- In response to the Affordable Care Act, employers have become proactive – out of regulatory and business necessity – in retooling their health benefits strategy to manage and/or reduce costs, according to an article at Employee Benefits News.
- As a result, the article notes, employees are now being given more responsibility in choosing their health benefits. This growing need to empower employees in the health benefits arena is pushing many organizations to adopt the concept of “shared accountability” in their health and wellness programing.
- This business response to the ACA coupled with the growing health care consumerism movement is rapidly changing the relationship between employer and employee when it comes to health benefits, and it shows, according to the article. Last year marked the single largest jump in high-deductible consumer-driven health plans, from 18% to 23%. This suggests that employees are not just being pushed, but are also beginning to embrace having more control over their health benefits.
More organizations are deploying wellness programs that offer positive and negative incentives to motivate employees to take ownership of their health and care decisions. Most large employers drive this behavior by offering financial incentives around participation in wellness programs. Premium surcharges are also used to drive change, particularly with large employers that promote tobacco cessation programs. The number of large employers using surcharges grew to 26% in 2014, the article reports.
The EBN article notes that by encouraging shared accountability, both employers and employees stand to benefit. As more employees buy into the concept, the employer’s share of health care costs goes down while employee satisfaction and productivity go up. Employees realize the many benefits of better health, but just as important, become empowered and prepared to make better decisions for themselves and their families going forward.
Successfully selling shared accountability requires a strategic approach grounded in three principles: using data to determine strategy, communicating the concept, and measuring and adapting the strategy, according to author Sean Moore, senior vice president of consumer engagement at ActiveHealth Management.