Many of today’s iconic companies can point to a destiny-altering decision that propelled their organization to great success. The year 2013 has ushered in one such future-altering decision for all companies – the result of which will have a long-term impact on business outcomes.
A massive sea-change in the health care landscape over the past decade has led business decision-makers to the point where their destiny-altering decision to be highly engaged in health insurance benefits, or highly disconnected from it, will influence the course of their business for decades to come.
Companies are at a crossroads, faced with adapting to one of the biggest shifts in the benefits landscape in our nation’s history. Ironically, the traditional employer-sponsored health coverage emerged during World War II in response to several market dynamics – a tight labor market due to decreased supply of workers during the war; wage and price controls prevented employers from raising wages enough to attract workers; and employer-sponsored health care coverage surfaced as a way to attract workers beyond pay.
Fast forward to 2013 and we are amidst uncertain market conditions, yet the long-held building blocks of employer-sponsored health care coverage are being shaved down or removed altogether – leaving a potentially unsteady environment for business leaders and workers alike.
Seismic shifts in the way health insurance is provided and paid for, the continuing rise of health care costs, the movement away from HMO and PPO plans toward consumer-driven options, and now history-making legislative reform, have left businesses with an array of health insurance benefit delivery models to choose from. Yet, nearly all of them place more financial responsibility, decision-making and control in the hands of consumers.
The degree to which companies stay involved in key aspects of benefits delivery will produce results or ramifications. Will companies choose to let workers drive their benefits decisions without offering driving lessons or a map to guide them in the right direction? Disengaging from benefit delivery and support will have serious consequences, much like handing over the keys to a student who’s never driven a car.
Regardless of the specific health insurance model an organization chooses to implement, the 2013 Aflac WorkForces Report 1 uncovered several trends that point to the significance of preparing for benefit changes and in remaining engaged in the delivery of health insurance benefits. This year will determine which organizations emerge as benefit-savvy employers of choice and which remain apathetic and removed from the process. Specifically, Aflac’s third annual employee benefits study discovered:
- While more business leaders are embracing cost-friendly consumer-driven models, consumers are largely unequipped and unprepared to effectively take the reins.
- There are long-term implications for businesses taking a short-term approach of shifting control and responsibility of health insurance decisions to workers.
- An organization’s degree of health care benefits engagement and knowledge factors heavily into its HR metrics – attraction, satisfaction, productivity, and retention of talent.
- Amid massive changes in health care, what remains unchanged is the unequivocal role benefits satisfaction plays in the welfare of the workforce.
- The growing importance of voluntary products in a consumer-driven health care environment characterized by a largely financially fragile population.