October 8, 2013

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Industry Outlook: Human Resources

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Industry Outlook: Human Resources

October 8, 2013

HERRING: It is a true paradigm shift of the healthcare system. I don’t know that we know the long-term outcome in terms of access or cost. We know costs will go up immediately. But I don’t know long term, because someone is subsidizing the emergency care. So it is fundamentally a different method of delivering healthcare. Right now, all it is addressing is access for insurance. Whether that’s good or bad, it’s a real paradigm shift.

ROUX: We are all a little bit unsure. Nobody quite knows exactly what it will look like. Things get pushed off, you’ve got to get extra guidance on everything; so how do you communicate that to your people?

Ultimately it’s about the healthcare that our people get, so how do we adequately explain and give them the tools and knowledge to take more control? Because they’re going to have to participate and have more control over their choices, deciding which plans are right for them, that kind of thing. It’s a real communication challenge to give people timely and accurate information. They’re more confused than we all are, so we’re going to have to develop good communication plans.

POWLEY: One of the things that we’re facing is that we’re a self-funded program. Our claims are up year over year. Our benefits plan is above market. The ratio of what the company pays is quite a bit more than what I’ve been used to seeing.

But this is the time of year where we’re looking at new plans for next year. And we’re looking at wellness programs they’ve never had, so it’s a discount off the premiums. We haven’t had an HSA option. That’s something we’re going to be adding. That will be a huge communication piece for employees. We’re one of the world’s leading microbiology laboratory testing companies, and our workforce is young. A lot of them aren’t thinking about some of these future things, particularly around their healthcare.

HERRING: Since we have a medical institution and a health plan, we’re looking at bringing that more internal to where we can control some of the parameters through all aspects of the health system. So we’ll have some micro-changes with the access and the 26 eligibility, all those type of issues. We’re large enough and set up enough that we can try and manage those internally through the entire system of the healthcare provider, the doctors, the employers.

COTTERELL: The confusion among employees is still there, and there’s a lot of uncertainty. As the dust is settling, a lot of the fringe benefits that maybe haven’t been considered important are going to become more important. People value their time, so they want to be able to earn the right to take half of Friday off. They want to have the opportunity to earn X percent more paid time off per year. So some of the other fringe benefits, from bringing in a masseuse on a Friday afternoon to breakfast on Thursdays and small things like that, are going to become more valuable, especially as the playing field gets more level among the benefits from company to company.

CRAGUN: In government, especially at the state level, you can only be so creative, because we have the misperceptions that we also have to deal with. A lot of things that we know as HR people might be really good attraction and retention tools. The decision-makers at the legislative level see those as perks and the citizens often ask “Why should state employees get those things?”

We continue to retire people faster than the private sector. Our retirements this year went up 25 percent from the year before, and so we are losing people. We’re not attracting new people. We can only get so creative before we start getting pushed back.

INKLEY: You mentioned healthcare savings and high-deductible healthcare. We had an HSA at ProPay three years ago, and we helped fund that. When we got acquired, our benefits were incorporated into this new company. They don’t have an HSA. More than half of our staff were benefits eligible on the HSA, and they really liked it. Having the option taken away was a huge dissatisfier to our employees.

Also, we had been on SelectHealth, and now we’re on a predominantly East Coast plan, and it’s not a very good plan in Utah. The company that purchased us didn’t really understand how integrated SelectHealth is in the state. I’ve spent the last six months dealing primarily with disgruntled spouses when they’re at the doctor’s office. They’re calling me saying, “What have you done? I can’t even take my kid to my pediatrician.”

Changing benefits is huge—I didn’t realize how big of an HR nightmare it was going to be, and I only have 68 bodies that are insured in our facility. But I spend the majority of my time dealing with that at the moment.

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