6 Trends in Corporate Wellness and Executive Health

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Trends in Corporate Wellness and Executive Health

Workplace wellness programs continue to gain traction across the country as the benefits of these programs on employee health, wellness and productivity become more apparent. Evidence-based studies have demonstrated both physical and financial advantages to the employees and to their employers as wellness initiatives are introduced by corporations.

Creating a culture of health and fitness provides a competitive advantage when hiring new recruits and retaining current employees. Many prospective employees absolutely will consider the health and wellness programs offered by a corporation when considering a prospective employer.

We spoke with Dr. Buchinsky, MD and Dr. Adan, MD, from University Hospitals, about the trends in corporate wellness and executive health going on in today’s workplaces.
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The ACA Today: Where it Stands and How it Affects Employers

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When it comes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a lot of organizations have questions. Professionals may feel an uncertainty with how everything will work or cost when it comes to their health care needs. We spoke with Robert Klonk, CEO of Oswald Companies, about the ACA.

Client concerns regarding the ACA

“The biggest concerns regarding the ACA would have to be reporting, uncertainty, and costs,” says Klonk. “Every employer is being hit with a deluge of reporting requirements that are forcing them to look at technology alternatives to be able to handle reporting. It doesn’t seem to matter if the company is a smaller or larger group, reporting is quite burdensome.”

The uncertainty comes from the constant delays and changes to the ACA that has been unfolding since 2010.  It is difficult to plan properly when they keep changing the rules.

“The number one issue clients are worried about is cost,” says Klonk. “There is a tremendous amount of cost being shifted to employer plans, and there doesn’t seem to be a timeline of when it will end. Employers are doing everything they can to try to control costs, but yet continue to get hit with additional ACA costs.” These additional costs ultimately then ultimately get pushed onto employees which creates affordability issues.

The winners and the losers of the ACA

After speaking with Klonk, it was clear that there are both winners and losers when it comes to the ACA.

“Obviously, there is a certain percentage of the uninsured population that are winners. Specifically, the population that was eligible for Medicaid that was not signed up before, especially with the expanded Medicaid and the states that did so, since they were able to get coverage under the expanded Medicaid now rules.”

Klonk says there was also a decent portion of uninsured people today that were able to go on the exchanges and receive subsidies. With over 85% of the policies issued today having received a subsidy of some set; and some of them being quite substantial, they would be an obvious winner of the ACA.

Others that would be grouped in this category include poor performing employer groups. Even though they may have high claims, especially the under 50 life groups that are community rated, they will see their costs go down slightly.

Also, the government is a winner, says Klonk. “The government has more control, and with more control comes more power. If we continue to go down this path, the government will be able to control healthcare far more than any of us are going to be comfortable with,” says Klonk.

But who are the losers in all of this? Klonk says it’s the majority of employers.

“There is too much cost shifting going from the individual marketplace to the employer based marketplace. Also, employees of these employers are sometimes bearing the brunt of these increases.  Individuals who still want individual coverage, but are not eligible for a subsidy on the exchange, have seen dramatic price increases for some of their polices,” says Klonk.

“These were relatively healthy individuals under the old standard and would be underwritten based on the risks they brought; and then be priced accordingly. These individuals who would receive a good price are now paying quite a bit more because there is no underwriting, so they pay the penalty for it.”

Community rating

Currently, community rating is in effect for groups of 2-50 employees. As of January 2016, unless it is delayed again, that law will be expanded and the small group definition will go to groups of 2-99.

“Community rating is not performance based, but is more like socialization,” says Klonk. “Community rating brings everybody together and tries to bring it to the median. So if you are a healthy, young, high-performing group that has embraced wellness and performance based medicine, by going in the community rated pool, you will get dinged quite dramatically.”

However, what about the unhealthy groups that haven’t done anything over the past couple of years?

“Some will to see their costs increase,” says Klonk. “But others do have a chance of actually having rates decrease, because community rating brings everything to the middle. So the incentives go away.”

Klonk says this is the reason why you see a lot of self-insured pools cropping up. They can avoid the community rating of ACA. He also says this particular area, as it relates to community rating, scares him the most going forward because it takes away incentives for employers to keep their employees healthy.

“Over the last 15 years, we have worked so hard to incorporate things like on-site wellness plans, and if you take that incentive away from employers, many of them will not do it anymore,” says Klonk. 

The impact insurance carriers will see with the ACA

There is quite a few things that will impact the carriers, depending on the type of carrier that it is.

“Most of them are introducing some type of narrow network, some more narrow than others,” says Klonk. “In certain areas, it’s not a bad offering if they can try to reduce costs there, but in other areas they are limiting access to a lot of good quality providers. One of the challenges is they’ve somewhat reduced the incentives for some carriers to control costs because they have limited the amount of profitability they can make.”  

This is one of the core elements of the ACA. The percentage of profits are limited to 15 to 20 percent, depending on which marketplace they are in.

“We counted on the carriers before to help us on Disease Management, and to help us in promoting wellness programs and to really work with us and the employers to try to control costs,” says Klonk. “Since that incentive with community rating is very challenging, and with the maximization on their profitability, it’s another area that I see diminishing for the carriers.”

However, Klonk says that financially, the carriers are doing fairly well right now.

“You’ve got the reinsurance fees subsidizing the exchange numbers, and with grandmothering in the small market space, as well as community rating, the carriers are able to pad their numbers a bit.  Although their profits have increased recently, I think they are going to get squeezed here as we go forward. You will see more costs being pushed to the carriers from the insurer fees through ACA, and it is going to challenge them a little bit.”

Klonk believes that many of them, conceptually, will change the way they do business years past to where they go forward and their focus isn’t on managing costs as much or managing the risk as much, but simply processing claims and being networks and claims processors, and technology platforms going forward.

“I can see some of that changing as the incentives in ACA go away from really managing risk and managing cost,” says Klonk.

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Wellness Programs: Where We've Been and Where We are Heading

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Wellness Programs: Where We've Been and Where We are Heading

Over the past several years having some form of wellness program for your employees has gone from a cutting edge forward thinking trend, to a mainstream part of many employer’s benefit plans. While the catalysts for this immense growth in the wellness movement are varied depending on the stakeholders involved, most of the changes in strategy, whether being implemented by healthcare providers, the health insurance industry, or even the federal government, are focused on preventative healthcare.

What follows is a brief overview of where wellness programs stand today as well as what these quickly evolving programs and laws could mean for employers and employees alike in the near future.
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3 Facts about Measles and the Workplace

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3 Facts about Measles and the Workplace

In 2015, measles was rising health concern in the country. Organization's everywhere wondered what they should do in the event that one of their employees is diagnosed with measles, and how they can prevent other employees from future contact.

Here are four facts about what can and cannot happen when measles comes to your office.

Fact #1:

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) no longer provides short-term impairments from its definition of "disability." According to an article on workforce.com, "there is an argument to be made that the measles could qualify as an ADA-disability, provided that it substantially limits a major life activity of the sufferer."

However, considering people infected with measles are out for about a  week, it would be difficult to make a case that a one-week impairment could "substantially limit a major life activity" of the infected.

Fact #2:

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, private employers can require vaccinations as long as they are willing to accommodate employees' disabilities and religions. Employers can review any of these accommodations under the ADA and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as well as similar state and local laws.

However, many states do not have a mandatory policy in place. It also depends on the sector in which you work. An organization in the healthcare sector may have a mandatory vaccine program for its employees since they are more likely to run the risk of coming in contact with a disease like the measles. However, organizations in other industries don't necessarily run the same risks.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states, "Generally, ADA-covered employers should consider simply encouraging employees to get the influenza vaccine rather than requiring them to take it." Even though you run risks when mandating your employees to get vaccinated, another option is to always hold an education seminar on the risks of not being vaccinated.

Fact #3:

Employers can use an ADA-compliant pandemic employee sample survey to give to their employees. On the survey, employees can be asked medical and non-medical questions about the ability of the employee to come to work, in the event of a pandemic. This survey will help give employers information they need to plan if a pandemic happens, and how to shield employers from receiving information about any illnesses that employees might have.

Before an issue arises in your workplace, it's a best practice to stay up-to-date on the Center for Disease Control, federal, state, and local public health guidelines and to also stay mindful of any anti-discrimination laws.

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Paid Parental Leave: Policy, Politics, and Parenting

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Paid Parental Leave: Policy, Politics, and Parenting

Although the chances of this Congress successfully passing a bill on paid parental leave are tepid at best (even among supporters of such a measure), one thing is clear, awareness is building on the topic—from the State of the Union address to its own twitter handle #LeadOnLeave.

A mention in the Statue of the Union is usually a sure-fire way to simultaneously be thrust into the national spotlight as well as get written off as political posturing. Even if Washington is a standstill, the media coverage around the U.S.’s lack of parental leave over the past year has placed this issue in a whole new framework—one that just might persuade the American public and business owners alike to take a second look.
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The Ultimate 2015 HR Outlook

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The Ultimate 2015 HR Outlook

With 2015 right around the corner, we broke down the most talked about changes and what to expect in the next year for you and your company.

Minimum Wage

Ohio’s minimum wage will automatically increase to $8.10 per hour on Jan. 1, a 15-cent bump over the current pay. For tipped employees, the minimum wage rises to $4.05 per hour, a six-cent increase.

Ohio is one of 23 states that have a minimum wage higher than the $7.25 federal minimum. Washington has the highest rate at $9.32 per hour.

The minimum-wage increases apply to employees of businesses with annual gross receipts of more than $297,000 per year.
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What is the HIPAA Privacy Rule? An Overview

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What is the HIPAA Privacy Rule? An Overview

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the HIPAA Privacy Rule "establishes national standards to protect individuals’ medical records and other personal health information and applies to health plans, health care clearinghouses, and those health care providers that conduct certain health care transactions electronically."

HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. Title I of the Act protects health insurance coverage for workers and their families when they change or lose their jobs. Title II of the Act requires the establishment of national standards for electronic health care transactions and national identifiers for providers, health insurance plans, and employers.

Under Title II, the Privacy Rule, also known as The Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information, establishes a set of national standards for the protection of certain health information.
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What Employers Need to Know About the Hobby Lobby Decision

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What Employers Need to Know About the Hobby Lobby Decision

The U.S. Supreme Court closed out its 2014 term dramatic fashion as it handed down a 5-4 decision in favor of Hobby Lobby in the controversial Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores case.

The ruling set off a barrage of strongly worded articles, blog posts and comments, including the Court’s own majority and dissenting opinions. Given the politically and morally charged nature of the case that hit on topics including the Affordable Care Act (ACA), religious freedom, women’s health, contraception, and separation of church & state just to name a few, the resulting controversy was virtually inevitable.
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