With the cost of health care benefits approaching 10% of an employee's W-2 statement, employers are making some first time ever changes in their benefit plans. Particularly striking are the changes being instituted in the not for profit community that historically offered very rich benefit packages. "I believe this is the beginning of a major shift toward high deductible plans, the use of mobile apps and efforts to make people better consumers of health insurance," said Richard Silberstein as he opened his presentation to FAR members and guests on January 21. Richard is President of Silberstein Insurance Group, an employee benefits firm with extensive experience with not for profit organizations in DC, Maryland and Virginia.
The primary concern of both employers and employees is to control costs, and the best way to do this is for employers to offer and employees to consider multiple options. Some of the approaches being used include encouraging healthier life-style behaviors by tying funding to wellness; increasing deductibles, eliminating the subsidy for dependents; increasing the use of telemedicine and improving transparency to make all of the options clear to the consumer; and introducing "copper" and "bronze" options along with the platinum, gold and silver plans you may now have. Employers, concerned with attracting and retaining qualified staff may want to consider funding the deductible along with these various options.
Caution is also in order! Making your way through the mandates and the options can be a very complex process. Seeking expert help can make all the difference. One specific application of this comes for those using the DC exchange, where the rules for administering the health care system differ significantly from those in Maryland, Virginia and other parts of the country.
New solutions and options will continue to emerge as employers and staff become more savvy and as we all watch for the Supreme Court's decision on the mandate when it hears the case in June.