5 biggest priorities for employer-sponsored health plans this year

Mercer health benefit consultants have come up with a short list of what employer health plan sponsors need to keep top-of-mind going forward in the New Year:

  1. Prepare for 2014 requirements under health care reform. In 2014, employers will be required to offer qualified health coverage to all employees working 30 or more hours per week — so in 2013 they need to determine who those employees are and whether their health plan qualifies. They also need to inform employees about the new state exchanges.
  2. Evaluate the level of benefits provided. As employers are asked to cover more individuals, they are reconsidering the level of benefits they provide and how much they contribute to the cost. Providing employees with a lower-cost plan (like a consumer-directed health plan) as the core benefit and giving them the option to pay more for richer coverage is one approach gaining momentum.
  3. Examine whether private health exchanges have a place in the health benefits strategy. While relatively few employers expect to drop their medical plans entirely, some are considering private exchanges for retirees, active employees or both. Exchanges reduce the administrative burden for employers and can give members more flexibility in selecting insurance products to meet their needs.
  4. Ramp up health management programs for long-term savings. Most employers have some type of wellness or health management program, but is it achieving all it can? Employers should consider offering employees incentives to participate — the payoff is a healthier, higher-performing workforce. Social media’s networking capabilities offer new ways to build engagement
  5. Rethink where and how care is delivered. Market innovations like telemedicine, surgical centers of excellence and medical homes are starting to transform the health care delivery system.

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