Conference Take-Aways from ASEC and the CFPB

This week, I attended the Fall American Savings Education Council (ASEC) meeting and, via phone, part of a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) meeting for financial practitioners. Below are some take-aways:

¨      Four key factors can affect worker (and dependent) health status: worker share of health insurance premium, cost-sharing (e.g., deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments), choice of health plan, and workplace wellness programs.

 

¨      Nearly half of the U.S. working population with employer health insurance is in a high-deductible health plan.

 

¨      A study of a large employer that replaced PPOs with a HSA (health savings account)-eligible, high-deductible health plan (HDHP) found decreases in outpatient office visits, prescription drug fills, and medication adherence and more emergency room visits. Even preventive services not subject to a deductible were used less after the HDHP started.

 

¨      Some employers encourage workplace wellness by offering financial incentives such as prizes, gift cards, and premium contributions.  Prizes are often used in conjunction with health risk assessments or biometric screenings.

 

¨      Only 1 in 10 Americans is saving enough money to cover short-term needs and retire comfortably. Health care expenses take a big chunk out of people’s income. Some employers are starting to coordinate HSAs and 401(k)s.

 

¨      Caregiving is a threat to retirement security. For example, caregivers may have reduced work hours and missed work days or have to quit their job. The majority of caregivers work full- or part-time (52%) or are self-employed (8%).

 

¨      To increase savings, break goals into small steps and identify a “why” that is driving savings decisions.

 

¨      Using savings that is set aside for emergencies is not a failure. It is what the money was set aside for! Be sure to replenish emergency savings as needed.