Employers continue to focus on containing costs

Employers continue to turn to consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) and tighten spousal rules as cost-containment strategies, according to recent research from Conrad Siegel Actuaries. The annual Medial and Prescription Drug Survey found that employers are more focused on changing benefit plan design rather than shifting more premium costs to employees. In 2015, only 11 percent of surveyed companies did not require employees to pay any amount of plan premiums. The average percentage of the medical premium that employees paid for single coverage in 2015 was 15 percent, which has remained relatively constant over the past several years. The average premium share for family coverage was 20 percent in 2015.

CDHPs. CDHPs typically contain a high-deductible health plan paired with a health savings account (HSA) or a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA). Overall, 50 percent of employers offer a plan with either an HSA or an HRA account option. This is up significantly from last year at 41 percent, Conrad Siegel found.

In 2015, 24 percent of employers offered a HSA to their employees. This increased from 2014, when 20 percent of employers offered an HSA. Of employers who offer a HSA, 79 percent fund at least part of the account. The average employer funding for individuals in an HSA account is approximately $769, and the average funding for families is $1,337. This is down from $847 and $1,560 in 2014, respectively.

In 2015, 26 percent of employers offered a HRA to employees. This increased from 2014, when twenty-one percent of employers offered an HRA. The average employer funding for individuals in an HRA account is approximately $1,743, and the average funding for families is $3,204. This is down from $1,916 and $3,194 in 2014, respectively.

Spousal coverage. Conrad Siegel noted that 33 percent of employers have some form of spousal coverage provision for medical and prescription drug insurance. Of those who have a provision, 52 percent of employers do not allow spousal coverage if a spouse has health insurance access through their own employer.

This percentage increased from 31 percent in 2014 and 25 percent in 2013. Of employers who do offer spousal coverage, 27 percent required a surcharge to cover the spouse, compared to 16 percent in 2014. The average surcharge in 2015 was $2,288, which increased from $1,730 in 2014.

“As employers’ health insurance costs rise, they are continuing to drop or put restrictions around spousal coverage. Limiting working spousal coverage is an attempt to shift a portion of these increasing costs back to the spouse’s employer, as opposed to making even more drastic cuts to benefit levels for all of their own employees,” said Rob Glus, partner at Conrad Siegel Actuaries. “We also continue to see employers offering more CDHPs as a natural course for cost containment.”

SOURCE: http://www.conradsiegel.com/lib/pdf/2016Medical%20RxDrugSurvey.pdf

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