Nation’s Largest Health Plan Survey Cites Key Trends in Employer Health Plans

Updated on September 18, 2012

Health care costs will continue to increase for both plan sponsors and their employees, according to Cowden Associates, Inc. a Member Firm of United Benefit Advisors (UBA), the nation’s largest independent benefits advisory organization. Preliminary results released by UBA from its 2012 UBA Health Plan Survey, the nation’s largest health plan survey with 17,905 plans from 11,711 employers ‐‐ and the only one of its kind to offer local benefits benchmarking capabilities ‐‐ show some startling trends in employer health plans.

Cowden Associates, Inc. can provide employers with a benchmarking report for their region, industry and size. This can assist businesses to determine which types of plans are most popular in their area, which plans are being phased out, average employee costs and participation, and hundreds of thousands more pieces of highly relevant information that can help them negotiate their rates and communicate their plan advantages to employees.

One trend that stands out in this year’s survey shows that consumer driven health plans (CDHPs) in the U.S. experienced a decline in the percentage of plans offered for the first time since 2007. CDHP growth stagnation is a critical trend that businesses should consider when making health plan purchasing decisions. Though CDHPs are popular in some regions of the country (particularly the Northeast), the 2012 Health Plan Survey’s closer look at why some areas have a high occurrence of CDHPs, along with surprising findings on the lack of savings with CDHPs, arms employers with key data that will assist them in making decisions on offering CDHPs or altering plan designs.

Other key national statistics from this year’s Survey results:

  • The average renewal for all plan types increased by 5 percent
  • PPO plans have nearly two‐thirds of all enrolled employees (61.7 percent)
  • The average monthly employee contribution for plans with contributions for all plan types is $126 for single and $494 for family
  • The average employer contribution to a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) was down from 2011 for a single employee and up for a family. Employer health savings account (HSA) contributions continued to decline
  • Four‐fifths of all wellness plans (81 percent) offered a health risk assessment
  • As a direct result of PPACA changes, 91.7 percent of all plans now offer an unlimited lifetime maximum benefit compared with 81.3 percent in 2011 and just 16.1 percent in 2010
  • Less than half (48.0 percent) of all covered employees elected to cover their dependents, a decline of 1.9 percent

As health care plan offerings and the federal regulatory environment become more complex, benchmarking data such as the 2012 UBA Health Plan Survey have become increasingly critical for employers looking to manage their health care benefit programs effectively.

“The intent of the survey is to provide employers of all sizes with the data they need to manage their health care benefit programs effectively,” says Elliot Dinkin, President/CEO of Cowden Associates, Inc. “Large employers will find the United Benefit Advisors (UBA) Health Plan Survey provides more participants and data in their category than other industry survey. For employers with fewer than 1,000 employees (which represents more than 99 percent of the employers in the U.S.) and for employers who have operations in multiple locations, this survey is the only source of reliable regional – and in many cases, state – health plan benchmarks by size and industry.”

With more Member Firms located in virtually all U S markets, UBA uniquely provides employers of all sizes the data they need to remain competitive in their local markets. The 2012 UBA Health Plan Survey will not be available to the public until Nov. 1. Employers can get inside access to the hundreds of thousands of pages of granular state, regional and industry data through a benchmarking report by contacting Cowden Associates, Inc.

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