At a time when the desire and expectation for employee benefits coverage are on the rise, it’s important for employers to find creative ways to make their employee benefits plans more cost effective. Companies that may have, at one time, paid 100% of an employee’s benefits plan are now finding innovative ways for employees to “earn” a percentage of their benefits premium.
One of the most significant ways for employers to transfer a portion of an employee’s cost for health benefits elsewhere is by increasing the differential pay an employee is responsible for. Healthcare reform implemented during the Obama administration allowed employers to ask employees to perform health-related tasks to earn up to 30% of their premiums, thereby giving employers the opportunity to offset 30% of their expense.
Many employers have committed to providing continued employee benefits coverage, as long as their employees have some “skin in the game,” so to speak. That is, if an employer is going to foot the bill for an employee’s company-provided health premiums, they can require him/her to perform one or a series of tasks to get a portion of their entire health-premium covered.
Administering one or a number of these easy-to-implement, non-discriminatory, employee-required actions can build a significant differential in the company’s favor. However, employees will still have the freedom to pick and choose what actions, if any, they’d like to take to minimize their out-of-pocket expense for health benefits.
1. Committing to Remain Tobacco-Free
Employers can ask their employees to state or affirm their tobacco usage. If an employee attests to being a tobacco user, he/she can be held accountable for up to 30% of the cost for their health benefits. Prior to healthcare reform, employers could only require an employee to cover differential pay up to 20%.
2. Performing a Health Risk Assessment
With an online assessment, employees are typically asked to answer a number of questions regarding the frequency of specific actions (eating habits, exercise habits, etc.), usually taking minimal time and effort to complete. Requiring employees to perform a health risk assessment has a two-fold benefit. First, it gives employers a high-level snapshot of changes they may need to implement in their company culture or company-provided employee benefits. Second, it provides employees the opportunity to realize their potential health risks.
3. Conducting a Biometric Screening
A biometric screening usually occurs during a doctor’s visit and offers a full-scale overview of an employee’s state of health. Usually, blood work is required to give employees an accurate diagnosis of common health issues, such as high cholesterol, diabetes, etc. While Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) laws protect information from being shared on an individual level, anonymous information can be provided to the employer for a snapshot of its employees’ overall wellbeing. Being privy to this invaluable information can help employers make educated decisions about future wellness programs.
4. Conducting an Annual Checkup/Physical Exam
Having employees participate in annual checkups or physical exams gives employees the opportunity to remain cognizant of their current state of health. A number of things can change from one year to another, so strongly suggesting that employees participate in a physical exam gives them the opportunity to remain on top of their health to, hopefully, be proactive in implementing lifestyle changes for improved health.
In an ever-changing environment, one thing is certain—the health-benefits industry will continue to evolve. Employers will continue to experience a fluctuation in the employee benefits plans they’re required to provide, the cost they’re expected to cover, or requirements they’re legally bound to meet. To keep your company ahead of the ever-changing curve, enlist the help of an employee benefits consultant. They can help your company find the ideal employee benefits plan that meets the need of your workforce—at a price point your company can afford.
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