Employers plan to take little action in modifying health care strategy in 2015

Very few employers plan to make changes to their health care strategies in 2015, according to recent research from Aon Hewitt. The survey found that even some of the most prevalent tactics in employers’ health strategies had low adoption rates in 2015. For example, only 16 percent plan to increase deductibles and copays; only 10 percent plan to provide cost and quality transparency tools; and only 9 percent plan to provide personalized, aggregated online views of health care usage and other information.

Wellness plans. Despite little change in health care strategies for 2015, 87 percent of employers indicated that increasing participant awareness of and decision making related to health issues is their top priority. However, employer action is still slow. Aon Hewitt found a small but continued increase in the number of employers offering various health and wellness-related programs. Almost two-thirds of companies offered biometric screenings and smoking cessation programs in 2015, and about a third offer stress reduction and nutrition programs.

“Focusing on health and wellness is a key initiative for employers, and most are focusing on a few behaviors over the long-term to maximize the impact improving health has on business performance,” said Stephanie Pronk, senior vice president and National Health Transformation Leader. “Companies that promote a strong culture of health have employees who are happier, less stressed and more engaged, which leads to better productivity and stronger business performance.”

Motivation for change. When asked what drives employers to change their long-term health strategies, 77 percent of companies said the actions of their peers have a significant or moderate influence on their own health care strategies, and 59 percent said so do the actions of major employers in their key geographies.

According to Aon Hewitt, 46 percent of employers said the upcoming 2016 Presidential and Congressional Election will have little to no impact on their health strategy. About half (49 percent) said it will have some impact, but they plan to move forward and will develop some alternatives tied to different election scenarios.

“Cost increases have eased over the past few years, reducing the pressure on companies to deviate from the status quo,” said Sue Willette, senior vice president for health at Aon. “Very few companies want to be first in making transformative changes, but many want to be fast followers. The rate at which companies will take action is likely to be determined by a combination of the predicted spike in future cost trend and bold moves from other employers, particularly from those companies in related industries.”

SOURCE: Aon press release, July 9, 2015.

Visit our News Library to read more news stories.