Post-election, for those who were waiting for something to happen that might change the course of health reform, you can stop waiting. A recent Mercer study found 15% of clients were waiting on the election to start implementing health reform, anticipating a change in administration would either repeal it, fundamentally change it, or roll back some of the provisions - which was probably more feasible. That not being the case, I think everybody out there should start making plans for 2014 based on the law as we know it.
There is much more to how our lives could change that goes beyond health reform. I think the debate over fiscal reform has the potential to create even more broad-based changes in the world of benefits, depending on the type of compromises that are made.
Clearly, there is a lot pressure to increase revenue and reduce spending. When you look at things like the tax deduction for money employers contribute to benefits, that's a huge amount of money that is sitting out there. Then you have other things, like what if the eligibility age for Medicare is raised? That could mean a lot more older workers staying in the workforce at ages where their consumption of health care is expensive for employers. There's so much left to be answered that we just don't know.
How do voluntary benefits fit in the future of workplace benefits?
RON LEOPOLD, Independent consultant
The future of benefits is defined contribution. It'll all be voluntary - subsidized by what the employer contributes.
BEVERLY BEATTIE, CEO, Selden Beattie Benefit Advisors
Voluntary benefits are the best viable solution to help employers enhance their benefits program at little or no expense.
ROB LIEBLEIN, EVP, MarshBerry
As the business model for health benefits changes, voluntary will play an ever-more important role. Employee benefit firms need to develop a strong voluntary strategy to meet the needs of consumers.
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