Benefits and Compensation

Voluntary Benefits Gaining Popularity Across the Country

Benefitfocus, Inc., a provider of cloud-based benefits management software, has released its “State of Employee Benefits – Regional Edition” research report, a snapshot of real, but anonymous employee benefit election data from over 500 employers on the BENEFITFOCUS® Platform, broken out by U.S. Census region.


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The data shows voluntary benefits are gaining popularity across the country as employees take on more financial responsibility for their health care through high-deductible health plans (HDHPs), with the Midwest leading the pack in terms of HDHP and voluntary benefit adoption. Key findings from the report include:

West Moves Away from Traditional Plans—Employees Invest in Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

  • Employers increased HDHP offerings by 54%, driving employee adoption with a 20% decrease in HMO participation.
  • To protect against the deductible gap, employees are adopting voluntary income protection benefits (138% increase in participation) and health savings accounts (highest average employee contribution in country).

Midwest Sees Highest HDHP Offerings and Participation Rate—Results in High Adoption of Voluntary Benefits

  • More employers in the Midwest offer HDHPs (67%) and more employees elect these plans (42%) than all other regions.
  • Employees are adopting voluntary benefits to manage rising out of pocket costs, with a 567% increase in participation—more than any other region (40%).

Employees in Northeast See Higher Premiums but Lower Deductibles

  • Employee-paid premiums are higher than all other regions, regardless of plan—HDHPs up 7% to 11% ($1,164 individual, $3,582 family); PPOs close behind ($1,710 individual, $4,777 family).
  • Yet, deductibles for PPOs and HDHPs are lower than all other regions.

Employees in South Face Highest Out-of-Pocket Costs for All Plans

  • More employers are embracing HDHPs (54% increase) and voluntary benefits (49% increase, higher than all other regions).
  • Employees face higher PPO and HDHP deductibles than all regions—PPO deductibles are 11% to 15% higher ($1,361 individual, $2,886 family); HDHP deductibles are nearly double PPOs ($2,443 individual, $4,855 family).

“Consumer-driven health is taking hold across the country, more quickly in some regions than others, and employees are carefully considering how to spend their health care dollars—some for the first time,” said Benefitfocus Cofounder and CEO Shawn Jenkins—in a press release of the findings. “Employers on the Benefitfocus platform realize they need to support their workers as they transition to these plans, educating them on the importance of voluntary benefits and HSAs in covering unexpected health care costs. Without the necessary guidance, employees will not be equipped to protect themselves or their loved ones.”

For more findings, download the full Benefitfocus State of Employee Benefits 2017Regional Edition, here.