And the latest in the employer selling season big benefit firm research pieces is out, this one from AONHewitt. (AON Survey) The firm’s 2012 health care survey covers a multitude of topics, largely reflecting the looming impact of the full implementation of health reform. Cost continues to be the dominant issue, both for employers and consumers, with employer per employee spend increasing by 40%, to $8000, in the last six years and the employee share increasing by 82% to $5000 per year, eating up all of their wage gains. AON suggests that employers can generally stay the course, they can pay the penalties under the new law and exit health care coverage or they can play in a different way, putting more restrictions on employees and/or using exchanges, defined contribution plans or other approaches to control costs more tightly. The survey of over 1800 organizations found that the biggest challenges facing companies are motivating employees to change behavior and complying with regulations. Employers want employees to engage in more wellness and prevention and make better decisions about health care use and they view financial incentives and disincentives as the best method to achieve that goal.
Employers generally are committed to wellness and care management; 76% offer condition management programs and 70% say wellness programs and increasing use of those programs are top priorities. However, many employers have doubts about whether these programs are currently having an impact and few seek input from employees on whether the programs work or what employees would like to see in them. Employers say they are interested in more data analytics to analyze the effect of various health programs. Employers seem to buy into the notion that healthy employees are more productive and that getting people into better current health will have a cost-saving effect down the road, but they continue to struggle with how to effectively engage employees. Raising employee awareness of their health is paramount, with use of health risk assessments and biometric screening widespread. Financial rewards are the primary motivator and there is a greater willingness to link the reward to achievement of better health, not just participation. A lot of interesting data on the employer health care coverage marketplace.