September 1, 2012

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Utah Business Staff

September 1, 2012

C. THOMAS: Even as a small business owner, one of our biggest expenses is healthcare. Our greatest rising expense is healthcare, and being in a very specialized industry, there is no way we cannot offer it—and not just offer it, we have to offer good healthcare benefits.

Is anyone here using the Utah Health Exchange?
NORTON: We actually offer it as part of our options. No one does it.

SISK: We outsource for hundreds of companies. So we are always in that realm of shopping it and looking at options. We have not had much success from a competitive rate standpoint. The idea behind it is interesting, but where the rubber meets the road, it has not been advantageous for clients.

FENWICK: I’ve looked at the exchange a few times, and you don’t get very competitive rates compared to what you can get on your own.

ROUX: We look at it every time we go through open enrollment. We just finished that cycle about a month ago. I have exactly the same philosophical approach as the Exchange—I’d love for us to get out of the healthcare business. We don’t offer any extra added value for the employee for me to make the decisions about the plans that are available to my employees. That is probably not the best place for that to be. It should be in the employees’ hands to decide what is important for them and their families, and not for me to choose one provider over another or one plan over another.

How much do you think the new healthcare program is going to add to the cost of healthcare in your company?
SISK: Lots.

A. THOMAS: On average, from what we’ve seen coming out of the whole insured markets—self-funded markets—it will be at least a 5 percent increase for most companies, and some of that has already been absorbed because it’s been ruled out over time. It’s not quite as dramatic here in Utah because the age 26 rule didn’t have as much of an impact since Utah already did that. Preventative care at 100 percent is great for the individual, but it’s not free. Now they are adding women’s contraceptives. Again, not bad, but not free.
So what is the change from here going forward? That all depends on where your plan is and if it’s been grandfathered, et cetera.

Do you feel like you understand the kinds of changes you need to make?
A. THOMAS: We just did a poll survey of about 2,000 employers, so it’s not necessarily statistically valid, but out of that, 44 percent said they had made changes and they knew what they were going to do. But 16 percent said, “We have no idea. We were going to wait and see what the Supreme Court did.” So you have 16 percent of employers out there who have done nothing. Another 40 percent said, “We are aware of it, but we have not done a lot with it.” And I’ve seen that with the clients I work with—it’s about that same split.

WHALEN: A lot of employers are relying on their brokers and their benefit advisors to tell them what they need to do and when. But the responsibilities for the HR professionals within a company are quickly coming up, and they are in peril if they don’t add that to their to-do list, get educated about it, devise a strategic plan for their own company and take that responsibility on. It’s a great way for the HR professional to make themselves valuable to their company also.

A. THOMAS: Does the HR person know what they need to communicate to employees, and when they need to communicate it? Because the law is very clear—as clear as it can be—you’ve got 60-day notification rules, and when things have to be put out and put in place. That is where HR can either be really ahead of the game or fall behind, not unlike when HIPAA came out and everybody said, “Well, I’ll get to it.” Well, this one is going to be a little more visible with the same type of implications.

FOSTER: One concern that I have is that I’m pretty proactive about this, but I do rely on my broker and on my insurance rep—because why wouldn’t I? I mean, that is what they are there for, right?
I recently called my insurance rep and said, “Do you feel trained? Are you getting the training you need to be able to advise your clients, and what do I need to know?”
And she said, “I have no idea.”
So what do I do? Certainly I can look for different resources and things like that, but I don’t know where to go to get the right information, and I certainly don’t have time to look through billions of different websites and documents to figure it out. So it’s an issue for me.

Are health savings accounts increasing? Are people taking more control over their healthcare spending?
LEE: They have to.

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