I frequently come across interesting information that, while not lending itself to a full blog post, is still worth sharing. This post is part of a periodic series in which I summarize this information and provide links for those who want to learn more.

 

• Employers may welcome high-deductible consumer-driven health plans as a way to give employees a financial stake in their health purchasing decisions, but it isn’t completely clear whether employees will do the same. The 2013 Aflac WorkForces Report found that 54% of employees are not interested in getting more involved in health insurance issues than they already are.

The reason? Employees say that they don’t have the time or knowledge to effectively manage health insurance issues and are concerned that they will make mistakes that will leave them underinsured or otherwise vulnerable. The report surveyed 1,900 employers and more than 5,200 U.S. workers.

 

• An interesting post at the Health Care Blog discusses the potential for wellness programs to do more harm than good. Author Al Lewis notes, “While some health risk assessments just nag/remind employees to do the obvious — quit smoking, exercise more, avoid junk food and buckle their seat belts — many other HRAs and screens, from well-known vendors, provide blatantly incorrect advice that can potentially cause serious harm if followed.” Lewis goes on to provide examples of how wellness efforts and health risk assessments can go awry.

 

• Consulting firm October Three has analyzed the tax impact of President Obama’s proposed cap on the deductibility of 401(k) contributions for individuals in the top three tax brackets (33%, 35% and 39.6%). The key finding: “The value of the tax benefit goes from $955 to $369 — a 61% reduction in the tax value of in-plan savings resulting from the 28% deduction cap.”

The report further ponders whether this drop could cause both employers and higher earning employees (who tend to be key company decision makers) to be less supportive of 401(k) plans in the future.

 

Boston Research Group proposes a solution to “leakage” in defined contribution assets as participants in these plans change jobs and cash out or lose track of these assets. For their part, employers see the effects of this leakage in the form of increased administrative costs and potential liability from small-balance accounts left in the plan or forgotten by former employees.

The proposed solution combines “roll-in programs” that make it easier for new and departing employees to rollover their plan assets to another retirement plan, automatic rollover programs, and proactive address searches that periodically look for lost or missing plan participants.

 

• If your company is looking to shift from fully insured health benefits to self insurance, it has plenty of company. More employers are exploring self insurance for their group health plans as we move closer to the implementation of several key elements of health care reform. This survey of 326 health insurance executives found that these employers are looking for greater control and flexibility in their health plans through self insurance.