Monday, August 8, 2016

More NJ small businesses self-funding insurance plans

A growing number of small businesses in New Jersey are finding a new way to save money on their health care costs by switching to self-funded health care plans over traditional health care plans.

Under a traditional plan, employers pay a premium each month and the health insurer pays all of the employee claims and manages the health plan administration. But many small employers have a relatively healthy staff, and employees’ actual medical costs fall far below what the company spends on premiums.

Thus, many employers wonder if they could save money by paying their own employee claims directly, an arrangement called a self-funded health plan. With a self-funded plan, the employer still contracts with a health insurer to administer the health plan, but the employer pays employee medical claims directly. If the employees’ medical claims are lower than expected, the employer may save a significant amount of money.

In the past, self-funded plans were not available to small employers because it was difficult to make a realistic prediction about health costs based on such a small pool of employees. But in the last few years, advances in software have enabled companies to better predict the expected cost of health care for a small number of employees. Now, many insurers are offering new self-funded health plans specifically catered to small businesses’ needs. In fact, UnitedHealthcare recently expanded its All Savers self-funded health plan for small businesses to a much broader range of businesses in New Jersey.

Small businesses that are thinking of switching to a self-funded plan should research the following when shopping:
1.      Stop-loss insurance. Self-funded plans carry a risk that the company’s health care costs could skyrocket if an employee is diagnosed with a serious illness or is injured. Companies can protect themselves from such catastrophic costs by coupling a self-funded plan with a stop-loss insurance policy, which protects companies against catastrophic claims that exceed a certain dollar limit.
2.      Pre-deductible credits. Many employees may feel that they don’t receive many benefits from their plans because their annual costs are typically less than their deductible, which means they essentially pay for everything out of pocket. But some self-funded plans provide medical credits to help employees cover costs before their deductibles. For example, UnitedHealthcare’s All Savers plans offer a medical credit up to $1,000 that covers medical expenses before the deductible.
3.      Innovative wellness programs. Healthier employees naturally lead to lower health care costs. Insurers that offer innovative ways to help employees track and manage their physical fitness can help lower overall health care costs over time.
4.      Online cost estimators. Many employees may not realize it, but health care costs may vary wildly among different providers with no difference in quality.. Giving employees the tools to compare the cost of a procedure at different providers may help them choose a lower-cost option.

Self-funded plans have the potential to help small businesses save significantly on their health care costs. The key, however, is to work with an insurer that can provide plenty of tools to help the company minimize its overall health care costs. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

UnitedHealthcare, Cal Ripken Jr. and CBS EcoMedia host Fun & Fitness Day in Jersey City

Thanks to baseball legend Cal Ripken Jr. and community volunteers, students at St. Anthony’s high school in Jersey City will have a nicer place to enjoy sports and physical activity this school year.

On August 2, volunteers from UnitedHealthcare, the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, and CBS EcoMedia worked together for “Fun and Fitness Day” at St. Anthony’s High School. Our volunteers revamped the weight room, which included installing new flooring and equipment and organizing and cleaning the area. Volunteers also prepped and painted both the girls and boys locker rooms. Outside, workers installed wind protectors, patched up uneven ground, built raised gardens, mulched and cleaned up the outdoor fitness area. Afterward, the Ripken Foundation presented its Uncommon Athlete program, which uses sports as a platform to encourage positive leadership among student athletes.
UHC’s Greg Acquaviva, left, with Assemblywoman Angela McKnight, Bill Ripken, and Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro 
Team of UnitedHealthcare volunteers ready to improve athletic facilities at St. Anthony's HS in Jersey City

When the work was done, volunteers, school staff and community members joined Cal Ripken Jr. in a pick-up basketball game to show students the fun and camaraderie of team sports.

Greg Acquaviva, vice president of state government affairs at UnitedHealthcare of New Jersey, prepares for a pick-up basketball game with baseball legend Cal Ripken Jr.
UnitedHealthcare of New Jersey employees John Verga, vice president of key account sales and management, and Bob Benkert, vice president of small business sales & account management, get ready to roll up their sleeves to upgrade St. Anthony High School's athletic facilities

The event was part of the Team8 Tour, a partnership between UnitedHealthcare, CBS EcoMedia, and the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation. Created in honor of Hall-of-Fame baseball player Cal Ripken Jr.’s father, the foundation supports youth sports programs in America’s most distressed communities as a way to help build character and teach critical life lessons.
The volunteer event to give students at St. Anthony's High School in Jersey City safe, beautiful athletic facilities garnered support from legislators, sports legends, health care companies and others. From left to right: New Jersey Senator Sandra Cunningham, St. Anthony's championship basketball coach Bob Hurley, UnitedHealthcare's Greg Acquaviva, and New Jersey Assemblyman Raj Mukherji
The Team8 Tour is part of UnitedHealthcare’s “Do Good. Live Well.” employee volunteer program. In 2015, more than 60 percent of our employees volunteered through our program, providing nearly 410,000 hours of work to build healthier communities.

Home Depot donated volunteers and supplies to the project.
Jersey City was the fifth stop on the Team8 Tour. Previously, the team performed volunteer projects in Houston, Charlotte, Raleigh and Chicago. After Jersey City, the team plans to do projects in New York City, Los Angeles and Denver. To learn more about the Team8 Tour, visit