According to a recent survey by Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) employers are inadvertently contributing to financial stress for their workers and dependents as they struggle to afford to offer health benefits.
But I see a more important takeaway from EBRI’s findings.:
Today, most employers are left with few options to keep health benefits even moderately affordable. Typical advisors employ a tired, old playbook that is received poorly by workers and their dependents, the victims of most cost containment strategies:
a) increasing worker and dependent share of the price deducted from their paychecks; and
b) reducing the health plan coverages; specifically, imposing higher-deductibles, narrower choice of physicians, hospitals and prescriptions, and more hurdles before care can be obtained
This is confirmed by researchers at EBRI that examined data from their recent Workplace Benefits Survey, which reports on many health care issues and also workers’ experience with health and benefits.
Looking at data from 2014-2017, EBRI found that an average of 50% of workers with large and mid-sized companies still experienced increases in Premium Sharing in each of those three most recent years, a compounding impact financially on those working families.
Similarly, a recent Peterson-Kaiser Health Care System Tracker study shows the striking 10 year increases in Worker Deductibles and Co-Insurances compared to health benefit coverage and wages:
Most interesting is how workers seem to respond to the increasing share of costs. While perhaps stressful initially, the resulting consumer engagement seems to be stimulating productive decision making. And the result may well be an improvement in overall cost of care and stress over time for workers, and therefore can be a very important lesson for employers:
Specifically, the EBRI reported in 2017 that workers intended to respond in productive ways:
– 68% will try to take better care of themselves
– 83% will choose generic drugs more often
– 56% will talk to the doctor more about treatment options and costs
– 34% will look for less expensive health care providers
– 33% will not skip doses of prescribed medication
– 32% will look for less expensive health insurance options
Perhaps reluctant at first, this is clearly the kind of consumer engagement that is necessary to get control of this otherwise out-of-control system.
Hixme offers a great solution
Programs like Hixme, which offer far greater options for workers and separately for each dependent allowing “right-fitting” by family member, are perfect for this rapidly emerging environment.
Cost pressures on employers are clearly motivating workers and dependents to become more prudent consumers – if they are given enough personal latitude, something Hixme uniquely provides with 2,500 options across 170 insurers nationally.
And because of the unique Hixme safety net coverage embedded in each Hixme Health Bundle™, each worker and each dependent choice assures far less worry about any unexpected health care need.
For more information visit us: hixme.com, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.
ABOUT THE HIXME THINK BLOG: Authored by one of the gurus of health insurance, Denny Weinberg, postings reflect market trends and the powerful emerging movements toward true portability and personal ownership by workers and their families. Postings follow these emerging trends, driven by consumer ownership of retirement benefits, consolidations by health care institutions, and the stated pro-consumerism goals and actions of the administration, federal agencies and Congress.