By Laura Miller Andrew
The opening of the health insurance marketplace on October 1, 2013, has helped employees focus on their own health care coverage. Health care coverage has moved front and center, with the press publicizing the new marketplace exchanges, and politicians debating health care reform funding. As employers enter the “open enrollment” process for their group health plans, employees are much more engaged in learning about their health care plans and the costs associated with that coverage.
The health coverage provided through employer sponsored plans is often superior to the health coverage options offered on the exchange. However, employees may pay more for this coverage next year. According to a recent study by Aon Hewitt, employees will be required to pay a greater share of the cost of their coverage. Aon Hewitt points to the shift to consumer-directed health plans as a major cause of this shift. Other factors, such as design changes required by the PPACA mandates, may also result in increased costs. However, these same design changes generally provide better coverage to employees. Employers should consider publicizing the value of the health coverage they provide. Since health care and the ongoing difficulties of the “healthcare.gov”website continue to be in the news on a daily basis, employers should capitalize on this interest in their open enrollment materials and stress the value of their health coverage.