Sunday, March 29, 2009

While subsidies will help small businesses, understanding the true costs of health insurance can help firms save money

Should small businesses get subsidies to offset the costs of providing health benefits to their workers? That's the suggestion of the Health Reform Dialogue, who completed a report on Friday in Washington, D.C.

According to Jeffrey Young, a blogger/writer for The Hill, the coalition of special interest groups favors tax incentives for small businesses. While tax incentives could increase the capability of business owners to provide these benefits, a more important need is to educate them on the way health insurance professionals provide a smoke screen on costs.

For years, the health insurance industry has successfully targeted the human resource managers of small companies with misinformation about the need for increasing premiums. If more companies had their chief financial officer or accountant review their claims to premium ratio, they would question the need to pay more in premiums every year.

For most, a small company typically has a 30 percent ratio of actual claims paid for their premium dollar. That leaves most insurance companies with 70-percent of each dollar paid out to pay for its administrative cost and profit. As most insurance companies usually allocate 20-percent for the administrative cost, that leaves most carriers with a 50-percent profit.

With the focus on the rising costs of health benefits, business leaders must educate themselves on the terms of their policies. By taking the time to understand these terms, businesses can take the upper hand on lowering the costs of their health benefits for their workers.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

How generic prescriptions and physicals help keep workers healthy

If you are a human resources manager who is concerned about the health and well being of your work force, consider the use of an annual physical and generic prescriptions as an alternative.   At my company, we are working with companies that help their workers get their annual physical as well as help them get medications that will keep them healthy.

A $4 prescription co-pay is an excellent way for workers to stay healthy.    With the introduction of this program, we are helping our client's workers feel like they can afford their meds to stay healthy.    And, workers who use their meds are typically not as likely to call in sick with an illness or an ailment.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mini Meds provide an excellent alternative to non-coverage for some companies

If recent reports by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation are any indication, one in five adults are working without health insurance coverage. According to the Associated Press story on the foundation report, the increase is significant because 10 years ago, only one in seven was without insurance coverage.

Lynn Blewett, director of the State Health Access Data Assistance Center at the University of Minnesota, which conducted the research , said he found it interesting that more and more new hires are working without health insurance coverage.

"In the last couple of years we've seen a deterioration of private health insurance," Blewett said.

Businesses in Texas can control the cost of health benefits by selecting two types of coverage for their workers. I have worked with several clients who offer a Mini-Med insurance plan for new workers. This works well for them because customers in the Mini-Med program are typically the type who leave their jobs within the first year. Once the workers have stayed with the company more than two years, they are then offered the better insurance coverage plan.

Mini Med coverages are a unique offering at my firm. And, they are not for every business. At Diversified Insurance Brokerage Service, we can advise a company the viability of a Mini Med as compared to a more traditional coverage.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Why the Nationwide Health Information Network could help lower the costs of health benefits

With President Barack Obama announcing today that David Blumenthal will serve as his national coordinator for health information technology in the Department of Health and Human Service, the issue of an electronic medical record is coming back again.

In a Washington Technology article published today, Obama said during his announcement of appointing Blumenthal, a practicing Boston doctor and an IT health expert, that the federal government will spend $19.5 billion in economic stimulus funding for health IT professionals to begin the Nationwide Health Information Network.

For years, the health carriers had an archaic claims system that delayed payments and denied claims. That changed with the adoption of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act in 1996. Now, there are only eight claims processing systems in effect.

Obama is right in that a national electronic medical record standard will help lower the cost of health care by eliminating mistakes in records. When a doctor or one of his staff misdiagnose an ailment because of allergies or other medical factors, it can impact the cost of health care for an organization.   Still, the issue of privacy will rear its ugly head.

At Diversified Employee Benefits, we have been working with our customers to set up an administrative system to safeguard their employee's data because of the HIPAA regulation.   We understand the importance of helping our clients keep their data protected in the event of a possible audit by the Health and Human Service Department.