- The education, healthcare, manufacturing and retail industries took on greater shares in the cost of premiums for high deductible healthcare plans (HDHPs), according to a new Benefitfocus survey. The 2017 State of Employee Benefits – Industry Edition polled 260 employers on healthcare plan offerings and employee choice and participation.
- Education employers increased their HDP offerings by 100%, from 22% to 44%, according to survey results. In the health industry, employees’ premiums for HDHPs and preferred provider organizations (PPOs) rose by 19% and 17%, respectively. Manufacturing firms (61%) lead in the offering of HDHPs. In retail, employee participation in HDHPs increased 30% from 2016.
- The survey also polled employers on healthcare cost-savings. With manufacturing employer premiums up by 11% compared to employee premiums dropping by 9%, it seems costs may have been pushed around rather than completely eased.
The study points out that the shift to higher out-of-pocket costs might be an unexpected change for employees. As employees add HDHPs to their offerings, A Crack in the Foundation, a Guardian Workplace Benefits Study, shows that these high-end plans can be stressful for employees by requiring more education and direction by employers.
While HSA adoption alongside HDHPs continues to grow, not all employees fully understand them, another barrier for employers trying to adopt this method. And while other studies have found that employees over 35 and high-earning employees in general have chosen HDHPs, the common wisdom that they will save employees on cost may not fully pan out if premiums continue to increase.
Plan design will only go so far in today's healthcare market. To fully curb continuously climbing costs — and avoid the wrath of the Cadillac tax, still very much alive — employers and the healthcare industry are going to have to join forces to reconsider care models and funding techniques to keep the employer-provided benefit model affordable for all.