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More Research on Employee Benefit Trends

By May 9, 2016Commentary

BenefitFocus is a large, now public firm that helps employers administer health plans, primarily self-funded plans.  The vendor recently released its first The State of Employee Benefits Report.   (BenefitFocus Research)   This is the first in a series the company plans to issue and it focuses on the health plans of employers with a 1000 or more workers.  The data base included over 500 employers.  52% of these firms now offer a high deductible health plan, but few, only 6%, have made it the sole option, although many are considering doing so.  Where high deductible plans are available, 41% of employees choose them, with younger workers the most likely to do so at 44%, compared to older workers at 36%, consistent with the notion that younger workers are healthiest, looking to spend the least on health care and feel more comfortable with the more intensive engagement required .  With average annual family premiums of $15000 and average annual individual coverage rates of $6000, most employers will avoid the Cadillac plan tax, unless there is substantial health inflation before it kicks in.  Most high deductible plans have a savings account option, but on average employees are only contributing 40% of the maximum amount, although older workers likely using more health care services are more likely to contribute higher amounts.  These workers also are probably paid more.  The same dynamic occurs with flexible spending accounts.  It appears that companies are gradually moving to high deductible plans and that employees will need to learn how to use those plans, and accompanying health savings accounts, effectively.

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