Variety of strategies needed to curb health costs. As use of consumer-driven health plans grows, employers that are most successful at containing cost increases are implementing a wide variety of tactics to encourage consumerism, according to new research from the National Business Group on Health. Roughly 29% of employers offer a high-deductible health plan with a health savings account or health reimbursement arrangement this year, compared to 13% last year and 7% in 2004. Another 33% plan to do so next year, the survey of 508 mid-sized and large employers shows. Median employee enrollment in HDHPs is 7%.
Termination and benefit costs clash in lawsuit. A federal judge recently ruled in favor of a worker who claimed his employer sacked him to avoid the cost of rising insurance premiums. The suit raises questions about employer motivation in a climate of skyrocketing medical expenses. Employers may wish to review their firing policies to ensure they don't violate employment laws. The worker filed a suit in May, alleging that his discharge and other aspects of his treatment were the direct result of his diagnosis with Crohn's disease. The judge agreed, saying enough circumstantial evidence exists to warrant a trial by jury. However, the plaintiff's claim that the company violated FMLA provisions was denied. The issues coming before the court fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act and ERISA.
Retain older workers to avoid talent drain. About 34% of employers say the aging workforce will have a significant corporate impact, yet 79% have not taken any steps to accommodate older workers, a new MetLife study reveals. Older workers are more likely than others to consider benefits an important reason for staying with their employer. They also are more satisfied with their jobs and more loyal to employers, MetLife reports. Roughly 33% of baby boomers (age 41-60) have not determined when they will retire from work. Moreover, 58% of younger baby boomers (age 41-50) are worried that they will have to work either full- or part-time during retirement, and 61% peg "outliving retirement money" as their No. 1 retirement-related fear.