Webinar highlighted best practices for state exchanges, power of state-state collaboration

Wednesday’s webinar highlighted just a few of the benefits of the collaboration between CT and MD’s state health insurance exchanges. Peter VanLoon, of AccessHealthCT, and Subramanian Muniasamy of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, described how sharing resources and lessons between their states has helped both exchanges improve over the last two years. Well beyond technical assistance, collaboration also touched on contracting out services (and what not to contract out), outreach, Medicaid integration, and customer service among other issues. Click here for a replay of the webinar, and here for the slides. Sign up here for regular updates, including future webinars, from CSG/ERC’s health committee.

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Health Insurance Exchanges — states sharing resources, solving problems 5-20-15, 2.03 PM from Ellen Andrews on Vimeo.

Webinar: Health Insurance Exchanges – States Sharing Resources, Solving Problems

Join CSG/ERC’s health policy committee for a webinar May 20th – Health Insurance Exchanges – States Sharing Resources, Solving Problems. We’ll hear from Peter VanLoon, from Connecticut’s health insurance exchange, describe opportunities to assist other states with their exchanges. Depending on how the Supreme Court rules in King v. Burwell this summer, eight million residents of states now using the healthcare.gov exchange may lose federal insurance subsidies unless their state creates its own exchange. Some existing state exchanges have struggled with implementation over the last year but Connecticut’s health insurance exchange, Access Health CT, avoided most problems. Building on their success, Access Health CT is offering technical assistance and business services to states wishing to create or enhance their state-based exchange. The CSG/ERC webinar will be at 2pm May 20th; click here to register.

 

ERC states’ employer coverage eroded since the recession, well before ACA implementation

A new report finds that declines in employer-sponsored coverage across the CSG/ERC region occurred since the 2008/9 recession, well before implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Mirroring national trends, after the recession both employers and workers in the region moved away from coverage in the four years after the recession. ERC states averaged 1.2% gains in firms offering health benefits to workers from 2004/5 to 2008/9, but that trend reverse with a 3.3% drop in the four years after the recession. Even among workers offered coverage, after the recession fewer were eligible for an employer offer and even fewer took the offer, leading to further declines in employer-sponsored coverage across the region. The report, authored by the State Health Access Data Assistance Center at the University of Minnesota, found that that the slide was likely driven by rising premiums. Workers at small firms and part time workers were hardest hit across the region. The report includes family and single coverage premiums, employee share of premiums, and detailed employer offer, eligibility and take-up rates by state, both before and after the recession, by full/part time workers and firm size.

 

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Survey contrasts wellness plans between US and Canadian businesses

Responding to rising chronic illness rates and poor health habits among workers, 82% of all US and Canadian employers, and 90% of public employers, have embraced workplace wellness initiatives to improve the health of their employees, according to a new survey by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. Public employers surveyed included state, municipal, county, federal and university workers. Mental illness and depression are the biggest drain on health costs in Canada while diabetes and heart disease are driving costs in the United States, especially for public employees. Sixty two percent of employers expect to increase their wellness spending over the next two years. Programs can include health screenings and treatments, fitness and nutrition programs, social and community health initiatives and mental health initiatives. Typical features of wellness programs include flu shot clinics, health screenings, and health fairs.

Newer features identified in the survey include wearable tracking devices, wellness apps and wellness games. The survey found that while there are many similarities between wellness plan offered by US and Canadian businesses, they often have different motivations and goals. US business wellness plans are designed to control costs, tracking return on investment ROI), while Canadian plans are more likely to emphasize worker health and engagement, reducing disability and absenteeism.

Most employers are reporting positive returns on investment averaging $3 for every dollar spent, in diverse benefits, particularly reducing health costs, absenteeism and disability claims.