Health Care Year in Review: What’s Old, What’s New

health care year in review2

Somehow the end of the year is almost upon us. The holiday season is just around the corner and people are already reflecting on the past 10 months.

A lot has happened, but as we take a look at the health care year in review, we can point to three significant factors in particular that we noticed throughout the year:

  • Slow but steady job market growth – and a corresponding battle for talent.
  • The rise of the consumerism of health care.
  • The value of financial support for out-of-pocket benefits costs.

So let’s take a closer look.

The Health Care Year in Review. . .

Improving Job Market & Battle for Talent

The job market has been slowly improving this year, which means employees are becoming more confident in their ability to find a new job. This is good news for the economy, but also means employers’ battle for talent is increasingly competitive.

Though employers have long recognized the importance of employee benefits, now more than ever, benefits options will make a big difference for employee satisfaction, retention and productivity.

In fact, according to the 2013 Aflac WorkForces Report, one out of two U.S. employees said that improving their benefits options is one thing their employer can do to keep them in their job.

Consumerism of Health Care

This year, many employees found themselves in the driver’s seat when it came time to make decisions for their health care. Since many businesses moved away from fixed benefits models to fixed contributions models, workers had to determine how to allocate their employers’ contributions among health insurance options.

Employees had to ensure they were knowledgeable about which benefits options were best for their needs, and employers had to ensure they offered straightforward, easy-to-understand policies that could support their workers’ individual situations.

The consumerism of health care lends itself directly to the fight to find talent, as companies had to prove that they offered the highest quality benefits options at the most competitive prices.

According to the study, nearly six in 10 (59 percent) employees would consider a job offer with lower compensation but a more robust benefits package, which shows just how high benefits rank when it comes to worker satisfaction.

Enduring Value of Out of Pocket Support

Many Americans are hard pressed to find wiggle room in their month-to-month financial situations. According to the study, 28 percent of workers have less than $500 in savings for out-of-pocket health care costs.

Voluntary insurance can be a financial safety net for your workforce when employees find themselves facing an unexpected illness or injury. Supplemental policies help policyholders cope with daily living expenses and out-of-pocket expenses associated with accident or illness, as they pay cash benefits to help with costs that major medical insurance was never intended to cover.

The study also found that employees who are enrolled in or given the option of voluntary insurance are more likely to say they are satisfied with their benefits package and that it meets their families’ needs.

In addition, a higher percentage of these employees say they are taking full advantage of their benefits options and that their current benefits package is more competitive than plans offered to their peers. Supplemental policies can go a long way in keeping employees satisfied in an increasingly competitive job market.

What’s Next?

The health care landscape has evolved continually this year, and will likely continue to shift over the next few years. Do your best to stay abreast of changes and consult trustworthy resources to keep yourself informed.

The Small Business Administration’s website,, is a great starting point. To learn more about coverage available in your state, you should also visit and


Editor’s note:  this article originally advised going to, but in light of the website problems that is not a viable option currently.

Healthcare Photo via Shutterstock


Michael Zuna Michael W. Zuna is Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Aflac U.S. Michael is responsible for leading the company’s integrated product and marketing strategies.

2 Reactions
  1. Health, for me, will always be the most important thing. After all, you cannot work and do other things if you’re not in optimum health. It’s nice that a lot of people are now taking initiative about their health. But it is also quite depressing in terms of healthcare requirements and payments for the business sector.

  2. Michael,

    Indeed, the healthcare law is evolving. Unfortunately, this often confuses small business owners. – I can access it just now 🙂 I hope it’s better powered soon – we really need that information.