Tag: Financing Healthcare

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.

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.

Consumer Driven Health Plans Help Consumers & Employers

Consumer driven health plans (CDHPs) help millions of American workers and their employers reduce healthcare expenses by shifting behaviors, rather than shifting costs. This trend continues to be validated in healthcare studies and by Sterling clients. With CDHPs, the evidence is clear that employee health utilization and employer healthcare premiums are reduced.

A long-time Sterling client, the Northern California Teamsters Trust, achieved these results with HSA plans (2013 data):

  • Medical costs were $861 per employee per year under the HSA plan vs. $1,076 under the traditional plan.
  • Drug costs were $62 per employee per year under the HSA plan vs. $154 under the traditional plan.

A recent Strategic Benefits—Health Care Survey (January 22, 2015), found that 19% of respondents offering employee coverage said CDHPs – including plans with health savings accounts (HSAs) and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) – are the most effective way of controlling the rising cost of health coverage.

Similarly, the Eighth Annual Cigna Choice Fund Experience Study (April 23, 2014) compared the claims experience of over 3.6 million Cigna customers enrolled in a CDHP, a traditional PPO or HMO health plan. The study found that people covered by CDHPs are more likely to “own” their health and health spending, resulting in improved total medical expenses by 12%. CDHP healthcare consumers:

  • Are more engaged – Nearly 50% are more likely to complete a health risk assessment and those with chronic illnesses are up to 41% more likely to participate in disease management.
  • Are more likely to manage their health benefits – 75% of CDHP customers use online tools to manage their health benefits and access information on care cost, quality and procedures.
  • Demonstrate lower health risks – Employers that transitioned to offering only a CDHP option had 14% more low-risk individuals and 28% fewer high-risk individuals compared to those in a traditional plan.
  • Reduce total medical costs – The CDHP medical cost trend was 12% lower than traditional plans during the first year. Employers did not shift out-of-pocket health expenses to employees in order to achieve reductions.

Both the Northern California Teamsters Trust and LA Mission, another Sterling client, discuss the advantages they realize with CDHP plans and Sterling HSAs. Go to the Sterling YouTube channel to hear in their own words how HSAs benefit their organizations:

Learn more about CDHP plans or call 800-617-4729. Our full suite of products includes HSA, HRA, FSA, POP, COBRA, ERISA Wrap, Form 5500 Filing and ACA compliance services.