CFOs Embrace Smaller Health Benefits Trend

Image via Flickr by Nancy Pelosi

A recent survey of the nation’s top chief financial officers reveals that most CFOs believe the biggest obstacle to financial growth within a company is the cost of employee benefits. In fact, a whopping 56 percent identify health care costs as the number one culprit of financial concern for their company. With so much concern over health care costs despite sweeping health care reform, it’s no wonder that CFOs are increasingly embracing the most basic health plans available.

While the Affordable Health Act is intended to provide more coverage for people, CFOs are realizing that they can implement bare bones health plans and still avoid penalties. In fact, more and more companies are offering health insurance benefits that don’t cover X-rays, prenatal care, or surgery. Even without offering coverage for these medical treatments, basic coverage allows companies to avoid the $2,000-per-worker penalty. For the most basic health care benefits package, companies can expect to pay anywhere from $40 to $100 per worker.

CFOs and HR Partnerships Under Pressure

As CFOs want to reduce expenses on health compensation and benefits, HR departments want to increase spending. This creates internal stresses between the various departments. To strengthen the CFO-HR partner relationship, both teams must understand that human capital is often the greatest expense of any company. With CFOs managing cost strategies and the HR team working to boost the value of its employees, both teams can execute a plan that pleases both parties. To do this:

  • Focus on the company’s needs. Often times, the CFO is thought of as the “business driver” and HR is thought of as the “people driver.” However, the truth is that both sides should be business drivers. By focusing on the needs of the company over pleasing each individual employee, finance and HR executives can agree on a benefits package that accomplishes their shared vision.
  • Collaborate on the new plan. If a new health benefits package is going to be offered, then HR should serve as catalysts for the big picture. Of course, CFOs will work to see how the new plan works in accordance with the Affordable Health Act and the company’s overall financial budget.