Consumer-driven health plans are increasingly helping control costs at companies that provide employee health insurance.
A wide-ranging SHRM study, Strategic Benefits—Health Care Survey, found that 19 percent of respondents that offer employee coverage said consumer-driven plans were the most effective means of controlling the rising cost of health coverage. These plans include features like health reimbursement arrangements and health savings accounts.
Other methods cited that contributed to cost control: increasing the employee share of cost (17 percent) and offering a range of PPO plans (16 percent).
SHRM asked these insurance providers whether they were “very concerned” about controlling their employee medical costs, and 79 percent said they were. That's not surprising, since SHRM found that the percent of those experiencing cost increases continues to hover between 69 percent and 74 percent.
Half of those surveyed said they increased employee contributions in 2014, and a quarter said they would do so this year.
Companies are also getting more aggressive about educating their workers about health care and health insurance: 56 percent said they had adopted health and wellness educational initiatives. Meantime, the more straightforward cost measure of directing workers to generic prescription drugs was in place at 48 percent of companies in the survey.
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SHRM cautioned that employers who become too fixated on cost shifting and other means to control plan costs that add to the employee burden could put themselves at a competitive disadvantage.
“A growing number of employers are asking employees to contribute a larger percentage of their health care costs,” said Evren Esen, director of SHRM’s survey programs. “But it is important that employers fully assess the potential impact of such a change, especially in today’s improved job market. Shifting health care costs to employees can lower employee job satisfaction and pose a barrier for attracting new talent.”