Tag Archives: insurance

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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DOL Considers Updating Rules on Providing Benefit Information Electronically

In a workforce shifting to the paperless environment, where does your organization stand? According to the 2002 regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Labor:  

Plan information can be distributed electronically to employees who have access to electronic information at work as part of their duties – and to those who have signed a consent form allowing their employer to supply their benefit documents electronically.  

Now, the Department of Labor is rethinking their policy on electronic document accessibility for benefit information. In a notice in early April, the DOL published a notice welcoming feedback on whether national regulations regarding electronic disclosure should be updated.  

Since there have been a number of significant technological advancements, there is the consideration that there should be different disclosure requirements to accommodate the widespread use of wireless and smart phones as well as other portable devices. 

Read the HR Morning article  

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2011 HR Trends Survey: Wellness Programs a Top Priority

The year of 2011 brings a lot of promise and possibility to the American workforce. According to the survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), researching and developing a new wellness program at their organization is a priority for HR this year.

Wellness Programs

In the last year, the toll of group health insurance spikes really impacted human resources professionals all over the U.S. Organizations have already started offloading a portion of the insurance costs to employees who participate. However, the value of effective disease management and prevention has become more important than ever. For example:

  • Most Employees Say Their Health Choices Impact Their Productivity at Work. In another study by ComPsych, a reported 74% of surveyed employees reported that their well-being led to a significant lack of energy at work. Medically obese individuals could cost up to $13 billion, and smokers adding more than $1,600 a year for an employer.
  • Success Story: We Energies (Milwaukee, WI) recently discovered the ROI of wellness programs, which not only helped reduce sick days used, but lead to an overall savings of $12.1 million for the company (an estimated $180 per person).

As you research your organization’s wellness program options, the most efficient approach would be to inquire with your current insurance provider regarding their wellness offerings. Whether you decide to use your provider or find a wellness vendor, another important element is creating a culture of wellness that extends beyond what the plan offers and encourages a higher commitment of the organizational environment to a work-life balance.

Other Findings

With more than 1,240 HR participants, the SHRM study showed wide agreement in a number of other areas as well:

  • 85% expecting a stronger link between employee performance and company goals
  • 80% will be researching and implementing employee wellness programs
  • 75% will invest more in employee education and training benefits
  • 67% say there will be more flextime in 2011
  • 63% will be expanding the company by recruiting new talent
  • 63% say that wages are going up

 You can expect to read more in the next week about how to strategize these other high priority HR initiatives, including tips and ideas to get you started.

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