In the midst of healthcare uncertainty, employers must view benefits broadly
- A new study by Colonial Life recommends that employers not be distracted by the healthcare debate in Washington and offer a variety of benefits programs now, including voluntary ones.
- According to the "Big-Picture Benefits" study, employers can create benefits plans that are more cost-effective and competitive by offering an array of benefits workers want from which they can choose what they need.
- Healthcare is a monumental cost for employers and employees. According to Gallup, it's Americans' number-one concern — and employers clearly play a role in ensuring both options and affordability.
In the face of uncertainty, employers are advised to stay on the steady course. Even with a new administration that looks eager to pare back regulations, very few promises are set in stone, and employers are safer complying with what they already know exists.
With healthcare costs continuing to increase year-over-year for both employers and employees, more companies are turning to flexible options to try and make up the difference. Offering voluntary benefits has historically had good results, and the move is viewed particularly favorably by younger employees that are entering a variety of life stages.
But even the most well-meaning healthcare program will flail if employees aren't also educated on the increasing financial burden placed upon their shoulders. Employers have attempted to deflect healthcare costs by pushing some of the costs onto employees via high-deductible health plans, but such plans require that employees have a broader knowledge of their own healthcare spend. When workers are already highly concerned about their healthcare costs, HDHPs could simply add fuel to their anxious fire.
Benefits education programs will be a must, as will financial wellness programs, to balance the increased responsibility on workers.