United Benefit Advisors News and Press Releases

United Benefit Advisors Develops New Tool To Help Employees Select A Health Plan

Posted by: Marianne Stook    June 30, 2008 at 10:40 PM

UBA Plan Evaluator Allows Employees to Compare Out-of-Pocket Costs and Save Money

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., June 30, 2008 – United Benefit Advisors (UBA), one of the nation’s largest employee benefit advisory organizations, has introduced a new web-based tool that will allow employees of mid-market employers to compare out-of-pocket costs across their employer-sponsored health plans to select the plan that is most cost-effective for them. This new tool is not tied to any carrier and does not require the employee’s actual claims data in order to estimate out-of-pocket expenses.

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Called the UBA Plan Evaluator, this tool allows employees to enter basic information about their family make up and their general health, to see a comparison of likely out-of-pocket costs across available health plans. The tool uses the Milliman database of health care claims data to estimate average yearly claims - tailored to where the employee lives – based on the age, family makeup and health of the employee. With that data, employees can see how much they can expect to spend, on average, in a given year for premiums, deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses. The tool also takes into account any employer or flexible spending account contributions, so that employees can see an estimation of the true bottom line health care costs for each plan.

“With health care costs rising and employee benefit plan offerings becoming more complicated, our members were asking for a tool like the Plan Evaluator,” said Bill Stafford, UBA’s vice president of member services. “Our members’ clients need this tool to help employees compare the options available to them and make more informed decisions. Particularly with the rise of consumer-driven health plans, which typically have a lower monthly premium but make employees responsible for out-of-pocket costs associated with many common health procedures, it can be difficult to determine which plan is really the lowest-cost option. This tool allows employees to become better consumers.”

In fact, the 2008 UBA Employer Opinion Survey, which queried 1,664 employers about a variety of health insurance issues, found that two out of three employers felt very or somewhat confident that they could improve employee engagement and involvement in their own health care decisions over the next year. Nearly three out of four employers either would like a claim analysis tool like the Plan Evaluator, or wanted to learn more about such a tool. Not surprisingly, the survey also found that 87 percent of employers believe that more health care costs will be shifted to employees over the next five years, making a tool like the Plan Evaluator even more critical.

“Previously, information like this was only available to very large employers, who could access their own claims data and estimate costs for employees,” said Stafford. “With our new Plan Evaluator, each UBA member firm can provide that information to small and midsize employers for the first time.”

UBA has member firms in virtually every major U.S. market. To locate one and learn more about the UBA Plan Evaluator, visit www.ubabenefits.com.

About United Benefit Advisors
United Benefit Advisors, one of the nation’s largest employee benefit advisory organizations, has more than 1,900 experienced benefits professionals in more than 165 offices throughout the U.S. and Canada. An alliance of nearly 140 of the nation’s premier independent benefit advisory firms, UBA members are able to help employers and their employees respond efficiently and effectively to the challenges of an ever-changing employee benefit marketplace. UBA members provide employee benefits HR consulting, brokerage services, and best-in-class products to more than 36,000 private corporations and public employers across the U.S. and internationally. As trusted advisors, UBA members help their clients manage nearly $16 billion annually in employee benefit expenditures on behalf of nearly 4.5 million employees and their families. In addition to the Employer Opinion Survey, UBA also conducts the annual UBA Health Plan Survey, the most comprehensive benchmarking survey of health plan design and cost currently administered. For more information, visit www.benefits.com.

Topics: employee engagement, health care costs, employee benefits, health care