Employers focused on care delivery to control healthcare costs
- Nearly all (96%) of employers plan to offer telehealth services in states where it is permitted, according to a new survey from the National Business Group on Health.
- The survey also found benefit costs at large U.S. companies will average $14,156 per employee in 2018, up from $13,482 this year. Employee’s share of that cost will be about 30%, or $4,400.
- To control rising costs — expected to rise 5% for the fifth consecutive year — employers are focusing on how care is delivered and paid for.
Key findings from the survey include:
- Twenty-one percent of respondents plan to encourage use of accountable care organizations and another 26% are considering offering them.
- More than half (54%) will offer health centers either on site or nearby.
- Nearly nine in 10 (88%) plan to use centers of excellence for specified procedures like transplants or orthopedic surgery to take advantage of bundled payments and other alternative payment models.
- Close to 40% employ some type of value-based benefit design that rewards employees for managing chronic conditions or seeking more cost-effective care.
“One of the interesting findings from the survey is that employers are focused on enhancing the employee experience,” Brian Marcotte, president and CEO of NBGH said in a statement. “For example, there is a big increase in the number of employers offering decision support, concierge services and tools to help employees navigate the healthcare system.”
According to the survey, 66% of employers will offer medical decision support and second opinion services next year, up from 47% this year, while 36% will offer high-touch concierge services.
Nine in 10 companies said they will offer at least one consumer-directed health plan (CDHP) in 2018. The most popular type of CDHP is a high-deductible health plan paired with a health savings account.
As healthcare costs have continued to rise, employers have shifted more of the costs onto their workers. In 2016, the average deductible for employer-sponsored health plans rose 12%, according to a Kaiser/HRET survey of 1,900 small and large employers. While that has helped to hold down premiums, higher deductibles could cause some individuals to not get care when they need it.
Increasingly, employers are using behavioral economics tactics to improve outcomes while reducing costs. But evidence of their effectiveness has been mixed. One study, for example, showed an incentive valued at $550 did not help workers in a company wellness program reduce their weight. Another study found that people respond more strongly when incentives are framed as losses instead of gains.