SBN Staff

 

Thomas Passek is only the sixth managing director in the 100-year history of ASM International, but that only tells part of the story of the global network once known as the American Society for Metals.

“It’s not just about the magazine that members get in the mail, the website they get to access, the technical journals and information that are available to you, but that you are really part of a larger community,” Passek says.

That need to connect, to collaborate, was the impetus for the organization’s founding, which took place in Detroit when 18 heat treaters and automotive employees formed The Steel Treaters Club, the forerunner of ASM International.

The original group has grown into a professional technical society for metallurgists, material scientists and engineers. The more than 30,000 members are located in 100 countries around the world.

ASM has an easily recognizable facility in northeastern Ohio that features the world’s largest openwork geodesic dome, built in 1960, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The site, called Materials Park, was the work of William Hunt Eisenman, ASM’s longtime managing director from 1918 through 1958, Cleveland architect John Terence Kelly and futurist R. Buckminster Fuller.

ASM primarily offers high-quality technical information and data as well as professional development opportunities. It aims to facilitate networking among and between members of the materials community, both members and nonmembers, to help solve technical problems and advance their individual career as well as the organization’s business.

While that is the core of ASM’s mission since its beginning in 1913, carrying out that mission has not been without challenges. Those in more recent years have been some of the most demanding.

 

Meeting today’s challenges

“I think that in the day of technology and Google and Pinterest and simulated games, the need for and value in people getting together face-to-face and sharing ideas, problems and solutions has become that much more important,” Passek says. “And when you talk to our long-standing members, they talk about ASM helping them solve problems through the connections they made as being a member of the organization.”

To that end, ASM organizes and operates about 10 conferences and expositions regularly around the world. For instance, ASM held an event last year in Prague on shape memory materials — those that have the ability to recover their original shape from a significant deformation when subjected to a particular stimulus.

An event was also held in Busan, South Korea, on thermal spray technologies, which involves coatings that help increase the life and value of a component.

“We also hold countless other events in North America,” Passek says, on subjects ranging from aerospace coatings to microgravity materials science to testing and failure analysis.

Passek, who has been managing director of ASM since October 2012, began with ASM in 1986 and has been with the organization since, minus a three-year period when he was executive director of the American Society for Nondestructive Testing.

 

Focus on content and data

He sees his role, other than that of making sure that current initiatives continue to be supported to make them successful, having two areas of focus.

First, is to protect the association’s core — the content that has been collected over the years and is being collected now.

“That has always been a real strength of ours — the ability to acquire and aggregate content from anywhere in the world that it may exist,” Passek says. “Then we take it through a value-added process of vetting with subject-matter experts to make sure the content we share and distribute is technically accurate.”

That focus also includes finding more effective ways to make content available, whether it is in print or online, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

His second area of focus is to expand acquisition and management of data.

“We are moving more and more into the area of data, to acquire and manage data so people can make better decisions based on materials data,” Passek says.

The White House in 2001 announced an initiative called the Materials Genome Initiative, a collaborative endeavor of the public and private sectors designed to double the pace of innovation, manufacture and deployment of high-tech materials in America.

“It really talks about accelerating our pace of developing new materials to positively impact manufacturing in the United States — so we have a number of initiatives we are pursuing. One project is called computational materials data network, which is trying to aggregate data in various industries and various material clusters so people can use that in modeling, to help advance and accelerate modeling to develop and deliver new engineered materials to advance manufacturing.”

Work is done through local chapters and affiliate societies to help members solve challenges. Passek believes strongly in helping people connect with each other.

“When you know that you are having a problem with a thermal spray coating adhering to a certain type of material, our thermal spray society members are able to access a niche group of a thousand other members who deal with these issues,” he says. “They help each other even if they are competitors. They share enough information to help people go through that process of discovery, and much quicker than they could if they didn’t have that kind of connection.”

Being a valuable educational resource

Passek says ASM can help fill a void for engineers who want to advance their knowledge, for example, if they received a more generalist education.

“It is an opportunity for us because of our professional development activities,” he says. “We can help fill some of those voids. Our education department here runs three- to five-day intensive courses in which we bring in a subject-matter expert from the 30,000 members.

“We have these courses that really teach them more in-depth about the material, the metallurgy, the processes, the mechanics behind a lot of this. It serves a need to better prepare and educate the staff from the industry, whether it is automotive, heavy machinery, materials producers or medical devices.”

There was a time when General Motors would have a metallurgy department with 30 metallurgists, Passek says, but those days don’t exist anymore.

“You now have either a materials engineer working on a team with others or a mechanical engineer who has been asked to make material-selection decisions. The challenge for us is to still show them that connection back to fundamental material science and how their association with ASM can help.”

ASM also puts a focus on high school students through its education foundation.

“We hold a camp at Materials Park once a year that brings about 30 students from all over the country — and often international students — and they spend a week working with subject matter experts, our members, in solving a failure problem, in a format almost like a ‘CSI’-for-materials,” Passek says.

This program was started in 2000 with 30 students at the first camp. As of today, almost 250 student camps have taken place all around the country, touching nearly 9,000 students. Teacher camps are offered as well, having reached about 5,000 since the program’s inception. ● 

How to reach: ASM International, (440) 338-5151 or www.asminternational.org

Friday, 03 January 2014 10:44

Weighing in on health care reform: Chicago

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often called the Affordable Care Act represents some of the most far-reaching government overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system since 1965 when Medicare and Medicaid came into being. It will be phased in over time, but a number of changes have been delayed and won’t be in effect until 2015.

The act focuses on increasing the rate of health insurance coverage for American and reducing health care costs. Here’s what some area businesses have on their minds about health care reform as the time nears for the full impact of the ACA: 

Craig Vodnik
co-founder and VP of operations
cleverbridge

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

We don’t expect the changes to affect us as we already offer great health care to our employees. However, we will have to wait and see if the new law affects the health care we currently offer. 

Have to studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

Yes, we currently have a wellness program that includes a fitness challenge, running club and bringing in wellness-related speakers to the office (i.e. ergonomic experts, bike safety, etc.). Next year, regardless of the U.S. health care reform, we are planning a full year wellness program as we’ve seen the benefits of them. It not only rewards employees for their efforts with prizes such as round-trip airline tickets, but we’ve seen camaraderie and teamwork improve as well. 

What other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

Many years ago, we decided to offer multiple health care plans — not just one at a high cost to the company and the employee. This offered a good plan at a lower cost for employees that don’t use it much. We also offer an HSA so employees can pay for out-of-pocket health care tax-free. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage?

We do not foresee a change in the current employer/employee health care contribution. However, we believe employees paying a meaningful part of health care costs helps them realize the real cost of health care. This better enables them identify which plan is a best fit for them, and if they choose a lower-cost option, it in turn lowers our costs as well.

 

Thomas Moran
CEO
Addison Group 

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

We believe that we are an Employer of Choice in our industry, it is important for us to offer medical plans that are compliant under ACA and our employees would not be subject to the individual mandate penalties for not offering ACA-compliant plans. 

Have you studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

In 2014, we will be offering a wellness plan to our employees for the first time in the Company’s history.  The wellness program will reward employees for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and having an annual physical.  We plan to continue to develop our wellness programs for 2015 and beyond. We will add more incentives and encourage our employees to focus on their overall health and wellness. 

What other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees?

In 2014, our benefits will be administered through a private health exchange.  This will provide our employees with more options for their medical coverage which will result in better consumerism by the employee.  We believe this will lower health care costs as employees will select a medical plan that fits their current lifestyle needs.  Whereas in the past, we had a limited number of medical plan options which resulted in some employees being “over insured.” 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage? 

We do not foresee a change in the current employer/employee health care contribution. However, we believe employees paying a meaningful part of health care costs helps them realize the real cost of health care. This better enables them identify which plan is a best fit for them, and if they choose a lower-cost option, it in turn lowers our costs as well.

 

Dave Michelson
President and CEO
National Interstate

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

National Interstate typically reviews all our benefit programs on an annual basis. The enactment of health care reform has not materially changed that process; it has simply added another layer of compliance-related items that we must be mindful of.  Our primary goal of providing benefit programs to meet the needs of our employees and their families remains unchanged. 

Have to studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

Over the last several years, National Interstate has implemented a variety of wellness programs primarily in response to our employees including initiatives such as an onsite flu shot clinic, monthly newsletter, health fairs including screenings and wellness vendors, as well as lunch and learn speakers. There is no question employees have greater access to information and resources promoting healthy lifestyles than ever before. For an employer, it can often be difficult to quantify the results of individual employees reaching their health goal. It may simply mean that employee was able to attend a son or daughter’s soccer game. Those kinds of results are important in addition to focusing on healthcare cost containment. 

What other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We believe educating employees about the plan they participate in is a key factor in containing health care costs. Most medical plans have discounts and incentives already built into the plan design, yet many times employees don’t fully utilize these features. We work in conjunction with our health care provider to disseminate information to employees so they can make informed health care decisions. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage?

It is impossible to predict what the future holds in terms of health care costs. What we do know is if our employees collectively work as a team, we have the best chance of minimizing health care costs for our organization. While we make health care choices as individuals, the impact of those choices from a rate perspective is felt amongst the group participating in the plan.

Anthony McBride
Principal, human resources
Edward Jones

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

We have been making changes to eligibility and benefit levels as required by the regulations since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. We have made required modifications to our group medical plan to ensure that it meets the guidelines for 2014. We will continue to closely monitoring the regulations so that we are prepared to meet future requirements of the law.

Have you studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We have had a wellness program in place for several years, and anticipate it will help contain cost increases in the future by motivating our plan members to be aware of and gradually improve their health over time.

Due to health care reform what other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

By 2009, we had moved to a consumer-driven health plan model. Our plan includes some pharmacy and medical treatment programs that help direct members to lower cost, higher quality sources of care. Soon we’ll introduce online cost/quality transparency tools to help raise awareness of the disparate cost spread that can exist even within an approved provider network. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage? 

While we do not plan to shift a greater proportion of the cost to associates in 2014, the overall costs for health care continue to rise. In this regard, we have added a surcharge to cover spouses who have their own employer-based coverage available. We cannot speculate on what may happen in the future because the health care landscape is undergoing so much fluctuation.

 

Friday, 03 January 2014 00:38

Weighing in on health care reform: Atlanta

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often called the Affordable Care Act represents some of the most far-reaching government overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system since 1965 when Medicare and Medicaid came into being. It will be phased in over time, but a number of changes have been delayed and won’t be in effect until 2015.

The act focuses on increasing the rate of health insurance coverage for American and reducing health care costs. Here’s what some area businesses have on their minds about health care reform as the time nears for the full impact of the ACA: 

Darren Joseph
Vice President-Finance & Human Resources
Ebix Inc. 

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

We began reviewing the potential impact of the changes well ahead of the legislative process. We analyzed the effect on taxes and fees, calculated the potential of “pay or play” exposure and audited the minimum value of our plans. We prepared models for potential impact of a “Cadillac” plan tax. During the final step of this project we implemented new processes and procedures to accommodate notice and reporting requirements. We are prepared to provide additional educational information to our employee base as needed to address how these changes may affect individual employees and their covered family members on our plans. 

Have you studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

At Ebix we see wellness care as a core and vital part of our ongoing benefit plans, as well as a critical extended benefit to our employees. We began planning for the addition of a comprehensive wellness care initiative already in 2008 and 2009. In 2010 we had fully implanted it. The 2010 wellness care program is incentive-based, and includes full health risk assessments and biometric screenings. Employees are required to participate in the health risk assessments and biometric screenings, in order to fully participate.

We have tried to make the process as easy as possible for our employees. We have even provided the option of having their screening and testing done directly in the company’s offices in a confidential setting. They may instead choose to visit one of the many local labs in their area at their convenience. To help insure the highest percentage of participation, we have tried to also have some fun with this and have given gift cards to the employees as they completed their biometric screenings as well as providing healthy snacks and such as on the day of the onsite lab testing. 

What other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

The company continually reviews the performance of all of our group plans and monitors changes in how our employees utilize the plan benefits.  We have implemented spousal surcharges for covered spouses who have access to other medical coverage but chose to remain on the company plan as their primary plan.  This helps keep the employee contributions as low as possible.  We look to use targeted regional providers with extra deep discounts where geographically possible.  We also have a well-established disease management program in place in our plans.  

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage? 

We believe having strong benefit plans with contribution costs at the market average or far lower, is important for retaining our top talent.  The company works very hard to keep all out-of-pocket costs as low as possible for all our valued employees.  We are always looking for ways to lower the employee’s costs, while still providing a high level of coverage with strong benefit plan designs.   Like with most progressive companies, we are striving to be ahead of the curve as it pertains to group benefits, and we are combining creativity and innovation, with practical ideas that are easy to implement. We don’t just talk about or discuss in meetings and planning sessions.  We are looking for ways to actually put these innovative ideas into production. 

Dave Michelson
President and CEO
National Interstate

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

National Interstate typically reviews all our benefit programs on an annual basis. The enactment of health care reform has not materially changed that process; it has simply added another layer of compliance-related items that we must be mindful of.  Our primary goal of providing benefit programs to meet the needs of our employees and their families remains unchanged. 

Have to studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

Over the last several years, National Interstate has implemented a variety of wellness programs primarily in response to our employees including initiatives such as an onsite flu shot clinic, monthly newsletter, health fairs including screenings and wellness vendors, as well as lunch and learn speakers. There is no question employees have greater access to information and resources promoting healthy lifestyles than ever before. For an employer, it can often be difficult to quantify the results of individual employees reaching their health goal. It may simply mean that employee was able to attend a son or daughter’s soccer game. Those kinds of results are important in addition to focusing on healthcare cost containment. 

What other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We believe educating employees about the plan they participate in is a key factor in containing health care costs. Most medical plans have discounts and incentives already built into the plan design, yet many times employees don’t fully utilize these features. We work in conjunction with our health care provider to disseminate information to employees so they can make informed health care decisions. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage?

It is impossible to predict what the future holds in terms of health care costs. What we do know is if our employees collectively work as a team, we have the best chance of minimizing health care costs for our organization. While we make health care choices as individuals, the impact of those choices from a rate perspective is felt amongst the group participating in the plan.

Anthony McBride
Principal, human resources
Edward Jones

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

We have been making changes to eligibility and benefit levels as required by the regulations since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. We have made required modifications to our group medical plan to ensure that it meets the guidelines for 2014. We will continue to closely monitoring the regulations so that we are prepared to meet future requirements of the law.

Have you studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We have had a wellness program in place for several years, and anticipate it will help contain cost increases in the future by motivating our plan members to be aware of and gradually improve their health over time.

Due to health care reform what other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

By 2009, we had moved to a consumer-driven health plan model. Our plan includes some pharmacy and medical treatment programs that help direct members to lower cost, higher quality sources of care. Soon we’ll introduce online cost/quality transparency tools to help raise awareness of the disparate cost spread that can exist even within an approved provider network. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage? 

While we do not plan to shift a greater proportion of the cost to associates in 2014, the overall costs for health care continue to rise. In this regard, we have added a surcharge to cover spouses who have their own employer-based coverage available. We cannot speculate on what may happen in the future because the health care landscape is undergoing so much fluctuation.

 

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often called the Affordable Care Act represents some of the most far-reaching government overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system since 1965 when Medicare and Medicaid came into being. It will be phased in over time, but a number of changes have been delayed and won’t be in effect until 2015.

The act focuses on increasing the rate of health insurance coverage for American and reducing health care costs. Here’s what some area businesses have on their minds about health care reform as the time nears for the full impact of the ACA: 

Bernie Moreno
President
Collection Auto Group 

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

We’ve been keeping a close eye on what is going on in Washington and the changes that are going to come in 2014 with regards to health care. We are fortunate enough to have great brokers and account representatives who have sent a lot of a communication regarding how the changes will affect their products and our company specifically. 

Have you studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

Over the summer we researched and evaluated a couple different wellness programs to find the perfect fit for our organization. We settled on ADP’s vitality product as it is able to integrate with our current portal system and provides a variety of benefits to our team members. 

Due to health care reform what other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We’re encouraging our team members to stay active, offered our smokers an incentive to quit smoking with a bonus once they’ve quit and started a monthly health care premium reduction. Our team members have reacted positively to this. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage? 

We are going to do our best to keep costs around what they are now. Our plans run May to May so we’ve already seen an increase this year to keep our plans ACA compliant. We will strive to keep our health costs low and affordable for our team members.  

Tom Salpietra
president and COO
EYE Lighting International 

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform?  

With regard to our benefits offerings, we are working to ensure that our plans provide the lowest cost, highest value benefits in addition to managing costs. We offer a high deductible plan with a Health Savings Account in addition to a more traditional medical and prescription drug benefit program, and we are expanding the Wellness Program that was introduced two years ago. 

Have you studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees?  

Yes, we will expand Wellness offerings in the next plan year to offer premium “credits” to our employees for making healthy choices such as working closely with a primary care physician, monitoring their own health and limiting unhealthy habits such as smoking. 

Due to health care reform what other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

 We offer a credit for gym memberships with a specific benefit for actually going to the gym. We administer flu shots annually on site and do biometric screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. We also provide healthy snacks for the entire workforce once per week. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage?  

Yes. Those who do not take steps to participate in improving their healthy choices cited above will not be eligible for a discount on their health insurance contributions.  

 

Steve Brubaker
Chief of staff
InfoCision 

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

When you have more than 4,000 employees, proactive education is key. We didn’t take the postponement of the employer mandate deadline as an opportunity to sit back. Instead, we viewed it as an opportunity to continue to educate our employees and provide them with the information they need to make informed decisions. We are doing this though our internal communication channels such as our employee newsletter, employee intranet, email and personalized face-to-face meetings. 

What are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

Whilr many companies are cutting back on employee amenities, as a self-insured employer, we embrace them. For example, we recently implemented a free employer-based diabetes wellness program where we provide employees with free educational materials, monitors and test strips. We also subsidize the cost of flu shots through our onsite wellness clinics. Annually, we provide more than 1,000 flu shots to our employees and members of their family. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage? 

We continue to comply with all of the reform’s expanded coverage choices so we can provide our employees with effective and affordable options that meet their family’s individual needs. As a self-insured employer we will continue to offer and subsidize convenient and healthy options like our on-site wellness clinics and fitness facilities. These tools help to promote healthy decisions with no out-of-pocket expense to our employees. 

Dave Michelson
President and CEO
National Interstate

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

National Interstate typically reviews all our benefit programs on an annual basis. The enactment of health care reform has not materially changed that process; it has simply added another layer of compliance-related items that we must be mindful of.  Our primary goal of providing benefit programs to meet the needs of our employees and their families remains unchanged. 

Have to studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

Over the last several years, National Interstate has implemented a variety of wellness programs primarily in response to our employees including initiatives such as an onsite flu shot clinic, monthly newsletter, health fairs including screenings and wellness vendors, as well as lunch and learn speakers. There is no question employees have greater access to information and resources promoting healthy lifestyles than ever before. For an employer, it can often be difficult to quantify the results of individual employees reaching their health goal. It may simply mean that employee was able to attend a son or daughter’s soccer game. Those kinds of results are important in addition to focusing on healthcare cost containment. 

What other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We believe educating employees about the plan they participate in is a key factor in containing health care costs. Most medical plans have discounts and incentives already built into the plan design, yet many times employees don’t fully utilize these features. We work in conjunction with our health care provider to disseminate information to employees so they can make informed health care decisions. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage?

It is impossible to predict what the future holds in terms of health care costs. What we do know is if our employees collectively work as a team, we have the best chance of minimizing health care costs for our organization. While we make health care choices as individuals, the impact of those choices from a rate perspective is felt amongst the group participating in the plan.

Anthony McBride
Principal, human resources
Edward Jones

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

We have been making changes to eligibility and benefit levels as required by the regulations since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. We have made required modifications to our group medical plan to ensure that it meets the guidelines for 2014. We will continue to closely monitoring the regulations so that we are prepared to meet future requirements of the law.

Have you studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We have had a wellness program in place for several years, and anticipate it will help contain cost increases in the future by motivating our plan members to be aware of and gradually improve their health over time.

Due to health care reform what other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

By 2009, we had moved to a consumer-driven health plan model. Our plan includes some pharmacy and medical treatment programs that help direct members to lower cost, higher quality sources of care. Soon we’ll introduce online cost/quality transparency tools to help raise awareness of the disparate cost spread that can exist even within an approved provider network. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage? 

While we do not plan to shift a greater proportion of the cost to associates in 2014, the overall costs for health care continue to rise. In this regard, we have added a surcharge to cover spouses who have their own employer-based coverage available. We cannot speculate on what may happen in the future because the health care landscape is undergoing so much fluctuation.

 

Friday, 03 January 2014 02:29

Weighing in on health care reform: Columbus

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often called the Affordable Care Act represents some of the most far-reaching government overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system since 1965 when Medicare and Medicaid came into being. It will be phased in over time, but a number of changes have been delayed and won’t be in effect until 2015.

The act focuses on increasing the rate of health insurance coverage for American and reducing health care costs. Here’s what some area businesses have on their minds about health care reform as the time nears for the full impact of the ACA: 

Rich Johnson
CEO
ViaQuest 

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

ViaQuest has been working with local third party administrators to assist us in evaluating the financial impact of the Affordable Care Act. These TPAs have been able to work with us from not only the financial perspective, but also from the perspective of determining plan changes that are best for our employees and the company to meet the many requirements of the ACA.

Have you studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

Our wellness program is in its infancy. We have taken a stair step approach in the implementation of our wellness program. The first step has been to brand the program to our employees in a passive manner so that they are familiar with our wellness program and our approach to encourage participation and employee buy in. Over the next couple of years we plan to implement a more aggressive wellness program to require employee participation which will drive employee contribution levels for medical insurance. 

What other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

The wellness program is key for ViaQuest in containing healthcare costs for our employees. A large part of the program is making our employees aware of preventive actions that they can take, at no cost to them, to ensure their health and control health plan expenses. The company has also been encouraging participation in consumer-driven health plans to encourage cost savings to both the employee and the company. 

We also recently switched from fully insured to self-insured which is a strategic decision to contain healthcare costs for the company as well as our employees. A large part of containing healthcare costs for our employees has been selecting the right TPA for our organization and continually staying in contact to build and grow that relationship. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage? 

While we continue to work to contain additional expenses and often have the company absorb healthcare increases, we do expect that employees will have to contribute additional amounts toward health care coverage in the future.

  

Amy Schultz Clubbs
President
Molina Health Care of Ohio 

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

At Molina Healthcare, we believe that everyone should have access to high quality health care and we are looking forward to the opportunity to care for additional Ohioans that will be eligible for Medicaid or for a Marketplace plan. 

Have you studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We know that healthy people are happier and more productive so we encourage Molina employees to take part in healthy activities. At our new office building, we are building a fitness center (opening in January) that will be free for employees and will feature group fitness classes. One of our physicians is also leading a “Biggest Loser” competition as a way for employees to manage their weight in a healthy way. In an effort to make healthy choices easily accessible, we are ensuring the building’s café has plenty of nutritious options available. 

What other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? We are also planning a wellness fair where employees can get blood pressure screening, meet with a nutritionist and learn how to manage stress. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage? 

No.

 

Dave Michelson
President and CEO
National Interstate

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

National Interstate typically reviews all our benefit programs on an annual basis. The enactment of health care reform has not materially changed that process; it has simply added another layer of compliance-related items that we must be mindful of.  Our primary goal of providing benefit programs to meet the needs of our employees and their families remains unchanged. 

Have to studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

Over the last several years, National Interstate has implemented a variety of wellness programs primarily in response to our employees including initiatives such as an onsite flu shot clinic, monthly newsletter, health fairs including screenings and wellness vendors, as well as lunch and learn speakers. There is no question employees have greater access to information and resources promoting healthy lifestyles than ever before. For an employer, it can often be difficult to quantify the results of individual employees reaching their health goal. It may simply mean that employee was able to attend a son or daughter’s soccer game. Those kinds of results are important in addition to focusing on healthcare cost containment. 

What other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We believe educating employees about the plan they participate in is a key factor in containing health care costs. Most medical plans have discounts and incentives already built into the plan design, yet many times employees don’t fully utilize these features. We work in conjunction with our health care provider to disseminate information to employees so they can make informed health care decisions. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage?

It is impossible to predict what the future holds in terms of health care costs. What we do know is if our employees collectively work as a team, we have the best chance of minimizing health care costs for our organization. While we make health care choices as individuals, the impact of those choices from a rate perspective is felt amongst the group participating in the plan.

Anthony McBride
Principal, human resources
Edward Jones

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

We have been making changes to eligibility and benefit levels as required by the regulations since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. We have made required modifications to our group medical plan to ensure that it meets the guidelines for 2014. We will continue to closely monitoring the regulations so that we are prepared to meet future requirements of the law.

Have you studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We have had a wellness program in place for several years, and anticipate it will help contain cost increases in the future by motivating our plan members to be aware of and gradually improve their health over time.

Due to health care reform what other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

By 2009, we had moved to a consumer-driven health plan model. Our plan includes some pharmacy and medical treatment programs that help direct members to lower cost, higher quality sources of care. Soon we’ll introduce online cost/quality transparency tools to help raise awareness of the disparate cost spread that can exist even within an approved provider network. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage? 

While we do not plan to shift a greater proportion of the cost to associates in 2014, the overall costs for health care continue to rise. In this regard, we have added a surcharge to cover spouses who have their own employer-based coverage available. We cannot speculate on what may happen in the future because the health care landscape is undergoing so much fluctuation.

 

Friday, 03 January 2014 02:25

Weighing in on health care reform: Dallas

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often called the Affordable Care Act represents some of the most far-reaching government overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system since 1965 when Medicare and Medicaid came into being. It will be phased in over time, but a number of changes have been delayed and won’t be in effect until 2015.

The act focuses on increasing the rate of health insurance coverage for American and reducing health care costs. Here’s what some area businesses have on their minds about health care reform as the time nears for the full impact of the ACA: 

Andres Ruzo
Chairman and CEO
Link America 

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

The PPACA is so large and complicated that we are depending on our insurance broker to keep us informed.

The first step he’s recommended we take is to change our annual renewal date from April 1, 2014 to Dec. 1, 2013. We had to make a bold move recently to try to manage the unknown... This allows us a 11-month runway to really strategize next steps in the midst of a massive overhaul, and focus on effectively maximizing coverage and minimizing cost for the stakeholders.  Bottom line: We are very concerned that the cost will go up and the employees will get less benefits.  

This move will buy us time before having to embark on the PPACA journey and will also save us $20,000-plus in 2014. 

Have to studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We have a program in place to help our employees that smoke kick the habit. The company is paying for the tools (patches, etc.) and is offering an incentive to those that are successful. 

What other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We are looking into providing a space and the equipment onsite so that employees can exercise before or after work or during lunch periods. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage? 

From the numbers we’re seeing in the costs caused by the PPACA, it’s a definite possibility but one we hope to avoid.

Dave Michelson
President and CEO
National Interstate

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

National Interstate typically reviews all our benefit programs on an annual basis. The enactment of health care reform has not materially changed that process; it has simply added another layer of compliance-related items that we must be mindful of.  Our primary goal of providing benefit programs to meet the needs of our employees and their families remains unchanged. 

Have to studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

Over the last several years, National Interstate has implemented a variety of wellness programs primarily in response to our employees including initiatives such as an onsite flu shot clinic, monthly newsletter, health fairs including screenings and wellness vendors, as well as lunch and learn speakers. There is no question employees have greater access to information and resources promoting healthy lifestyles than ever before. For an employer, it can often be difficult to quantify the results of individual employees reaching their health goal. It may simply mean that employee was able to attend a son or daughter’s soccer game. Those kinds of results are important in addition to focusing on healthcare cost containment. 

What other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We believe educating employees about the plan they participate in is a key factor in containing health care costs. Most medical plans have discounts and incentives already built into the plan design, yet many times employees don’t fully utilize these features. We work in conjunction with our health care provider to disseminate information to employees so they can make informed health care decisions. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage?

It is impossible to predict what the future holds in terms of health care costs. What we do know is if our employees collectively work as a team, we have the best chance of minimizing health care costs for our organization. While we make health care choices as individuals, the impact of those choices from a rate perspective is felt amongst the group participating in the plan.

Anthony McBride
Principal, human resources
Edward Jones

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

We have been making changes to eligibility and benefit levels as required by the regulations since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. We have made required modifications to our group medical plan to ensure that it meets the guidelines for 2014. We will continue to closely monitoring the regulations so that we are prepared to meet future requirements of the law.

Have you studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We have had a wellness program in place for several years, and anticipate it will help contain cost increases in the future by motivating our plan members to be aware of and gradually improve their health over time.

Due to health care reform what other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

By 2009, we had moved to a consumer-driven health plan model. Our plan includes some pharmacy and medical treatment programs that help direct members to lower cost, higher quality sources of care. Soon we’ll introduce online cost/quality transparency tools to help raise awareness of the disparate cost spread that can exist even within an approved provider network. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage? 

While we do not plan to shift a greater proportion of the cost to associates in 2014, the overall costs for health care continue to rise. In this regard, we have added a surcharge to cover spouses who have their own employer-based coverage available. We cannot speculate on what may happen in the future because the health care landscape is undergoing so much fluctuation.

 

Friday, 03 January 2014 02:03

Weighing in on health care reform: Houston

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often called the Affordable Care Act represents some of the most far-reaching government overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system since 1965 when Medicare and Medicaid came into being. It will be phased in over time, but a number of changes have been delayed and won’t be in effect until 2015.

The act focuses on increasing the rate of health insurance coverage for American and reducing health care costs. Here’s what some area businesses have on their minds about health care reform as the time nears for the full impact of the ACA: 

Dana Sellers
CEO
Encore Health Resources 

How is your company preparing internally for changes associated with health care reform? 

Encore partnered with our outsourced Professional Employer Organization to ensure compliance before our last Open Enrollment.  The items below are specifics that have been or will be done to ensure ongoing compliance:

•        W-2 Reporting is a requirement applicable to employers that issued 250 or more W2s in the prior year.  We have already addressed provisions that became effective, and those that are coming up.

•        Notifications were sent to all employees by the date mandated of October 1, 2013 notifying them of the Exchanges effective January 1, 2014.

•        All Summary of Benefits have been updated to be in compliance with ACA.

•        Medical Loss Ratio rebates were initially distributed by insurers by August 1, 2012 in accordance with Department of Labor guidance.  We evaluate the MLR rebate process each year.

•        Form W-2 reporting on the value of employer provided coverage began with the 2012 tax year.  We reported this for all employees participating in our benefit program.

•        We have provided employees with access to webinars giving insight to the legislative landscape.

•        A shared responsibility dashboard offered by our PEO will demonstrate our full-time employee calculation, provide an evaluation of contribution strategies and whether they comply with the affordability provision.  This will help during open enrollment periods.  

Have you studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees?

Encore already has a Wellness Program that is continually expanding to meet the requests of our employee population.   This Wellness Program includes webinars, a monthly newsletter with topics of special interest to traveling employees, company-sponsored walking competitions and a corporate discounted membership for Weight Watchers.  We have focused on the health of our team because we care about each other and want to encourage a work /life balance, but the fortunate side effect could include lowering healthcare costs in the future. 

What other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

Encore encourages employees to take care of themselves, receive annual flu shots, stay active and make healthy food choices. Encore offers three medical plan options to allow employees the flexibility to select the coverage option best suited for them/their families.   This includes a heavily Encore-funded High Deductible Health Plan allowing the employee to more closely manage healthcare expenditures by putting aside pre-tax dollars into a Healthcare Spending Account. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage?

Healthcare costs have historically risen, but Encore has absorbed most of the increases over the past few years. Encore wants to remain an Employer of Choice, proud of the fact that we’re recognized as one of the Best Places to Work in Healthcare for four years in a row. To maintain this, Encore has made a conscious decision to estimate and budget for these increases based on the insight from our talented team and try to keep the costs to our employees as low as possible.  

June Ressler
President and CEO
Cenergy 

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

The Health Care Reform will definitely impact small to mid-size businesses.  One of our top priorities is to offer a competitive and comprehensive benefits package. Under the new act, small to mid sized businesses such as ours, can earn tax credits for up to 50% of our health insurance premium cost.

Although we are already compliant with the majority of the mandates, when making decisions related to our benefits, we utilize experts that are in the forefront of all changes required of the Health Care Reform Act to ensure that we stay in compliance. 

Have you studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

Cenergy has recognized the importance of wellness, health and fitness. Implementing wellness programs give us, the employer, an opportunity to improve and change our employees' lives.  In addition to providing our employees a fully equipped gym right in the corporate office, we have researched several options and are looking at options to structure a wellness program that will complement our work site setting. In our current plan, we are already implementing healthy policies and procedures.  We hope to provide a few programs in 2014 based on the outcome of an upcoming Employee Health Interest Survey. 

What other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

It is imperative that we keep the cost of our health care plans affordable. Each year we review our benefit options, cost and overall plan structure to determine which provider can offer the best benefits for the best price. Cenergy also subsidizes a majority of the medical plan for its employees to ensure our employees do not bear the burden of those costs. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage? 

Not in this current plan year, however we will continue to monitor the cost associated with the new Health Care Reform Act and revisit the cost when planning the benefits for 2014.  Providing affordable benefits will continue to be a priority because our employees are extremely important to us. Cenergy strives to keep its plans affordable and competitive with the market.

Dave Michelson
President and CEO
National Interstate

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

National Interstate typically reviews all our benefit programs on an annual basis. The enactment of health care reform has not materially changed that process; it has simply added another layer of compliance-related items that we must be mindful of.  Our primary goal of providing benefit programs to meet the needs of our employees and their families remains unchanged. 

Have to studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

Over the last several years, National Interstate has implemented a variety of wellness programs primarily in response to our employees including initiatives such as an onsite flu shot clinic, monthly newsletter, health fairs including screenings and wellness vendors, as well as lunch and learn speakers. There is no question employees have greater access to information and resources promoting healthy lifestyles than ever before. For an employer, it can often be difficult to quantify the results of individual employees reaching their health goal. It may simply mean that employee was able to attend a son or daughter’s soccer game. Those kinds of results are important in addition to focusing on healthcare cost containment. 

What other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We believe educating employees about the plan they participate in is a key factor in containing health care costs. Most medical plans have discounts and incentives already built into the plan design, yet many times employees don’t fully utilize these features. We work in conjunction with our health care provider to disseminate information to employees so they can make informed health care decisions. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage?

It is impossible to predict what the future holds in terms of health care costs. What we do know is if our employees collectively work as a team, we have the best chance of minimizing health care costs for our organization. While we make health care choices as individuals, the impact of those choices from a rate perspective is felt amongst the group participating in the plan.

Anthony McBride
Principal, human resources
Edward Jones

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

We have been making changes to eligibility and benefit levels as required by the regulations since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. We have made required modifications to our group medical plan to ensure that it meets the guidelines for 2014. We will continue to closely monitoring the regulations so that we are prepared to meet future requirements of the law.

Have you studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We have had a wellness program in place for several years, and anticipate it will help contain cost increases in the future by motivating our plan members to be aware of and gradually improve their health over time.

Due to health care reform what other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

By 2009, we had moved to a consumer-driven health plan model. Our plan includes some pharmacy and medical treatment programs that help direct members to lower cost, higher quality sources of care. Soon we’ll introduce online cost/quality transparency tools to help raise awareness of the disparate cost spread that can exist even within an approved provider network. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage? 

While we do not plan to shift a greater proportion of the cost to associates in 2014, the overall costs for health care continue to rise. In this regard, we have added a surcharge to cover spouses who have their own employer-based coverage available. We cannot speculate on what may happen in the future because the health care landscape is undergoing so much fluctuation.

 

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often called the Affordable Care Act represents some of the most far-reaching government overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system since 1965 when Medicare and Medicaid came into being. It will be phased in over time, but a number of changes have been delayed and won’t be in effect until 2015.

The act focuses on increasing the rate of health insurance coverage for American and reducing health care costs. Here’s what some area businesses have on their minds about health care reform as the time nears for the full impact of the ACA: 

Jorge Titinger
president and CEO
Silicon Graphics International Corp. 

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

In early spring, ABD, our insurance broker, provided us with a Health Care Reform analysis based on our current benefits and plan costs. This allowed us to assess whether SGI met the minimum criteria within the “Pay or Play Mandate.” In addition, we were able to evaluate the impact of eliminating benefits which took into account forfeited tax deductions, exchange penalties, competitiveness in the marketplace, and disruption to our valued employees. Our broker also provided analysis of any possible 2018 excise taxes based on the premium costs of our current plans. 

Have you studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We have implemented basic wellness programs at this time on an ad hoc basis. In the past year, we have provided programs around stress management, nutrition, weight control, health coaching, and many others. We have evaluated implementing a wellness program which will be tied to contributions and employee activities for 2015. 

Due to health care reform what other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

In 2010, we implemented a HDHP/HRA employer funded alongside a PPO program. This model has allowed the employee to realize the true cost of health care and make more informed decisions in regards to health care choices. Our strategy is to further incent employees to migrate from the traditional PPO into the HDHP/HRA program. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage? 

We do see contributions being raised primarily for the higher-cost, traditional PPO plan, which would in turn incent the employees to migrate to the lower cost HDHP/HRA program. In the long term this would lead to lower health care cost for SGI. In addition, we will be considering a defined contribution scenario, so employees can choose the programs which fit both their benefit needs and budget.

Joy Chen
CEO
Yes To Inc.
 

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

As a small company, we have to manage our overhead and have done a few things from a wellness and cost management standpoint. However, we have always done that even before health care reform.  

Have you studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We are a pretty healthy and young group. We provide lunch and breakfast for our office and our meals have started to be even healthier with lots of fruits and vegetables. For Christmas this year, we are going to offer “healthier you” type of gifts (gym memberships, etc.). 

Due to the Affordable Care Act what other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We are now bidding out out health care each year to manage our costs. We bid it out to a third party in order to manage the company’s and employees’ costs down. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage? 

We have not done that, and bidding it out annually is our way of preventing the costs from going up for our employees.  

Dave Michelson
President and CEO
National Interstate

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

National Interstate typically reviews all our benefit programs on an annual basis. The enactment of health care reform has not materially changed that process; it has simply added another layer of compliance-related items that we must be mindful of.  Our primary goal of providing benefit programs to meet the needs of our employees and their families remains unchanged. 

Have to studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

Over the last several years, National Interstate has implemented a variety of wellness programs primarily in response to our employees including initiatives such as an onsite flu shot clinic, monthly newsletter, health fairs including screenings and wellness vendors, as well as lunch and learn speakers. There is no question employees have greater access to information and resources promoting healthy lifestyles than ever before. For an employer, it can often be difficult to quantify the results of individual employees reaching their health goal. It may simply mean that employee was able to attend a son or daughter’s soccer game. Those kinds of results are important in addition to focusing on healthcare cost containment. 

What other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We believe educating employees about the plan they participate in is a key factor in containing health care costs. Most medical plans have discounts and incentives already built into the plan design, yet many times employees don’t fully utilize these features. We work in conjunction with our health care provider to disseminate information to employees so they can make informed health care decisions. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage?

It is impossible to predict what the future holds in terms of health care costs. What we do know is if our employees collectively work as a team, we have the best chance of minimizing health care costs for our organization. While we make health care choices as individuals, the impact of those choices from a rate perspective is felt amongst the group participating in the plan.

Anthony McBride
Principal, human resources
Edward Jones

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

We have been making changes to eligibility and benefit levels as required by the regulations since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. We have made required modifications to our group medical plan to ensure that it meets the guidelines for 2014. We will continue to closely monitoring the regulations so that we are prepared to meet future requirements of the law.

Have you studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We have had a wellness program in place for several years, and anticipate it will help contain cost increases in the future by motivating our plan members to be aware of and gradually improve their health over time.

Due to health care reform what other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

By 2009, we had moved to a consumer-driven health plan model. Our plan includes some pharmacy and medical treatment programs that help direct members to lower cost, higher quality sources of care. Soon we’ll introduce online cost/quality transparency tools to help raise awareness of the disparate cost spread that can exist even within an approved provider network. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage? 

While we do not plan to shift a greater proportion of the cost to associates in 2014, the overall costs for health care continue to rise. In this regard, we have added a surcharge to cover spouses who have their own employer-based coverage available. We cannot speculate on what may happen in the future because the health care landscape is undergoing so much fluctuation.

 

Thursday, 02 January 2014 23:52

Weighing in on health care reform: Pittsburgh

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often called the Affordable Care Act represents some of the most far-reaching government overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system since 1965 when Medicare and Medicaid came into being. It will be phased in over time, but a number of changes have been delayed and won’t be in effect until 2015.

The act focuses on increasing the rate of health insurance coverage for American and reducing health care costs. Here’s what some area businesses have on their minds about health care reform as the time nears for the full impact of the ACA: 

James H. Druschel
vice president, finance and CFO
Veka Inc. 

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

We have been making several strategic changes we think will best position us for the major changes coming our way. We’ve unbundled dental and vision from medical, we are moving away from temporary workers and we are educating our employees about the Affordable Care Act and what the company and our employees need to do to keep us on track. 

Have you studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees?

 We have a very robust wellness program that has generated great results over the last five years.  It has kept our medical claims flat and our catastrophic medical claims well below the national average. We also continuously look for ways to tweak or add to the program to keep it fresh and exciting for the participants. We offer ‘free health care’ (no payroll deductions) if an employee and their spouse fully participate in our wellness program. 

Due to health care reform what other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

Our employees have a strong awareness of what they need to personally do to help keep our health care costs in check. We continuously partner with our medical and wellness vendors to help educate our employees about ways to help contain costs through generic drugs, independent labs and urgent care centers. We offer health related seminars and lunch-n-learn sessions to our employees and spouses. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage? 

We are currently doing everything we can to continue to offer free medical insurance to our participants who fully participate in our wellness program, but there is some concern that with the additional taxes/fees and plan design requirements due to health care reform that eventually this will be unsustainable. We offer a very rich plan, but we foresee that we will be forced to make cuts to our offering in order to comply with the Affordable Care Act.

Dave Michelson
President and CEO
National Interstate

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

National Interstate typically reviews all our benefit programs on an annual basis. The enactment of health care reform has not materially changed that process; it has simply added another layer of compliance-related items that we must be mindful of.  Our primary goal of providing benefit programs to meet the needs of our employees and their families remains unchanged. 

Have to studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

Over the last several years, National Interstate has implemented a variety of wellness programs primarily in response to our employees including initiatives such as an onsite flu shot clinic, monthly newsletter, health fairs including screenings and wellness vendors, as well as lunch and learn speakers. There is no question employees have greater access to information and resources promoting healthy lifestyles than ever before. For an employer, it can often be difficult to quantify the results of individual employees reaching their health goal. It may simply mean that employee was able to attend a son or daughter’s soccer game. Those kinds of results are important in addition to focusing on healthcare cost containment. 

What other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We believe educating employees about the plan they participate in is a key factor in containing health care costs. Most medical plans have discounts and incentives already built into the plan design, yet many times employees don’t fully utilize these features. We work in conjunction with our health care provider to disseminate information to employees so they can make informed health care decisions. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage?

It is impossible to predict what the future holds in terms of health care costs. What we do know is if our employees collectively work as a team, we have the best chance of minimizing health care costs for our organization. While we make health care choices as individuals, the impact of those choices from a rate perspective is felt amongst the group participating in the plan.

Anthony McBride
Principal, human resources
Edward Jones

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

We have been making changes to eligibility and benefit levels as required by the regulations since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. We have made required modifications to our group medical plan to ensure that it meets the guidelines for 2014. We will continue to closely monitoring the regulations so that we are prepared to meet future requirements of the law.

Have you studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We have had a wellness program in place for several years, and anticipate it will help contain cost increases in the future by motivating our plan members to be aware of and gradually improve their health over time.

Due to health care reform what other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

By 2009, we had moved to a consumer-driven health plan model. Our plan includes some pharmacy and medical treatment programs that help direct members to lower cost, higher quality sources of care. Soon we’ll introduce online cost/quality transparency tools to help raise awareness of the disparate cost spread that can exist even within an approved provider network. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage? 

While we do not plan to shift a greater proportion of the cost to associates in 2014, the overall costs for health care continue to rise. In this regard, we have added a surcharge to cover spouses who have their own employer-based coverage available. We cannot speculate on what may happen in the future because the health care landscape is undergoing so much fluctuation.

 

Thursday, 02 January 2014 13:47

Weighing in on health care reform: St, Louis

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often called the Affordable Care Act represents some of the most far-reaching government overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system since 1965 when Medicare and Medicaid came into being. It will be phased in over time, but a number of changes have been delayed and won’t be in effect until 2015.

The act focuses on increasing the rate of health insurance coverage for American and reducing health care costs. Here’s what some area businesses have on their minds about health care reform as the time nears for the full impact of the ACA: 

Robert Chapman
Chairman and CEO
Barry-Wehmiller 

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

There is only a slight impact of the Health Care Reform on our cost of health care. 

Have you studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We have embraced wellbeing because we care about those under our stewardship. It will probably reduce our health care cost, but we do it because we care. 

Due to health care reform, what things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

At Barry-Wehmiller we inspire employees to own the responsibility for their health. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage? 

No, our employees have paid 45 percent for years.

Dave Michelson
President and CEO
National Interstate

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

National Interstate typically reviews all our benefit programs on an annual basis. The enactment of health care reform has not materially changed that process; it has simply added another layer of compliance-related items that we must be mindful of.  Our primary goal of providing benefit programs to meet the needs of our employees and their families remains unchanged. 

Have to studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

Over the last several years, National Interstate has implemented a variety of wellness programs primarily in response to our employees including initiatives such as an onsite flu shot clinic, monthly newsletter, health fairs including screenings and wellness vendors, as well as lunch and learn speakers. There is no question employees have greater access to information and resources promoting healthy lifestyles than ever before. For an employer, it can often be difficult to quantify the results of individual employees reaching their health goal. It may simply mean that employee was able to attend a son or daughter’s soccer game. Those kinds of results are important in addition to focusing on healthcare cost containment. 

What other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We believe educating employees about the plan they participate in is a key factor in containing health care costs. Most medical plans have discounts and incentives already built into the plan design, yet many times employees don’t fully utilize these features. We work in conjunction with our health care provider to disseminate information to employees so they can make informed health care decisions. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage?

It is impossible to predict what the future holds in terms of health care costs. What we do know is if our employees collectively work as a team, we have the best chance of minimizing health care costs for our organization. While we make health care choices as individuals, the impact of those choices from a rate perspective is felt amongst the group participating in the plan.

Anthony McBride
Principal, human resources
Edward Jones

How is your company preparing for changes associated with health care reform? 

We have been making changes to eligibility and benefit levels as required by the regulations since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. We have made required modifications to our group medical plan to ensure that it meets the guidelines for 2014. We will continue to closely monitoring the regulations so that we are prepared to meet future requirements of the law.

Have you studied or instituted wellness programs to contain health care costs for your employees? 

We have had a wellness program in place for several years, and anticipate it will help contain cost increases in the future by motivating our plan members to be aware of and gradually improve their health over time.

Due to health care reform what other things are you doing specifically to contain health care costs for your employees? 

By 2009, we had moved to a consumer-driven health plan model. Our plan includes some pharmacy and medical treatment programs that help direct members to lower cost, higher quality sources of care. Soon we’ll introduce online cost/quality transparency tools to help raise awareness of the disparate cost spread that can exist even within an approved provider network. 

Do you foresee having employees pay a larger share of company-offered health care coverage? 

While we do not plan to shift a greater proportion of the cost to associates in 2014, the overall costs for health care continue to rise. In this regard, we have added a surcharge to cover spouses who have their own employer-based coverage available. We cannot speculate on what may happen in the future because the health care landscape is undergoing so much fluctuation.