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4 benefits trends to watch in 2017

By Ryan Golden
From HR Dive on Wednesday, November 16, 2016
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Most in the industry agree that a full repeal is unlikely. Steve Wojcik, VP of Public Policy for the National Business Group on Health (NBGH) said in an interview that there may be at least one area that both parties can agree to reform.

“The ACA has been law now for years, and employers have gotten used to the auditing and extras that come with it,” Wojcik said. “The big thing they’re looking at is the repeal of the excise tax. Employers plan healthcare benefits far in advance and the tax would affect large employer plans after 2017.”

Data security is always a concern when talking about health data privacy, but Wojcik said privacy concerns haven't been so big of an issue with wearables as to outweigh the benefits.

"Employees who are health nuts don't mind all of the features, and they might even like that the devices recommend a change in diet to prevent certain diseases," said Wojcik. Employees with more serious conditions, like diabetes, may also want doctors to have this form of quick access to their health information in case of an emergency.

Employers won't have any more control over drug prices in 2017 than they do now, according to Wojcik, but they can make use of pharmacy management to design the right tools for employees. The goal is to get the most value out of what is spent on pharmaceuticals.

"This is the first time where specialty pharmacy expenses are the top driver of health care costs," Wojcik said. Employers can use a number of techniques, including step therapy and case management, to help employees choose drugs that are the most cost-effective given their choice of plan.

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