Eighty Percent of Employers Focusing on Reducing Health Benefit Costs

However, while 71% of employers see a positive impact on company health benefit costs from wellness programs, more than one-third say they do not offer these programs, the Transamerica Center for Health Studies found.

Eight in 10 employers surveyed by the Transamerica Center for Health Studies (TCHS) say they are doing something to manage health benefit costs.

Among the 1,350 employers surveyed, about three in 10 (29%) say they are offering a variety of preferred provider organization (PPO) plans, encouraging use of generic medications (28%), and offering a health maintenance organization (HMO) plan (28%). More than one-quarter (27%) are providing incentives or rewards for making changes to improve employee health and wellness, and 24% say they are creating an organizational culture that promotes health and wellness.

Only 21% are offering consumer-directed health plans that use health savings plans (e.g., health reimbursement arrangements or health savings accounts).

Most employers, regardless of size, are as concerned about the affordability of health insurance for their employees (73%) as they are about employees being able to afford their out of pocket health care expenses (72%). The majority that are concerned about affordability (89%) are taking some action to combat cost, most commonly looking into finding ways to reduce premiums (36%), comparison shopping for the best health insurance options across carriers (36%), and educating employees about how to reduce their out-of-pocket health care costs (35%).

Despite concerns about costs for employees, 40% of employers surveyed say they are at least somewhat likely to reduce their contribution to health benefits.

About four in five employers believe their wellness programs have had a positive impact on workers’ health (79%), productivity and performance (77%), and about seven in 10 (71%) see a positive impact on company health benefit costs. However, more than one-third of employers (36%) say they do not offer these types of programs to their employees.

The survey report is here.