United Benefit Advisors Insight and Analysis Blog

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

Employers and Employees Teeter on Healthcare Cost and Coverage Tightrope

Posted by: Elizabeth Kay    Nov 21, 2016 12:08:52 PM

Over the past few years, we have seen the cost of health care steadily increase – a trend supported by the latest data from the 2016 UBA Health Plan Survey. During the recession, employers implemented health plans with higher copays, higher deductibles, or offered multiple plans with a variety of deductibles and pushed the cost of the lower deductible plans onto employees in an attempt to keep their costs for offering coverage at the same rate or less.

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Topics: consumer-driven health plan, Elizabeth Kay, UBA Health Plan Survey, health care cost, benefits cost control, group medical benefits

UBA Special Report: 2016 Trends in Employer Wellness Programs

Posted by: Jason Reeves    Nov 18, 2016 10:30:00 AM

The latest round of regulations in the area of wellness (what employers can and can’t do) is proving to be a hotly contested topic. Employers are eager to offer incentives as a way to both encourage wellness and also lower health care costs. However, employee privacy is on the line, and some argue, at risk. Even though many employers may never see the data collected, there is a philosophical debate brewing about what should – or should not – be permitted.

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Topics: wellness, wellness incentives, Group health plans, UBA Health Plan Survey, health care trends, Jason Reeves

Final Marital Status Definitions and Spouse/Partner Coverage Trends

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Nov 15, 2016 10:30:00 AM

Recently, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued final regulations that define terms used in the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) describing the marital status of taxpayers for federal tax purposes. In general, for federal tax purposes, the terms "spouse," "husband," and "wife" mean an individual lawfully married to another individual. The term "husband and wife" means two individuals lawfully married to each other. A marriage of two individuals is recognized for federal tax purposes if the marriage is recognized by the state, possession, or territory of the United States in which the marriage is entered into, regardless of domicile.

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Topics: group health insurance, UBA Health Plan Survey, Danielle Capilla, nondiscrimination rules, spousal coverage, partner coverage, marital status

UBA Survey: Grandmothering Protects Many Small Employers from Rate Increases

Posted by: Mary Drueke-Collins, FSA    Nov 10, 2016 10:30:00 AM

One goal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was to develop uniformity in coverage to ensure that all medical coverage included certain services. However, two interim regulations were passed, essentially allowing individuals and employers to keep their plans that were not completely ACA-compliant. Those regulations were termed “grandfathering” and “grandmothering.” Grandfathering was available to all employers that wanted to keep the plans they had in place prior to the passage of the ACA. For a plan to maintain grandfathered status, there were significant restrictions to plan design modifications and changes to employee contributions. The reality was that very few employers were able to maintain grandfathered status. In the 2016 UBA Health Plan Survey, only 5.9 percent of plans were still grandfathered.

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Topics: ACA, PPACA, UBA Health Plan Survey, transition relief, Affordable Care Act, health insurance cost, Mary Drueke-Collins, grandmothering