Health Insurance And The Hr Professional

As you already may know, HR professionals frequently interact with numerous areas of a typical company. From recruitment and employee affairs to the areas surrounding compensation and benefits to training and information systems, they tend to lead quite occupied careers.

In bigger organizations, it is not uncommon for HR staff to work on any of these functions, further divided. For instance, the compensation and benefits staff may include experts dedicated to such fields as payroll, health insurance, and 401(k) plans. In smaller businesses, the HR manager may also handle almost all company-based HR needs. However, one thing is for certain; nearly every company has an individual on board to take care of its HR requirements.

The following will hopefully provide you with a good background on what the typical HR manager can expect in today’s workplace, as well as offer some quick resources for you to use.

What does an HR Manager do these days? In a small business, a human resources manager may handle all aspects of human resources efforts, requiring a wide array of understanding. The tasks of human resources managers can vary broadly, depending on an employer’s needs. In a larger company, the head human resources executive frequently develops and coordinates workforce programs and policies.

These policies are usually administered by a director or manager of human resources and, in some cases, a director of industrial relations. To enhance spirits and productivity and to limit job turnover, they also help their companies use employee skills effectively, provide training opportunities to enhance those skills, and try to continually boost employee satisfaction with their jobs and working conditions. Although some management jobs in the human resources arena call for limited contact with people outside the office, dealing with people is a fundamental part of the profession.

How do HR professionals get trained about Health Insurance?

Familiarity with health benefits is a high priority for benefits managers, as more firms struggle to deal with the increasing cost of health care for employees and retirees. In addition to health insurance and pension coverage, some companies offer employees life and accidental death and dismemberment insurance, disability insurance, and other, new benefits designed to meet the needs of an ever-changing workforce.

These new benefits include such benefits as parental leave, child and elder care, long-term nursing home care insurance, employee assistance and wellness programs, and flexible benefits plans. Therefore, managers must keep on top of changing Federal and State regulations and legislation that can affect employees.

Training specialists are often in charge of planning, organizing, and directing a wide range of activities and can provide necessary training for health insurance, as well. These trainers respond to corporate and worker services requests about health insurance and commonly consult with onsite supervisors.

Buying Health Insurance A How To
In a departure from prepackaged HMO or PPO plans, some larger companies are offering employees a chance to customize their health benefits as they would auto- or homeowners-insurance policies, going through a detailed decision process and becoming increasingly more involved in the particulars.

Employees with customized benefits can choose among as many as five deductibles, five co-insurance levels, broad or narrow doctor and hospital networks and several prescription-drug options. Logically, each choice ultimately affects an employee’s monthly payroll benefits deduction.

This being said, all of the choices mean that one plan can have as many as a hundred different variations, though employers typically limit the options to around 40, states Tom Beauregard, a consultant at Hewitt Associates, a human-resources consulting firm that has about 20 clients among Fortune 1000 companies that are offering specialized benefits.

Customized plans are being developed as health-care costs continue to rise and more businesses move more of the financial load to their employees by raising premium contributions, co-payments and out-of-pocket limits. The idea behind this is to make the employee’s heavier expense for coverage more palatable by transferring over more decision-making power. For example, choosing higher deductibles or co-payments would translate into a lower monthly premium.
Administering Health Insurance.

How do HR Professionals do it?
This depends on the size and type of organization. When a few staff members manage many tasks, it’s possible that duties aren’t as well managed as others. And, in smaller organizations, the many different tasks involved in human resources can overshadow duties closely aligned with an organization’s mission at hand.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that some organizations look externally to hire professional employment organizations, or PEOs, which handle human resources responsibilities for companies employing as few as five and as many as two hundred. PEOs, a new and fast-growing industry, perform tasks that commonly fall under accounting and human resources, freeing up time for others to focus solely on administering healthcare benefits.

How Many Types of Insurance are Out There?
In addition to health insurance and pension coverage, some HR professionals sometimes have to deal with life and accidental death and dismemberment insurance, as well as disability insurance. There are also relatively new benefits with which they must be familiar, in order to meet the needs of a shifting workforce. These include parental leave, child and elderly care, long-term nursing home care insurance, employee assistance and wellness programs, along with those plans dealing with flexible benefits.

Brokers and Where to Find Them. A local search will yield many results through the online channels and search engines. However, while almost all brokers are on the level, some may not present policies as evenly as others. Sometimes, they may offer a computerized search that professes to compare all policies out there and available, but actually is slanted towards the broker’s pet policies. Keep this in mind and remember to ask for references.

Choosing Between a Specialty Broker and a One-Stop Shop. While larger businesses can choose to employ a big accounting firm to shop health plans for a fee, smaller businesses are brought, largely, to the plans through brokers paid by commission. Most companies navigating managed care plans have neither the money nor the time to devote to careful plan evaluation. Brokers act effectively as outside benefits managers, performing rate comparisons and defining the quality of plans available. This action usually costs some cash up front, but often saves the company in the end.

Useful Links for the HR Professional:
Educational Resources: There are many online sources of information along with offline. One place to start is the ERI distance learning center, where many HR continuing education courses are offered for free or for nominal fees. Visit http://www.eridlc.com/ for more information. You can also try the HR Training center at http://hrtrainingcenter.com.

HR Professional Networking: There are many active blogs and online resources available at one’s fingertips, 24/7. Check out ERE Recruiting’s HR blog by visiting:http://www.erexchange.com.

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