United Benefit Advisors Insight and Analysis Blog

Why some companies offer an HRA

Posted by: Elizabeth Kay    May 18, 2017 9:30:00 AM

In a world of insurance and acronyms, the term “HRA” is thrown around a lot, but it has a variety of meanings.

HRA can mean health reimbursement account, heath reimbursement arrangement, or health risk assessment, and all of those mean something different. I want to be clear that in the following article I am going to be discussing the use of health reimbursement accounts with fully-insured health plans. We can leave the other meanings of HRA for another time.

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Topics: health reimbursement account, HRA, UBA Health Plan Survey, employee benefit trends

HSAs vs. HRAs: Things Employers Should Consider

Posted by: Bob Bentley    May 12, 2017 4:00:52 PM

With health care costs and insurance premiums continuing to rise, employers are looking for ways to reduce their insurance expenses. That usually means increasing medical plan deductibles. According to the latest UBA Health Plan Survey, the average in-network single medical plan deductible increased from $2,031 in 2015 to $2,127 in 2016. But shifting costs to employees can be detrimental to an employer’s efforts to attract and retain top talent. Employers are looking for solutions that reduce their costs while minimizing the impact on employees.

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Topics: health reimbursement arrangements, health savings accounts, HRA, HSA, UBA Health Plan Survey, health care benchmarking

The Future of Corporate Wellness – Where will we go from here?

Posted by: Valeria S. Tivnan, MPH, M.Ed.    Apr 11, 2017 9:30:00 AM

I am proud to say that I have been involved in corporate wellness since the mid-1980s. Helping employees live healthier and happier lives, as well as supporting employers with best-in-class tools to improve their cultures, have been my passion and purpose. I have witnessed and worked on corporate wellness since the time when physical health was the most important aspect of workers’ health. I cannot say I have worked with wellness since its inception, though. Corporate wellness has been around longer than many people think. To predict the future of wellness, we must understand its past.

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Topics: wellness, employee wellness, health risk assessment, UBA Health Plan Survey, return on investment

CMS Allows States to Extend Life of "Grandmothered" or Transitional Health Insurance Policies

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Mar 21, 2017 9:30:00 AM

On February 23, 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released its Insurance Standards Bulletin Series, in which it re-extended its transitional policy for non-grandfathered coverage in the small group and individual health insurance markets.

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Topics: ACA, health plan benchmarking, UBA Health Plan Survey, Danielle Capilla, Affordable Care Act, grandmothering, transitional relief, transitional health insurance policy

Best and Worst States for Group Health Care Costs

Posted by: Matt Weimer    Feb 15, 2017 11:57:47 AM

Employer-sponsored health insurance is greatly affected by geographic region, industry, and employer size. While some cost trends have been fairly consistent since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was put in place, UBA finds several surprises in its latest Health Plan Survey. Based on responses from more than 11,000 employers, UBA recently announced the top five best and worst states for group health care monthly premiums.

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Topics: health plan benchmarking, UBA Health Plan Survey, consumer-directed health plan, employer-sponsored health insurance, group health care cost, CDHP

Benchmarking Your Cost-Shifting Strategy

Posted by: RJ Nelson    Feb 9, 2017 4:04:45 PM

We recently shared healthcare cost benchmarking best practices and reported on the best and worst industries/states for group healthcare. But how much are you contributing toward healthcare costs vs. your employees? That’s a key benchmark, especially when “cost-shifting” is the main strategy for mitigating risk for employers. You may have the most affordable plan, but if you are passing most of that cost on to your employees, you may not be a competitive employer.

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Topics: health plan benchmarking, UBA Health Plan Survey, health care cost containment, health care benchmarking, out-of-pocket costs, RJ Nelson

Who Are You Benchmarking Your Health Plan Against?

Posted by: RJ Nelson    Jan 27, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Many employers benchmark their health plan against carrier provided national data. While that is a good place to start, regional cost averages vary, making it essential to benchmark both nationally and regionally—as well as state by state. For example, a significant difference exists between the cost to insure an employee in the Northeast versus the Central U.S.—plans in the Northeast continue to cost the most since they typically have lower deductibles, contain more state-mandated benefits, and feature higher in-network coinsurance, among other factors.

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Topics: health plan benchmarking, UBA Health Plan Survey, health plan costs

Solving the Prescription Puzzle

Posted by: Mary Delaney, MSPT, CWP    Jan 24, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Determining how an employer develops the most effective formulary, while protecting the financial stability of the plan, is certainly the challenge of this decade. Prescription management used to mean monitoring that the right people are taking medications to control their disease while creating strategies to move them from brand name to generic medications. With the dawn of specialty medications, formulary management has become a game of maximizing the pass-through of rebates, creating the best prior authorization strategies and tiering of benefits to create some barrier to more expensive medications, all without becoming too disruptive.

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Topics: UBA Health Plan Survey, multi-tier prescription drug plans, prescription drug cost, Vital Incite, mail order drug benefits, health care cost containment, disease management, Mary Delaney, prescription management

Identify and Evaluate the Impact of Your Wellness Program

Posted by: Mary Delaney, MSPT, CWP    Jan 5, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Measuring program value, or return on investment, is critical and imperative in managing a healthy wellness program. Further, clearly identifying and objectively evaluating the impact helps keep the vendor focused on what is critical for the employer. If these programs are not having the impact intended, then the cost of those services is only adding to medical spending waste.

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Topics: employee engagement, wellness, employee wellness, wellness programs, UBA Health Plan Survey, population health strategy, Vital Incite, health care cost containment, Mary Delaney, biometric risk assessment

Emphasis on Consumerism in Health Care Expected Post 2016 Elections

Posted by: Michael Weiskirch    Jan 4, 2017 11:51:49 AM

I really need to stop spending so much time reading the news. I subscribe to several news aggregators, plus a number of content sources: blogs, industry experts and other publications. I pore through news about politics, world affairs, and information related to HR, benefits, and technology – the field I work in. I sometimes do this (I must admit) while stuck at a stoplight or in line at the store. In all fairness, I do this to keep up on current events and trends impacting my field and my clients’ interests. But I need to stop doing it so much because it can be a huge time waster.

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Topics: ACA, CDHPs, compliance with health care reform, Obamacare, UBA Health Plan Survey, health care cost, health care consumerism