Category:
Employee Benefits

5 Ways to Shake Up Your Open Enrollment Strategy This Year

5 Ways to Shake Up Your Open Enrollment Strategy This Year

11/14/2018

by Lindsay Jacobs

 

As temperatures drop and the fall season comes to an end, stress spikes in HR departments all over the country—that’s because it’s open enrollment season. Open enrollment is a window during which individuals and employees may add or drop their health insurance, or make changes to their coverage. The 2019 open enrollment period runs through Saturday, December 15, 2018, and if your employees don’t act by then, they can’t get 2019 coverage unless they qualify for a special enrollment period. Keep in mind that for employer-sponsored coverage, the open enrollment period is set by the employer, so be sure to clearly communicate these dates to your employees.  To make a better impact on your employees this year and drive engagement to new levels, here are a few suggestions on how to innovate your strategy.

 

1. Make Your Benefit Meetings Fun

Who says that employee benefits can’t be enticing? Consider creating a workplace party or fun event at your employee benefits meeting this year. With bean bag toss games, door prizes or even a raffle drawing, you’re more likely to draw a crowd and to get your message heard. You’ll also be there in-person to answer any questions someone may have about their benefits, and nothing beats personal interaction.

 

 

2. Meet Your Millennial Employees Where They Are

Millennials are now the largest generation in the labor force, and their preferences should be taken into consideration when picking your employee benefits communication strategy. Long, lengthy paragraphs of dry content won’t be cutting it for this group; instead, consider using interactive quizzes or digital communications to reach them with pertinent information. As younger professionals, they might not have the expertise in life insurance or retirement planning, so introducing some educational tools would also be beneficial to help ensure they make the best decision for themselves.

 

3. Don’t Try to Guess; Find Out What Your Employees Want

Are your employees interested in consumer-directed healthcare plans? Would they appreciate participating in a workplace wellness program if it was made available? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, ask for them. That’s the best way to find out what employees are looking for in the ideal benefits package. Conducting a survey prior to enrollment is a great way to show employees that you’re engaged in what they’re looking for, and asking for feedback afterwards will show you how much progress you’ve made.

 

4. Simple Is Better

Let’s be honest: Fine print is exhausting. Do your employees a favor and outline the benefits and disadvantages of each plan option so that there’s a clear understanding of expectations, costs and advantages. Simple charts, engaging videos and quizzes help to make difficult benefit decisions easier for the average participant and will eliminate the hassle of questions entering your inbox.

 

5. Keep the Conversation Going

After employees have made their decisions and enrollment is complete, the conversation regarding benefits and best practices does not have to end. Consider touching base with your employees every few months with tips and tricks regarding their benefit plans and how to save costs and utilize the tools available. This will not only make the next year’s enrollment easier due to better understanding, but will make employees feel that they are an equal participant in their benefit plan and taking control of their overall health.

 

We hope these tips will help you to evolve your open enrollment strategy this year. Looking for more insights? Read about what consumers care about during open enrollment and what employees need to know about their HSA and FSA dollars at year end.

 


Lindsay Jacobs WEX Health

Lindsay Jacobs

Marketing Content Strategist at WEX Health

Lindsay Jacobs is a Content Strategist at WEX Health where she focuses on developing strategic and engaging consumer-driven healthcare content to elevate the WEX Health brand and help WEX Health Partners grow and succeed. She graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN and completed her Master’s in Business Administration at Hamline University in August 2018.

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

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

09/26/2018

by Phil Kading

#HRTechConf

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 


Phil Kading WEX Health

Phil Kading

Senior Director, Strategic Business Development at WEX Health

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


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

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

09/25/2018

by Angela Greenhalgh

Originally posted on BenefitsPro.com

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 


Angela Greenhalgh

Angela Greenhalgh

Vice President of Vertical Sales at WEX Health

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


Data Talks. Are You Listening

Data Talks. Are You Listening?

09/18/2018

by Becky Kinder

 

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

Data-listening made simple and actionable

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

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

 

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

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

Using data to personalize outreach to different consumer groups

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

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

 

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


What Is a QSEHRA? by Becky Kinder

Becky Kinder

Director, Product Management at WEX Health

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

 

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.