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