Faced with rising health costs, employers are increasingly seeking out new models of employee coverage to try to reduce spending.
A new survey by Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. based on responses from 3,107 employers finds that more than half reported at a 5 percent increase in employee medical costs this year.
The study anticipates that major changes will take place in the next year as a result of both rising costs and the emergence of new technology and new types of insurance plans.
For instance, while only a quarter of employers currently provide telemedicine services as part of their health plans, the percentage will rise to 42 percent by 2018, the study estimates.
Narrow networks, a controversial concept that has become a staple of plans offered through the Affordable Care Act exchange, are also going to become far more common, finds the study, increasing from 18 percent of employers to 27 percent.
The strategy that has already caught fire and will only continue to heat up is consumer-driven health care plans, which 36 percent of employers already offer. By 2018, just over half will be using consumer-directed health plans, the study projects.
The study found that more than half of employers surveyed believe they have an effective strategy to promote their workers’ health and wellbeing.
Another recent survey by Pacific Resources, a benefit consulting firm, found that only 6 percent of employers have put in place a private exchange platform that allows employees to choose from a number of plans.
In general, the study found that most corporate leaders are confident in how they’re running their businesses. But plenty have doubts.
For instance, 60 percent of employers agreed or strongly agreed that their workers were engaged with their organization, committed to their employer, and generally satisfied with their jobs.
Employers who give less than enthusiastic responses to questions about their employees’ happiness at work might simply be the more realistic ones. Surveys of employees consistently find that most workers are satisfied with their jobs, but not necessarily in love with them.
A Gallup poll last year found that only 32 percent of employees are “engaged” in their jobs. The pollster determined that based on a number of criteria, including whether employees enjoy their work, whether they receive encouragement from colleagues or superiors and whether they have the sense that their opinion in the workplace matters.