First Quarter 2014 ViewPoints
February 27, 2014
Benefit Management in 2014
We hope that your year is off to a terrific start! At Perspective, we are excited to tackle the new projects that 2014 presents to us.
The final regulations for the ‘Pay or Play’ portion of the Affordable Care Act are published and we are now busy with our review. We look forward to sharing our insights and individual solutions with our clients.
Stacy, Renee & Victoria
Healthcare Reform: The Year Ahead
For 2014, many healthcare reform changes are effective the first of the year or at the first plan renewal after January 1st. Not all the changes impact benefits for individuals covered under a plan. Responsibility areas for the changes also vary.
Employers are facing the shared responsibility preparation, annual fees, and changes to wellness program incentive programs.
Carriers will experience the implementation of guaranteed availability and renewability as well as new rules for premium calculations and annual fees.
The coverage changes for 2014 include essential health benefits, prohibition of annual limits, coverage for clinical trials, 90 day maximum waiting periods, and copays included in Out of Pocket Maximums.
Specialty Prescription Drugs
According to the May 2013 Healthcare Insights by Express Scripts Lab, U.S. spending on specialty prescription drugs is expected to increase 67% by the end of 2015. Specialty drugs which are used to treat chronic and complex conditions such as multiple sclerosis and cancer require special handling. Special handling can include injection or infusion.
Anticipated annual spending for traditional prescription drugs is expected to drop 4% by the end of 2015.
Cost management and an increased focus on patient outcomes can help mitigate the cost of specialty drugs.
Employee Assistance Programs
Employee concerns over privacy are a big reason for low utilization of Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). These low cost, helpful benefit offerings generally include a wide variety of services. Changing how you communicate to your employees can help positively shift employee interest and perceptions.
The Society for Human Resource Management encourages employers to communicate the less personal features of their EAPs, such as financial planning and personal concierge services. If you can increase employee comfort for ‘day-to-day’ services, then you can encourage the employee to reach out when more serious situations arise. Frequent communication about the privacy protections for EAP users is also important to help build trust and awareness.
Company leadership can also benefit from EAP support. Leadership training and change management support are common offerings. Crisis management can benefit an entire organization by assisting with difficult situations such as an employee death or layoffs.
The first quarter of the year is the perfect time to encourage employees to review and update beneficiary information.
Often, we select and then forget about our beneficiaries. Life changes, such as divorces and children becoming adults, can shift our beneficiary needs.
Life insurance, 401(k), and pensions are a few of the accounts that may require a beneficiary review. A quick review now can help dependents avoid pain and trouble later.
By now, many of you have given up on your New Year’s Resolution.
Each year, 45% of us make New Year’s Resolutions, but sadly, only 46% of our resolutions last past 6 months and only 8% of us actually achieve success.
To increase our chances at success, experts suggest changing how you make your resolutions. Smaller achievable goals that are specific will yield more success than large, general resolutions.
Source: Univ. of Scranton (Dec 2013)
VIEW IS A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE
At Perspective, we give you a broader view of employee benefits – a new perspective based on independence, insight, and initiative.