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Employee Health: The First “Benefits Package” Blog Carnival

Welcome to The Benefits Package — the very first employee benefits blog carnival. After healthcare reform, employee benefits move to center stage as one of the most important issues facing Americans.

So what are employers, insurers, and the government really doing to rein in healthcare costs, get their employees to live healthier lives, and improve healthcare quality?

The Benefits Package is the first-ever blog carnival dedicated to these issues. With benefits executives starting to make the leap into the blogosphere, The Benefits Package will highlight the best insights and opinions on this important subject. You will discover new blogs, learn new things, and hopefully think about issues a little differently. I’ll host the first couple of Benefits Packages, and then others will take their turn.

Below you’ll find a terrific set of posts by some true thought leaders. If you like what you see, please submit a post of your own next time. Enjoy the first Benefits Package!

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At the Health Business Blog, David Williams explains why mini-med plans aren’t as bad as some people would have you believe.

At Hank Stern’s Insure Blog, Mike Feehan explains how the federal government makes private coverage more expensive in a way that makes its own coverage cheaper.

Jen Benz of the Benz Communications Blog explains that companies who fail to put their benefits information online are making a big mistake. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at See First Blog*

Workers Compensation: A Model For The Future Of American Healthcare?

There’s a country with an unusual healthcare system. In it, you often spend about as much time with your lawyer as you do your doctor. There are special courts set up to decide what kinds of treatment you are allowed to have. And doctors have to be careful that they don’t say or do the wrong thing, or else they risk being blackballed by insurance companies.

The country:  The United States of America.

You may not realize it, but if you hurt your back at work you end up in a different healthcare system than if you hurt your back at home. Sure, you may end up with similar doctors or hospitals, but your experience of healthcare will be completely different. Here’s why.

If you get hurt at work, you’re covered by the “workers compensation” system. That system has its roots over a century ago, when employers didn’t do much to take care of workers. So the system is based on laws that mandate employers to take care of injured workers, often for the rest of their lives. In exchange for this very comprehensive coverage, employers and their insurers get a great deal of control over what care workers get and where they get it.

Does the workers compensation system represent a model of how a future American healthcare system might work? It might. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at See First Blog*

Employers Up The Ante For Workers’ Health

More than half of employers are likely to keep offering insurance rather than use state health insurance exchanges when they become available under health care reform in 2014, reported a survey by an insurance broker.

Willis Human Capital Practice released results of its Health Care Reform Survey 2010, which showed 55 percent of employers would keep their health plans in 2014 even if the new state exchanges offer competitive prices. The survey sampled 1,400 employers of varying sizes, industry sectors and geographies whose plans cover more than 9 million employees and dependents (including retirees).

Key findings from the survey include:

• 88 percent believe that group health plan costs will increase as a result of health care reform;
• 76 percent expect administrative compliance costs will increase;
• 72 percent plan to increase employee contributions in an attempt to offset higher administrative and premium costs. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

Real Reform In Healthcare

“We want our employees to spend their time on real issues,” said Charlie Salter, VP of Benefits at ConAgra. He means it. Charlie and ConAgra have built their healthcare benefits around some simple concepts that are yielding impressive results. How impressive? Close to flat healthcare cost trend since 2007.

Charlie’s work is part of a growing trend among America’s most innovative companies: Designing healthcare benefits in ways that have a real impact on quality and cost. It’s why I [recently] asked Charlie to share the podium with me in Boca Raton. ConAgra is showing it’s possible to control healthcare costs by helping people do the right thing.

The vision behind ConAgra’s programs is simple: Employees have to be responsible for managing their own care. But, says Charlie, this is easy to say, harder to do. “So we do as much as we can to make it as easy for people to do the right thing.” ConAgra gives its employees a significant financial stake in their well-being, through a health plan that has a $1,500 deductible. ConAgra supplements the plan with a health savings account (HSA) that lets workers use pre-tax dollars to pay for the deductible. Like other HSAs, any money the employee doesn’t spend is theirs to keep. It means employees are more engaged in healthcare decisions. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at See First Blog*

10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Healthcare Reform Bill

The healthcare reform bill is 1,017 pages long and contains a lot that will impact Americans. I’m one who believes we had to come into the 21st century and join the rest of the civilized nations in beginning to provide healthcare to all citizens. You be the judge.

Here are 10 things I bet you didn’t know are in the new healthcare reform bill:

  1. Menu labeling. Restaurants with over 20 employees must include calorie counts and other nutrition information on their menus.
  2. SWAG reporting. Doctors must report valuable goodies they receive from health vendors.
  3. Right to pump. New moms must be given space and time to pump breast milk (for employers with over 50 employees).
  4. Research. The bill includes research for postpartum depression.
  5. Tan tax. There’s a 10 percent tax on tanning booths.
  6. Adoption credit. Adoptive parents receive tax credits to encourage adoption.
  7. More research. The bill includes research for Indian health studies.
  8. Safety. The bill includes required background checks for long-term care workers.
  9. Right wing. The bill includes required abstinence education.
  10.  Transparency. Employers must show employer and employee contributions for healthcare on W-2 forms.

Fox News (“fair and balanced”) has said that it’s “what you don’t know that can hurt you.” Fox also said that “42 percent of doctors said they would quit or retire if healthcare reform became law.” It’s time to stop the fear mongering, lies and deception and understand just what this reform will and won’t do for the American public.

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

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