Originally posted September 5, 2013 by Matt Dunning on http://www.businessinsurance.com
Employees at mid-market companies paid less for their employer-sponsored health benefits this year than they did last year, according to a survey by Indianapolis-based United Benefits Advisors Inc.
Employees at mid-market companies — defined in the survey as companies with 200-999 full-time employees — on average continued to pay a higher percentage of the total cost of their group health plan than their counterparts at firms with 1,000 or more employees, concludes UBA’s “2013 Health Plan Survey,” released last week.
However, mid-market companies’ employees saw the average dollar value of their contributions to their health benefit plans’ total costs decrease 7.3% for the current plan year — to $2,766 per-employee from $2,983 — compared with the 1.4% increase in the average dollar value of contributions made by employees at larger firms.
On average, mid-market employers shifted 3.2% of the total per-employee health benefit plan costs back onto themselves, whereas larger employers took on an additional 1% of per-employee health plan costs.
“This is the first year in my 22-year career in the industry that employers took back some of the premiums they were asking employees to pay, a good indication they are looking to attract and retain top talent as the economy picks up,” Thom Mangan, CEO of United Benefits Advisors, said Thursday in a statement.
Overall, the average midsize employer saw total per-employee health plan costs increase 3.6% to $9,960 in 2013 from $9,611 in 2012, which was roughly in line with the 3.8% increase in average per-employee health plan costs reported by the total survey respondent pool of 10,551 employers.
Comparatively, larger employers reported a 6.1% increase in average per-employee plan costs.
Among midsize companies, the year-over-year increase in plan costs was highest for employers with 500-999 full-time workers, with a 5.2% increase over 2012, while employers with 100-199 workers reported an average increase of just 1.2%.
Plan structures differ
The rate of plan cost increases among the various segments of employers may be partially explained by their respective benefit plan structures.
Though UBA’s survey made no correlative link between the year-over-year increases in employers’ average plan costs and the primary types of health benefit plans they offer, nearly 25% of employers with 100-199 employees reported that they had adopted a consumer-driven health care plan, more than any other employer segment outlined in the survey.
Conversely, less than 16% of employers with 500-999 workers — the mid-market segment with the highest year-over-year percentage increases in their average per-employee plan costs — had implemented a CDHP as their primary group health benefit plan in 2013, while nearly 67% of those employers were still offering a more traditional preferred provider organization as the primary group health plan.