Pop the big questions about private health exchanges
Private health exchanges (PHEs) are steadily gaining attention from employers, as they may relieve financial and administrative stress imposed by the Accountable Care Act. A new briefing paper from Milliman offers up 16 must-ask questions for companies to consider before making the switch.
Although PHEs cut down on ACA to-do lists for plan management and administration, while offering employees a broad selection of coverage, it’s important for employers to do their due diligence.
So, where do you start? Among Milliman’s suggestions is examining culture and change readiness to gauge how your workforce will adapt to a shift to a PHE, considering financial implications such as tax premiums and long-term impacts, and establishing a fail-safe in case the shift ultimately doesn’t work out.
States seek to mandate private retirement plans
In the wake of California’s recently enacted legislation that requires employer contributions to retirement accounts, lawmakers in Maryland and Wisconsin are striving to do the same for their private-sector employees.
The proposed bill in Maryland “would require employers with more than five employees to either provide retirement plans or let workers have contributions to accounts automatically deducted from their paychecks,” according to Maryland Sen. James Rosapepe.
A similar bill would allow for voluntary employee participation, and employers wouldn’t be required to make matching contributions.
Democratic lawmakers in Wisconsin have called for a feasibility study to discuss pros and cons of mandating retirement benefits; at least five public hearings will take place before any forward motion.
77 million people struggle to understand their health benefits
Americans wrangle with health literacy, which hampers their ability to make sound decisions when it comes to making benefits selections. The Atlantic suggests that these poor health decisions “can amount to more than $100 billion annually.”
The Department of Health and Human Services finds that only 12% of individuals are considered to be “proficient” when it comes to health literacy (able to calculate their share of health insurance costs for the year).
About a third (35%) of the population has a “basic” or “below basic” level of understanding (understand short sets of health instructions and offer reasons why a person should be tested for diseases). Slightly more than half (53%) are at the intermediate level (able to read prescription instructions).
These numbers mean that 88% of Americans, or about 77 million people, need assistance understanding advanced health information like benefits and insurance.
One possible solution? Effective, clear benefits communication.