HR Priorities in a Shifting Benefits Landscape

Priorities for employees and prospective talent are shifting. As healthcare costs increase in cost and benefits regulations increase in complexity, more individuals are using employee benefits as a major factor in job selection. Retaining the best and the brightest in your field means offering benefits solutions that are intelligent, adaptive, and cost-effective for both employees and your organization. The one-two punch of affordable bronze ACA-compliant plans in tandem with customizable gap coverages allows employees to opt into the specific services that they deem most important. Additionally, opting in for specific gap solutions means employees are much more likely to understand which coverages they possess and how to use them.

Though remarkably effective, gap coverages are still woefully underutilized in the marketplace. This presents a golden opportunity for employers to set themselves apart. Additionally, this strategy allows HR departments to control costs while offering everyone suitable coverage. It’s the way forward, and those who fail to adapt will fall farther and farther behind. To learn more about gap strategies for your organization, contact Chelten Consulting.

Case Study: Level Funding Plus Group GAP Saves Organization $232,841.51

Every year, millions of seniors purchase Medigap plans to fill in “high deductible” holes in Medicare parts A&B. When surveyed, 94% either “like or love” their health plans. Using a similar strategy, you can get similar results – improving available resources for both your organization and its employees.

The key is to combine a competitive “Level Funded” High Deductible Health Plan with a Group Supplemental Health or “Insured HRA” GAP plan. With the right fully insured GAP plan, you can offer seamless supplemental deductible/coinsurance coverage to your employees, similar to how Medigap plans work for seniors. Employees even get to choose their level of deductible protection. To illustrate, we’ve created a case study:

Current: 96 Employee Group on a National Carrier $1000 deductible 80/20% plan with max OOP of $2500/person. Renewal: 13% Increase.

Solution: HDHP Level Funded Plan + Supplemental GAP Plan (Insured HRA).

Results: Level Funded + Insured HRA provides coverage similar to the current plan (Max OOP of $2150 per person) while saving the organization in question $232,841.51 over renewal figures: View Summary

To learn more about these and other HDHP solutions, contact Chelten Consulting.

Voluntary Benefits Fall Short as HDHP Solution for Women’s Health

Affordable, comprehensive coverage for women’s medical issues was long considered non-negotiable. Today, HDHPs make no provisions for costs due to pregnancy, including the common and often expensive C-section. A recent study by Castlight Health found that delivery prices alone vary wildly, with some hospitals charging over $25,000 for traditional deliveries and over $40,000 for a C-section.

Hospital indemnity coverages are no better. Unlike group health plans, these VB plans all include benefits limitations based upon pre-existing conditions. An employee or spouse may be pregnant at open enrollment and denied coverage or benefits at a later date.

What is the solution? Where should HR departments turn? Group supplemental health plans (GAP plans) function much like the Medigap plans seniors use to round out their Medicare coverage. When surveyed, 94% either “like or love” their health plans. There are a dozen carriers today selling GAP plans that cover deductible and cost sharing expenses – including prenatal care and delivery.

Your organization can better support employees who expect or intend to have children through elective coverage options: learn more here.

Improved Communication and Adoption of GAP Coverages Critical to Long-Term HDHP Success

High deductible health plans continue to demonstrate broad appeal even as Congress attempts to pass alternative healthcare legislation. While HDHPs have proven quite effective for some of their insured, many fail to get the specific care they need. High-end health plans that offer more coverage cost dramatically more as services are expanded in every direction. But healthcare isn’t a universal issue with a universal solution.

Surprisingly, both employer and employee adoption of GAP coverages remains low. Some of the most significant voluntary benefits such as critical illness, hospital indemnity, and accident insurance are still not regularly offered alongside HDHPs, creating alarming gaps in coverage – especially for those with health issues that require periodic visits to the doctor and/or pharmacy.

Even when they are offered, employee enrollment rates are modest – a challenge for employer and employee alike. Companies that fail to offer gap coverages and leverage their adaptability as a strong employee benefit will fail to remain competitive in the long term – whether legislation changes or remains as it is today. To learn more about HDHPs, gap coverage, and employee benefits communication, contact us.

Improve Employee Wellness with Effective Benefits Communication

Despite dramatic advancements in technology and a new generation joining the workforce, benefits communication is not adapting. Methods of benefits communication from years past are no longer working for the much more modern and tech-savvy millennials. Benefits need to support employees’ mental, physical, and fiscal wellness. Most employees want benefits that improve their life now. They do not want a benefits package that only kicks in should they fall ill.

Focus on Prevention, Not a Cure

Employees would much rather their benefits help them avoid problems rather than address them after they occur. For instance, excessive stress can cause a strain on mental health. Employees would much rather have a wellness program to help reduce stress and prevent anxiety-induced illnesses than see a professional to help them recover after the fact. While employers still need to offer traditional health benefits, their approach to wellness needs to change. Shifting the focus from treatment to prevention is vital to improving employees’ wellbeing and job satisfaction.

Benefits Communication Equally Important as Design

Offering a comprehensive and appealing benefits package that focuses on employees’ wellbeing is only half of the equation. Most employees do not understand their benefits. Many are unaware what is available to them as well. If employees do not realize what their employer is offering, they will not take advantage of it or appreciate it.

There is immense value in continuous benefits communication and leveraging technology to do so. Employers should disperse information in a timely manner so that it is relevant. Waiting until right before open enrollment overloads employees with too much information. Offering benefits information and wellness tools through an online portal simplifies the process for employees. It keeps all of the important information in one location so employees do not need to search through multiple channels. Fewer obstacles help improve engagement. To learn more about effective benefits communication strategies, contact Chelten Consulting.

Dental Benefits Still Key to Competitive Hiring Practices

Many employers are struggling to remain competitive when hiring new employees. Many are adjusting salaries to contend with rival companies, offering modern benefits such as pet insurance, and focusing on employee wellness to stay ahead. However, some benefits will always appeal to prospective and current employees. Affordable health insurance will always top the list of necessary benefits, but dental is another benefit with broad appeal.

Why is Dental Insurance Important?

Almost all employees feel dental insurance is necessary regardless of age. While many companies are trying to balance benefits to suit the needs of multiple age groups, dental insurance is a benefit that bridges generational divides. This has big implications for all businesses, small businesses included.

In fact, small businesses stand the most to gain by adding dental insurance to their benefits package. Many employers erroneously assume that younger employees do not value dental insurance as much as older employees, but this is not the case. Many small businesses with less than 10 employees neglect dental, and it may cost them talented candidates if their competitors provide it.

Below are additional reasons employers should consider adding dental coverage to their benefits package.

  • Preventative care improves morale and reduces absences related to preventable conditions.
  • Employees want nicer looking teeth. Employees appreciate dental plans that include whitening, orthodontia, and other dental procedures.
  • Dental insurance can contribute to employee wellness programs. Employee wellness programs help employees maintain good health; this can include good oral health as well.

Employers should reevaluate their benefits package from time to time to ensure it meets employees’ expectations. If a company’s benefit offerings are lacking or falling behind the competition, they may start to experience retention and hiring problems. To learn more about using benefits as part of an effective hiring strategy, contact Chelten Consulting.

Changes to Expect to the Affordable Care Act

There is no doubt changes are coming to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). However, many are wondering when those changes will occur and what they will look like. Like most acts of government, there will be no major modifications anytime soon. It is easy for GOP leaders to say they plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but this process is harder than it looks. It is also unlikely that congress will repeal the entire law, so the focus will be more on what aspects are changing and how does it affect individuals and businesses.

Changes to the ACA for 2017

So far, President Trump has not changed much of the ACA. He issued an executive order stating that federal agencies should use any means possible to delay the requirements of the ACA should it impose a fiscal burden on individuals, the health industry, or states as a whole. Due to the vague nature of the order, the only federal response from the IRS is they do not plan to enforce the requirement that most individuals must possess health insurance as strictly as they have in the past. However, it is still law.

What Happens to Those Insured via the ACA?

The biggest concern for individuals and businesses alike is what happens when congress replaces the ACA. Individuals want to know if they will be without insurance. Businesses want to know how these changes affect compliance and if they will suddenly be in violation of new regulations.

Thankfully, both President Trump and congressional leaders spearheading the initiative agree that a smooth transition is vital. They have no desire to leave individuals without insurance or cause major interruptions to businesses. Their current plan is to repeal and replace the law simultaneously.

Looking Forward

While many are concerning themselves with the coming year, 2018 holds fewer answers and more uncertainty. Because of this, more and more insurers are pulling out of the individual market. This is an issue as it is how individuals purchase insurance outside of their employer. Employers need to prepare themselves for an influx of individuals requiring insurance.

Until health care reform is complete, the best solution for employers is to invest in a Bronze level high deductible health plan (HDHP) alongside Group Supplement Health (GAP) plans. GAP insurance can provide coverage where HDHPs prove inadequate. This allows employers to offer compliant health insurance that their employees can afford. To stay up to date with the changing face of ACA as well as learn more about GAP solutions, contact Chelten Consulting.

Atypical Benefits for a Competitive Edge

There are standard benefits most employers offer: healthcare, dental, vision, and retirement planning options. In fact, retirement and healthcare benefits contribute overwhelmingly to employee loyalty. However, these benefits are expected. It is the unconventional, and therefore infrequently offered, benefits that make a company stand out from its competition. Below are some benefits many employers overlook, but employees value.

Continuing Education

Investing in employees’ continued education is a mutual benefit. Further developing an employee’s skill set can help the company grow. Businesses of all sizes can offer continuing education benefits. Large corporations can offer full-tuition coverage for eligible degrees through pre-determined universities. These companies usually require that the employee earn a minimum GPA to qualify for tuition coverage. Small businesses may not be able to afford tuition coverage, but they can offer their employees flextime. This will allow the employee to attend classes and perform their job at times that better suit their schedule.

Volunteer Benefits

With more and more millennials joining the workforce, companies are starting to invest in benefit options that appeal to this generation. For example, millennials have a well-developed social consciousness and often volunteer to make a difference in their community. Offering time off for volunteering purposes can give businesses an edge over other companies that do not.

Commuter Benefits

Commuting to and from work is a hidden expense for many employees. Gas, parking passes, and wear and tear on personal vehicles add up over time. Individuals that take public transportation do not have it much better as they have to pay a bus, cab, or metro fare as well. These expenses add up quickly, which is why employees always appreciate when their company provides commuter benefits.

As the job market continues to grow in competitiveness, employers need to distinguish themselves from their competition. Offering these progressive benefits can improve employee retention and entice new talent. Contact Chelten Consulting for more benefits strategies to improve your competitive hiring practices.

Overcoming the Boring Benefits Communication Barrier

There is a lot of information new hires need to know. Onboarding processes are notorious for being dull and resulting in many glazed eyes, lack of attention, and failure to absorb the necessary information. Reducing the duration of this process as well as improving the efficacy has two primary benefits. First, Human Resources (HR) is able to disseminate important information without wasting time. Second, companies can start seeing a faster return on investment from their new hire.

Revamping Orientation Programs

HR has the important but tedious task of communicating a vast amount of information to new hires: performance review procedures, the employee handbook, and so on. HR departments often send out newsletters or create PowerPoints to address this information. Even so, many employees fail to absorb it or cannot find what they are looking for later. To overcome this communication hurdle, HR should make their onboarding process:

  • Death by PowerPoint is alive and well among many HR new hire orientation programs. It is also ineffective. Visual presentations that are not-text-heavy are much more likely to capture an audience’s attention than slides overloaded with dense sentences.
  • Taking a holistic approach can show new hires how all of the information they are seeing relates. This type of approach can connect the dots to elucidate the larger picture.
  • Cross platform. Much of the advice for HR professionals recommends communicating information in small pieces so as not to overwhelm employees. While this may be true, HR departments should also take steps to house all of the information in an easy to access and search location. Employees should also be able to access the information from any device.

Chelten Consulting understands your company needs effective information distribution strategies. Making these changes can accelerate and improve new hire benefits communication. Contact us to ensure your business is using the most effective methods of communication.

Four Critical Strategies in Combating Rising Benefits Costs

employee benefits graphicEmployers are facing ever-increasing challenges in controlling costs while attempting to offer competitive benefits. A recent study indicates that healthcare costs will continue to grow faster than inflation at a rate of over 4%.

While there’s no silver bullet in combating rising healthcare costs, there are a variety of factors that can be identified. Knowing what’s driving up your healthcare costs can help in finding ways to control these costs without gutting your benefits offerings. These include the rising costs of procedures, especially among specialists, the increasing cost and quantity of prescription medications being dispensed, the advent of newer and more refined technological aids, patient inclination to seek out rapid care, and more. But what can we accomplish with this information?

Understanding where these excess costs are coming from will allow you and your benefits advisers to identify specific coverages or elements of a plan that can be reduced or eliminated. Often the amount you save will be significant enough that some of that money can go back into the benefits system for other, less costly services. It’s certainly a strategy of balance, and of finding ways to make your dollars go as far as they can for the company and those who work within it. Four of the key benefits choices to control costs include:

1. Level-funding company healthcare costs.
2. Provide a proactive wellness initiative.
3. Use a flexible contribution arrangement (FSA).
4. Use deductible exposure mitigation vehicles (HRAs).

Does your executive team and/or HR department understand these strategies and what they offer your organization? Are you aware of which ones you’re already using? Do you know which aspects of your benefits program prove least and most effective in terms of dollars spent? These are critical questions that should be asked and answered frequently. To learn more about benefits challenges and strategies to combat them, contact Chelten Consulting Group.