With January 1, 2014 looming right around the corner, employers are in overdrive ensuring their corporate wellness initiatives are compliant with the updated ACA regulations and provisions. A recent survey by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans found that 53 percent of self-insured employers are planning on shifting costs to their plan-eligible participants. An additional 36 percent are planning on boosting their wellness and value-based health care initiatives in an effort to control health care expenditures.
The Value of Wellness
This should not be surprising. A consistent theme throughout the ACA is the focus on preventive measures to control and reverse rising health care costs. The Agencies reiterate they believe a well designed and executed wellness program plays an important role in promoting healthy habits, improving health conditions and preventing diseases. While the new ACA provisions have made it necessary for employers to adjust how they incent (and penalize) their participants, there is significant opportunity for those that properly structure their program design.
Fair Financial Accountability
Sharing financial accountability between employer and program participant is critical in controlling overall health care expenditures. Rewarding employees who invest in their health results to improve their health outcomes will increase the likelihood of their engagement and commitment to healthy habits. The new ACA final rules allowance for an increase in the percentage of cost of coverage tied directly to wellness rewards, can help align fair financial accountability. However, caution should be used when making any changes, as shifting the financing drastically, could lead to a frustrated and demotivated workforce.
Starting in 2014, the world of health care will drastically change. With an informed set of expectations, awareness of the final rules and consumer-insight, the ACA can be a unique opportunity for prepared organizations to strengthen their benefits offering that results in a healthy, productive workforce.
What is your organization doing? Are you planning on shifting costs or boosting your wellness initiatives in 2014?