Expect More When it Comes to Your Employee Benefits in 2017
It’s that time of year where you’ve either just finished up or are in the process of selecting your employee benefits during your company’s open enrollment; and it’s no secret that healthcare costs have been on the rise. The Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Education Trust 2016 Employer Health Benefits Survey found that premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage is up 3% from last year, amounting in $18,142.
According to President of the JP Griffin Group, Jeff Griffin, many employers are settling on high-deductible health plans and telemedicine to regulate costs. Griffin explains that telemedicine technology, such as using the phone or video chat, help to “facilitate access to coverage but keep the cost low as well.” Many basic types of care that include doctor visits for things such as strep throat, pink eye, and ear infections can be administered through these virtual visits.
The major change that everyone is concerned about for 2017 is what is going to happen under the new presidential administration. Republicans and Democrats met respectively on Capitol Hill this week to discuss future plans for the ACA, so as of right now it is still unclear the direction in which healthcare benefits is going. Everything will stay on course under the current regulations for now, but employers need to be prepared if new options come to play during the year.
Aside from healthcare costs, here’s what the new year could mean for your employee benefits:
- More help navigating the healthcare system. As most employees are left to fend for themselves when it comes to using their healthcare benefits, there are now companies that can help guide employees through their insurance and healthcare questions. These companies are available to answer any of your questions as well as provide recommendations for alternative benefit usage.
- Ancillary benefits. More employers are offering their employees more options such as accident coverage, critical illness coverage, pet insurance or group legal plans. As most employers don’t pay for these added benefits, it gives the employees a chance to benefit from group rates on a particular coverage that otherwise may be too costly for individual purchase.
- Continued interest in wellness programs. Employers continue to recognize the value of wellness programs to assist in keeping their employees’ physical and emotional well-being up, but sometimes the monetary incentives or lower premium rates would have some employees playing the system. So instead of cash prizes, some employers may do a Fitbit challenge and award the winners with a free lunch party, an extra break or a jeans day so that it still incentivizes the employees but keeps the competition friendly.
- Growth of financial wellness programs. There’s still a very small number of employers offering this benefit, but financial wellness programs have slowly been picking up steam the past few years. Employers provide tools and resources to help employees learn how to create a budget, plan for major expenses such as college or a new home, and understand other money concepts.
- More telecommuting. Employers offering telecommuting on an as needed basis has increased from 45% in 2012 to 56% in 2016, according to a 2016 Society for Human Resource Management survey on employee benefits. Telecommuting and flexible work schedules are an attractive benefit to employees, so with the continuing advancements in technology it makes it easier for employees to constantly have their work right at their fingertips no matter where they are.
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org. The information contained in this post, and any attachments, is not intended and should not be misconstrued as legal advice. You should contact your employment, benefits or ERISA attorney for legal direction.