October 8, 2013

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Industry Outlook
Industry Outlook: Human Resources


Around Utah
Around Utah


Industry Outlook: Human Resources

October 8, 2013

ATWOOD: One of the factors that I’ve seen, working with such a variety of clients, is because there are still so many unknowns, they’re taking unfortunate actions at this point. I’m seeing restaurants and some construction and some of those other small businesses starting to take away benefits and reduce hours so the individuals don’t meet those eligibilities. And unfortunately, they’re seeing indirect and direct costs.

One of those direct costs that they’re not really thinking about is Workers’ Comp. Individuals may not have the benefit directly as a shared plan. You’re also going to see, obviously, unemployment as it relates to that. We’re trying to educate the organizations to hold off.

HACKETT: I own two staffing franchises, and I coach 22 other franchise owners in four states. And with these healthcare changes, I have noticed an increase in Workers’ Comp claims—and a lot of them fraudulent—because people don’t have healthcare insurance. So they make those claims so we can cover those injuries. I actually had a hip replacement—it cost me $88,000 in one of my franchises—that we had to cover, and it turned out to be from an auto accident. But that person didn’t have coverage.

Those are the kinds of things that are happening because people don’t have healthcare. People find a way to make it happen. And their doctors want to get paid, too, so some of them find a way to get paid. It’s unfortunate, but it happens.   

I’m seeing a growth in temporary employment because a lot of people want to stay under 50 employees. So they’re using temporary employment to manage those ebbs and flows. But as a small employer myself, I’m worried about getting dropped from my insurance. I’m watching my premiums go up, and watching my franchises that I coach worry about affordability for their small businesses and going into a healthcare exchange that isn’t even being created in some states and being fearful that my premiums are going to go up 40 and 60 percent. 

LEE: The issue of part-time staffing is the other paradigm shift. Most insurance companies have always drawn the line at 30 hours. If they’re over 30 hours, they’re eligible for benefits. But the increased cost is really focused on whether people really want to have part-time employees with no benefits; you can afford two or three part-timers for one full-time person with benefits. I’m seeing employers take a lot closer look at that than they ever have before.

Ironically, I have one client who is concerned about the community rating problem, because that’s really going to drive the rates for small employers under 50. So this employer’s goal is to be over 50. This person is actually going to do some full-time hiring to make sure he’s over 50 and doesn’t get thrown into that pool. Now, the bigger problem is in the next few years he’s going to have to drive to 100 or he’s going to be thrown into it again.

FENWICK: When the dust settles, we’re going to see a new type of insurance market. I don’t know if it will be a rise of accountable care organizations or what it might be, but that might be built up to be able to manage the new payer-type system that we might have.

CRAGUN: Policymakers tend to be consumer-driven. Consumers want choice. Consumers want to be part of making their own choices. What I find, at least in our culture, is they don’t want any of that responsibility. There’s a disconnect between the decision-makers and the actual employees on that consumer-driven piece.

FENWICK: Is that a generational thing? Because that’s what I see. The more seasoned workers are the ones who say, “I don’t want to bother with this,” and the younger ones, even where they’re not so interested in as many benefits, they want to be in charge of whatever they can.

HERRING: As I moved into an HSA experience, consumerism became very important to me, to my wife, versus a setting like the state or a public university where the benefits have been so heavily loaded that you don’t have to worry about the consumerism as much. That’s where people tend to say, “No. It was working before. Now if I go to the doctor, it’s a hundred dollars. I’ve got a deductible.” They know their deductibles. They know the cost of those procedures. And so consumerism for that employee is very important.

THOMAS: Everybody starts with a premise that benefits are hard to understand. A lot of it is generational. I can go to a Best Buy, and there are a number of people who can understand all the specs of every flat-screen TV, get it home, set it up, get a universal remote, set up their sound system. You can’t tell me that’s less complex than going to the doctor and saying, “How much is this going to cost?”

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