Study: Employees in the Dark About Their Healthcare Plans

Group employment expert explains new study and how it costs employers big-time

Insurance ConfusionA recent study found that 25 percent of employees do not understand the basics of their healthcare plan, while 32 percent are further confused by their plan’s additional benefits. And, 67 percent say that they are given little to no advanced preparation when it comes to choosing new plans.

“These findings line up with what I have heard from many of my prospects, especially in recent months,” says Rob Wilson, group health employment expert and President of Employco USA. “With President Trump’s new alterations to the Affordable Care Act, many people are confused about their coverage and their requirements for coverage. For example, some people think that President Trump removed the penalty for Americans who do not have insurance, however, this relief actually does not come into effect until 2019, so people can still face financial punishment if they are not covered.”

Wilson says that employees are not the only ones who suffer when they are in the dark about healthcare coverage. “Employers will suffer as well if their employees make uninformed healthcare decisions,” says Wilson. “This includes employees who choose the wrong healthcare plan, employees who neglect to appropriately use their benefits, employees who erroneously have adult children on their healthcare plan, etc.”

For the group employment expert, education is one of the most important steps when it comes to making sure that a company’s healthcare costs are as trimmed and streamlined as possible.

“It’s important to have representatives from your chosen health insurance provider come to your office on a regular basis in order to talk to new employees as well as refresh the minds of older employees, especially as so many changes are afoot in this industry,” says Wilson. “I would also advise employers to regularly send out emails with information about their plans, but more importantly, also snail mail. An informative packet in the mail which an employee can hold in their hands and share with their family to help discuss options and compare benefits will be invaluable.”

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at rwilson@thewilsoncompanies.com.

Why Blue Cross is Slashing the Cost of Premiums Across the United States

Group employment expert explains what employers and employees need to know about the future pricing of the group health plan

Slashing PremiumsBlue Cross Blue Shield is proposing premium cuts in many states across America for 2019, with some states seeing as much as a 5% decrease or more. However, there could be more to this story than meets the eye.

“Blue Cross is cutting prices now because they over-estimated how much they needed to hike their premiums last year,” explains Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA and group employment expert. “They set the rates too high, which is understandable as there was so much uncertainty over the fate of the Affordable Care Act and how President Trump would alter Obamacare. But, now that we have a clearer picture of the fate of the Affordable Care Act, Blue Cross can go back to rectify their initial over-estimation.”

Wilson says that, regardless of the cause, a decrease in premiums is nearly unheard of, and a hopeful sign of things to come.

“Blue Cross has not reduced the cost of their premiums in years,” says Wilson. “For example, in Illinois, my home state, premiums have been going up every year, in some cases even jumping up by 17 percent such as in 2015. So, for people of Illinois to finally see price decreases is simply unprecedented.”

Wilson says even the states in which Blue Cross Blue Shield is proposing premium increases don’t have to fear. “Not every state is going to see a decrease in Blue Cross Blue Shield premiums in 2019, and some may even see an increase, but this increase will be very slight.”

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at rwilson@thewilsoncompanies.com.

How Employers Can Keep Healthcare Costs Down

Group healthcare expert reveals how employers can save big on healthcare plans in 2019

Healthcare CostsAccording to the most recent data, premium healthcare plans for individuals in 2019 will increase by 15 percent in many states across America. As the Affordable Care Act continues to be in flux, employers are very concerned about how they can help keep healthcare costs down.

With insurance renewals approaching later this year, Rob Wilson, human resources expert and President of Employco USA, offers some tips that can help employers save on healthcare costs while also keeping employees happy and healthy:

  • Move to consumer-directed health plans. “Instead of traditional PPOs, high deductible health plans might be a smarter choice for you. With these plans, employees pay for preventive care visits, which in turn teaches them to watch prices and become better spenders. It empowers employees and gives them more ownership over their own health choices and costs.”
  • Consider surcharges for smokers. “Now, with HIPPA and the ADA, there are some concerns regarding employers regulating an employees’ decision to smoke or not to smoke. However, what you can do is encourage smokers to attend smoking cessation classes. If smokers attend these groups, you can offer them the premium discount even if they are not able to stop smoking.”
  • Implement spousal surcharges. “Many companies are now charging their employees a spousal surcharge. With this cost-saving measure, employees will have to indicate if their spouse has access to healthcare at their job. If they do have access to healthcare elsewhere, but your employee still wants them to be on your plan, they might have to pay a small amount of more than employees who aren’t making this same choice.”
  • Shift the claim cost to employees. “Some employers are reducing costs by shifting the claim for cost to employees,” says Wilson. “For example, instead of offering a PPO with a $30 dollar co-pay, you might shift that to $40 or $45 employees.”
  • Encourage virtual office visits. “e-Medicine is becoming a growing trend, and for good reason. It can help keep costs down while helping to decrease the amount of time doctor’s visits can take. It’s a win-win for employers: Your employees are able to see their doctor and get back to work in less time and with less cost.”
  • Shift part of the premium cost to employees. “For example, instead of playing 75 percent of the premium, in 2019, you might ask your employees to pay 73 percent. It is a small but meaningful reduction, and one that will not to be too costly for your workers,” says Wilson.
  • Encourage health initiatives. “Workplace wellness programs aren’t just going to reduce your overall health costs, they are going to ensure that your employees are healthy, happy and productive. So, whether you want to have an on-site fitness center, or hand out Fit bits or incentivize healthy eating and fitness programs, anything you can do to get your employees moving and eating more mindfully will have massive paybacks for you.”
  • Make sure employees know their benefits. “It is common for many employers and insurance providers to send out information about the employees’ health plans via email, but people’s inboxes are so packed with junk that they might not open these messages,” says Wilson. “It might be a smart idea to rely on snail-mail when it comes to keeping employees informed and on top of their health care spending. To this end, on a quarterly or bi-annual basis, you might want to send out packet with tips and package benefits to employees’ home address, or leave it on their desk.”

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at rwilson@thewilsoncompanies.com.

Rob Wilson on Business for Breakfast: Why So Many Americans Are Still Opting out of Health Insurance

Rob Wilson discusses why so many Americans are going without health insurance on a segment of Business for Breakfast (Money Radio).

Read more on this topic here:
http://www.employco.com/blog/2018/03/26/many-americans-still-opting-health-insurance/

Contact us with any questions you may have, we’re here to help: hr@employco.com

Why So Many Americans Are Still Opting out of Health Insurance

Group health insurance expert explains why so many Americans are going without health insurance

The Affordable Care Act was supposed to bring healthcare to millions of Americans who could not afford it, but critics say that the healthcare law was a failure. In fact, many Americans are still choosing not to purchase healthcare, including those who are considered middle-class.

“Surprisingly as it might sound,  it isn’t people with low-wage jobs who can’t afford to buy healthcare in our current market,” says Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA and group health insurance expert. “Due to President Obama’s changes to healthcare law, healthy people and middle-class people suddenly found themselves looking at a steep uptick in prices, and not every family can stand to foot that bill.”

While it is true that the Affordable Care Act helped to lower health insurance costs for people in the lower-income brackets, the result is that other people, such as those in middle-class income brackets, have had to pick up the slack.

“We are looking at big premium increases right now,” says Wilson. “And all it takes is a difference of $10 an hour to find yourself no longer eligible for the federal subsidy to cover healthcare costs.”

Wilson says that the reality is that buying your own individual health plans as a middle class individual or family is becoming too exorbitant, and this won’t change until ACA has been rolled back even further.

“Right now, the health insurance companies have all the power, and we need to put that power back in the hands of the consumer,” says Wilson.

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at rwilson@thewilsoncompanies.com.

Will Your Employer Stop Paying for Your Birth Control?

Group insurance expert predicts how Pres. Trump’s decision will impact average American 

Many people are concerned that their employers are going to opt against paying for birth control now that President Trump has taken steps to reverse the federal mandate requiring companies to do so.

“Headlines across the country have frightened people into thinking that their companies are no longer going to pay for their contraception,” says Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA and group insurance expert. “Thankfully, this is going to be unlikely across the board.  Even before President Obama used the Affordable Care Act to require employers to pay for birth control for employees, 9 out of 10 companies already did so.”

Essentially, the ruling just allows for people to opt against covering contraceptive costs if it challenges their religious beliefs, however, the number of employers who fall in this category will be small, says Wilson. And, he says changes are even less likely when it comes to big firms.

“From a business standpoint, it’s wise to provide affordable contraception options to your workers,” says Wilson. “After all, birth control is much less expensive than the cost of pregnancy and delivering a baby, not to mention family leave. So, the reality is that despite the scary headlines, most employees should expect little to no changes in their contraception costs.”

Nor does he think employers would be wise to use this as a loophole to get out of paying for birth control. “One way or another, all employers pay a price for their workers’ reproductive decisions,” Wilson says. “Financially speaking, contraception is the least expensive option, provided it does not go against your religious beliefs.”

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at rwilson@thewilsoncompanies.com.

Above-Average Rise in Cost of Employee Benefits in 2018

How can employers prepare?

Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA and group insurance expert, says, “Employees say that an employer’s health insurance plan is more important to them than their actual salary, but as these numbers show, offering group insurance can be a losing game for employers. For the last five years, employer costs to insure each employee have risen, but now we are looking at a significant bump: 5  percent or more.”

Wilson points to the fact that Republicans have not yet been able to eradicate the Affordable Care Act, as well as the fact that specialty prescription drug costs are skyrocketing.

“Employers may consider enrolling in high-deductible CDHPs as these plans can help to protect your bottom line. Other cost-saving measures like instituting a surcharge for spouses or employees who smoke can slow cost. Outcome based incentives and wellness programs have also been shown to be useful, as have on-site clinics and prescription purchasing coalitions. Some companies are instilling a policy that requires mandatory generic brand medication,  which can help to reduce costs in a meaningful way.”

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at rwilson@thewilsoncompanies.com.

Here’s How Trumpcare Is Going to Impact the Average American

Group insurance expert reveals what Americans can expect

President Trump’s American Healthcare Act is under ever-increasing scrutiny from politicians and pundits alike. However, misunderstandings and oversights have been rife when it comes to the way many Americans talk about the Republican healthcare bill, says Rob Wilson, group health insurance expert and President of Employco USA.

Here, Wilson identifies key part parts of ‘Trumpcare’ which he believes are important for Americans to become aware of:

  • Elimination of the employer and individual mandates: “It will no longer be a requirement for anyone (such as young, healthy people) to have for health insurance. And, the elimination of penalties means that they will not be penalized if they decide if they would rather spend their hard-earned money elsewhere.”
  • A 30% surcharge to premium cost for lapse of coverage over 60 days: “This will allow insurers to charge people who drop in and out of the market, which will help to keep costs fair and encourage people to keep their health insurance intact.”
  • Repeal tax on over-the-counter medicine: “This will be a nice boon for consumers.”
  • Repeal of tax increase on Health Savings Accounts and increase in maximum contribution for HSA accounts: “This will remove the excess penalty if Americans need to use their HSA for costs other than healthcare bills, and the increase in max contributions will also offer tax benefits for Americans, as these funds are 100 percent tax-deductible.”
  • Repeal of Medical Device Excise Tax: “A $20 billion tax cut, this will help to increase lower costs for manufacturers and breathe life back into states such as Indiana where medical device manufacturing is a multi-billion dollar industry.”
  • Repeal of increased Medicare tax: “Removing the 0.9% Medicare payroll tax on any money Americans earn above $250,000 will be a relief for many Americans.”
  • Repeal of tax on Prescription Medications: “This will amount to a $28 billion tax cut,” he says. “It will lessen the burden on Americans who purchase prescriptions each month, and it will allow drug companies to spend more money on research, production and development of medications.”
  • Repeal of Tanning Tax: “That 10 percent federal tanning tax is going away,” says Wilson.
  • Cadillac tax would not go in to effect until Dec 31, 2025: “The astronomical tax is now being delayed until 2025, which will lift a huge burden on consumers.”

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The Age Penalty in the GOP Health Bill: Will Seniors be Stuck with a Bigger Bill?

Group employment insurance expert weighs in

Many Americans are upset that older people are going to face a ‘age penalty’ under President Trump’s healthcare plan, but not everyone sees the situation as problematic. In fact, some experts think that it won’t be the unfair cost that Americans fear it will be.

Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA and group employment insurance expert says, “For many years, insurers have been able to charge older people higher premiums, as it is understood that they will generally have higher health costs and require more doctor’s visits. This reality has been folded into insurance costs for older people for a significant period of time, so President Trump’s so-called age penalty won’t be changing things too much. The only difference is that Obamacare only allowed insurers to charge older folks three times as much as they what they would charge other people for the same coverage, whereas President Trump’s plan allows for them to charge up to five times as much.”

Still, Wilson doesn’t believe that this means that millennials will be getting a free ride, as he explains that President Trump’s  “continuous health insurance coverage incentive” will hit younger people the hardest.

“Younger people are disproportionately likely to suffer a lapse in insurance coverage,” says Wilson. “And President Trump is asking that people who drop in and out of the insurance market be faced with penalties for doing so. This continuous coverage incentive applies to anyone who opts to go without insurance for longer than 63 days and then desires to resume coverage. The idea is that young people can’t cherry-pick when they want insurance, leaving older folks stuck with a hefty bill.”

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at rwilson@thewilsoncompanies.com.

Rising Healthcare Costs

New Survey Reveals that Middle-Class Families Must Choose Healthcare Over Food, Clothes

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Healthcare trends expert discusses these disturbing findings

Recent numbers show that middle-class families have increased their spending on healthcare by 25 percent since 2007. As these expenditures have increased, families have tightened their belt in other areas—with spending dropping on essentials such as food and clothing.

“These numbers are very disturbing,” says Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA and healthcare trends expert. “The Affordable Care Act was supposed to offer healthcare savings for Americans across the board, but instead it seems that middle-class families have been the hardest hit by our unstable economy.”

Wilson says that many Americans are reporting that their premiums are now so high that they cannot afford to go to the doctor. “With Obamacare, Americans are now facing deductibles of $3,000 a year or more,” he says. “Meanwhile, other Americans are losing their insurance as companies are forced to shut down as a result of the Affordable Care Act—not to mention, the amount of jobs that are going to be lost due to these company shutdowns.”

Wilson continues, “The whole point of President Obama’s plan was so that people would not have to choose between a doctor’s visit and paying for groceries. But now, thanks to these high premiums, we are right back in that same situation.”

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at rwilson@thewilsoncompanies.com.