior Marketing Manager at WEX Health

As the Senior Marketing Manager for the Health Plan Vertical, Becky connects market-driven insights to develop campaigns and content that resonate with consumer-directed healthcare account administrators and consumers. She is an experienced marketer with an MBA from the University of Minnesota – Carlson School of Management. With over three years in the healthcare industry, Becky has experience in marketing, product development and account management at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and Further.

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.


Our Top Takeaways from the State Healthcare IT Connect Summit

4/16/2018

by Christopher Breining and Patrick Forman

 

As part of our ongoing effort to listen to and engage with leaders in healthcare IT, WEX Health attended the 9th Annual State Healthcare IT Connect Summit in Baltimore last week. We joined more than 700 fellow attendees, including public and private sector thought leaders, to share ideas and benchmark implementation strategies for state health IT systems as they move forward with diverse health and human services transformation programs. We were recently sharing our key takeaways from the summit with colleagues and thought WEX Health Trends & Insights readers may be interested in them, too. Here are some of the most interesting things we heard:

 

1. “Health data is our data”: Don Rucker, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, delivered the opening keynote, in which he spoke about the 21st Century Cures Act and the Trump administration’s focus on interoperability. The 21st Century Cures Act, of course, has allotted more than $6 billion to federal agencies and states for research and development of healthcare and medical device innovation. Rucker stated that “health data is our data,” and asserted that information blocking can no longer be accepted. He also challenged the healthcare community from vendors to providers to work collaboratively toward developing and using “Open API’s without special effort”.

 

2. The necessity of a Medicaid-centered platform: A panel on “State Readiness for the Next Phase of Marketplace Reform” offered recommendations and best practices for engaging with the Department of Health and Human Services to design state-based coverage solutions. (That’s something WEX Health has been working with Project Poplin on as we bring our government and commercial experience together to define the open architecture for financial management to the Medicaid Enterprise.) The panel included comments from Jessica Kahn, former director of data and systems for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and emphasized that, as states explore new technology initiatives or the potential to move from the federally facilitated marketplaces (FFM), the marketplaces should start with Medicaid and then connect programs for sustainability, transitions and better health engagement. The focus was on unlocking health data to empower more informed decisions as much as it was on creating a unified marketplace and Medicaid-centered platform that would enable states’ flexibility in designing affordable programs that empower members/consumers to plan for health expenses and pay premiums. Panelists also indicated that the CMS budget allocates less money for Navigators to assist in enrollment so enrollment on FFM is expected to decline; FFM enrollment during 2018 Open Enrollment declined (-10.5 percent) while SBM enrollment increased (+1.5 percent).

Finally, the discussion turned to the use of 1332 Waivers and how the administration wants to give states flexibility with enrollment and benefit design. Panelists explained how both FFM and state-based marketplace (SBM) states should look to 1332/1115 Waiver programs and design integrated/interoperable systems between Medicaid, Marketplace and Locality so that program innovations provide 360-degree connections across populations. Systems should look to maximize Medicaid funding and use data to foster greater collaboration between State, Plan, Provider and Member. Medicaid Plans and Medicaid Buy-in on the Exchange is a direction being explored by states with SBMs.

 

3. States are open to a modular approach to Medicaid: In a session on “Integrating the Modular Medicaid Enterprise: Definitions, Expansion and Traction in the Vendor Marketplace,” panelists discussed the challenges (from the vendor perspective) of selling into a state marketplace that’s difficult for best-of-breed point solutions to penetrate. CSG Government Solutions’ Healthcare and Human Services presented the results of a survey of vendors of how best to decompose the various business processes into a truly modular solution. Financial management, per the survey results, was seen as a loosely coupled solution set. The panel talked through the interoperability demands that a modular approach will impose, and Project Poplin was mentioned as a way to define inputs and outputs for loosely coupled modules. Ultimately, the panel reflected the state community’s openness to a modular approach to Medicaid and financial management, with the key challenges being procurement and interoperability.

 

For more insights from the leaders at WEX Health, explore our Capitol Commentary video series.

 

 


Patrick Forman

Vice President of Healthcare Vertical Sales, Billing and Public Sector at WEX Health

WEX Health is an organization with a mission to simplify the business of paying for healthcare. Patrick is responsible for WEX Health growth in the State and Local government market.

 


 

Christopher Breining

Vice President of Vertical Sales, Billing and Public Sector at WEX Health

Chris Breining Vice President of Vertical Sales, Billing and Public Sector at WEX Health, a leading payments technology company in the healthcare industry.  Chris is an experienced executive with a demonstrated history of consulting and sales in the Global Public Sector focused primarily on Health, Social and Human Services as well as the financial services industry developed during his career at Oracle, Cúram Software, and IBM Watson Health.

Chris led sales of many Integrated Eligibility and State-based Exchanges during the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  Chris was global sales leader for IBM Watson Health Care Manager leveraging his 20+ years of progressive experience in the government healthcare space.  Chris brings expertise in government relations, Medicaid/Medicare/Exchange policy, MCO and ACO models, MITA, value-based purchasing, population health management, whole person-centered care, social determinants, care management and consumer engagement with the underserved and vulnerable populations to WEX Health.



3 Ways to Help Your Employees Manage Their Healthcare Expenses

3 Ways to Help Your Employees Manage Their Healthcare Expenses

03/30/2018

 

The United States now spends almost twice as much on healthcare as other advanced industrialized countries, even though just a few decades ago our healthcare spend was closely aligned to that of other countries. As a result of the rising cost of healthcare, changes to employment and benefits laws and the availability of new benefits options, the employee benefits landscape in the U.S. has also been dramatically altered. One in four Americans now report that the cost of healthcare is the biggest concern facing their family, according to a Monmouth University poll. This makes it more important than ever for employers to offer their employees the guidance and tools they need to manage their healthcare plans and costs. Here are three approaches that can be used alone or in combination:

 

  1. Educate your employees about the financial benefits of HSAs, HRAs and FSAs.

Consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs) are the lowest overall cost option for employees in 65 percent of companies that offer them. They are typically paired with a triple-tax-advantaged health savings account (HSA), a health reimbursement account or a flexible spending account that allows employees to save for out-of-pocket expenses. The National Bureau of Economic Research reports that employees save an average of more than $500 per year by selecting a high-deductible health plan.

The HSA contribution limit for 2018 is $3,450 for singles and $6,850 for families, but employees just getting started with an HSA can be encouraged to save as little as one to three percent of their salaries into their HSA. By building a small amount of health savings, they won’t “feel” incremental healthcare costs as sharply and will be better prepared to handle both expected and unexpected medical expenses in the future. Want more information about HSAs and how to communicate their value to your employees? Read our blog post.

 

  1. Provide your employees with benefits-based incentives related to their health and wellness.

Incentivizing employees to take an active role in improving their poor health behaviors can reduce their health risks and subsequently their healthcare costs. One WellSteps study, for example, found that post-implementation of a corporate employee wellness program there was a dramatic difference in the cost of medical care between program participants and non-participants ($3,280 versus $6,177).

Employers can also help their employees save money by offering them benefits-based incentives for participating in a workplace wellness program. Such incentives may include lower office copays, reduced deductibles or monthly premium discounts in exchange for health risk assessment completion, participation in weight-loss or smoking cessation programs or other workplace wellness activities.

 

  1. Give your employees tools to manage and plan for their healthcare expenses.

Analytics programs such as the WEX Health Cloud Consumer Dashboard make it easy for employees to get an aggregate view of all their healthcare claims, debit card transactions, distributions and expenses. Expenses can be viewed by category, individual or provider, and employees can initiate payments for expenses including reimbursements, pay the provider and bill pay.

A corresponding mobile app also lets employees view, budget, plan, analyze and manage their healthcare-related accounts and expenses, helping them more wisely manage their healthcare spending.

Employers and HR managers who facilitate healthcare consumerism among their employees will help them save money on healthcare costs. As a result, employers stand to gain a real competitive advantage over others in their industry—a workforce that is not only easier to hire and retain but also perhaps better informed and even healthier because of the tools you’ve provided.

 

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