You may wonder what Starbucks’ new tuition reimbursement benefit has to do with health care reform. Thanks to the ACA, dependents can remain on a parent’s medical plan until age 26 – which means that for many younger workers, health benefits are less of an employment draw. Even for workers over the age of 26, the ACA’s mandated coverages, combined with minimum plan value and affordable contribution requirements, may make offering good health care benefits less of a differentiator for employers. A tuition benefit – which helps build a better-educated workforce – makes sense for Starbucks, but there are also ways employers can enhance their health benefit programs to attract and retain workers, for example: offering more medical plan choices, providing health incentives with financial rewards, sponsoring wellness programs, and/or making care available at an on-site clinic. Pressure from the ACA will also drive creative benefit strategies that reach beyond medical benefits – such as tuition reimbursement in this example – to attract the best talent.
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