A number of entities provide survey data on the world of employment-based health benefits and the findings are always useful. The 2014 bSwift benefits study, based on 388 benefit decision-maker responses, is no exception. (bSwift Report) The primary trends identified by the report are greater reliance on employee self-service and automation; continued growth in wellness programs and associated incentives; and consideration of defined contribution approaches. For large employers, those with over 500 employees, 87% have a wellness program, while 69% of smaller employers–50 to 500 employees, do so, which is actually a drop from 81% in 2013. Health cost savings, employee engagement and better health outcomes were the top reasons cited for adopting wellness efforts. Surprisingly, participation rates dropped in large employers, with only 40% having greater than 50% of employees engaged. HRAs, coaching, biometric tests, fitness and weight loss activities and smoking cessation are the primary features of large and small employer wellness programs. Although the reform law allows greater incentives for wellness participation, few employers took advantage of those higher limits, with most still offering less than $500 in incentive value. This despite a finding that larger incentives drive greater participation. The use of biometric result-based incentives has increased significantly. Premium reductions are the most common form of incentive, followed by cash and gift cards. A relatively small, but growing, number of employers are considering defined contribution approaches–18% of large employers and 10% of smaller ones. Companies may be unsure that these plans will actually reduce their costs. About 80% of large employers use some form of online enrollment. And about 80% conduct some form of dependent eligibility verification. Small employers are far behind in their use of these cost-saving technologies.
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About this Blog
The Healthy Skeptic is a website about the health care system, and is written by Kevin Roche, who has many years of experience working in the health industry. Mr. Roche is available to assist health care companies through consulting arrangements through Roche Consulting, LLC and may be reached at [email protected].
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