Move to HDHPs Creates Need for Health Literacy and Wellness Tools

Organizations looking to make employees their own best care managers, understand it requires creating an informed health care shopper and providing an environment that guides positive employee behavior and promotes engagement.

By Rebecca Moore | February 14, 2017
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Throughout 2016, organizations remained committed to providing a standard suite of health benefits, according to the Healthcare Trends Institute’s fourth annual Benefits Benchmark Survey.

Preferred provider organization (PPO) plans were the most offered health coverage option at 70%. Employers have begun to make the switch to high deductible health plans (HDHPs) (53%) with health savings accounts (HSAs) (59%) and away from Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) (37%).

Growth in account-based plans is increasing. These plans typically offer the greatest savings and are the lowest-cost option for employees in terms of their paycheck deduction. Surveyed employers reported that slightly more than 50% of their employees are enrolled in an HSA, health reimbursement account (HRA) or flexible spending account (FSA) in 2016. As HDHP growth continues it should be expected that participation in account-based options does as well.

As they look to transform the inevitable cost curve ahead, the top three solutions offered by organizations are to increase employee cost sharing (20%), increase employee health care engagement (22%) and enhance efforts related to wellness and health management programs (18%) to control future health care costs.

In a defined contribution plan (DCP) employers give employees a set amount of money to purchase the benefits of their choice. DCPs remain a relatively new concept for active employees, the Healthcare Trends Institute notes. The survey found 36% of employers reporting some uncertainty about this approach. Of those employers familiar with DCPs they believe they can help employees understand the value of their benefits (27%) and make more cost-conscious benefit decisions (24%).

According to the Healthcare Trends Institute, current nationwide benefit surveys report about 12% of employers are using DCPs and 36% are considering it for 2017. The approach encourages employees to “benefit right-size” by often implementing robust decision support tools that can ease the transition to HDHPs or high performing network plans.

NEXT: The need for decision support and wellness programs