Category:
Financial Wellness

4 Tips for Women Managing Their Family’s Healthcare Costs

11/20/2018

by Lisa Goldkamp

 

It’s safe to say that, in 2018, more women are tuned in and standing up to try to make a difference in healthcare and beyond. On the heels of a U.S. midterm election where a historic number of women ran for office and won and where healthcare was the top issue for voters (per exit polls), all signs point to women taking an active role on issues that are not only important to their family’s financial and physical health, but to the healthcare issues that impact our country.

As the primary coordinator of healthcare for my family, I understand why this issue is on the minds of Americans. What I didn’t realize was that healthcare expenses are disproportionately weighing on women. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey earlier this year found that mothers are considerably more likely to manage their children’s health than fathers, and our own 2018 Clear Insights report found that women are more concerned than men about unexpected out-of-pocket healthcare costs as well as family finances overall. I always assumed that my interest in our family’s healthcare coverage and in ensuring we have available funds in our HSA account to pay our medical bills was uniquely related to my career experiences, not my gender.

In light of this and since we’re now actively in open enrollment, and the cost of healthcare is on everybody’s mind, I have a few tips to share with other women who are also managing or influencing their family’s healthcare decisions.

 

1. Give yourself plenty of time to evaluate the benefits plans your employer offers.

It’s very likely that your employer is offering at least one plan that would save you money on taxes by allowing you to pay for healthcare with pre-tax expenses. During open enrollment, we’ve found that 75 percent of consumers spend less than an hour evaluating their employer’s different healthcare options, but I recommend that you take all the time you need (likely more than an hour) to do your research on what’s best for your family in the year ahead.

 

2. Be realistic about what your family’s upcoming healthcare needs are.

It’s easy to want to just look away from medical expenses that are on the horizon, but oftentimes we do have some advance idea of what’s coming. A couple of years ago, I knew that both I and one of my children needed a surgery, and was comforted by the fact that the funds we’d been accruing in our health savings account (HSA) were there to cover both surgeries. For that reason, our family didn’t have to feel the pain of these two substantial medical expenses—to the extent where my husband didn’t even realize, until I let him know, that we had spent thousands of dollars out of pocket on the surgeries. It’s important to estimate what you know, or suspect, your family might realistically spend on medical bills in 2019, and arm yourself with that info as you’re selecting a plan during open enrollment.

 

3. Leverage accounts that set aside money incrementally so you don’t have to grapple with a big medical expense all at once.

Women are significantly more likely than men (43 percent vs. 20 percent) to use their HSA account to pay unexpected healthcare bills greater than $1,000, according to the Clear Insights survey. Men, meanwhile, are more likely to put unexpected medical bills on a credit card, indicating that more women have already realized the value of an HSA for setting away and accumulating money in smaller chunks so that they’re fully prepared when larger expenses arrive. HSAs are also valuable because the funds roll over indefinitely from year to year, so that you can either use them for immediate healthcare expenses or even on into retirement.

 

4. Imagine having to choose low cost over the best care for your family.

My kids are avid consumers of healthcare, and last month my three-year-old took a dive into the corner of our bedframe and was bleeding profusely from a gash in his forehead. Because our HSA funds had been quietly accumulating and were there when we needed them, I was able to take a moment in the midst of the chaos to decide whether we should take him to an urgent care facility, where the cost would be less but the quality of care might also be less, or to the children’s emergency room I knew and trusted. Since it was a facial laceration, I wanted to be sure he got stitches from someone highly experienced treating small (and adorable) faces. Fortunately, based on the cushion we’d built up, I was able to make a conscious decision to take him to the ER and I didn’t have to have to panic about how are we going to be able to afford this? Instead, I was able to focus on my son.

 

At WEX Health, we’re proud to see women take an active role in the issues and concerns related to healthcare at home and in public policy, and we’re excited to have a role in solutions that can assist families with their unique needs. We encourage women to seize this moment, during open enrollment, to ensure that you’re taking advantage of the spending accounts that can help save you money and give you peace of mind you need to keep on making the best decisions for yourself and your family in 2019.

 


Lisa Goldkamp

Lisa Goldkamp

Vice President of Partner Development and Sales Solutions at WEX Health

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

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

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.


How Healthcare Expenses Are Putting American Workers’ Retirement in Peril

How Healthcare Expenses Are Putting American Workers’ Retirement in Peril

09/11/2018

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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.


6 Things I Learned at SHRM’s Annual Conference

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

06/26/2018

by Sherry Olson

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 


Sherry Olson WEX Health VP of Human Resources

Sherry Olson

Senior Director of Product Management at WEX Health

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


Where Mobile Meets Financial & Physical Health

Where Mobile Meets Financial & Physical Health

06/20/2018

by Jackie Dornfeld

 

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

 

Building Resilience

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

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

 

 Enter Consumer-Driven Health and Mobile Technology

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

 

Building the Right Consumer Experience

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

With the WEX Health Cloud Mobile App, Consumers Can…

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

 

 

Looking to the Future

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

 

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

 

Footnotes:

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

 


Jackie Dornfeld

Senior Director of Product Management at WEX Health

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