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Mercer

You’ve been providing health benefits to your retirees for years. You’re glad you can: It rewards loyalty, protects people that you consider to be valued colleagues, and promotes engagement within your business. But as health reform adds to administrative burdens and the need to control cost intensifies, it feels like each day there’s less time to manage the retiree program.

 

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You’ve heard it before: It takes great health benefits to attract a great pool of talent. But as an SMB (Small or Midsize Business), you’re scratching your head over how to offer the buffet of options new employees expect.

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You remember the old algebra formulas from school: 3X + 2 = 11. Solve for X.

 

 

Now you’re solving problems in the business world. If you’re in charge of health benefits, solving for “X” means: Solve for lower premiums. Solve for more choice. Solve for higher quality, more efficiency, and better adherence.

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Your new employee is 26 years old. He’s rarely sick -- maybe some occasional weekend-warrior soreness. His biggest health expense is his refrigerator full of grape Mountain Dew Kickstarts.

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Navigating healthcare is a challenge. The market has responded by bringing together an array of tools to guide consumers. This is a fictionalized account of one patient’s journey.

 

April 10

So I wiped out on the bike today in the strangest possible way. I was training for this year’s NYC Five Boro Bike Tour when I got distracted by a man on a unicycle juggling bagels and lost control. I can’t believe it! Only in New York. My bike is okay but I’m out of commission. I hopped over to the sidewalk and called an Uber back home. My right knee looks pointed inwards and the Internet says that could mean a torn ACL. I’m going to ice my knee, take some Advil, and hope I’m wrong.

-Karen

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This candidate looks awesome: great experience, glowing references. But you noticed her hesitancy when you mentioned your company’s health benefits—the “one-size-fits-all” plan.

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Here’s an employee advocating for her own health: Before a medical appointment, she checks her health insurance to make sure the visit is covered. During the visit, she takes notes. Before the doctor writes the prescription, she asks, “Are there any generics?”

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Employers are grappling with the escalating cost of healthcare benefits. HR and finance leaders are adapting -- as are employees across the nation -- to a ‘new normal’ of narrow networks and high deductible plans. Basic coverage is increasingly augmented by voluntary benefits to meet the varied needs of employees and their families. During this ongoing transition, employees are being asked to more actively participate in the enrollment process.

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Every time a big company makes the leap to a private exchange, the industry pays close attention – especially Mercer’s own Sharon Cunninghis, North American Health & Benefits Leader. In this Human Resource Executive article, Sharon shares her thoughts on private exchange trends and opportunities, including best practices for employers who are making the switch. Her advice: “Help people understand the new benefits program, how it differs from what was in place previously, the added advantages of the new program and available support services,” she says. “Secondly, make sure that there’s a good, solid project plan from an implementation perspective – technology, new administrative processes and tools.” Sharon goes on to explain why, ultimately, health and benefits solutions of the future, Mercer Marketplace 365 in particular, will be seen as a “true healthcare destination” – a comprehensive platform that goes above and beyond today’s typical private exchange, serving as a resource not just at open enrollment, but throughout the year. With 6% of large employers either already using a private exchange or planning on it for 2017 – and an additional 27% considering adoption within 5 years – this is a trend to watch.

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Confronting issues around healthcare costs is a significant challenge facing today’s small- and medium-sized businesses. While you might think your size limits your options, that’s not necessarily the case.

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When faced with a diagnosis of a severe medical issue, many of us find it socially uncomfortable to appear to cast doubt on our doctors by seeking a second opinion from an independent source. It is precisely at such times that this course of action is most useful. You likely have employees facing tough medical diagnoses every day, and they may not be aware of the importance of seeking a second opinion in the face of those diagnoses.

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