Little is certain about the future of employee benefits, particularly health care insurance.
A session at the CUNA Human Resources and Training Development Conference in Anaheim, Calif., earlier this week brought that point home.
Nonetheless, Mike Evert, employee benefits product manager with CUNA Mutual Group in Madison, Wis., and David Martin, managing principal for credit union services with Digital Benefit Advisors in Atlanta, expect the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, to drive the following three top trends over the next few years:
How health care premiums are paid
How health care premiums are paid is expected to shift from traditional employer health insurance coverage to a defined contribution approach to offer health insurance to employees.
Under a defined contribution plan, employers give employees a set amount of funds to select a health insurance plan that best suits their needs. This is expected to enable credit unions to anticipate what their health care costs will be year over year.
How health care is purchased
How health care coverage is purchased will transform dramatically over the coming years. Because fewer employers are expected to offer traditional health care insurance, this will drive employees to buy health care insurance on private or public health insurance exchanges.
The exchanges are expected to help consumers compare insurance plans, options and costs. Employers who continue to offer health care coverage are expected to participate in or open a health insurance exchange. The public exchanges administered by the state or federal governments are scheduled to open Jan. 1, 2014.
How consumer-driven plans are growing
Increasing in popularity are consumer-driven health insurance plans, offering lower premiums through higher deductibles than traditional health insurance plans. The CDHPs provide tax advantages and increase personal accountability among consumers when purchasing medical services.
However, CDHPs can’t solve the problem alone because greater emphasis on medical cost transparency is imperative. “We can’t ask for personal accountability when health care providers aren’t willing to share their fees,” said Martin.