More Results from the Perks and Insurance Survey—What’s Happening with Plans and Costs?

Yesterday’s Advisor presented some results from the 2015 Perks and Insurance Survey. Today, we share more findings from the study, including plan options, cost containment, and how healthcare reform is affecting businesses.

A total of 1,401 individuals participated in this survey, conducted in March 2015.


Health insurance is offered as a benefit by 95.8% of the employers represented in our survey. Packages for 2015 are about the same as in 2014 for 77% of survey participants, and 8.1% have a more generous package. Their 2015 package is less generous than last year for 14%.

Plan Options

A PPO (preferred provider organization) is offered by 73.7% of survey participants, and an HMO (health maintenance organization) is offered by 30.1%. Point-of-service plans are available for 9.6%, traditional indemnity plans are available for 4.9%, and open access plans are an option for 6.1%. High-deductible plans are a benefit for 31.8% and have been considered as a potential offering by 22.9% of survey participants.

A health savings account (HSA) is offered by 32.8%, and 14.2% provide a health reimbursement account (HRA) as a benefit option. FSAs (flexible spending accounts) are not an option for 28.3%. They are available, however, to 63.9% for child care, 15.6% for elder care, 68.4% for health care, and 1.7% for disability insurance.

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Dependent Coverage

Unmarried partners are included in their benefit plans for 30.6% (up from 28% last year), but 62% of our survey participants do not offer such benefits, and 7.4% are not sure. The numbers are a bit different, however, for same-sex partners with health insurance benefits offered by 26.2% and available for 37.5% if married or a registered domestic partner. That benefit is not offered by 25% (37% in 2014 and 48% in 2013).

Plan Changes

A hefty 59.6% conducted a comprehensive review of their benefits package in 2014, and 29.4% have done or plan to do the same in 2015. No changes to their 2015 insurance plan designs are anticipated by 20% of survey respondents. Significant changes, however, are expected by 3.7%, and minor to moderate changes are planned for 30.2%. “Unknown at this time” rounds out the field at 46.1%.


For healthcare benefits in 2015, the main priority for 41.7% of survey participants is reining in costs. It is complying with healthcare reform for 39.2% and rethinking their long-term benefits strategy for 13.8%. Though offering healthcare benefits is neutral or not important to the recruiting and retention efforts of 12.4% of survey participants, it is important or very important to 86.8%.

Plan Costs

Health insurance costs in 2015 increased from 1% to 5% for 29.3% of survey participants and from 6% to 10% for 26.6%. The cost increase was 11% to 15% for 8.6% and 16% to 20% for 3.9%, though 2015 costs stayed the same for 10.6%.

Average Cost per Employee for Health Insurance in 2015
(Includes amount paid by both employer and employee)

Less than $3000


$3,000 to $4,000


$4,001 to $5,000


$5,001 to $6,000


$6,001 to $7,000


$7,001 to $8,000


$8,001 to $10,000


Over $10,000


For survey participants who had increased health insurance costs for 2015, 57.2% passed some of the increase along to employees, 5.8% passed along most of the increase, and another 2.8% passed on all of the increased cost to employees. A generous 18.5% of employers represented in our survey absorbed all of the increased cost this year. A lucky 11.1% did not have increased costs in 2015.

While a little over half (51.7%) of our survey’s participants cover 75% to 99% of the premium for employee coverage, 19.6% cover 100% of employee health insurance premiums. Another 20.5% pay 50% to 74% of the premium, and 4.4% cover 1% to 49%. Zero employer contribution to health insurance premiums is made by .4% of survey respondents, while 3.4% responded with “don’t know.”

Employer contribution to family coverage paints a different picture, though, with 5% of employers paying 100% of the premium for family coverage and 31.7% paying 75% to 99%. One-half to three-fourths (50% to 74%) of the family premium is paid by 29.5% of survey participants, and 1% to 49% of the premium is covered by 11.9% of employers. The employee pays 100% of family coverage for 16.3% of the employers in our survey, and 5.5% selected “don’t know” as their response.


Cost Containment

Though 33.7% made no changes in 2015, some employers took steps to reduce their organizations’ 2015 health insurance costs, including:

  • Raising the employee portion of the premium, 31.3%
  • Implementing wellness programs, 15.6%
  • Raising employee deductibles, 29.9%
  • Offering HSA/HRA high-deductible plans, 16.1%
  • Raising employee copayments, 20.9%
  • Introducing managed care programs, 4.1%
  • Conducted employee dependent audits, 5.3%
  • Offering opt-out incentives, 4.1%

When asked how they think their organizations’ healthcare costs will change in 2016, 28% indicated their costs will increase significantly, 49.1% believe their costs will increase but not significantly, 18.1% expect their costs to stay the same with a small inflationary increase, and .9% think their costs will go down.

To help reduce their organizations’ 2016 health insurance costs, 36.6% plan to increase employee premiums, 22.4% plan to implement wellness programs, and 46.1% plan to raise employee deductibles or copayments. Some employers plan to offer HSA/HRA high-deductible plans (14.9%), and 7.4% plan to conduct dependent audits.


Healthcare reform

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) caused 2015 insurance costs to increase for 54.5% of our survey participants. It did not significantly impact costs for 30.9% of respondents, and 12.8% don’t know yet.

Thanks again to all who participated!

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