Mercer Offers Health Costs Benchmark Tool

October 9, 2002 ( - Benefits managers interested in seeing how their health plan costs stack up industrywide may want to take a look at an offering from Mercer Human Resources Consulting.

In an announcement posted on the  company’s Web site, Mercer said its consultants had used the online Benchmark Wizard tool with clients since last spring, but that it was now offering it to the public.

According to the Web site announcement, the Benchmark Wizard uses data from Mercer’s annual health costs survey to create custom cost benchmarks that reflect over 25 different employers and plan attributes.

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Using econometric techniques based on regression analysis, Mercer said the program quantified the relationship between per-employee cost and attributes such as employee age/sex, degree of unionization, geographic location – even certain plan design features.

As users enter their plan’s attributes, the program makes adjustments to average medical plan costs to create custom benchmark costs. In the process, users can see how great an impact each attribute has, the company said.

For example, Mercer said, users can see the impact on per-employee cost if their plan has a higher-than-average rate of dependent coverage election (55%).