The Convergence of Health and Retirement Plans

A recent SmartBrief post states that “Employee health plans increasingly are becoming the responsibility of workers as incentives for achieving health and wealth converge, a Manning & Napier white paper says. The impetus is the rising cost of employer health benefits as strapped workers postpone retirement or suffer health issues related to financial stress, the paper says. ‘Employers are becoming much more aware of the bottom-line impact of poor employee choices. That is really the motivating factor in wanting to change employee behaviors,’ says Shelby George of Manning & Napier,” an investment management firm.  ” “The employee is really the owner of their financial future, not only for retirement investments but now for healthcare as well.”

The US News article this post references states that, “Driven by rising costs and the Affordable Care Act, employee health programs are beginning to look like employee retirement plans.”  The similarity is that employers are now using “..both types of plans trying to use incentives to change employee behavior even as they offload more key decisions and financial responsibility onto employees.”

In the article, Ms. George goes on to say that “”What we’ve learned on the retirement side can be applied to the health side…Convergence is really the idea that health and wealth are so related that you cannot improve one without also improving the other. You just need to be thinking about both.”

In their white paper, “Manning & Napier makes the case that rising health care costs can contribute to financial stresses that actually worsen health and add to health expenses.”  The paper also “cited research that the medical bills of stressed employees are nearly 50 percent higher than average and can lead to increased absenteeism and performance issues, particularly among older employees.”

“Yet another intersection between health and wealth is the employer impact of an aging workforce that is unable to retire due to a lack of savings and/or the need to retain employer provided health care insurance,” the paper explained. “Medical claim costs generally rise with employee age, and for employees aged 60-64, average per employee costs are more than double the costs of employees aged 35-39,” it added. “Employees who are not able to retire on time due to insufficient retirement funding may be adding costs to the employer’s health plan.”

What are you doing to insure both your financial and physical health?  Please share with us your struggles as you deal with this convergence, either in the comments section below, or on our Facebook page.  We look forward to helping you!

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