ACA marketing covers all bases
Maybe you didn’t believe us when we said that your employees would be hit with a massive marketing blitz from insurers and state exchanges this summer—entities that would like nothing more than to scoop up the youngest, healthiest, least risky/costly members of your plans.
But as it turns out, we knew what we were talking about. The marketing push now is in full swing, and those leading the outreach aren’t being shy about who they’re after.
"People who care about being healthy, our young adult population … are going to be an important population for us to reach," Myung Kim, outreach director for Colorado's health insurance exchange, told NPR. The state is running TV ads during Rockies baseball games that “show people buying a health policy and then celebrating as if they'd just won a sporting event. The voice-over in the ads says, ‘Connect for Health Colorado, because when health insurance companies compete, there's only one winner: You.’”
It doesn’t get much more blatant than that. It does, however, get more creative.
The Washington Post reports that “in Connecticut, selling Obamacare involves airplanes flying banners across beaches. Oregon may reel in hipsters with branded coffee cups for their lattes. And in neighboring Washington, the effort could get quite intimate: The state is interested in sponsoring portable toilets at concerts.”
Will it work? No one can say for certain, but the same Washington Post report cites an estimated $1 billion will be spent by states in the effort. That’s too much money for such efforts to have no impact at all.
Read our new blog post about the latest ACA news and how to communicate effectively as a result.
5 reasons to promote your ESPP
If you have an employee stock purchase plan, news from Fidelity this week offers up five reasons to remind employees about it. (The plans consistently have lower participation rates than other employee benefit programs, the firm notes.) They’ve done the pitch work for you—no extra work required!—providing five overlooked benefits of ESPPs:
1. They allow employees to buy company stock at a discount. Even better, many companies are planning to increase their discount over the next few years, equaling even bigger savings.
2. The ease of contributing is similar to 401(k)s. Many companies allow employees to contribute as little as one percent of their paycheck, Fidelity says, which makes ESPPs that much more affordable for a greater number of workers.
3. It’s one more way to save for retirement. Americans need as many avenues as they can get to get on track toward financial security.
4. An increasing number of workers have access to company stock. Forty percent of companies that recently went through an initial public offering implemented an ESPP, and all of those companies offered their company’s stock at a 15% discount.
5. ESPP savings are more accessible. Although taxes may still apply, Fidelity notes that workers can access the assets within an ESPP without the penalties and/or repayment requirements when they take a 401(k) loan or withdrawal.
This week’s hidden gem: Smokers escape ACA premium penalties
Also from The Washington Post, there’s news this week that smokers don’t have to worry about incurring premium penalties due to their tobacco status.
Although ACA allows insurers to make smokers pay higher premiums (up to a 50% penalty), a computer glitch has delayed the penalty for at least a year.
The problem is that ACA also prohibits carriers from charging older plan members more than three times the premiums of the young and hardy. So, the government’s computers are unable to apply both the premium cap and the smoker penalty at once. The same penalty must apply equally to young and old, or not at all.
Keep touting your wellness programs, though. This penalty is going to catch up to all smokers eventually—regardless of age—and you’ll want to be able to say with certainty that you gave smoking employees every opportunity and resource to kick the habit.