How the changing workplace could reshape U.S. healthcare


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How the changing workplace could reshape U.S. healthcare

As the coronavirus rages on, so do its impacts on businesses and workers across the country. Remote work and hybrid devices are gaining ground, and an estimated 2.2 million Americans remain long-term unemployed while millions more leave their jobs.

This massive health and economic disruption also inevitably has an impact on health care. Employers are the most common source of health insurance in the United States, accounting for 54.4% of coverage in 2020. This is a cumbersome arrangement that largely began in the 1940s as a means attract and retain talent amid wartime labor shortages and federally mandated wages. Freeze; tax incentives have also played a role.

Although the Patient Protection and Affordable Care (ACA) Act has extended comprehensive health insurance to millions of Americans, many still do not have coverage. In 2020, 8.6% of Americans, or 28 million, did not have health insurance at any time of the year. The United States is the only high-income country without universal health insurance coverage.

Sidecar Health used information sources and research reports to compile a list of the impact that the changing workplace in the United States could have on the healthcare system. Read on to find out how your own health and finances could be affected by the developments.

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Labor shortages mean fringe benefits a higher priority for job seekers

For various known and hypothetical reasons related to the pandemic, many companies now find themselves desperate to find workers. There were 11 million job vacancies in October 2021 and 67 unemployed per 100 openings. Job seekers have the edge, and many are not just looking for higher wages. Almost 80% of job seekers ranked employee benefits as important or very important, with healthcare at the top of the list of valuable benefits for 68% of respondents. Meanwhile, 55% of job seekers would consider taking a lower paying job if it offered better benefits. Today, 59% of companies offer health benefits, which is roughly the same as in 2011 when it was 60%. A business is defined as a business with more than 200 employees.

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DCI’s efforts and employee needs encourage more inclusive health plans

Working in an organization that values ​​diversity and inclusion is important for 78% of employees. One of the ways that companies can demonstrate the values ​​of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is through the health benefits they offer. Among large employers, 61% cover some type of infertility service, for example, which could be a boon not only for heterosexual couples, but also for same-sex couples and single employees. Inclusive benefits for transgender people, which 21% of employers were offering in 2020, are also growing in popularity. One of those companies is Manulife. The company that operates primarily as John Hancock in the United States provides gender affirmation coverage for employees and their dependents, including for surgeries such as Adam’s apple cuts, reconstruction facial or breast augmentation.

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Concert companies face pressure from the public to view entrepreneurs as employees

A Washington Post article noted that the pay-per-view issue “is one of the most watched labor policy issues in the new administration.” So, in April 2021, when Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said that most concert workers in the United States should be classified as employees, the ears of independent contractors and the companies they work for perked up. This is more than a simple title change since employees are generally entitled to health insurance and other benefits, but contractors are not. Reclassifying them would increase costs, which is one of the reasons rideshare and food delivery companies have fought so hard against the idea in California. The change could have huge implications since one in four self-employed workers do not have health insurance, according to an analysis of data collected between 2014 and 2017.

There are 57.3 million self-employed workers in the United States today. This number should reach 90.1 million, or 50.9% of the total US 2028.


Layoffs may cause workers to reconsider employer-sponsored healthcare

Employer-sponsored health insurance becomes a problem when someone no longer has an employer. This complication was sharply worsened between February 2020 and June 2020, when around 7.7 million workers lost their jobs with employer-sponsored insurance due to the pandemic, although some companies paid part of the premiums. health insurance for dismissed workers. While 41% of consumers believe that health insurance should not be tied to employment, 77% of eligible workers purchased coverage when it was offered to them in 2021, which was a similar percentage a year ago. is five years old. Those who retire may join their spouse’s plan or are young enough to participate in their parents’ employment-based plan. They can even apply for coverage through the ACA market.

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Mental health coverage is a priority

Free office food is a nice bonus, but 57% of employees would forgo it instead for free mental health resources. The coronavirus has exacerbated the need for this type of help. Psychologists report that demand has jumped during the pandemic for the treatment of a multitude of disorders, including those related to anxiety, depression, stress and substance abuse. Many companies recognize that they can play an important role in helping their workforce access important resources. For businesses with 5,000 or more workers, 46% have seen the proportion of employees using mental health services increase since the start of the pandemic. In addition, 16% of employers of this size have increased the number of mental health or addiction service providers in their plan networks. Chipotle, ZenDesk, and Noodles & Company are among the organizations that have stepped up their mental health benefits during the pandemic.

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Unvaccinated workers in some companies face rising health insurance costs

Companies have tried to get employees to get vaccinated in several ways. One of Delta Air Lines’ approaches has been to charge unvaccinated company health plan employees a monthly supplement of $ 200 starting in November 2021. This has been a successful threat, with vaccination rates dropping from 75% when the plan was announced in August to over 90% at the end of October, according to the CEO of the company. Is the surcharge authorized by law? Most likely, according to the National Law Review. The Harmons grocery chain has taken a similar approach, applying an insurance surcharge of up to $ 200 per month for unvaccinated workers “who do not qualify for an exemption or who choose not to complete a series. education about vaccines, ”the company said in a statement to ABC4. He added: “We have an obligation to keep the cost of insurance as low as possible for our people, and getting as many people vaccinated as possible will help achieve this goal.” // Shutterstock

Rise of professional employers’ organizations

While 99% of large companies provide health benefits to at least some of their workers in 2021, only 58% of small companies do. Cost can be a barrier. One solution may be to work with a professional employers’ organization (PTO). These companies, which can handle multiple human resource departments, are able to obtain and manage health care plans similar to those offered by large companies. In 2019, 6% of small businesses that offered health services did so through a PEO. The industry has grown steadily, and its trade group claims that over 15% of all employers with 10 to 99 employees partner with a PEO.

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Increased subsidies for consumers without affordable employer insurance

People who decline employer-sponsored health insurance and instead purchase coverage in the ACA market are generally not eligible for savings in the form of a premium tax credit. which reduces monthly insurance payments. However, they are eligible for the grant if the employment-based insurance offered to them does not meet minimum standards of affordability and coverage. These eligible employees and others are expected to benefit from the provisions of the American Rescue Plan (ARP), which President Biden enacted in March 2021. It increases premium tax credits for years of coverage beginning in 2021 and 2022 and allows people with incomes above 400% of the poverty line to qualify for grants for the first time. “Most people, regardless of household income level, will see lower premiums because of increased tax credits to lower plan prices,” according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Notably, however, most employment-based health insurances meet minimum standards of affordability and coverage.

This story originally appeared on Sidecar Health
and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.


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