Employers continue to address health care cost increases

To reduce health care costs, employers are primarily focused on offering high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) (69 percent), targeting wellness programs (58 percent), and increasing employee cost-sharing (49 percent), according to recent research from the Midwest Business Group on Health (MBGH). The survey found that the employer share of premiums continues to drop, with 50 percent of employees now offered 75 percent/25 percent cost sharing.

“While the future of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act continues to evolve, even in this uncertain environment, employers are moving forward with strategies to reduce unnecessary health care costs, while finding ways to improve the health of their covered populations,” said Larry Boress, MBGH President and CEO.

The survey found that HDHPs are now being offered at the same rate as preferred provider organizations (PPO), with health savings accounts (HSA) the dominate plan type offered among HDHPs (65 percent for HSAs versus 15 percent for health reimbursement arrangements).

In addition, employers continue to try to motivate employees toward healthy behaviors and identifying risk factors by offering incentives for tobacco cessation (61 percent), completing risk assessments (42 percent), and participating in biometric screenings (38 percent).

The survey also found the following:

  • Despite the potential of change, over 40 percent of employers still place a high priority on avoiding the 2020 excise tax.
  • There’s high priority by 73 percent of employers to increase engagement in their programs-51 percent will offer telemedicine services, 55 percent of employers are committed to create more effective communications, 47 percent plan to focus on creating a culture of health, and 43 percent see managing specialty drugs as their highest priority.
  • Strategies to optimize providers are expanding, with 75 percent of employers promoting use of Centers of Excellence, 31 percent offering smaller, high performance networks, and 34 percent offering onsite health centers.

SOURCE: www.mbgh.org
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