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US Health & Benefits Perspectives provide specific analyses and viewpoints on major issues of interest to Benefits Professionals.
2013 US Health Perspectives
This Perspective discusses Mercer's point of view on a Total Health Management.
2012 US Health & Benefits perspectives
This Perspective discusses Mercer's point of view on a new and improved model for care management.
2011 US Health & Benefits perspectives
This Perspective examines analysis of the outcomes from employee health management programs.
This Perspective examines how employers are integrating core and voluntary benefit offerings.
This Perspective provides an overview of how we expect the health care market to respond in the post-reform era.
The enactment of federal health care reform has placed employersponsored health plans at a crossroads, and most employers will be facing key strategic decisions over the next few years. As they study options ranging from extending coverage to more employees to terminating coverage for all employees, it will be critical to consider the impact of such decisions on workforce health – and, in turn, on company operations and overall business costs. Employees with serious health issues not only drive higher health care costs, but also are less productive, spend more time away from work and drive up disability payments.
2010 US Health & Benefits perspectives
9 June 2010
With the recent passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), many employers are asking critical questions about their current strategies. While health care reform primarily emerged as insurance reform, there are significant implications for health plan program design and incentives. Many employers are concerned about how these insurance reforms will affect their programs and are asking:
In this Perspective, we identify some of the PPACA provisions that affect employer-sponsored health strategies designed to change behaviors and, as a result, improve quality and control cost.
1 June 2010
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) will have a profound impact on employers and our health insurance system. While the employer community hoped that reform would place a priority on controlling cost trend and improving quality of care, the final legislation tilted disproportionately toward insurance reform and expansion of government-funded insurance coverage. This Perspective reviews some of the issues that are emerging as employers decide how to move forward with compliance.
21 May 2010
Lowe’s recently launched a highly innovative health care program designed to help its employees seek top quality care for complex surgeries. Partnering with the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic, Lowe’s negotiated favorable, fixed-per-case rates for select complex surgeries. This Perspective focuses on the success of an innovative employee health care program launched by Lowe’s in partnership with Mercer.
1 February 2010
Cancer, in both employed and retired populations, is a major expense for employers in terms of medical and pharmacy costs, disability costs, lost productivity and diminished quality of life. At the present time, cancer treatment has many shortfalls. This Perspective focuses on how employers should cover preventive care, work with vendors to ensure best practice management and utilize centers of excellence whenever possible.
2009 US Health & Benefits perspectives
Mercer’s 2009 Survey on Recession and Reform finds that health benefit costs are projected to rise 7.4 percent this year, yet employers hope to keep the increase to 5.2 percent. Achieving that rate reduction will require strong cost-management strategies, but many employers have already exhausted “tried and true” approaches, such as requiring higher cost sharing and contributions from participants. Just as past recessions gave rise to innovative, often untested solutions like point-of-service plans and managed care, the current crisis is spurring the search for novel cost-control strategies. This Perspective looks at how employers can use incentive-based health plans to promote behavioral change and improve outcomes in quality, expense and individual risks.
13 July 2009
Employers and the private sector health care industry have continuously improved quality of care and cost efficiency, facilitated healthy behaviors and reduced health risks. The time has come for a federal health care reform plan that is designed to improve health care quality and affordability, reduce the uninsured population and improve population health while maintaining the excellence and innovation of the world's best health care system. Mercer believes that these results can be achieved if our private health care industry and employer-based health care system provide the foundation for such a plan.
13 July 2009
Mercer’s annual National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans is conducted every summer. The survey is supplemented on an ad hoc basis as new issues emerge that influence employer strategies (see page 9 for findings from our June 2009 poll). The onset of the recession in September 2008, along with President Obama’s focus on health care system reform, created a need for an interim survey to find out whether these events would cause employers to adjust their health programs. We also sought their opinions on various components of health reform.
24 April 2009
The term “company doc” conjures an image of a lone physician providing care to workers in industrial America. Worksite clinics were considered a necessity in factories, mines, logging camps and other locations where the risk of injury was high and, in some cases, the worksites were remote. Some clinics were expanded to provide pre-employment physicals, screenings and stop-gap treatment of routine illnesses. But, by the 1980s, the prevalence of these clinics declined rapidly due to increases in the number and availability of health care providers and hospitals, employee unease about employers having access to personal medical information, liability concerns and corporate cost-cutting efforts.
12 March 2009
At the heart of most health reform proposals, at both the state and federal levels, is the goal of reducing the number of uninsured by making health care more affordable and accessible. The debate often focuses on people who lack coverage because they are unemployed. In reality, there is a growing number of employees who are not covered for a wide range of reasons.
On Oct. 3, 2008, the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (the “Act”) became law. The law requires group health plans that offer mental health (MH) or substance abuse (SA) benefits to provide those benefits on par with medical and surgical benefits. The Act prohibits plans from imposing financial requirements (e.g. co-pays) or treatment limits (e.g. outpatient visit limit) on MH/SA benefits that are more restrictive than the predominant financial requirements or treatment limits that apply to substantially all medical and surgical benefits, and it bars separate cost sharing and treatment limits for MH/SA benefits. The Act also makes permanent the prohibition on lower annual and lifetime dollar limits for covered MH benefits from the 1996 Mental Health Parity Act and expands this prohibition to include covered SA benefits.
2008 US Health & Benefits perspectives
23 October 2008
Although the national economic condition has topped the political agenda in weeks leading up to the 2008 presidential election, health care reform remains a leading domestic policy issue for voters and both presidential candidates. With rising health care costs and potential growth in the number of uninsured Americans because of the economic downturn, consensus about the need for US health system reform is emerging. But the current fiscal crisis adds a new dimension to the challenges of passing a solution.
As the debate continues to sharpen, one thing is clear: Both candidates agree that the health care system needs major changes, although the party nominees diverge on what reforms should take place. This Perspective reviews party platforms and candidates' positions on health care reform and discusses potential implications for employers' health benefit programs.
25 January 2008
As the US health care debate intensifies, employers are re-examining their role in sponsoring coverage. Rising health plan costs, administrative burdens and employee dissatisfaction with offerings have employers asking hard questions: What's the value in offering health benefits? Would a different approach offer better cost and strategic value? This Perspective examines the evolving answers to these questions, outlines public policy and marketplace changes needed for any major shift away from employer-based coverage, and offers practical considerations for employers planning near-term change.
2007 US Health & Benefits perspectives
13 March 2007
This Perspective identifies the key features and proponents of current health care quality initiatives, highlights how employers can benefit from these efforts, and outlines actions that employers can take to promote quality in their health benefits.
2006 US Health & Benefit perspectives
6 November 2006
This Perspective, addresses the key challenges and issues companies face in deciding whether to terminate or continue health care coverage for their retirees. We examine the social, financial and workforce consequences associated with these decisions to help you shape a strategy that's right for your organization.
6 June 2006
This Perspective centers on workforce concerns - issues related to the health, safety and welfare of employees. Before, during and after an avian flu outbreak, human resource managers, and the protocols they put in place, will play a critical role in maintaining their organizations' ability to function effectively.
5 January 2006
This Perspective explains how escalating health and retirement costs have caused many employers to cut benefits or shift expenses to employees, yet costs continue to rise. This article takes a fresh look at the drivers of benefit costs and promising cost-control solutions, such as consumer-directed health plans, health savings accounts, disease management programs, hybrid retirement plans, employee education, and high-performance provider plans. Along with giving case studies illustrating real-life solutions, this issue highlights ways to build cost-effectiveness into total reward strategies and communication programs.
You may also visit our Global Health & Benefits Perspective site at http://www.mercer.com/globalhealth.