United Benefit Advisors Insight and Analysis Blog

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

Wellness Wearables: Novelty or an Impact to the Health Care Industry?

Posted by: Travis Horne, MBA    Dec 19, 2016 4:40:45 PM

It’s no secret in the wellness industry today that wellness wearables are in high demand as one of the most employer-offered program incentives. Wearables are not only being distributed at a large quantity by medical carriers, they are also being utilized by employers as an incentive to drive employee engagement on wellness platforms, challenges, and programs. Is this increase in wearable distribution a fad, or are these products truly impacting employee wellness program engagement and health care spending? This question is one of the many that continually surfaces from employers who are focused on employee health and well-being and the business investment in wellness programs.

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Topics: employee engagement, wellness, health care costs, wellness programs, UBA Health Plan Survey, Travis Horne, wearable fitness devices

The Impact of Wearable Devices in the Healthcare Industry

Posted by: Kaycee Eaton    Dec 13, 2016 10:30:00 AM

Wearable fitness devices have been a hot topic in health and wellness for a few years now, but what kind of impact have wearables really had on improving health outcomes? Wearable fitness devices can be used to track physical activity, sleep, heart rate, and even provide on-screen workouts. They are most often paired with a smartphone or website to track and store data. There has been a lot of hype about the potential to promote positive health outcomes through using wearables, but a recent study suggests they may not be impacting health as expected.

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Topics: wellness, LHD Benefit Advisors, UBA Health Plan Survey, Vital Incite, wearable fitness devices, weight loss program, wellness monitoring, Kaycee Eaton

The Shift Away from Health Risk Assessments

Posted by: Sierra Sullivan    Nov 29, 2016 11:02:48 AM

Historically, employers have utilized health risk assessments (HRAs) as one measurement tool in wellness program design. The main goals of an HRA are to assess individual health status and risk and provide feedback to participants on how to manage risk. Employers have traditionally relied on this type of assessment to evaluate the overall health risk of their population in order to develop appropriate wellness strategies.

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Topics: wellness, health risk assessment, LHD Benefit Advisors, UBA Health Plan Survey, biometric screening, population health strategy, outcome-based wellness programs, Sierra Sullivan