Study: Employers Offering More Benefits in Tandem

April 11, 2006 ( - Employers are moving broadly across benefits program boundaries with new approaches to managing health, absence and disability, according to a new research report.

Only two in 10 responding employers said they maintained isolated benefits-program silos, according to the Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI) report. For the other 80%, their most common approach is to integrate some benefits programs while they coordinate others. More than one in three tie in benefits across the most challenging silos: workers’ compensation and non-occupational benefits,

According to the report, the survey of 624 employers also documents significant differences in the patterns of integration and coordination, depending on the benefits programs incorporated. Linking short- and long-term disability appears to be a unique “product purchase” delivered by a single vendor and includes a strong focus on integrated claims handling, the IBI report said.

Programs that integrate workers’ compensation and non-occupational disability are more likely to include a return-to-work component than when group health and non-occupational disability are integrated, IBI said.

Nearly four in 10 respondents include group health among their linked programs. Of those, nearly half say their integrated packages include practices that go beyond co-management, such as medical case management aimed at return-to work goals for both workers’ compensation and group health.

IBI’s findings also included that:

  • Employers are abandoning their benefits program silos. Only two in 10 continue to administer their health-related benefits programs in isolation of one another.
  • Group health is in the mix. Four in 10 employers surveyed link group health to other programs. Non-occupational disability tends to be most often linked to group health.
  • No single approach to integration of benefits dominates.
  • Nearly two in every three employers integrate at least some of their benefits programs
  • Stand alone integration of short- and long-term disability is different.
  • Claims handling, through claims intake and adjudication, is the most common integrated practice.W hen employers integrate, more than eight in 10 integrate claims handling, usually through integrated claims intake and adjudication.
  • Vendors play a prominent role in delivering claims services.
  • More than eight in 10 integrated programs involve vendors in claims intake, while vendors participate in claims adjudication for nine programs in 10.

You can obtain a copy of the report here .