According to Hewitt Associates, an increasing number of workers seem to understand this as nearly half (45%) of employees actively chose their benefits for 2010 instead of defaulting into the coverage they had in the previous year — the highest number of active enrollees since Hewitt began tracking the data in 2003.
Employers can help employees by encouraging them to:
- Assess their needs before selecting a benefit plan or determining how much to put aside in a flexible spending account;
- Read the plan rules and pay attention to changes;
- Take advantage of FSAs and wellness programs; and
- Review quality data of providers.
In a news release, Hewitt pointed out a few changes will affect workers in the next plan year:
- Most U.S. workers will be able to cover their adult children up to age 26;
- Over-the-counter medications, such as aspirin, pain relievers and allergy medications, will no longer be reimbursable from an FSA unless employees have a prescription from a doctor; and
- For health plans that are new or for existing plans that are not “grandfathered,” preventive care (e.g., immunizations and certain check-ups and recommended screenings) will be 100% covered.
Hewitt’s previously reported that overall health care costs are expected to rise 8.8% in 2011, from $9,028 per employee in 2010 to $9,821 per employee in 2011, and workers will be expected to contribute 22.5% of the total health care premium – up from 21.8% in 2010 (see 2011 Health Cost Hikes Highest in Five Years).