In a recent publication by Benefitfocus, a benefits administration system that caters to large companies and carriers alike, employers in the South are demonstrating the below growth in the areas of HDHP's, voluntary benefits, and deductible increases:

  • 54% growth in high deductible health plan offerings
  • 11-15% increase in PPO deductibles
  • 49% increase in voluntary benefits offerings and a 208% increase in participation on those types of plans

This data was extracted from 504 large employers that each have more than 1,000 covered employees, but the more interesting story is behind the numbers. As healthcare costs continue to rise, so do premiums and claims charges. Large employers are a great reference point as a benchmark as they have been working for years to control costs and create favorable benefits environments for their staff. These groups also have sophisticated solutions and teams of individuals who are charged with the task of competitive program design, premiums, offerings, operations, claims-reduction strategies (wellness and more) and many more aspects within their health and welfare plans. Evaluating this data is important in learning what trends will trickle down to smaller groups in the future and what innovative employers can do today to make their programs better.

High Deductible Health Plans create healthcare consumers out of workforces because the first dollar responsibility is typically that of the covered employee. When this burden is placed on the employee, they tend to make better purchasing decisions when it comes to basic and even complex care. Many carriers have decision-support tools on their sites that assist members in their search to find quality, well-priced care. When one considers that over half a given population only has a minimal amount of claims in a given year, it makes sense to offer a HDHP for the below reasons:

  • Typically lower premium versus similar deductible copay plans
  • HDHP's inherently control unnecessary or high-dollar expenses by design
  • By offering an HDHP, an employer is mitigating their claims risk by placing the first dollar burden on the employee. This shift leads also to better decision-making and involvement at the employee level, which is also positive.

Increasing deductibles is nothing new, but employers in competitive industries may find that performing a benchmark study of peer companies may help them to create a benefits plan that is more appealing to the audience of potential employees that are evaluating many companies within a specific area or trade. Many carriers offer reports of this nature, as to industry-specific third party organizations.

Voluntary benefits have been on the rise for years, and we can see that when offered, employees not only appreciate the gesture, but purchase the coverage that suits their needs. Offering new products can seem a daunting task that involves creating marketing material, disseminating the new offering to the staff, enrolling (paper-based, electronically, person-to-person, etc.), uploading the data, and then managing the plans thereafter. Of course, there are many steps to consider and each employers situation may call for a different plan of action. It is important to work with a Consultant that has varied methods of implementing voluntary benefits plans to ensure your staff have their needs met.

One of the many solutions Prosperity Benefits offers is that of a benefits portal that helps to educate, enroll, and service staff year-round. This experience is akin to online shopping and is extremely intuitive. When this method is used, collecting and exporting the data is a breeze and the enrollment is performed automatically with the carriers.

Prosperity Benefits can help you stay on trend when it comes to benefits by scaling large employer strategies downmarket.