What Employers Say About the Future of Employer-sponsored Health Benefits
By Casey Kirkeby, Strategy Consultant
Employer-sponsored health benefits have faced several threats over the past few decades, but just like hard-working employees they protect, they still endure and remain the primary method of coverage today.
One of the most impactful changes has been the introduction the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI) recently published a report examining the ACA’s impact and other government health care solutions on employer-sponsored health plans. The study interviewed 26 benefits executives from various industries whose organizations covered over 1.2 million individuals and spent more than $6.5 billion on benefits in 2021. Their data reflected that both employers and employees still viewed employer-sponsored health benefits as an important feature of the employment relationship. Who would have though, right?! While this public option doesn’t guarantee ongoing success and stability, it will hopefully help shield employers from future challenges like legislative policy changes, economic difficulties and labor market shortages. Just like any good relationship, the employer/employee benefit relationship takes hard work, trust, and transparency.
As health care costs rise, employers are looking at any option to control costs. One arrangement that has been quite popular in the Lower 48 is the ICHRA (Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangement). Since it’s inception in January of 2022, many employers have adopted the ICHRA, directing their employees to private exchanges so that the employee is able to make plan design decisions for themselves apart from the traditional one-size-fits-all model. There are important considerations to take into account before an employer jumps to this model and the process is still clunky, but it can be a good fit for some employers. However, employers and employees have been slow to embrace the ICHRA because it lacks control over healthcare costs and creates additional administrative burdens that the employer has to absorb.
Another survey conducted by the National Business Group on Health concluded that most employers plan to continue offering health benefits to their employees as part of their overall compensation package. Specifically, the survey found that 92% of large employers offer health benefits and expect to continue doing so in the future, with an increasing focus on virtual health and digital solutions.
Employers are always exploring different ways to control costs, such as offering high-deductible health plans, Wellness Programs, Employee Assistance Programs surrounding mental health, and incentivizing employees to use cost-effective providers. But for now, employers remain confident in their ability to provide affordable health benefits to employees as an important attraction and retention tool.
- Published in Blog
To Wage War On Work & Wage
By Kevina “Liz” Mitchell, Employee Benefits Account Specialist
Like many of the other 10 million single mothers in America, I have one beautiful princess who my life revolves around. Yet, whether we be single parents, two parent homes, or even individuals, this past year has likely affected each of our metaphorical family orbits. Once inflation took flight last year and refused to land, I was faced with a hard decision: either leave my current job (which I love) or take on a second part-time gig. Neither choice is appealing, but I have chosen the second. A) Because again, I love my job and B) because although the job market is hawt, the jobs I do qualify for either do not pay what I need, or they just seem really sus.
I do wonder when the last time the State of Alaska updated their assistance eligibility requirement was. Though I have by all accounts a respectable white-collar job, I still struggle to pay my bills, often having to choose between buying food or paying said bills. There’s no extra. The things my daughter and I were able to enjoy before this inflationary period are now unattainable because they cost money that I simply don’t have. As she grows… so do her interests. She wants to take classes that there are no funds for. Even I would like to take a class or two to grow my interests but cannot. But, according to Alaska, I make too much money. So, help is not available to me.
My remaining option then becomes to work more hours, having even less time with my little girl who needs me, and exhausting myself more than I already am. I suppose I could don a nice dress and hunt for a rich man… but I’m anemic so I don’t have the energy for that, hahaha! I do, however, think this is an opportunity for some creativity. My mother has been pestering me to start painting again. Allegedly I have a growing fanbase on JBER that would like to purchase my art pieces. I’ve also decided that this is a wonderful time to monetize my stunningly straight teeth and infectious personality via the Food & Beverage Industry.
Either way, I know I’m going to be just fine. While this isn’t how I envisioned my life going I can’t say that it’s boring. At least I have this life and the wonderful daughter within it. I’m also pretty excited about the possibilities! Especially the part where I will have no excuses to not leave my house anymore…or maybe that part was just anxiety, I don’t know. But darn it all, it’s happening, and life goes on.
- Published in Blog