November 10, 2019
Amazon’s recent acquisition of Whole Foods has increased speculation that the online giant is preparing to enter the prescription drug market. Some, like CNBC, think Amazon will disrupt the industry, lowering costs for consumer and profits for retails chains...
November 5, 2019
The Memorial Hermann Health System (MHHS) in Houston learned an expensive lesson when it was fined $2.4 million for publicly naming an imposter seeking care at one of its facilities (National Law Review).
November 1, 2019
More than 350 million people suffer from depression, making it the leading cause of disability around the world (World Health Organization). Closer to home, nearly 16 million American adults, or almost 7% of the adult population, had at least one major depressive episode in 2013...
October 29, 2019
While not new, value-based insurance design (V-BID) is getting a lot of attention as a way to improve health outcomes and reduce costs. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) began a 5 year pilot with MedicareAdvantage plans in 7 states.
October 26, 2019
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Federal Railroad Administration backed off plans that would have required truckers and train operators with safety sensitive duties to be tested for obstructive sleep apnea.
October 18, 2019
Employers are focusing efforts on how healthcare is delivered and paid for according to the Large Employers’ 2018 Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey released by the National Business Group on Health on August 8.
October 12, 2019
You’ve spent months designing your new benefits package and the perks you offer your employees. But how do you know if you’re giving them what they want? A recent employee survey conducted by Namely sheds light on what really matters to employees—healthcare benefits.
October 2, 2019
An article posted in the Views section of the Employee Benefit News (EBN) website titled, 5 Steps to Improving Healthcare Benefits ROI, (free registration required) really got me thinking. Author Brain Ancell states that health benefits are a big financial investment...
September 30, 2019
The Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET) released their 2017 Employer Health Benefits Survey in September. The report sheds light on the employer-sponsored insurance landscape, which covers around 151 million workers.
September 20, 2019
This Halloween, the ghosts and goblins aren’t the only scary creatures out there. Now we have new threats scaring us that are very real and come in the form of computer hacks, malicious malware, and phishing scams. In the most recent Equifax breach...
September 10, 2019
If you’re like most employers, your benefits data sit in separate databases at different vendors. You really don’t think much about the data itself, relying instead on vendor reports to see how much your plan is costing you and the most prevalent conditions in your population.
September 5, 2019
As healthcare costs continue to rise, employers shift more of the burden to their employees. In 2017, employees’ share of total costs rose 5% from $3,378 to $3,550, while employers’ share rose less than 1%, from $6,350 to $6,401 (2017 United Benefit Advisors Health Plan Survey).
September 1, 2019
The healthcare market could be changing drastically as more insurers, drug stores, and hospitals/health systems consider mergers and new partnerships. The most recent mega-deal has CVS Health purchasing Aetna for $69 billion. Other moves are underway.
August 28, 2019
You’re breathing a sigh of relief that open enrollment is over and you won’t have to think about healthcare benefits for the next several months. But you shouldn’t put your medical and prescription drug plans on the shelf so quickly.
August 22, 2019
The good news is that we’re living longer, but the bad news is that many are unprepared for the financial burden they face with longevity. This is raising concerns in several areas.
August 17, 2019
You’re already under pressure to control benefits costs, so the news that employers should expect a 6.5% increase in health spending in 2018 (PwC’s Health Research Institute) has your head spinning. How can you manage your benefits programs when you’re at the mercy of external forces...
August 3, 2019
Most of us to some degree have worried, stressed, or thought about having enough money to retire comfortably. Retirement readiness is the ability to be financially prepared to retire. We, as employees, want the standard of living we have now to continue into retirement.
July 24, 2019
Does investing in big data really make companies more profitable? According to the Harvard Business Review, 80.7% of Fortune 1000 executives surveyed report their big data investments as successful. Nearly half say big data helped them decrease expenses.
July 11, 2019
One way for companies to combat their employees’ lack of retirement readiness is to throw cash at their 401(k) plans, but that’s a lot easier said than done. A solution that has longer term and multi-faceted, positive outcomes is a financial wellness program.
July 7, 2019
President Trump vowed that drug “prices will come down” during his State of the Union address. But for now, drug companies continue to increase prices, which is a big concern for employers offering prescription benefits and consumers who pay a percentage of the costs.
June 27, 2019
Most employers offer dental benefits to employees and dependents. If you don’t, you should consider it. There’s plenty of research linking good oral health to better mental health and overall wellness. And the evidence is growing that routine dental care could reduce your medical claims costs.
June 18, 2019
Countless people experience financial stress. It doesn’t matter how much you make—financial stress does not discriminate. According to the American Psychological Association, 7 out of 10 respondents are very stressed about money. That stress brings many negative consequences.
June 12, 2019
I’ve been reading a lot of articles about the need for HR to become more data-driven. One article, Survey: Some Predict HR Will Be Automated, Data-driven and Strategic by 2022, states that the top 3 areas of focus over the next 5 years will likely be training and development, morale, and retention.
June 4, 2019
Finding a return on investment (ROI) for a wellness program, whether it be health or financially focused, is a difficult task. Reasons include: Time and resources
Delay in reaping a return Sometimes the measure is a cost avoidance...
May 25, 2019
You take great stock in the phrase, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” You establish key performance indicators and create reports to monitor your progress. Measuring is a key first step to understanding what you need to fix. But to make impactful change...
May 22, 2019
For Seinfeld fans. George Costanza once famously (infamously?) quoted, “Worlds are colliding!”. In my work life, this is happening, without the negative connotation. As a credentialed actuary, I have a heavy interest in behavioral economics. I have always had an interest in why people do things.
May 16, 2019
Executives are demanding that HR become more strategic. As a result, we’ve seen the emergence of workforce analytics. Workforce analytics play a big role in overall organizational success, according to a joint study by MIT and IBM.
May 13, 2019
Many employee decisions regarding benefits and well-being are affected by behavioral economics. Understanding the biases and heuristics that exist can help employers effectively communicate the benefits and program value to employees.
May 9, 2019
Mergers of healthcare giants have made big news. If you’re like most of us, you’re asking: Why would a Prescription Benefit Manager (PBM) buy an Insurance Company? (CVS Health seeks to purchase Aetna for $69 billion) Why would an Insurance Company buy a PBM?
April 28, 2019
Panera and UnderArmour are the latest large companies to experience data security breaches, according to a Washington Post article. Hackers stole consumer information from the rewards programs offered by both companies.
April 25, 2019
Compound interest is not a simple concept. The best way to understand the power of accumulation is by visualizing it. So, most of this blog is going to be charts to help you visualize the concept.
April 19, 2019
Healthcare spending now accounts for 17.9% of our gross domestic product (GDP), and it’s expected to reach 19.7% by 2026 (CMS). Private health insurance spending rose 5.1% to $1,123.4 billion in 2016, accounting for 34 percent of total National Health Expenditure (NHE).
April 14, 2019
Do you or your employees have metabolic syndrome? Do you know what metabolic syndrome is? The term is relatively new, so don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard of it.
April 9, 2019
I discussed a number of health and financial issues that are contributing to rising employer-paid benefits costs. One of the factors I didn’t mention is the amount we waste on healthcare spending.
April 1, 2019
Ah, Spring! At home the birds are chirping, tulips are blooming, and your annoying neighbor is running the lawnmower at 7:00 am on a Saturday!
March 30, 2019
A chronic disease is one lasting 3 months or more, as defined by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics. Chronic disease affects health and quality of life, but it is also a major driver of healthcare costs. Take note of these eye-popping statistics from the CDC:
March 28, 2019
Last week my blog focused on two danger zones that can increase your year-end prescription drug expenditures and derail your fiscal budget. This week I fill those potential financial potholes by highlighting three areas that can help reduce drug costs.
March 23, 2019
Springtime not only brings rain showers and blooming flowers, but also starts renewal season for employee benefit programs. It’s during this critical time that you’re in the favorable ..., and to choose the best plans for you, your employees, and/or clients in the coming year.
March 20, 2019
Designing the optimal benefit plans for employees is a goal of most employers. Data analytics provides a huge assist in doing that. It is also nice to see where your plan designs fall when looking at other employers around the country.
March 17, 2019
Unum released the results of a 10-year study of the top 10 causes of disability. Those causes of both short- and long-term disabilities may surprise you: 2 of the top 5 causes of long-term disability are health-related. 2 of the top 5 causes of short-term disability causes are health-related.
March 14, 2019
It seems to be a good and important time to discuss the effects mental health has on the workplace and the new trends in getting help. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 26% of American adults suffer from a diagnosable mental illness such as anxiety or depression every year.
March 9, 2019
Employers need to understand and appreciate that the opioid crisis isn’t just impacting disenfranchised and unemployed Americans. Working adults are addicted to opioids too. You need to take steps to combat the issue because it’s impacting more than just your healthcare costs.
March 10, 2019
No matter where you might fall on the health continuum, it is important to understand your health and how to manage it. You must make a conscious effort to be healthy. If you don’t, you will end up with major health issues, represented by the red box in Figure 1.
March 5, 2019
You’re always seeking ways to keep your healthcare costs in check. One of the best ways is to understand what’s driving your costs. The International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans (IFEBP) asked 500 employers to name the top 3 conditions driving costs (see table below).
March 1, 2019
While historically analytics was concentrated in descriptive analytics, recently and currently the focus is on predictive and prescriptive analytics. Do not be fooled by a vendor or carrier that claims they perform data analytics.
February 28, 2019
While I was trying to think of a topic for this blog, my thoughts kept drifting to my upcoming vacation. I’m taking time off to be with my family and to get away from work. I began daydreaming about splashing and laughing in the ocean with my kids.
February 25, 2019
From a macroeconomic perspective, the financial wellness environment slightly improved from last year. Results and opinions around financial stress and retirement confidence have not changed much from last year, according to PWC’s Employee Financial Wellness Survey—2018 results.
February 21, 2019
We’re winning the war on opioids, according to a study by Avalere, which showed that the number of opioid prescriptions sold in the US declined 11% in 2017. The decline was steeper in states where legislation limiting prescriptions has been enacted.
February 17, 2019
How much of our health and well-being can we control? It turns out to be a large portion. At least where we have some control. The chart to the right shows that for 70% of the factors, we can exercise some control. Behavior accounts for the largest piece at 40%.
February 13, 2019
Wellness plans, or at least features of a wellness plan, are a popular benefit offered by employers. But a complete integrated buy-in of wellness plans does not really exist among employers. There are a few understandable reasons for that—return on investment is difficult to measure...
February 8, 2019
Since the 1980s, obesity rates have doubled for adults and tripled for children. While the overall trend slowed from 2015 to 2016, obesity continues to be a growing concern in the US (NY Times). The overweight/obesity epidemic touches all regions of the country and age groups...
February 5, 2019
Collecting health data can provide numerous insights into cost drivers, unnecessary costs, and potential savings. It is obviously very important to capture this data. Sometimes getting a big picture view of your health benefits isn’t easy.
February 2, 2019
You work hard to negotiate rates with in-network healthcare service providers to keep benefits costs in check. But there are a few cracks in the system that may result in costly charges to your members, even when they seek care in-network. These surprise bills primarily originate from three areas...
January 30, 2019
The dominant healthcare coverage these days are plans that have a deductible, meaning employees must pay for first dollar coverage. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than: 80% of covered workers have a plan with a deductible.
January 27, 2019
Employers could save $4 for every $1 spent by providing more comprehensive mental healthcare coverage, according to a brief issued in September by the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions. Ensuring proper care for the treatment of mental illness...
January 25, 2019
The importance of maintaining health or managing diseases is obvious when controlling healthcare costs, population health, and personal health. It also crosses the human capital spectrum with its effects on other lines of data like workers’ compensation.
January 21, 2019
That is a hard question to answer because the definition of retiring is changing. We need to adjust our antiquated view. The Social Security Act of 1935 established the normal retirement age as 65 years. That was 80+ years ago and much has advanced since that time.
January 20, 2019
Mental health is big news in the NFL right now and Derek Carr of the Oakland Raiders is at its center. Carr allegedly cried on the sidelines during a recent game, causing a “fractured relationship” with his teammates who now lack confidence in his ability to lead the team (The Athletic).
January 19, 2019
The number of older Americans working in the US rose to 8.9 million in 2016, a 35% increase from the 6.6 million employed in 2011 (Bureau of Labor Statistics-BLS). The BLS projects this to be the fastest growing segment of the workforce through 2024.
January 16, 2019
We all know that healthcare coverage is expensive, but did you know that it can be wasteful too? According to the Institute of Medicine, about $750 billion is wasted spending which includes: Unnecessary services. Excessive administrative costs, Fraud, Other problems.
January 12, 2019
Is there a gender bias in financial wellness? The short answer is yes. But still read the blog!
April 22, 2019
Hospitals have been merging for more than a decade. Supporters claim that these consolidations improve care coordination and lower prices. But do they?
January 1, 2019
Only a short time ago, consumerism in healthcare was not existent, like replay review in sports or Uber in the transportation industry.
I’ve recently come across several articles about topics my colleagues and I have written about in previous blogs this year. Since they were also some of our most popular efforts, I decided to provide updates in this, my last blog of 2018. Where did the time go?
Medication adherence is generally defined as the extent to which patients take medication as prescribed by their doctors. This involves factors such as getting prescriptions filled, remembering to take medications on time, and understanding the directions.
February 22, 2019
I, like most of you, was fortunate to spend the holidays reminiscing with family and imprinting new memories in my mind. Looking back on the year and planning for the new one ahead sparked the idea for the topic of this post—the state of employer-paid healthcare benefits in 2018.
With unemployment being lower and the economy continuing to be strong, employers need to attract and retain employees. The threat of quality employees leaving is higher now, and I am sure there is some pent-up desire to change jobs.
April 18, 2019
Medical and prescription drug costs are projected to increase 6% in 2019, a rate that will outpace both inflation and wage earnings (PWC’s Health Research Institute). Several factors impact this rising trend (see Figure 1)—some driving cost increases and others helping to deflate them.
April 20, 2019
May 11, 2019
I can’t even fathom how much $42 trillion is. But experts predict that it’s the price we will be paying for unhealthy behaviors, in both medical costs and lost productivity by 2030, if we don’t take steps to improve our health (Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease).
March 3, 2019
Per person spending for medical and pharmacy services reached $5,641 in 2017 for those with employer-sponsored healthcare, the highest it has ever been according to the 2017 Heath Care Cost and Utilization Report.
March 24, 2019
If you’re like me, when you hear the phrase, “location matters,” you immediately think of real estate. But location plays a more critical role in our lives than I knew. Where we live affects our overall health, life expectancy, utilization, quality, and the costs we pay....
March 16, 2019
Organizations can be found to be in breach of fiduciary duties even if not named
February 1, 2019
Not taking your medications can cost the healthcare industry $300 billion
March 25, 2019
There are financial consequences for employers as claims increase
May 3, 2019
How changes in prices from 1998 to 2018 reveal the shocking increase in the cost of hospital services
A recent survey highlights the four main areas that need improvement in the healthcare industry
March 18, 2019
New technology in the office can cause some anxiety, so use these strategies to help your employees adapt
April 3, 2019
Where your employees live can make a difference when it comes to healthcare costs
An in depth analysis of prescription costs can help your company stay competitive
Understanding and harnessing the power of data analytics
March 15, 2019
Better business decisions are made when companies manage their data as an asset
March 11, 2019
The future is now for a change in healthcare best practices
February 14, 2019
In order to prevent the industry’s implosion, employers are serious about solutions
January 5, 2019
How leading companies are managing their strategic risk capabilities
January 23, 2019
Understanding data analytics is becoming a must for executives
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