Cost-Shifting Health Care Plan Strategies Can Backfire
Poorly managed high-deductible health plans may do the very thing they were designed to avoid — increase their sponsoring employers' long-term health care costs. The significant out-of-pocket costs that HDHPs require can deter plan members from seeking health care services when they need them and lead to much higher treatment costs down the line. To head off that possibility, experts advise that employers plan ahead and seed health savings accounts and strategically use other tools associated with consumer-driven health care, such as managing chronic disease treatment programs, among other things.
Consumers are beginning to see some direct effects of the Affordable Care Act. Many have shopped the exchanges and see that they need to confirm health care coverage as part of filing their federal income tax returns, and a growing number continue to see the structure of medical benefits offered by employers shifting to high-deductible health plans. These changes are ultimately driving the question for consumers: How will I afford the initial deductible amount associated with these new types of health insurance plans?
Every year the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issues "the Issuers letter" to Federal Facilitated Exchanges in which it discusses all of the fixes that need to be made to exchange operations. This year, CMS has proclaimed that we would all be better off if out of pocket maximums for “other-than-self-only-coverage” be restricted to the OOPM for individuals or $6,850 for 2016.
The number of employers that use financial incentives to drive employee engagement in workplace wellness programs continued to grow in 2014, a new survey shows. Eighty-seven percent of employers polled in Optum Inc.'s Sixth Annual Wellness in the Workplace Survey used some form of financial reward or penalty in connection with a workplace wellness program, up from 81 percent in 2013 and 77 percent in 2012.
While many expenses tend to decline in retirement, the money spent on healthcare isn’t one of them. Even retirees eligible for Medicare end up spending a large chunk of their income getting or staying healthy. A typical couple would need nearly $250,000 on hand to have a 90 percent chance of covering all their medical expenses in retirement. That’s a jarring number for many workers who are starting to think about retirement, planners say.