All posts in Survey

Employer-sponsored health insurance is greatly affected by geographic region, industry, and employer size. While some cost trends have been fairly consistent since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was put in place, United Benefit Advisors (UBA) finds several surprises in their 2016 Health Plan Survey.

Based on responses from more than 11,000 employers, UBA announces the top five best and worst states for group health care costs.

Check out this video and contact us to go over the UBA Health Plan Survey.

 

 

 

 

Measuring program value, or return on investment, is critical and imperative in managing a healthy wellness program. Further, clearly identifying and objectively evaluating the impact helps keep the vendor focused on what is critical for the employer. If these programs are not having the impact intended, then the cost of those services is only adding to medical spending waste.

When adding wellness services to any employer benefits package, it is imperative to clearly identify the intended impact and outcome. Outcomes fall into three general categories:

  1. Employee satisfaction with the employer, which adds to recruitment and retention
  2. Reducing biometric risk and improving the health of the population
  3. Reducing medical spending

Employee Satisfaction

In the book, Shared Values, Shared Results by Dee W. Eddington, Ph.D., and Jennifer S. Pitts, Ph.D., the value of employees appreciating the benefits an employer offers is clearly outlined as a win-win strategy. If an employer’s intent in providing wellness services is to improve the support for its employees, then measuring the satisfaction related to those outcomes is critical. Employee surveys are typically the best approach to gather outcomes related to these intended programs. Some key questions to ask may include:

  • Is working at this organization beneficial for my health? (“Strongly Agree” to “Disagree” responses)
  • Do I trust that my organization cares about me? (“Strongly Agree” to “Disagree” responses)
  • Which of the following wellness program initiatives do you find to be valuable? (list all programs offered)

Collecting employee, or spouse, feedback on these programs will provide insight to allow an employer/ consultant to know if programs are appreciated, or if modifications are required in order to achieve the desired outcomes.

Reducing Biometric Risk and Controlling Disease

If the intent of a wellness program is to help improve the health of individuals so that future medical spending will be reduced, then it is critical to determine if the program is engaging the correct members and then measure the impact on their risk. At Vital Incite, we utilize Johns Hopkins’ risk indexing along with biometric risk migration to provide feedback to vendors and employers of the impact of their programs. Some suggested goals may include:

  • Engaging 80 percent of persons with high risk biometrics
  • Reduction in weight of persons overweight or obese by greater than 5 percent in 30 percent of the engaged population
  • Of diabetics with an A1c greater than 7 percent, 80 percent will reduce their A1c by 1 percent in one year
  • Of persons with blood pressure in the high-risk range, 40 percent will have achieved controlled blood pressure without adding medications in one year
  • Of persons who take fewer than 10,000 steps per day, 70 percent will increase their average step count by 20 percent or more

These goals need to be very specific and targeted to address the exact needs of your population, measuring what is most likely to have an impact on a person’s long-term health. This provides specific direction for your wellness providers, but allows an employer/consultant to monitor the impact throughout the year to continue to redirect communication and services to help provide the best outcomes.

The first step in any program is to engage the intended audience. UBA’s Health Plan Survey finds that 54.6 percent of employers with wellness programs use components such as on-site or telephone coaching for high-risk employees, an increase of 7.5 percent from last year. Once you target the intended audience, engagement of those at risk is critical. Monitoring this subset of data can make sure the vendor resources are directed appropriately and, many times, identify areas where the employer may be able to help.

Engagement of High Risk Individuals in CoachingOf course, engagement is only the first step and the intended outcome is to reduce risk or slow down the progression of risk increasing, that is really the final outcome desired. The following illustration allows employers and the vendor solution to monitor the true impact of the program by reviewing the risk control, or improvement based on program participation.

Participant vs non-participant results

Reducing Medical Spending

Although many employers are interested in helping their employees become healthier, the reality is these efforts have to help reduce medical costs or increase productivity so these efforts are sustainable. Since, to date, few employers have data on productivity, the analysis then is focused on reducing medical spending. The correct analysis depends on the size of your population and the targeted audience, but a general analysis to determine if those engaged are costing less than persons who have similar risk on your plan would look something like the analysis below.

participant engagement chart

If your program is targeted specifically on a disease state, then the impact on the cost to care for that disease state may be more appropriate. In the example below, the employer instituted a program to help asthmatics, and therefore, the analysis is related to the total cost to care for asthma comparing the year prior to the program to the year of the program. In this analysis, the impact is very clear.

Impact of Program on Cost for all ID-Asthma

The employer anticipated first year savings due to high emergency room (ER) utilization for persons with asthma and the report proved that along with ER utilization declining, the total cost of care for asthma significantly declined.

Summary

In summary, having a clear understanding of the expectation and desired outcomes and monitoring that impact throughout the year, we believe, drives better outcomes. When we first started analyzing outcomes of programs, the impact of many programs were far less impressive than vendor reports would allow us to believe. That false sense of security is not because they were trying to falsify information, but the reports did not provide enough detail to fully illustrate the impact. Most vendor partners don’t have access to all of the data to provide a full analysis and others will only show what makes them look good. But, if you identify the impact you need in order to achieve success, all parties involved focus on that priority and continually work to improve that impact. We believe that wellness programs can have an impact on a population culture, health and cost of care if appropriately managed.

Originally published by www.ubabenefits.com

New Survey Data Reveals Health Plan Costs, Options by State and Industry

health-care-medical-records-stethoscopeHealth insurance premium renewal rates increased an average of 6.2 percent for all plans in 2015, up from the previous year’s 5.6 percent increase, according to new survey data released from United Benefit Advisors (UBA), the nation’s leading independent employee benefits advisory organization. Small businesses with fewer than 25 employees, which account for five million U.S. employers, were hit the hardest, finds UBA.

“In 2014, employers overwhelmingly utilized early renewal strategies to delay moving to higher cost ACA- compliant plans and keep increases in check,” says Les McPhearson, CEO of UBA. “These delay tactics ran out in 2015 and, as a result, these small businesses (that make up the majority of American businesses), were forced into higher-cost, community-rated ACA plans. Without the negotiating power of bigger groups or the protection from grandmothering, many small employers were left with no cost containment strategies other than reducing coverage.”

Health Plan Costs

In line with previous years’ findings, UBA finds there are significant regional differences in health plan costs. The Northeast continues to be the region with the highest average annual cost per employee in the country, but Alaska tops the chart with an average annual cost of $12,822 per employee.

“To put that in perspective, that is 27.4 percent above the national average of $9,736 per employee annually,” says Matt Weimer, Director of Strategic Solutions for Diversified Insurance Solutions, a UBA Partner Firm. “In fact, Alaska is 11.1 percent above the fifth highest cost state of Massachusetts, which comes in at $11,468 average per employee annually.”

On the other end of the spectrum, Hawaii has the lowest average annual cost per employee, which is 24.5 percent below the national average at $7,610, finds UBA. Put another way, Alaska’s average annual cost is 51.0 percent higher than Hawaii.

“Hawaii is a state that was on the forefront of managed care and adopted an integrated care model as a strategy to address cost, quality, and access over 40 years ago,” explains Lon Wilson, President & CEO of The Wilson Agency, a UBA Partner Firm in Alaska. “Alaska, on the other hand, has resisted most forms of care management, not the least of which is the carrier’s limited ability to contract with physicians. We are just now beginning to see collaboration between payers, providers, and hospitals, but we are way behind the rest of the country. This, coupled with our small population, geographic size, lack of transportation infrastructure, and cultural diversity, add up to a perfect storm of high cost of care, large variations in quality and access challenges,” says Wilson.

Other states that fare better than the national average, and are among the five best states for health plan costs, include Arkansas, New Mexico, Virginia, and Oklahoma at $7,704, $7,793, $7,858, and $7,915, respectively.

Premiums increased the most for singles in Louisiana (23.5 percent) and California (17.2 percent), and families saw the biggest premium increase (7.6 percent) in South Carolina. Connecticut was the only state to see a modest decrease in single premiums (5.1 percent) and decreases in family premiums were largely nonexistent, according to the survey.

Costs and Contributions by Industry

Total costs per employee for the retail, construction, and hospitality sectors are 8.6 percent to 21.2 percent lower than the average, making employees in these industries among the least expensive to cover. Surprisingly, the finance industry eclipsed the government sector—the perennial leader in the highest costs per employee— and now pays, on average, $11,842 per employee, a 16 percent increase from 2014. Government plans still have the third highest average cost per employee ($11,817), yet employee contributions are 45.2 percent ($2,105) less than the average employee contribution of $3,333.

Health Plan Options

UBA finds that more than half (53.7 percent) of all employers offer one health plan to employees, while 28.7 percent offer two plan options, and 17.6 percent offer three or more options.

“The percentage of employers now offering three or more plans is of particular interest since it represents nearly a 28 percent increase over the past five years,” says McPhearson. “More and more, employers are offering expanded choices to employees either through private exchange solutions or by simply adding high-, medium-, and low-cost options, a trend we believe will continue to increase. Not only do employees get more options, but employers can introduce lower-cost plans that ultimately may attract enrollment and lower their costs.”

Originally published by United Benefit Advisors – Read More

 

2015 UBA Health Plan Survey: Preliminary Findings Are Out! | Ohio Employee Benefits

Categories: Survey
Comments Off on 2015 UBA Health Plan Survey: Preliminary Findings Are Out! | Ohio Employee Benefits

By Bill Olson, Chief Marketing Officer at United Benefit Advisors

UBA’s annual Health Plan Survey, the largest of its kind, provides data on 10,804 employers sponsoring 18,186 health plans. While the full findings will be released soon, preliminary data on average health plan costs, premiums, and contributions is now available.

The average annual health plan cost per employee for all plans in 2015 is $9,736, a 2.4 percent increase from the previous year; employees picked up $3,333 of that cost, while employers covering the balance of $6,403.

2015SurveyResults

The average premium for all employer-sponsored plans was $509 for single coverage and $1,211 for family coverage.

20.6 percent of all plans required no employee contribution for single coverage (a 5.1 percent decrease since 2014), and 7.3 percent required no contribution for family coverage (a 3.9 percent decrease since 2014).

For plans requiring contributions, employees contributed an average of $140 for single coverage and $540 for family coverage, which is only a slight increase from 2014 results – 3.7 percent and 5.5 percent respectively.

Employer Coverage

Among all employers surveyed, more than half (53.7 percent) offer only one health plan choice to employees, with 28.7 percent offering two choices. As far as plan choices, preferred provider organizations (PPOs) continue to dominate the market (46.8 percent of plans offered and 54.8 percent of employees enrolled), and health maintenance organization (HMO) plans continue to decrease, as they’ve done since 2012 when they accounted for 19.1 percent of the market but now account for only 17.3 percent. Consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs) continue to show the greatest increase in growth, up 10 percent from 2012 through 2015.

Most employers (72.5 percent) define full time work as 30 hours per week, and 7.6 percent define it as 40 hours per week. Only 9.9 percent of employers require fewer than 30 hours per week.

Read UBA’s full press release announcing the initial findings.

Pre-order a copy of the 2015 UBA Health Plan Survey Executive Summary which will be published soon with comprehensive data.

Read More …