Category: For Employers

The Competing Interests to Financial Well Being

by Jim McCabe, Vice President, Sales Strategy

Employee Benefit communication strategy seems to be about options for employees, but competing discretionary income options. These offerings are not necessarily about education or risk profiling of the potential participant. Whether a new colleague at orientation or an existing colleague working through open enrollment, competing interests cause concern and analysis by paralysis. This creates less than optimum participation in employer match programs and those subject to discrimination testing.

A company could be offering a HSA, HRA, 401K, Voluntary Benefits, Stock Purchase Plan, or FSA, with each option providing a separate website for information. Depending upon age and role within the firm, each option in and of itself is appealing, but which one is right for the particular circumstances of each colleague that is investigating those options?

The more discretionary income there is available, the more options that can be enrolled in. However, if you are under 30 years of age, with average educational debt of $23,000, or putting money aside to create a down payment for a primary residence, how is one to know the best way to save for future retirement, retiree medical expenses, current large deductible health plans or protection from life’s adversities or seminal events?

The competition for “Mind Share” is difficult in an age of multiple sources for information. The ability to highlight and educate about Macro and Micro economic issues affecting both investment vehicles and personal risk tolerance is not coordinated in any way, and do not address the issues effecting the potential plan participant.

The future needs to encompass individual risk profiling and subsequent advice that takes into account each individual’s unique characteristics. The day when an employee can access a singular portal with benefit offerings and recommendations based on current Life status and risk profile will be the day that Financial Well Being will be achieved as part of a companies overall communication strategy.

What are your thoughts? I would appreciate any feedback or dialogue on this subject.

Hawaii’s Groundbreaking HSA Plans

by Gary Asato, Sterling Director of Sales – Hawaii

Employees in Hawaii are fortunate to have mandatory health insurance offered by their employers. But, they have limited choices with the number and type of health insurance policies offered by the employer. People who are self-employed, sole proprietors, or who are working part-time have even more limited choices for health insurance. Now, there appears to be a glimmer of hope for our community to have a financing tool to pay for their healthcare.

For Hawaii employers, however, some additional regulatory steps would still need to be taken before they could offer HSAs (Health Savings Accounts) to their employees. Under the Hawaii Prepaid Health Care Law, all health insurance plans offered by Hawaii employers must be approved as a qualified plan by the state government’s Hawaii Prepaid Health Care Council. In 2014, an employer sponsored HSA qualified plan was approved by the Hawaii Prepaid Health Care Council for 2015. The first approved employer HSA plan in Hawaii – unprecedented success. As of mid year 2015, two more employer sponsored HSA qualified plans were approved for 2016. Employers are able to offer additional choices as well as educating their employees to be smarter health care consumers.

Hawaii’s self-employed individuals, sole proprietors and those working part-time will have access to HSAs as a new and effective healthcare financing tool for themselves and their families through high deductible individual health plans via the Health Exchange and Hawaii insurance carriers. Individuals can purchase a high deductible health plan and a Sterling HSA online to create a personal healthcare financing tool.

Health Savings Accounts will be an important step to improve community health in Hawaii by giving consumers control over their own healthcare expenditures, the economic motivation to get healthy and stay healthy, and freedom of choice to blend medical practices and products in the best way to meet their own personal healthcare needs.

Learn more about the 2014 Year-End Devenir HSA Research Report.

Learn more about Health Savings Accounts.

Partner Spotlight: Health In Reach

At Sterling, we know that you work hard to be a savvy consumer of healthcare – but sometimes it can be difficult and confusing. So we work hard to help you and your family navigate the healthcare landscape and make the most of your healthcare dollars. One of the ways we do that is to let you know about other companies that are also committed to our vision. We are pleased to introduce Health In Reach.

The mission of Health In Reach is to reduce the cost of medical and dental procedures while making the practices of physicians and dentists more efficient and profitable. Health In Reach lets you locate and review providers in your area, optimize office scheduling and management, cost compare for office visits and procedures, and find competitive pricing for healthcare. Health In Reach is focused on making healthcare more affordable.

Health In Reach is a free service. By conveniently scheduling your appointment on the site, you may save up to half or more off the typical price. There are more than 1.6 million appointments available at Health In Reach and they offer descriptions and prices for nearly 50,000 specific procedures. Learn more about Health In Reach.

You can learn more about Sterling’s other partners and resources here.