The unsustainable growth of US healthcare costs has been well documented. In an environment where insurance premiums have outpaced wage growth and inflation every year since 1998, employers must consider how they will control healthcare costs – or if they will continue offering coverage at all. These cost drivers are prompting employers to consider alternatives to traditional employee health benefit models.
The Affordable Care Act – with its individual and employer mandates, essential benefit requirements, and health insurance exchanges – is changing the face of employer-sponsored health benefits. While the ACA will increase access to insurance for millions, it will also fundamentally change the way many currently obtain coverage.
When the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law back in 2008, it created a mandate that requires all Americans to have healthcare. It also put in place a deadline for people to get covered, which is right around the corner on March 31. Here are some things people need to know in the weeks leading up to this deadline:
Consumer-driven healthcare is becoming more popular in the United States, which has led to increasing prevalence of health savings accounts. According to the sixth semiannual Health Savings Accounts Survey by Devenir, around 15.5 Americans are covered by HSAs, which is a 15 percent bump from the previous year. HSAs have grown to an estimated $18 billion over 9.1 million separate accounts.
When the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010, one of the mandates created was that all Americans would have to secure coverage by a certain deadline. That deadline is nearing, and many people could be facing a penalty if insurance policies aren't secured. Many Americans may not be in a rush to comply with the ACA mandate because they believe the penalty is pretty small. However, that may not be the case, according to NPR, as people may have misconceptions as to how much they may actually be charged for forgoing coverage.
Flexible spending and health savings accounts are a major part of the consumer-driven healthcare trend. People are able to save pre-tax dollars in these accounts to cover out-of-pocket medical expenses that they would otherwise have to pay for out of their wallets. Businesses that offer FSAs and HSAs need to make employees aware of the legislative changes that will impact these offerings this year. For example, the Internal Revenue Service recently increased the contribution limits for HSAs and high deductible health plans.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law on March 23, 2010, and since that day, the legislation has undergone numerous changes. In fact, some of the changes have even been tweaked, according to the Washington Post. With many alterations, there has been much confusion in the country among employers, whether they offer consumer-driven healthcare, traditional health insurance, or something else.
Wellness programs are becoming more popular with the surging consumer-driven healthcare trend. However, just because a business implements one of these programs doesn't mean it will be successful. In fact, many companies are struggling to get employees to participate. According to a recent survey from Bswift, 85 percent of large organizations and 81 percent of small employers have wellness programs in place, and just 44 percent of programs have a participating rate higher than 50 percent.
Most businesses offer employee benefits such as health insurance and paid-time off. But, with many switching to consumer-driven health plans - which puts more of the cost on employees - it might be a good idea to add some unique benefits to keep employees happy, such as:
Employers have many options when it comes to ensuring their workers have health insurance. Some already sponsor health insurance programs, while others are considering adding or modifying coverage. A number of companies might choose to send their workers to public health marketplaces, and small firms also have the option of enrolling in the government's Small Business Health Options Program in order to secure a tax break. However, many health professionals predict that the most popular option employers are likely to choose is extending a defined contribution to workers to purchase their health coverage through a private exchange.