Benefits

CFOs Not Just Focused on Controlling Costs for Health Benefits

CFOs surveyed also listed attracting and retaining talent as well as helping employees become healthy as health benefits priorities.

By Rebecca Moore editors@plansponsor.com | February 10, 2016

With the rise in health care costs and perceived cost burdens associated with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), much has been reported about employers’ efforts to cut health benefit costs.

However, a survey of chief financial officers (CFOs) conducted by the Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI) finds CFOs’ focus goes beyond controlling costs.

While controlling costs was identified as the most important (44%) of their company’s top five goals for health and related benefits, 36% identified attracting, retaining, satisfying talent. In addition, 10% cited helping employees become better consumers of health care, and 9% cited helping employees become healthier as top goals. Two percent said improving workforce productivity (2%) is among their company’s most important benefits goals.

The study results also reveal how companies’ health benefits have evolved since the ACA, and how these changes connect to larger business goals. For instance, while shifting health care costs to employees is on the rise generally, the strategy is less likely among companies that place more importance on attracting, retaining and satisfying talent, and improving productivity. Companies that place more importance on employee health are more likely to increase their use of wellness programs and incentives since the passage of the ACA.

“These results demonstrate that to CFOs today, health management strategies extend well beyond controlling medical costs,” says IBI President Dr. Thomas Parry. “These findings go against the popular notion that CFOs demand a hard ROI from health promotion programs, and that companies are scrambling for the cheapest options. If we want to understand where companies are going with health benefits, we need to think of them within the context of business strategies beyond cutting costs.”

The report, “Finding the Value in Health,” is available here.

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