The PriceWaterhouseCooper Health & Well-being Touchstone Survey is conducted annually. This year’s came from 788 employers across a spectrum of industries. (PWC Survey) In 2016, this group of companies would have had a 6.8% medical claim expense increase, but design changes reduced that to 3.6%. For 2017, they expect a 6% raw trend, reduced to 3.2% by benefit changes. Overall, PWC assesses employers’ attitude as wait and see, with continued reliance on cost-shifting to control health plan expenses. 57% expect to increase employee contributions over the next three years, while 38% anticipate raising employee cost-sharing, with drugs a particular focus of cost-sharing increases. Surcharges for people other than employees enrolled in coverage are increasing, in 2017 28% of the respondents had a surcharge for spouse coverage, compared to 19% in 2016; and 12% had a surcharge for dependent coverage, compared to 2% in 2016. While only 17% of employees are opting out of coverage altogether, 47% had single-only coverage in 2017, compared to 41% in 2016.
The most common plan type remains a PPO, but high-deductible plans are gaining. 73% of employers offered a high deductible plan, with 25% having it as the only health care option and another 28% considering making that move in the next three years. 79% of companies had wellness programs in 2017 compared to 76% in 2016, and 63% had some disease management program, compared to 56% the year earlier. 42% were considering expanding their wellness programs. Many companies use incentives in connection with the programs and find them to be correlated with higher participation rates. For disease management incentives are moving from penalties to rewards for participation. Health risk assessments, biometric screenings and diabetes disease management are both widely available and have high use rates. On-site clinics are not that common, but have high utilization by employees when they are. Overall, a picture of continued pain for employees.