Preparing Workers for Open Enrollment

A report by AON Hewitt reveals how employee benefits will change during this year’s open enrollment. The report also gives tips to respond to the changes. Aon Hewitt finds that employees will see the following changes as they enroll in benefits for 2015:

  • • Rising health care costs – Most employers plan to subsidize employees’ health coverage at a similar rate as this year, but as health care costs continue to rise, employees are likely to see higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs. Half of employers increased participants’ deductibles or copays in 2014, and 39% are planning to do so in the next three-to-five years. Employees who cover spouses and other dependents through their employers’ plans may see an even steeper cost increase. Twenty-two percent of employers have reduced subsidies for covered dependents while 18% added a surcharge for adult dependents with access to other health coverage. An additional half of employers surveyed are exploring such approaches over the next few years.
  • Greater likelihood of seeing consumer-driven health plan (CDHPs) options – CDHPs are the second most popular plan choice offered by employers, surpassing HMOs. Fifteen percent of companies offer a CDHP as the only health plan option, and another 42% are considering doing so in the next three to five years. Many employers are also offering a wide range of voluntary benefits, such as critical illness coverage, to help minimize out-of-pocket costs.
  • Programs and incentives that promote healthy behaviors – Most employers are focusing more on health and wellness programs. Seventy-five percent of employers offer health risk questionnaires; 68% offer disease and condition management programs; and 71% offer biometric screenings (e.g., for blood pressure and cholesterol). More companies offer incentives for completing these screenings or participating in certain programs, such as lower medical plan premium. Twenty percent of employers require employees to complete these activities to get expanded health plan choices with additional levels of coverage. In addition, more than a third of employers are tying incentives to outcomes, such as quitting tobacco use, lowering blood pressure, or improving body mass index.
  • • More transparency on costs and health plan choices – Almost all employers are offering health care cost estimators that allow employees to evaluate two or more health care plans at a time, factoring in monthly premiums, co-payments, deductibles, and coinsurance payments. More employers are also providing decision-support tools that enable employees to model out-of-pocket costs based on anticipated health plan use or prior claims information.
  • New ways to select and purchase health care benefits – A small, but growing number of employers are offering group-based health benefits to active employees through private health exchanges. Private health exchanges create a new competitive market for health insurance that provide employees with more health plan options at different coverage levels and price points. Aon Hewitt’s data shows that while just 5% of employers allow employees to purchase benefits through a private health exchange today, 33% said it will be their preferred approach in the next three-to-five years.

Last Updated 01/19/2022

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