Besides colder weather and pumpkin carving, October also brings the beginning of the employee benefits open enrollment season.
Nearly 40 percent of
For many employees, the open enrollment season isn't a happy occasion as they learn that the cost of their medical plans has gone up-once again.
Accordingto anational survey of more than 3,000 organizations by
Median monthly per-employee cost for an employer-sponsored health plan in
The share of employers statewide who subsidize 100 percent of their employees' health premiums is 48 percent, versus. 23 percent nationally, the survey says.
The median annual deductible in an employersponsored health plan is
The underlying reason for this cost disparity is that
As the economy has improved, other sectors have followed suit. In particular,
The continuous rise of health care costs also has put upward pressure on overall benefits spend. Even though
Like organizations in other states,
Other options exist for organizations that want to preserve a robust benefit offering in the face of increasing cost pressures.
Analysis of survey responses from employers that report below-the-norm health care cost increases, coupled with high employee retention rates, sheds some light on the possibilities. Interestingly, the employers that make up that best-in-class group are less likely to shift health care costs to their employees.
Instead, they adopt proactive health care cost management tactics far more aggressively, regardless of industry sector. For example, these top performers are more likely than most to introduce wellness and health risk management programs in the workplace and to self-fund their health plans, allowing them to manage their expenses hands-on rather than taking out a blanket insurance policy.
They also often offer a consumerdriven health plan that combines a high-deductible plan with a health savings account, encouraging employees to be more thoughtful in their medical spending.
Best-in-class employers also are early adopters of innovative tactics increasingly offered by the health insurance and provider marketplace in response to cost pressures.
For example, narrow-network plans cover a limited selection of service providers typically chosen for high quality combined with costeffective outcomes. Those plans currently are used by 15 percent of those surveyed in Gallagher's 2016
Also, telemedicine offers online and virtual doctor visits. They currently are used by 25 percent of those surveyed, with 10 percent planning to implement such offerings within the next two years.
Cost transparency tools provide health care consumers with information to effectively guide their service provider choices. Such tools currently are used by 36 percent of those surveyed, with 20 percent planning to implement within the next two years.
Plans with reference-based pricing set market-based caps on the amount the plan will cover for certain medical services that tend to have wide price ranges, such as knee and hip replacement surgery. That cost control method currently is used by 7 percent of those surveyed, with 7 percent planning to implement it within the next two years.
Given the complexity of today's health care market and regulatory environment, implementing such tactics requires advance strategic planning and well-thought-out communications to employees. The required effort is a hurdle to adoption.
When asked to choose between reducing either benefits or cash compensation, 71 percent of employers said they would sacrifice benefits first, but reality proves different. Escalating health care expenses often take a bite out of both cash compensation and employee development dollars for
As wars for talent continue and health care costs keep climbing, investing time and resources in crafting a proactive benefits strategy is a wise alternative to the status quo.