If there is any year an employee is going to focus on his or her enrollment packet, this is it.
So says Brian Marcotte, president and chief executive officer of the National Business Group on Health. He was presenting the group’s annual Large Employers' 2015 Health Plan Design Survey findings Wednesday on what employers plan to do with their health plans in the coming year.
According to their survey, employers are projecting their health care costs to increase by an average of 6.5 percent, but using plan changes, they expect to keep those increases to about 5 percent.
So workers should expect that a lot could change as employers shift their plan structure in order to keep control over their costs, Marcotte said.
Here’s what you should do during this year’s enrollment, which for organizations running on a calendar year typically falls between September and December.
1. Read closely.“Ask: Is my health plan changing?” Marcotte said. “We’re seeing this movement to consumer-directed health plans or high-deductible plans and it's such a rapid movement in that direction, so that’s your first question. If it is, what do I need to do to understand it?” Employers usually put a lot of education out when they roll out new plans, Marcotte said. Take advantage of them “so you are not surprised come January.”
2. Look for chances to maximize. If costs are expected to rise 5 percent for employers, then expect they’ll likely rise 5 percent for staffers. But employers are also mulling incentives for better lifestyle or health care management, Marcotte said. Of the companies surveyed by NBGH, 73 percent said they planned to add or expand tools to encourage plan participants to be better consumers, and 53 percent planned to add or expand incentives to engage employees in wellness programs.
Don’t ignore these opportunities, Marcotte said.
“Annual enrollment typically has a deal where employers have incentives geared around health assessments and biometrics. If you’re in a high-deductible plan, they’ll seed your spending account with money if you do certain things,” he said. “Watch for those incentives that may be available so you can maximize the benefits for next year.”
3. Review spousal coverage. More companies are looking to push spouses off their employee plans. According to the group’s survey, 37 percent of responding companies said they planned to reduce their spousal subsidy or implement a surcharged for spouses who could get coverage through their own employer.
“If your spouse is covered under your plan as an employee, and if they do have coverage through their employer, take a look to see if that may make more sense for them to switch,” Marcotte said.
© 2014 American City Business Journals, Inc.