Benefit strategies have undergone a lot of changes since the economic recession of 2008. That’s why Gallagher asked 4,155 organizations how they handle their overall benefit strategy. Its 2019 Benefits Strategy & Benchmarking Survey can help you understand how you stack up against other organizations when it comes to optimizing the packaging and branding of your benefits for your current and future employees.
Strategic Changes Toward Healthcare Benefits Over a Decade
When the 2008 financial crisis swept the United States, organizations were forced to make a lot of changes just to survive. Part of that meant increasing employee benefits cost sharing for major budget items like healthcare plans. That may have worked when unemployment was high and people were struggling to find jobs. But things have changed, and this survey found that how organizations approach their health benefit strategies has changed, as well.
Now, the name of the game is low unemployment. As an HR professional, you are almost certainly dealing with hiring challenges. A critical part of how you attract talent involves how you package and brand your benefits—health benefits chief among them. In order to do that, you must understand what your peers are doing. The survey found that 47% of peers did not increase their employees’ shares when it came to deductibles, copays, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket maximums. That restraint seems to have been a necessity for staying competitive, even though health costs for organizations have increased year over year.
Trends Toward Value-Based Health Care
Because healthcare costs—and, therefore, health plans—have been steadily rising for years now, many organizations are starting to understand that they need to focus on the value of that health care more than ever, especially when they can’t stay competitive while pushing those costs onto employees. This survey shows a push from volume to value while addressing healthcare spending, waste, and population health.
Here are some methods that more employers are using to help their employees minimize medical and prescription expenses to get more value for their healthcare costs.
- 15% (6 more points than last year) say they are reducing employee costs for prescription drugs that treat high-cost chronic conditions.
- 10% (3 more points than last year) designate centers of excellence for certain medical procedures. These are selected providers that contract with employers to offer quality care for employees at a lower cost.
- 8% are offering second-opinion services for some conditions—again, helping to ensure better and more effective treatments.
Part of the push toward getting more “bang for your buck” when it comes to providing healthcare coverage involves cost containment. The survey identified the three most common methods for managing costs:
- 52% said they provide telemedicine. This allows employees to be cared for remotely by their medical providers. It saves time, travel, and overhead costs for facilities that offer it, all resulting in lower expenditures.
- 42% said they increased premiums on health plans. Spreading new costs out over all the health plan premiums can be a lot more manageable for employees than cost sharing throughout the year.
- 41% said they use well-being incentives. Getting your employees healthier overall can lead to lower healthcare costs.
This survey helped identify many more ways that organizations can strategically make the most of not just their healthcare benefits but also their benefits in general. If you want to learn more, check out the survey here.