Health care reform is changing many things about the insurance industry, and in some cases those changes are not in the broker’s favor. But at least one area of the market is seeing a boon thanks to the Affordable Care Act — wellness plans.
The ACA includes several provisions that allow wellness plans to flourish. For example, the ACA allows employers to offer incentives to employees who participate in wellness plans and/or meet certain health standards. The law increases the reward amount beginning in 2014, when rewards may be up to 30 percent of the cost of coverage (currently at 20 percent), and the reward limit may be increased to 50 percent of the cost of coverage.
[See also: More coverage on Wellness]
This is just one of the ways the ACA is allowing wellness programs to grow. But how can brokers get involved in this market, and how can they encourage employees to participate once the plans are put in place?
Changing plans, new strategies
Cindy LaQuatra, a senior consultant with Benefits Resource Group, says wellness plans are rapidly evolving to meet the demands of employers and workers alike.
“When you talk to employers now, most of them now say they have a wellness program, but the level of sophistication is all across the board,” she said. “If they have a Biggest Loser program or a walking program they think they have a wellness program, and they do, but there are a lot more comprehenive programs available now, like biometic testing, on-site clinics … programs that are targeted and tested for what’s most prevelanat in their population.”
[See also: 10 key characteristics of wellness programs]
LaQuatra added that larger employers in particular are getting better at recognizing the specific health needs of their employee population and choosing wellness programs that match those needs.
An uncertain future
LaQuatra says part of the reason wellness plans are getting more popular is that employers have no idea what the future will bring, and that concerns them.
“Employers today are very uneasy because they don’t have a good handle on how health care reform will impact them financially,” she said. “Who knows what will happen, but employers are really struggling with how that will affect their cost. More than ever, they’re looking at ways they can better manage their health care plans. Slowly but surely, employers are starting to learn that it works the same way as workers comp…the more they can do to mitigate or control claims, the better the rates.”
More coverage on wellness programs from BenefitsPro
- Poor emotional state hurdle to wellness
- 6 steps to encourage wellness
- Wellness incentive “most beneficial” aspect of health reform
- 10 key characteristics of wellness programs
- Four reasons why your wellness program isn’t working