August 8, 2017
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With costs continuing to rise, employers shifting control efforts to how health care is delivered and paid for
WASHINGTON, August 8, 2017 – Faced with another 5% increase in health care benefit costs, a growing number of large U.S. employers plan to focus more on how health care is delivered and paid for while still pursuing traditional methods of controlling costs such as cost sharing and plan design changes, according to an annual survey by the National Business Group on Health. As a result, more employees will have access to broader health care services including telemedicine, Centers of Excellence and onsite health centers during open enrollment while not experiencing major increases in their costs.
The Large Employers' 2018 Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey found employers project the total cost of providing medical and pharmacy benefits to rise 5% for the fifth consecutive year in 2018. Including premiums and out-of-pocket costs for employees and dependents, the total cost of health care is estimated to be $13,482 per employee this year, and projected to rise to an average of $14,156 in 2018. Employers will cover nearly 70% of those costs while employees will bear about 30%, or nearly $4,400 in 2018. For the second consecutive year, employers ranked specialty pharmacy (26%) as the top driver. Eight in ten employers ranked it among the top three cost drivers. Specialty pharmacy costs are likely to remain a top concern as new high-priced drugs come on the market.
"Employers are recognizing that traditional cost control techniques alone aren't able to reduce costs to the point where they are no longer a drain on the bottom line," said Brian Marcotte, president and CEO of the National Business Group on Health. "While employers continue to address costs through health care management and plan design efforts, they are also ramping up efforts to positively affect the supply side of the health care system by pursuing health care payment and delivery reform initiatives."
According to the survey, an increasing number of employers plan to adopt the following strategies:
"One of the most interesting findings from the survey is that employers are focused on enhancing the employee experience. For example, there is a big increase in the number of employers offering decision support, concierge services and tools to help employees navigate the health care system. The complexity of the system and proliferation of new entrants has made it difficult for employees to fully understand their benefit programs, treatment options and where to go for care," said Marcotte.
According to the survey, 66% of companies will offer medical decision support and second opinion services in 2018, an increase of 47% from this year. Additionally, the number of companies offering high-touch concierge services will jump from 28% this year to 36% in 2018.
Among other survey findings:
"As employers look ahead, we expect them to increasingly focus on value purchasing opportunities within the delivery system and improving the experience for health care consumers. Finding solutions to the growing challenge of skyrocketing specialty pharmacy costs will also remain a top priority," said Marcotte.
About the Survey
The Large Employers' 2018 Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey was conducted between May and June 2017. A total of 148 large employers participated in the survey. Collectively, respondents represent a wide range of industry sectors and offer coverage to more than 15 million employees and their dependents. Two-thirds of respondents belong to the Fortune 500 and/or the Global Fortune 500, and 42 belong to the Fortune 100.
About the National Business Group on Health®
The National Business Group on Health is the nation's only non-profit organization devoted exclusively to representing large employers' perspective on national health policy issues and helping companies optimize business performance through health improvement, innovation and health care management. The Business Group's mission is to keep its membership on the leading edge of innovation, thinking and action to address health care cost and the delivery, financing, affordability and consumer experience with the health care system. Business Group members, which include 73 Fortune 100 companies, provide health coverage for more than 50 million U.S. workers, retirees and their families. For more information, visit www.businessgrouphealth.org.