- An announcement this week from Aetna Chairman and CEO Mark Bertolini details two new programs set to increase financial security for thousands of company employees by improving their wages and healthcare benefits.
- Beginning April 6, Aetna has promised to increase the minimum, base hourly wage for its U.S. employees to $16 per hour. The company says this will impact approximately 5,700 employees, most of whom work in customer service, claims administration, plan sponsor eligibility and billing. Aetna notes that the increased hourly wage also gives employees the opportunity to earn higher bonuses and 401(k) contributions.
- Aetna's enhancements to its medical benefits program will begin in 2016. The improvements are expected to lower out-of-pocket healthcare expenses for some of the company's U.S. employees. They estimate that about 7,000 of their U.S. employees will meet requirements for eligibility in 2015, and that the participating employees could save up to $4,000.
The company states, "These changes align with Aetna's mission to build a healthier world, and will increase the financial security for many Aetna employees by improving wages and healthcare benefits."
Of course, there is financial incentive as well. While Aetna's raise hike to $16 per hour is a first among health insurers, other major retailers in the US have made such moves, and economists have compiled data validating the hypothesis that paying higher wages generates savings.
According to the Peterson Institute, the cost-saving effects of higher wages include motivating employees to work harder; attracting more capable and productive workers; lower turnover; and enhancing quality and customer service.
Still, according to Modern Healthcare, who interviewed other insurance execs at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco this week, Aetna's competitors have no plans to match its new minimum wage.
"I don't think we're going to go where Aetna has gone to," Humana CEO Bruce Broussard told MH.