Workers who plan to automatically default into the same health plan in which they were enrolled the previous year would be wise to rethink that strategy for the 2014 annual enrollment season, according to new research from Aon Hewitt. Employees can expect to see a number of changes to their health benefits driven by rising health costs and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Employees should do their homework this year to understand the impact of these changes, and make informed benefits elections for them and their families.
Some of the most notable changes employees may see include:
Cost increase. Aon Hewitt’s research shows that most employers plan
to subsidize employees’ health coverage at the same percentage rate
as last year. However, the amount of money employees will need to contribute out of their paychecks is continuing to climb.
More options for coverage. Starting in 2014, all Americans will be required to have healthcare coverage or risk paying a penalty. Some employees may wish to purchase individual coverage through the new state and federal marketplaces.
A higher probability of being in a consumer-driven health plan. Consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) continue to rise in popularity and have surpassed HMOs as the second most offered plans by employers. In fact, a growing number of employers are offering CDHPs as the only plan option—44 percent are considering it in the next three to five years.
Programs that promote health awareness and education. Employees can expect to see more employers offering programs that encourage them to take a more active role in managing their health. For example, 75 percent of employers offer health risk questionnaires and 71 percent offer biometric screenings such as blood pressure and cholesterol.
More incentive opportunities for exhibiting healthy behaviors. Workers can also expect to see an increasing number of employers providing an incentive related to completion of programs such as HRQs and biometric screenings. Eighty-three percent of employers have such an incentive in place now.
New eligibility rules. Employers may be making changes to rules that determine which employees are eligible for health coverage, particularly as they evaluate requirements of the “employer mandate” provision of PPACA (which was delayed until 2015). In addition, the recent Supreme Court decision that resulted in federal recognition of same-sex marriages may mean more dependents will now be eligible for benefits coverage.