As the rules, restrictions and complexities of Obamacare bring new challenges and increased plan costs to employer groups, it’s time to step back and take a look at what IS working – and make sure that your company is taking full advantage of these opportunities.
1. Self-Funding. The advantages of self-funded healthcare plans are becoming apparent to everyone as ACA continues to drive plan costs up. Previously a consideration for large employer groups only, more and more small-to-mid-sized companies are finding self-funded programs both attractive and affordable. From reduced exposure to certain ACA restrictions to custom plan design and innovative pricing strategies, companies with as few as 15 employees are currently pursuing self-funded options. This greater accessibility is thanks, in part, to more affordable reinsurance offerings that limit overall plan liability. Given the potential benefits, every employer should be taking a closer look at self-funding.
2. Flexible Spending Programs. A key change to the ‘use it or lose it’ rule that now allows employers to offer a $500 carryover on flexible spending accounts (FSA) is driving double digit growth in FSA enrollment. Previously, the potential to lose unused FSA funds to the employer plan at year-end offset the benefits to the employee of funding the account with pre-tax dollars. Given the new win/win structure of the FSA benefit, there is every reason for employers to offer FSA programs as a valuable, cost efficient alternative.
3. Consumer-Directed Health Plans. As health plan costs become more prohibitive, more employer groups are offering consumer-directed health plans (CDHP) as an option or as their only healthcare offering. These low cost, high deductible plans are generally 20% less than traditional health plans and, in some cases, enable the employer to continue to provide healthcare coverage they might otherwise have to eliminate. While high deductible costs can be prohibitive for some employees, offering supplemental insurance alongside can give mployees access to more protection. A CDHP program that also provides free access to common child and adult preventive screenings and wellness offerings can help offset some of the employee concerns associated with higher deductibles.
With a Mercer survey showing employers predicting an increase of 3.9% in healthcare costs in 2015, there is every reason for companies to review all of their healthcare options to identify where and how they can save on plan costs without eliminating employee accessibility and quality care. Your local third party administrator can provide you with a number of viable plan options that take your plan participants and your budget into consideration.
In cooperation with NAEBA