Tag Archives: healthcare

Healthcare Cost Predictions from Mercer

Health Benefit Costs: Calm Before the Storm?
Infographic by Mercer Insights

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Shocker! Health Costs Can Jump Next Year!

Oh snap. Looks like health care costs are on the rise again, with proposed increases of 8% in 2014 if you keep the same plan, and small groups can get hit the hardest.








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Part-Time Shrinks, Thanks to ACA

It was bound to happen. As the ACA starts to kick in for employees of 30 hours or more, some employers are shrinking their part-timer’s schedules to fall below that 30 hour threshold.

Overall, an estimated 2.3 million workers nationwide, including 240,000 in California, are at risk of losing hours as employers adjust to the new math of workplace benefits, according to research by UC Berkeley.

Many part time workers are typically not covered currently by an employers healthcare plan. A recent survey showed that only 15% of part time workers are offered health insurance, with only 8% getting covered. So adding coverage for them is definitely a step up in costs for their employers.

Readers, what are your plans for part-time employees at your firm? Will you keep them on at 30 hours or above, or do you plan to trim their schedule to keep their hours down and avoid paying for their health premiums.

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FMLA Disputes Require a Third Opinion

The result of a new Family Medical Leave ACT (FMLA) shows that a second opinion may not be enough to reject employee leave.  

When the accused employer did so, the Minnesota court ruled in favor of the employee, stating that the company had violated the employee’s FMLA rights and unlawfully terminated the employee over the dispute.  

According to attorney Francine Breckenridge from the firm Strasburger & Price, “employers cannot use a second opinion alone to reject a workers’ FMLA leave request.”  

In addition, Breckenridge explains that employers are required to pay for the second and third medical opinions — and the medical providers rendering the opinions cannot be connected to the employers.

Read the HR Morning news article

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The Toll of the Recession on Employee Benefits and Healthcare

In a 2011 SHRM Employee Benefits Survey, nearly ¾ of HR professionals in the U.S. confirm the negative impact on benefits due to the economy. For instance:   

  • 3/4 of HR professionals report decline in healthcare benefits (a 5% increase from 2010)
  • 25% fewer employers are offering housing/relocation to employees  

HR practitioners also have reported a trend of employers have to take on greater responsibility in covering part or all of their healthcare insurance, retirement savings, and other benefits that previously were offered competitively by employers.    

“We have seen so many cuts to HR benefit budgets over the last three years,” Mark Schmit, director of research at SHRM, said. “Organizations have had to be creative to find ways to compensate for the loss of benefits with hard cuts in order to stay competitive in the recruitment and retention of top talent.”  

The addition of workplace flexibility programs has been one of the primary tactics organizations are using to offset the benefit losses.  

Read the Workforce Magazine article

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Congressional Wellness Caucus Recently Formed to Improve Employee Health Care

Originally formed by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen from Minnesota, the new congressional caucus seeks to investigate and share ways that companies can support the health and wellness of their employees.  

The Minnesota politicians said they will chair the Congressional Wellness Caucus with Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.). Klobuchar is a Democrat and Paulsen a Republican.  

“By supporting proactive and preventative care, we can help curb health care costs and improve the lives of employees,” Paulsen said.  

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, employers with workplace wellness programs have a 25% reduction or more in sick leave, health plan costs, workers compensation, and disability costs.  

From the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal, earlier this year, each formed caucuses to help the medical device industry, which has a large presence in Minnesota, repeal a $20 billion tax that goes into effect in 2013 to help pay for President Obama’s health care reform.  

Read the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal article

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Time for Employers to Reexamine Disability Benefits?

Only half of American workers have disability insurance benefits from their employers.  

According to new research from The Hartford, 49 percent of U.S. workers have short-term disability insurance and 44 percent have long-term disability insurance.  

The findings show a significant drop, since last year’s survey, in the number of Americans with the coverage that provides an income if one cannot work due to an illness or non-work related injury.  

Close to two million Americans have experienced a disabling illness or injury so far this year. Other surprising results of the study showed:  

  • 92 percent would need to make lifestyle changes if they lost part of their family income
  • 75 percent base buying decisions on a fear of experiencing sudden financial hardship
  • Only 25 percent of workers completely understand disability insurance  

Read the Insurance Journal article

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