Aetna boosts incomes of lowest paid employees to $16

Hartford, Conn.-based health insurer Aetna has set its wage floor to $16 an hour for its lowest paid employees, boosting the employees' incomes by as much as 33 percent, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The wage boost — meant to draw top prospects and reduce its turnover costs of around $120 million a year — will impact roughly 12 percent of the insurer's domestic workforce, including customer service and billing-related jobs.

The raise will mark an 11 percent increase on average for many employees and as much as 33 percent for others. The new wage floor is slated to take effect in April.

The company's decision is just one way Aetna is trying to create a better workforce to face the increasingly consumer-oriented insurance industry, according to CEO Mark T. Bertolini.

Aetna will also begin letting workers with household incomes below a specified threshold choose health plans with lower out-of-pocket charges without paying higher monthly premiums next year. The new policy may save a worker with a family as much as $4,000 a year. Roughly 7,000 Aetna employees may be eligible for the lower deductible plans next year, according to the report.

The increased wages and new health plan option will cost Aetna approximately $14 million in 2015 and as much as $25.5 million in 2016. Mr. Bertolini told The Wall Street Journal that the changes may not pay for themselves in financial terms, but the cost is relatively small considering the insurer's sheer size.

Aetna isn't entirely alone; one study recently found 80 percent of healthcare hiring managers intend to increase pay for current employees this year. The trend isn't confined to the healthcare industry either; organizations such as Gap and Starbucks have also raised their minimum wages, according to the report.

Neither of Aetna's new changes will impact overseas employees or individuals working for third-party contractors to provide janitorial, security, cafeteria or other services.




More articles on Aetna:
Aetna, Highmark end dispute over Jefferson Hospital contract
Judge blocks Highmark from terminating contract with Aetna
Aetna launches challenge to leverage IT in underserved communities

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