In line with what we are hearing from other parts of the country, our Portland small groups are continuing to offer health benefits to their employees. They want to continue to play for a few reasons:
1) They need stay competitive in the marketplace. It’s been difficult to find great talent locally and benefits are still a great incentive for new hires- they see the value
2) They aren’t ready to evaluate or deal with the penaly. One of my groups said it just feels wrong to pay a penalty when they could be spending that money to help employees and families
3) Employers like knowing that the benefits they offer is a value in addition to salary. They are not inclined to increase salaries to have employees go out in the health care market on their own
While they are staying in the game, a few things will change:
1) More voluntary benefits will be offered such as accident and illness plans, vision and dental. Our carriers are offering a greater variety of voluntary benefits making it easy for employees to enroll.
2) Increased education on navigating the health care system. I personally add information on becoming a smarter consumer with resources to help understand benefits and cost.
3) Introduction to wellness in the workplace and no-cost wellness resources from the carriers. Employers are understanding that wellness information now needs to be introduced in the workplace to help engage employees and families in better health.
4) Majority of employers will now be offering some form of a consumer driven health plan (CDHP) where more cost will be shifted to employee with incentives for good health.
So for today, it’s business as usual with a small amount of change. As we approach 2014, that may change again.