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A report covering health care plan design and legislative changes Volume 50, Number 12
Work-Life Programs Help Companies Attract And Retain Talent
Human resources professionals are increasingly reporting that work-life programs, such as flex-time, telecommuting, and dependent care assistance, are influencing employees’ decisions about whether to take a job or remain with an employer, according to a survey on the prevalence and perceptions of benefit programs conducted by WorldatWork, a non-profit association of benefits professionals.
Employees Place High Value On Workplace Health Care Benefits As Costs Escalate
Amid growing concerns about the rising cost of health care and the potential barriers to obtaining insurance coverage, workers with access to employment-based health plans appear to value medical benefits above the actual dollar amount that employers contribute to the plans, an annual survey on health confidence conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) revealed.
When asked if they would wish to continue to receive their current level of health insurance coverage from their employer, even if a portion of the premium were taxed, 62% of respondents with employment-based insurance said they would choose no cut in benefits, while 27% of this group indicated they would prefer to reduce the level of coverage.
401(k) Plan Sponsors Adding Automated Features
As the trend among employers toward automatically enrolling employees in 401(k) plans gathers momentum, many retirement plan sponsors are also adopting additional automated features designed to help workers prepare more effectively for retirement, a study released by human resources consultancy Hewitt Associates concluded.
The biennial survey of more than 300 mid- to large-sized companies offering 401(k) plans found that 34% of the 2007 sample are automatically enrolling employees, up from 19% in 2005. Of those respondents using automatic enrollment, 77% reported that 401(k) plan participants are defaulted into a diversified portfolio that includes target maturity or balanced funds, up from 39% in 2005.
Paying For Testing In Advance Encourages Preventive Care
A health care plan in which members pay in advance for preventive tests may be more effective in encouraging positive behavior than standard health care plans or plans that pay the insured for attending screenings, according to researchers Dan Ariely and Janet Schwartz of Princeton University’s Institute for Advanced Studies.
In an online survey conducted by Survey Sampling International (SSI), 1,000 participants were randomly assigned to two groups. Half were asked to review a “prepay” plan, in which the insured pays a monthly fee of $85, but also prepays the co-pays for routine tests and screenings. For example, the insured might prepay $15 for a routine physical, $25 for routine blood and urinalysis tests, $15 for a mammogram, and $10 for life-saving or life-extending medications. Under the prepay plan, participants are reimbursed if they go to their scheduled appointments but forfeit the prepayments if they miss the appointments.
The second group was asked to consider a “payback” plan, in which the insured pays a monthly fee of $125 and the insurance company pays the insured to take important health tests and screenings. The insurance provider may, for example, pay the insured $50 for attending a routine physical, $50 for taking routine blood and urinalysis test, $100 for attending a mammogram screening, and $10 per medication for filling prescriptions for life-saving or life-extending drugs.
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