- While the majority of employers (76%) are focusing their health benefit strategies on avoiding the 2018 Affordable Care Act excise tax, even more are focusing on increasing employee engagement in health improvement programs (81%) and using preventive services (77%) as priorities for 2016-2017, according to the Midwest Business Group on Health.
- MBGH, in cooperation with other business coalitions, polled 119 national mid- to large-sized employers in a wide variety of industries including manufacturing, financial services/consulting and health care. Employer size varied, though sizes ranging from above 10,000 to below 5,000 were represented.
- Employers continue to see healthcare as a valid and important investment in their human capital, a press release from MBGH noted, but many are still looking for “effective and innovative” ways to reduce their costs.
"To ensure they are getting the most value for their health care dollars, employers are implementing a number of key strategies to manage their company’s health benefits and taking steps to encourage their employees to better manage their health," said Larry Boress, MBGH president and CEO.
Many of these strategies involve utilizing new and vastly improved technology. Telemedicine, for example, is now viewed as a means of "increasing access and reducing unnecessary absences" for employees who require care. It is now a priority for 46% of employers.
Others are looking for innovative ways to save money on existing plans. 54% of employers will offer high deductible plans, for example, but many still believe HMOs and PPOs remain a viable way to support their employees. Additionally, while 81% of companies surveyed will cover same-sex married couples in 2016, only 53% plan to cover domestic partners thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling recognizing same-sex marriages in June.
Others still are seeking ways to sustainably avoid the excise tax. Top strategies employers currently have in place to avoid the excise tax include increasing the availability of wellness programs, adding or expanding incentives for employee wellness programs, and increasing employee cost share.