Employers looking to reduce costs despite healthcare reform law

With the nation’s workforce in the midst of enrollment season and employees and businesses everywhere having to decide which benefits to take on, Aon Hewitt, a global leader in human resource consulting and outsourcing solutions, is urging employers and employees alike to pay attention to the upcoming changes to healthcare law.

The Affordable Care Act signed into law by President Barack Obama last year will have a prolonged effect on not only employer-offered healthcare plans but for individual consumers in need of the right amount of coverage as changes to the law will roll out gradually over the next several years until the plan goes into full effect in 2014.

Although the main purpose of the Affordable Care Act is to provide greater access for healthcare coverage to those who need it and to limit the power insurance companies have in denying coverage, Aon Hewitt’s data indicates that healthcare costs continue to rise with an expected increase of 8 percent this year to roughly $10,475 per employee.

“When it comes to choosing and using their employers’ health care plans and programs, workers want their employers to do four things, according to our Consumer Health Mindset survey: make it easy to do, make it personal so I know how to get the best value, make it move me in the right direction, and make it meaningful, so I feel supported as I try to improve my health,” said Joann Hall Swenson, health engagement best practice leader with Aon Hewitt.

Swenson added reducing the cost of healthcare should be a top priority among businesses looking to stay afloat in an uncertain economy.

“Employers who craft their health engagement strategies around these four insights will have a chance at reaching and engaging their employees, which in turn will lead to improved health and productivity, and reduced cost,” she said.

In response, many employers are asking employees to take a proactive approach in improving their health. Aside from simply asking their workforce to engage in healthier activities, many companies are taking it one step further by offering incentives for employees that meet certain goals by participating in company sponsored health and wellness activities.

According to GoLocalProv, national participation in worksite wellness programs is between 30 and 60 percent with businesses everywhere looking to add to that number by getting creative with the incentives they offer. Popular incentive program rewards include pre-paid gift cards, travel offers and other exclusive benefits.