Category:
Employee Benefits

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 the 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

Product Manager, 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.

 

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.


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.

 

Related Posts:

Employers, These Are the Current Benefits Issues You Need to Know About

What You Need to Know About Data Security and Wearable Devices in the Workplace

Employers, This Is the Comparative Data You Should Use to Evaluate Your Benefit Plans

Employers, These are the Current Benefits Issues You Need to Know About

Employers, These are the Current Benefits Issues You Need to Know About

3/20/2018

by Chris Byrd

 

We’ve just returned from Capitol Hill, where WEX Health attended the nonprofit Employers Council on Flexible Compensation (ECFC) 37th annual conference, March 14-16, to promote choice in benefit solutions. Much of the conversation in D.C. this year was around three major issues which affect tax-advantaged health benefit accounts that are a central element of a Consumer-Directed Health strategy:

 

  1. The Excise Tax on High-cost Health Plans.

Commonly known as the Cadillac Tax, this provision of the Affordable Care Act has been delayed yet again until 2022. Although this is helpful for employers concerned by the implications of this tax – especially those in high-cost states – a delay only defers this issue and does not represent a final resolution.  Given that many employers set their benefit strategies years in advance, 2022 is not terribly far away.  Among the actions employers are already taking or evaluating is curtailing or eliminating Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) from their benefit offerings.  Employee contributions to these accounts are counted toward the computation of whether the employee’s benefit plan exceeds the excise tax threshold.  Efforts continue to repeal the tax entirely, but if full repeal cannot be accomplished, to reform the tax by excluding employee contributions to CDH accounts.

 

  1. Strengthening HSAs.

Numerous bills have been introduced in both chambers of Congress to increase the availability and utility of HSAs to help individuals and families plan for and fund their health care needs.  The focal point of discussion is around the HSA “gold standard” bills – S. 403 and H.R. 1175.  These bills include a broad range of important provisions, including an increase in contribution amounts, allowing Medicare-eligible workers to continue contributing to an HSA, and restoring the tax-advantaged treatment of over-the-counter drugs and medicines.  In addition to these bills, there is increased discussion regarding a proposal to allow HSA-qualified health insurance plans to cover certain chronic-care conditions below the deductible.  This idea actually originated with the employer community and is now gaining traction.

 

  1. Supporting and Enhancing FSAs.

As are an important option for employees, particularly since surveys indicate the vast majority of employers offer traditional health insurance that is not HSA-qualified as one of their options in their benefit plans. H.R. 1204 would raise the limit that an employee may contribute to an FSA from $2,650 to $5,000.  This would benefit individuals and families with high healthcare costs, particularly those dealing with chronic conditions.

 

Based on what we heard in D.C., prospects for near-term action on these issues are somewhat limited.  It is, after all, an election year, and as the calendar advances, the ability to move legislation that isn’t “must pass” becomes more challenging.  In the healthcare arena, the biggest issues are the opioid crisis, stabilizing the individual insurance market, and prescription drug pricing/affordability.  In addition, the administration continues to advance regulatory reform, including supporting innovation and flexibility in plan design, distribution, and state regulation and programs (e.g. Medicaid).  With all this said, however, HSAs also continue to occupy an important place in the administration’s healthcare policy, and so there may be an opportunity to advance provisions that would strengthen these accounts.

 

As we have seen in the past, the healthcare landscape in Washington is highly fluid, so the best advice is to stay tuned for updates and developments as they happen

 


Chris Byrd

Executive Vice President, WEX Health Operations & Corporate Development Officer

Chris Byrd brings more than 25 years of experience in employee benefits and banking to his role at WEX Health. A founder of Evolution Benefits in 2000, Chris played a key role in designing the proprietary architecture for the company’s prepaid benefits card.

Chris oversees the daily execution of WEX Health’s business and leads the company’s operations and service delivery, corporate development, merger and acquisition activity, and legal, industry, and government relations efforts.

He began his career in commercial banking, and prior to 2000, he focused on finance, strategy, and business development for Value Health and two start-up healthcare companies. He joined WEX Health in July 2014.

Chris, who serves on numerous industry boards, is a frequent speaker on emerging trends in financial services and benefits and is active in industry and government relations. He earned a degree in economics from Brown University.  


What Is a QSEHRA?

What Is a QSEHRA?

02/13/2018

by Becky Kinder

 

We know, there are far too many acronyms in healthcare, but QSEHRA is an important one! And since it’s on the newer side, it’s led more than a few people straight to the Google search bar.

 

QSEHRA stands for “Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangement” (HR 5447). Also known as “a small business HRA,” it’s becoming a popular employee health coverage option that was established and signed into law in December 2016 as part of the 21st Century Cures Act.

 

QSEHRAs have effectively provided small business owners with smarter healthcare options with less overhead and more cost effectiveness. These plans are designed to assist employees with insurance premiums from a plan of their choosing, and in some cases, the HRA will also cover other medical expenses.

 

It’s a great option for small employers: employers set the amount that they can afford to provide employees (as long as it falls within the legal limits) and employees are reimbursed for the expenses the plan allows for.

 

Employers who offer QSHRAs must have fewer than 50 full-time employees and must not offer traditional employer-sponsored group health offerings (including dental or vision) to any of its employees.

 

With its Notice 2017-67, the IRS issued further guidance on QSEHRAs, including the rules and requirements for providing a QSEHRA, the tax consequences of the arrangement and the requirements for providing employees with written notice of the arrangement.

Public comments on the IRS’s guidance were accepted through Jan. 19. The notice also established that the deadline to submit initial notices for 2017 QSEHRAs and 2018 QSEHRA plans beginning Jan. 1, 2018, is Feb. 19, 2018.

 

To learn more about QSEHRAs and the QSEHRA-related guidance issued by the IRS, review our post here.


What Is a QSEHRA? by Becky Kinder

Becky Kinder

Product Manager, 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.