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Apart from the rising number of catastrophic health care claims and cost pressures resulting from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, benefit experts say a partial driver in the recent uptick in employers' stop-loss inquiries is the extent to which senior executives and financial officers are involving themselves in the administration of their companies' benefit programs.
Sixty-three percent of employers polled in Alexandria, Virginia-based Aegis Risk L.L.C.'s 2013 “Medical Stop-Loss Premium Survey” said their company's chief financial officer was involved in decisions regarding stop-loss insurance, compared with 56% in 2012.
Additionally, 39% of the employers Aegis polled in 2013 said one or more of their company's senior executives played a role in stop-loss decisions, more than double the 18% reported in 2012.
“What's happening behind the scenes with a lot of those organizations is that the CFO or some other high-level executive wonders why it is that the company doesn't retain this kind of unlimited liability anywhere else in its business model, but all of the sudden is keeping that risk in-house when it comes to health care,” said Ryan Siemers, Aegis Risk's founder and principal.
Experts said the next step for employers should be broader integration of their company's risk management department into strategic decisions regarding their health benefit programs and, specifically, their stop-loss insurance portfolios.
“The benefits side is beginning to think of health care more in terms of risk management, and we're starting to see integration of those functions,” said Mike Wojcik, Orland Park, Illinois-based senior vice president of employee benefit solutions at The Horton Group. “They've been in silos for many years, with different management philosophies and structures, but there has been some melding of the minds in those areas.”