2 emerging trends in workplace benefits

Employees are eligible for rewards if they complete a health-contingent wellness program.

Let's take a closer look at some of the largest benefits trends for 2016:

A call for benefits integration
One of the largest issues plaguing insurance companies today is benefits duplication or policyholders having overlapping coverage from more than one provider. This practice is problematic for businesses, as employees can make a profit if they submit claims to multiple coverage providers for the same expenses, according to Free Advice. Benefits experts are calling for an end to this double-dipping habit. Their solution is integrated benefits offerings.

"Let's start working towards full integration of medical, life, dental, vision, wellness, worksite… a single enrollment, one single bill, one single process that runs through the entire spectrum of benefits," Rodger Bayne, president of Benefit Indemnity Corporation, told an audience at EBA's Workplace Benefits Renaissance conference.

By putting all these benefits together into one program provided by a single insurance provider, businesses can help keep their coverage costs low.

"Many employers are enhancing their offerings by implementing a wellness initiative."

A focus on wellness
As the ACA enforces stricter guidelines regarding health coverage for employees of both smaller and larger organizations, many employers are enhancing their offerings by implementing a wellness initiative. Two-thirds of companies have already taken this step, according to a study from the Society for Human Resource Management. Wellness programs encourage better health and act as a prevention technique to help employees combat any issues that could result in use of their insurance in the future.

According to the Department of Labor, the ACA supports wellness plans as an addition to group health coverage and provides rules to continue to support both participatory and health-contingent programs. Furthermore, the push for implementation of wellness programs could include a bonus for employees. The U.S. departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury issued guidance saying workers are eligible for a reward totaling 20 to 30 percent of their total annual cost of coverage if they complete a health-contingent wellness initiative. In addition, employees who do not finish the program could be subject to the same percentage, but in penalties.

Employers constantly are looking for ways to provide comprehensive benefits offerings to their workers at a fraction of the cost. This year will see the ACA in full force, as the majority of its guidelines are now in effect. To keep their health insurance expenses manageable, companies are moving toward fully integrated coverage and introducing wellness plans to their group programs. These steps can reduce the amount of double dipping insurance claims and help all employees maintain or improve their well-being.