A group of Kansas City, Missouri, employers has teamed up to pilot value-based benefits design, in which health coverage is tailored to better meet employee needs, ideally at a lower cost. Cerner Corp., one of the 16 employers involved, has used the approach to tackle mental health, diabetes and other chronic conditions.
Articles by Charlotte Huff
The impact of health reform’s external appeal requirement will likely depend upon the design of an employer’s existing process. Some self-insured employers worry about a potentially costly layer of complexity, one consultant says.
For employers, intermittent use of the Family and Medical Leave Act can pose some of their greatest challenges. Even if workers use the law appropriately, the periodic leave requests can create paperwork and tracking difficulties, experts say.
Amid tight economic times, the scope of the federal law has been expanded to a few additional groups, including military families and same-sex parents. Human resource and legal experts provide advice on how to fairly apply the law’s family leave protections and minimize the possibility of legal action.
A research group looks to determine whether workplace flexibility pays off in better employee health—and an improved bottom line.
Corporations that provide employees paid time off to volunteer typically pursue one of two routes: setting a designated volunteer day or providing a block of paid hours annually. Which approach works best depends upon the employees involved, as well as what company officials want to achieve through the volunteer initiative, experts say.
More employers are hitting workers in the pocketbook by adopting financial penalties to curb risky health behaviors such as smoking or, conversely, using incentives to encourage healthy habits like losing weight. Experts say careful program design is key to avoiding legal and privacy issues.
Last year the Alabama State Employees’ Insurance Board decided to try the carrot approach to encourage employees to undergo wellness screenings and obtain medical help. Now all employees who are screened receive a $25 monthly discount on their 2010 health insurance premiums.
Hiring clinicians to check employee blood pressure and other risk factors is typically more costly than simply asking workers to fill out a survey. But is the additional cost and effort worth it? Researchers and other experts differ regarding which companies might benefit, and why.
Given the millions of dollars at stake, large employers are implementing more sophisticated strategies to encourage employees to stick with their medication. Nearly half of those recently surveyed are considering lower co-pays as one approach.