Walgreen Moves Health Coverage To Private Exchange
Walgreen Co. is joining a growing push from big businesses to shift more responsibility for finding insurance onto their employees as health care costs continue to climb. The nation’s largest drugstore chain said Wednesday that it will send workers to a private health insurance exchange where they will pick from as many as 25 plans instead of having the company give them two to four options. Employers normally pay most of the coverage cost, and Walgreen’s contribution toward the benefit won’t change. It said the move will give its workers more choices and help them become better consumers. “I think the only way to drive down costs in the health care space is to have the consumer buying the health care be knowledgeable and educated and understand what they are buying, “ said Tom Sondergeld, Sr. Director of Health and Well-Being.
Employers have struggled for years with health care costs that climb faster than inflation and consume growing portions of their budgets. More are starting to veer from the decades-old practice of offering workers only a plan or two with benefits the employee might not want.
Walgreen shares hit an all-time high of $55.73 Wednesday before closing up 71 cents at $55.63. Since November 2012, the stock has risen 75 percent.
Taken from the Dallas Morning News
Workplace Wellness Programs
The Affordable Care Act creates new incentives to promote employer wellness programs and encourage employers to take more opportunities to support healthier workplaces. Health-contingent wellness programs generally require individuals to meet a specific standard related to their health to obtain a reward, such as programs that provide a reward to employees who don’t use, or decrease their use of, tobacco, and programs that reward employees who achieve a specified level or lower cholesterol. Under final rules that take effect on January 1, 2014, the maximum reward to employers using a health-contingent wellness program will increase from 20 percent to 30 percent of the cost of health coverage. Additionally, the maximum reward for programs designed to prevent or reduce tobacco use will be as much as 50 percent. The final rules also allow for flexibility in the types of wellness programs employers can offer. For more information and to view the final rules, visit www.dol.gov/ebsa.