Bright Choices Overview
What’s the Problem?
Health insurance costs are rising. Business is getting tougher. You want to provide quality benefits for your employees, but high costs and limited options force you to do the dreaded annual renewal trim and tweak of benefits and constantly switch carriers. You’re trying to do what’s right, but your employees only see what’s going away. There is now a better way that many businesses like you are discovering — shifting to a private exchange model.
What is an exchange and how does it work?
An exchange is an online store where employees can purchase benefits. Exchanges offer multiple options of health insurance plans, and may also offer other benefits, such as dental, vision, life, disability, and other options. Exchanges that are “private” are run by industry, while “public” exchanges are run by the government.
In most cases, the employer uses a defined contribution strategy to give each employee a set amount of money to purchase benefits. The employees and their families can then go shopping in the exchange with the money allocated by their employer and add their own if needed. Depending on the exchange, employees can receive guidance and education about the plans to help them make purchasing decisions.
What about Health Care Reform? Where does that come in?
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka “PPACA” or “Health Care Reform”) was passed by Congress in 2010, and is being phased in, with most changes starting in 2014. It is expected to reduce the number of people without health insurance by providing people with incentives and options to buy insurance.
Costs are high and keep increasing
The average premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance in 2011 were $5,429 for singles and $15,073 for families. That’s 8-9% higher than in 2010. Workers in small firms contribute a significantly lower average percentage for single coverage compared to workers in larger firms (15% vs. 19%), but a higher average percentage for family coverage (36% vs. 25%), according to the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research and Education Trust, Employer Health Benefits 2011 Annual Survey.
Employees don’t fully value their benefits
80% of employees don’t know how much their employers contribute towards their health insurance premiums. And almost half of employees with employer coverage don’t even know how much they contribute from their salary to their own health insurance premiums!
Employees want to be in the driver’s seat
A recent survey found that 83% of employees with employer-based coverage feel that they are better suited than their employers to choose a health plan for themselves.