Health savings accounts (HSAs) are a growing trend in health care. An HSA is a tax-exempt savings account established for the purpose of paying for the qualified medical expenses of an individual and/or his or her spouse and tax dependents. HSAs are designed to provide eligible individuals with the following federal tax benefits:
In addition to tax benefits, individuals covered under an HSA are more likely to seek preventive care, choose generic drugs, not misuse the emergency room, and use online tools to research health care providers.
The year may be winding down, but experts are already making their predictions for the hottest employee benefits in 2018. In a recent Employee Benefits News article, industry leaders expect benefits in the category of financial well-being to be the highest in demand.
According to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL), more than 1 in 3 Americans, or over 77 million people, are considered to have inadequate health literacy, which means that they have difficulty with common health tasks like reading a prescription drug label or making a wise health care decision.
It is estimated that low health literacy costs the United States $106 billion to $238 billion annually and accounts for 7 to 17 percent of all personal health care expenditures.
Increasing employee health care literacy starts with a good communication strategy. The most successful campaigns involve communication throughout the year, not just during open enrollment.
Utilize a variety of methods to increase readership, like flyers, emails and videos. Consider developing an FAQ so you can streamline the information for next year. Most importantly, benchmark employee satisfaction and knowledge through surveys and use the feedback to revise your campaign accordingly.
New administrations bring new challenges to the professional realm, and the Trump administration is no exception. Many of the former administration’s health care initiatives are being rolled back or halted. This leaves employers in an uncertain place in regard to compliance regulations and reform laws. This uncertainty comes in addition to the already complicated day-to-day tasks of an organization, leaving many feeling vulnerable.
The following are five important issues that should be closely monitored in 2017:
Unraveling of the ACA and Ensuring Employees are Educated Health Care Consumers: A new administration is now in office and President Donald Trump is vowing to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The first wave of this dismantling came in an executive order that directs federal agencies to waive, delay or grant exemptions from ACA requirements that may impose a financial burden. Other measures are promised to come later in the year, and experts agree that the “wait and see” approach is best for employers until a clear directive is issued. This means employers should focus their energy on increasing employee health care knowledge in order to make employees more educated consumers.
The process of creating and delivering a manageable and effective benefit communication program can be a time-consuming undertaking, but by following some helpful tips and best practices, you can streamline the success of your program.
Know what benefits your organization provides and how they work:
It’s hard to believe, but 2017 is here. Predictions aren’t exactly reliable, and uncertainty over impending health insurance laws raises a lot of questions, but as we plan for the year ahead, we’ve tracked down some employee benefit trends to look for.
Tailoring benefits packages to attract and retain millennials.
According to Pew Research Center, millennials represent the largest segment of the U.S. labor force. The pinnacle footprint of this generation may be the value they place on improving and expanding their life experiences over gaining more stuff. When it comes to their work, millennials may be keeping their options open and looking for new jobs. The 2016 Aflac WorkForces Report reveals that 66 percent of millennials say they are likely to look for a new job in the next 12 months. Additionally, more than any other age group, 72 percent of millennials are at least somewhat likely to take a job with lower pay but better benefits, making benefits options an important way employers can attract and retain their workforce
Much has been written about generations in the workplace, most of it focused on baby boomers and millennials. Just like a middle child, members of Generation X have been largely overlooked with regard to their long-term financial needs.
Considering that the youngest members of this generation, born between 1965 and 1980, are now reaching their 50s —peak wealth accumulation years for most people—it’s high time for that to change. Weber Shandwick’s study, Leveraging the Gen X Retirement Market: From Overlooked to Opportunity, discusses the financial needs of Gen Xers for the benefit of financial advisors. Its insights may also be useful for employers seeking to help this segment of their employee population.
Gen Xers were up-close witnesses to the recession of the early 1990s at a critical point in their lives. They were just emerging from their so-called slacker period and launching their careers. They were hit again as the first wave of them entered their early 40s, and the Great Recession swept away much of their financial progress. According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, Gen Xers took the biggest financial hit among the generations during that time, losing almost half (45%) of their total wealth in a four-year period. (Pew Research Center, “Generation X: America’s Neglected ‘Middle Child’”)
This information isn’t a surprise to members of Gen X; the study reveals many are worried about their long-term financial security, especially when asked about financing their health care as they age. The worry doesn’t seem to be motivating additional saving, though. This group wants and needs financial strategies, programs, advice and encouragement.
As you research and implement strategies to help Gen Xers save more for their retirement, your ISG Financial Advisors’ Account Executive has a number of resources that can help. Some of the ideas offered up by the Weber Shandwick study include:
Read the study online at http://tinyurl.com/Weber-Shandwick-GenX
For plan sponsor use only, not for use with participants or the general public. This information is not intended as authoritative guidance or tax or legal advice. You should consult with your attorney or tax advisor for guidance on your specific situation.
Kmotion, Inc., 412 Beavercreek Road, Suite 611, Oregon City, OR 97045; www.kmotion.com
© 2016 Kmotion, Inc. This newsletter is a publication of Kmotion, Inc., whose role is solely that of publisher. The articles and opinions in this publication are for general information only and are not intended to provide tax or legal advice or recommendations for any particular situation or type of retirement plan. Nothing in this publication should be construed as legal or tax guidance; nor as the sole authority on any regulation, law or ruling as it applies to a specific plan or situation. Plan sponsors should consult the plan’s legal counsel or tax advisor for advice regarding plan-specific issues.
The role of HR continues to change – from coach, counselor, employee advocate, and strategist. HR’s effectiveness requires an understanding of the hospital’s strategic direction, as well as the ability to influence key policies and decisions. While HR leaders have many initiatives, fostering a culture that builds leadership skills and engages the entire workforce is key to success.
Staffing issues remain a top challenge. Significant pressure is on hospitals and health care providers to replace aging baby boomer employees. At the same time, the number of people requiring health care services is increasing. This gap between supply and demand is one of human resources greatest challenges.
With thousands of baby boomers retiring every month, an incredible amount of knowledge is being lost. Salaries have done little to help retain these valuable employees; however, keeping boomers from completely exiting the workforce and staying engaged is important area of focus.
As the economy stabilizes, more employees are willing to change jobs, often citing lack of advancement opportunities, workload, and salary. Retaining employees plays a crucial role in patient satisfaction, organizational culture, and quality of care.
HR leaders must tackle both challenges by fostering environments that promote advancement and training opportunities. One way to achieve this is to pair experienced employees who may be nearing retirement with new hires to develop and implement coaching or mentoring programs. These programs will help build needed leadership skills and positively impact strategic planning, staff engagement, and the hospital’s overall performance.
A competitive compensation and benefits strategy helps attract qualified employees needed to provide care to a growing patient population, but what more can HR hospital leadership do to stay ahead of the challenge?
Employee engagement is important to ensuring the success of any retirement program. But how do you encourage employees to plan and save?
To start, it’s important to understand how employees make decisions. Lincoln Financial Group’s, Participant Engagement Study, found four decision-making styles based on 1) the time participants need in order to make a decision in the plan; 2) whether and how participants involve a financial professional; and 3) what participants say influences their decision.
The advice-seeker – a proactive individual who makes use of available resources, works with a financial professional, saves outside of the retirement plan, and is the most optimistic and confident.
The fact-finder – an individual influenced by the facts and numbers, prefers model portfolios, seeks opinions through research rather than personal advice, and feels both optimistic and anxious.
The decision-avoider – despite consulting a wide-variety of sources, this person fears losing money, takes a lot of time making decisions, and is anxious, overwhelmed and scared about the future.
The instinct-follower – an independent individual who doesn’t consult or rely on outside information or opinion, yet feels optimistic and confident about the future.
When you understand how employees make decisions, you can create an engagement strategy that motivates employees to take action.
Create an engagement strategy for all employee segments. Your strategy must appeal to all decision-making styles, it may be a good idea to consider special strategies for disengaged participants, instinct-followers, and decision-avoiders in particular. These groups represent the greatest area of opportunity.
Employees who are disengaged may be more easily motivated by taking one simple step, such as checking their account balances or meeting the employer’s match. For those who have difficulty making decision or those who rely on their own instincts, invite them to speak with a financial professional. And for engaged fact-finders, provide them with the resources to conduct their own research, such as the plan provider’s website and newsletters.
Optimize plan design to accommodate everyone. Enrolling in the plan, deciding how much to save, and selecting investments are difficult decisions and can be real barriers. To overcome these barriers, consider automatic features, such as auto enroll and auto escalate, as well as streamlined investment solutions (e.g., target-date funds, managed accounts, and automatic retirement income options).
Offer in-person guidance and personalization. Some participants want to be able to interact with a person who is qualified and knowledgeable about retirement planning. A personal approach can help participants address the most personal and influential factors of retirement planning.
Deliver outcomes-focused communication to motivate action. Most employees want to know about what simple actions they may want to take today and what outcome might be expected at retirement, as opposed to the mechanics of how investment or asset classes work.
Employees have mixed emotions about retirement, which affects how individuals engage with their retirement plans and how they make retirement-related decisions. Employers, in partnership with their retirement plan service provider, should use what they know about their particular employee population to develop a strategy that reaches out and engages all their employees.
Director of Marketing
Talent Attraction and Retention
Developing a strategic benefits package that targets specific types of employees can help attract the right job candidates to keep your organization running at peak efficiency.
Once you have these top-performing employees, a tailored employee benefits package will serve as a barrier to them leaving—a great benefits package can be a huge advantage when looking at retention strategies because it holds more than just monetary value for the employee. A bigger salary at another organization likely won’t be as strong a pull for an employee tempted to leave if the other organization’s benefits package isn’t as attractive as yours.
Healthy, Productive Employees
Healthy employees are more productive than unhealthy employees. When your benefits package includes a combination of health insurance, along with wellness programs and incentives, and dental and vision insurance coverage, your employees are provided the tools that will empower them to take an active role in managing their health. It is proven that having the correct programs and incentives in place, reduces absenteeism in the workforce.
A good benefits package leads to satisfied employees with higher morale. Employees who find value in their benefits are typically more loyal because they feel valued—which leads to increased productivity and contributes to decreased absenteeism.
Efficient Use of Resources
Many employees are willing to accept good benefits in lieu of a slightly higher salary. This strategy may prove positive to your organization’s budget. Through group rates, the value you present to employees with benefits can be more cost effective than paying a higher salary, thus providing savings along with lower payroll taxes.
Align Your Corporate Strategy
When HR professionals look toward the future, they are evaluating strategies to help manage both short and long term costs. Organizations that align their corporate objectives with their benefits strategy will ensure that the philosophy behind offering the right type of benefits programs will attract and retain the top performing employees they are looking for.