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National Business Group on Health Survey on 2015 Benefits

By October 8, 2015Commentary

The National Business Group on Health represents very large employers and helps them in identifying methods to improve their health benefit plans. A recent survey 487 companies with at least 1000 employees gives information on these large employers’ perspective on what 2015 and beyond will bring.  (NBGH Survey)   Almost all these companies currently provide health benefits and most say they will likely be doing so ten years from now.  For 2015 they anticipate a 4.1% increase in their cost of the health benefits they offer, but that is after benefit changes and further cost-shifting to workers.  On a same-benefits basis the increase would be larger.  The average cost per employee is projected at $12,041, of which employees will pay 22%, or $2,676, in premium contributions.  In addition, companies are focusing on how to change their benefit designs to avoid the “Cadillac” tax in 2018.  One particular cost problem is specialty pharmacy, currently 53% of the respondents say they have special coverage requirements or limitations in this area and another 32% say they likely will add them by 2018.  Coverage for working spouses continues to be discouraged, with 27% now having a spousal surcharge and up to 60% say they likely will have one by 2018.  And defined contribution approaches are beginning to gain steam; only 20% use this design today but 40% say they will by 2018.  82% of these large firms offer a health savings account or similar plan and 4% more are adding one in 2016.  Companies are beginning to adopt more use of value-based reimbursement strategies and narrow network designs.  Employers are committed to health benefits in large part because they view a healthy workforce as more productive and satisfied; therefore these companies continue to focus on wellness and healthy lifestyles.  The good news is that large firms seem very committed to providing health insurance, but workers can look forward to bearing an ever-increasing share of the costs of that coverage.

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