Top 5 priorities for employer-sponsored health plans in 2013

Dealing with health reform requirements is one priority for employers in the coming year. (photo credit: smokedsalmon) Dealing with health reform requirements is one priority for employers in the coming year. (photo credit: smokedsalmon)

With 2013 right around the corner, there’s a lot to consider. Employers, for one, need to consider their priorities for employer-sponsored health plans.

Here's a short list of what employer health plan sponsors need to keep top-of-mind going into the New Year, according to Mercer health benefit consultants.


1. Prepare for the health reform law’s 2014 requirements. Sure, there’s health reform provisions in 2013 to watch, but 2014 is the year employers should really be thinking about.

In 2014, employers will be required to offer qualified health coverage to all employees working 30 or more hours per week—so in 2013 they need to determine who those employees are and whether their health plan qualifies. They also need to inform employees about the new state exchanges.

Also read: PPACA’s 2013 provisions near implementation

(photo credit: Charles Dharapak/Associated Press)

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2. Evaluate the level of benefits provided. As employers are asked to cover more individuals, they are reconsidering the level of benefits they provide and how much they contribute to the cost. Providing employees with a low-cost plan (like a consumer-directed health plan) as the core benefit and giving them the option to pay more for richer coverage is one approach gaining momentum.

Also read: Experts advise reassessing benefits plan options

(photo credit: ddpavumba)


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3. Examine whether private health exchanges have a place in the health benefits strategy. While relatively few employers expect to drop their medical plans entirely, some are considering private exchanges for retirees, active employees or both. Exchanges reduce the administrative burden for employers and can give members more flexibility in selecting insurance products to meet their needs.

Also read: How brokers fit into the exchange puzzle

(photo credit: Suat Eman)



4. Ramp up health management programs for long-term savings. Most employers have some type of wellness or health management program, but is it achieving all it can? Employers should consider offering employees incentives to participate—the pay-off is a healthier, higher-performing workforce. Social media’s networking capabilities offer new ways to build engagement.

Also read: Want wellness? Offer some motivation

(photo credit: Feelart)

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5. Rethink where and how care is delivered. Market innovations like telemedicine, surgical centers of excellence and medical homes are starting to transform the health care delivery system.

Also read: Patients to face ‘access crisis’

(photo credit: smokedsalmon)

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