From the 2017 Willis Towers Watson Financial Benchmark Survey and the Willis Towers Watson 22nd annual Best Practices in Health Care Employer Survey, Willis Towers Watson defines best performers based on their abilities to manage cost trends and efficiency.
According to the firm, a company of 10,000 employees could realize savings of more than $22 million annually by implementing a broad set of effective strategies and practices. It’s group of best-performing companies has achieved a $2,251 per employee per year (PEPY) health care cost advantage over the national average in 2017 ($9,950 compared with $12,201).
So how do companies get to be best performers? One area where best performers excel is with subsidization and plan design. More than one-third (34%) of best performers implement spousal coverage surcharges when spouses have other coverage available, compared to 20% of high-cost companies. Twenty-one percent review health care subsidies within the context of their Total Rewards programs (compared to 8% of high-cost companies), 77% offer account-based health plans (ABHPs) with health savings accounts (HSAs) (compared to 63%), 30% offer ABHPs as the only plan option (6%), and 45% use ABHP as a default option (6%).
According to the Best Practices in Health Care Employer Survey, best performers do more to encourage and improve workforce well-being, using a variety of approaches. More than half (53%) align the work environment and well-being programs with company culture, compared to 16% of high-cost companies. Fifty-nine percent sponsor worksite well-being campaigns and offer nutrition education or seminars (39%), 51% sponsor programs or pilots that target specific conditions or high-cost cases (33%), and 30% use a variety of financial and nonfinancial metrics to measure the impact of their health and well-being programs (15%).
Best performers are far ahead of organizations with higher health care costs when it comes to employee engagement in well-being, especially through company social networks. The survey showed that close to half of best performers (47%) engage employees through their company’s social networks (key influencers, testimonials and viral messaging), compared with 21% of high-cost companies. Forty-two percent of best performers use social recognition to boost engagement in health and well-being compared with 23% of high-cost companies, while 28% offer wearable devices for tracking physical activity versus 12% of high-cost companies.
Best performers are also ahead of peers in adopting new health care delivery solutions. Eighty-five percent offer health care delivery via telemedicine for professional consultations, 45% use centers of excellence within health plans, and 32% offer onsite or near-site health clinics.
In addition, 57% of best performers formally monitor vendor performance through performance guarantees, compared with 34% of high-cost companies. The same percentage have a partnership with a third-party data warehouse, compared with 25% of high-cost companies.
The gap narrows between best performers’ pharmacy practices and those of organizations with higher health care costs, which may indicate that all employers are hyper-focused on rising pharmacy costs, especially for specialty medications. Best performers still lead the pack in adopting strategies to manage pharmacy cost, though. More than half (57%) evaluate pharmacy benefit contract terms, compared with 49% of high-cost companies. And more than one-quarter (28%) evaluate their plan design to promote the use of specialty biosimilars, when available, compared with only 18% of high-cost companies.
“Best performers understand there is no single strategy for managing costs and improving the well-being of their workforce,” says Julie Stone, a national health care practice leader at Willis Towers Watson. “They evaluate all aspects of their health and well-being benefit strategies and activities, and implement innovative, integrated practices to improve them.”
Willis Towers Watson selected best performers from the 395 companies that completed the 2017 Willis Towers Watson Financial Benchmark Survey and the 2017 Willis Towers Watson Best Practices in Health Care Employer Survey with sufficient health care cost trend and efficiency information. For more information about best performers, download the high-performance insights report.