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Mercer

The thinking on financial wellness has evolved a lot in the last few years. It’s no longer just about planning for retirement—it’s about how to make progress towards goals and reach financial independence. In a diverse employee population, people are in different life stages and have different mindsets, which affect their financial concerns. Here are five tangible ideas to start a conversation about financial health in your workplace to bring about positive change.

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Last week, an employer I was speaking with on my favorite subject, value-based care, made the comment, “None of my carriers are charging me any ACO fees.” I didn’t want to be a wet blanket, but I had to point out that unfortunately this was most likely not the case. So how does it happen that an employer might not know about fees for value-based care? And what should they do about it?

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Benefit teams have had a lot to cope with lately – ACA reporting, the new ADA/GINA wellness rules, and the Cadillac tax, to name just a few of the high-priority issues on their plates.  So it’s not surprising that when we ask clients about their absence, disability, life solutions (ADLS), they tell us they haven’t had time to review them over the past few years.  And many don’t see much to be gained from a review, since they don’t believe they would be able to negotiate a better rate.

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Employers implementing HSA-eligible consumer-directed health plans will almost certainly confront participant concerns about greater cost exposure from higher deductibles and other required cost-sharing features.  There are a number of creative approaches employers and participants can take to manage financial risk while leveraging the tax-preferred features of an HSA (or a health reimbursement account).  Participants can consider the following strategies:

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Consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs) have become a mainstream benefit offering. Spurred on by the need to avoid the excise tax, employers have added these low-cost plans at a fast clip over the past few years. In 2015, 29% of all employers – but 59% of those with 500 or more employees – offered an account-based CDHP, and a total of 25% of all covered employees were enrolled in one, according to Mercer’s National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans. Now more than a decade old, CDHPs were designed with the goal of holding down cost by encouraging cost-consciousness among consumers. The best CDHPs promote personal responsibility for maintaining or improving health and for choosing cost-effective, quality health care providers.  

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Here are a couple of eye-opening statistics. Behavioral health issues account for 4% of all medical claims on average, yet contribute to 21% of health care costs[1]. And for employers, there are other consequences of failing to address behavioral health in the workplace: Costs associated with employee absenteeism and lack of productivity due to behavioral health issues account for nearly $17 billion dollars annually[2].

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Wow, it’s June already. Kids are playing outside, the smell of barbeque is in the air, and some of us, just maybe, are feeling the onset of the innovation summertime blues. What, you’ve never heard of this particular brand of the blues? Let me paint a picture and maybe it will look familiar.

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Like most of my clients, you're probably immersed in health planning activities for 2017. I recently took stock of some of the interesting topics that I have been discussing during planning conversations with clients. I asked my colleagues to weigh in with their thoughts on things to consider now for 2017, or for the years ahead. Some of our best minds contributed posts in their areas of expertise that will help you evaluate initiatives around CDHP enrollment, behavioral health, value-based care, financial wellness, and more. Appropriately, we kicked off the series with a discussion of how to cope with – and maybe even enjoy – the challenges of innovation.

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