Wellness Incentives Biggest Health Benefit Change in 2015

Few employers plan to eliminate or make major changes in their health care benefits in the near future.

Only 1% of plan sponsors are planning to eliminate health benefits in 2015, according to the SHRM/EBRI 2014 Health Benefits Survey.

The research from the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) and the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) also found most employers are not planning to make changes to eligibility for spousal coverage and part-time worker benefits, and less than one in ten are moving toward tiered networks (3.6%), private health insurance exchanges (3.2%), value-based insurance design (2.6%) and reference pricing (0.6%). Employers may be waiting for evidence from early adopters before making untested changes, EBRI says.

However, 26.3% of employers are introducing wellness rewards and penalties in 2015. Employers may also be focusing on wellness programs because of the link to worker risks and behaviors, which drive chronic conditions and account for a large percentage of overall health spending, according to EBRI.

Few employers surveyed expect to trigger the so-called “Cadillac tax” on high-cost health plans in 2018. But, EBRI notes, ultimately, concerns about the excise tax on high-cost health plans may result in accelerated adoption of tiered networks, private health insurance exchanges, value-based insurance design and reference pricing.

The full report, “What to Expect During Open-Enrollment Season: Findings From the SHRM/EBRI 2014 Health Benefits Survey,” is published in the December EBRI Notes, available online at www.ebri.org