Managing health care benefits costs remains top priority for companies

Managing health care benefits costs remains employers’ top benefit priority, with 66 percent of companies with 50 to 1,000 workers ranking it as a key 2018 concern, according to recent research from Hub International. The study, Employee Benefits Barometer 2018, noted that human resource executives often turn to short-term solutions instead of the longer-term, more strategic approaches to managing employee benefits.

The study found the following:

  • HR executives aren’t embracing multi-year benefits planning. Sixty-six percent of companies have a short-term planning cycle when it comes to making major changes to benefits, funding, and contribution strategies.
  • ACA compliance worries drop. Last year, Hub found that 26 percent of employers listed complying with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) as a top priority, but this year just 16 percent rank it highly, a reflection of the continued uncertainty regarding the future of the ACA.
  • Cost management is a priority, but isn’t reflected in many HR executives’ short-term plans. While two-thirds of companies said one of their goals is to better manage health benefits costs, 49 percent do not plan to implement any new cost management programs over the next 12 to 18 months. In addition, 54 percent believe that they’ve done all they can reasonably do to control rising medical costs.
  • Few prioritize addressing the diverse benefit needs of a multi-generational workforce. Even though millennials are playing an increasingly important role in the workforce, just 20 percent of respondents identified this objective as a top priority, down from 28 percent last year.
  • Wellness plans can provide a morale boost. Fifty-one percent said that improved employee morale was the biggest benefit of newly implemented wellness programs.

“With managing benefit costs ranking as the top priority, HR leaders need to surround themselves with advisors who can present more tailored insurance solutions that help reduce costs,” said Mike Barone, President of Hub International’s Employee Benefits practice. “There are many viable cost management benefit strategies for companies to explore but many are unaware of their options. Or worse, they don’t have an advisor who can help them adapt solutions such as pharmacy benefits management carve outs, narrow networks, and reference-based pricing for their employee population and organizational needs.”

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