3 Cost-Cutting Strategies Insurers Can Learn from Employers

Jacqueline Fellows, for HealthLeaders Media , March 13, 2013

A recent survey of large employers (companies with at least 1,000 workers) shows health insurance benefits for its workers is on shaky ground in the long-term.

Towers Watson/National Business Group issued its 18th annual report on health insurance trends among large employers last week. The results are based on the responses of 583 firms that cumulatively employ 11.3 million full-time workers, 8.5 million of which receive health insurance benefits.

The types of industries run the gamut. Thirty-percent of companies responding represented manufacturing; 16% were from financial services; 13% were from healthcare, and 11% represented the IT/telecom industry.

The report states that only 26% of employers are "very confident" their company will provide health benefits in 10 years. Shocked? I was. Five years ago, that percentage was 73%. But confidence in general is lagging among the employers surveyed about what their roles would be in the future because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

For example, last year, when asked about the importance of employer subsidies for health benefits, 71% said it was very important. This year, it's down three percentage points, which isn't much, but only 54% of companies surveyed indicated the same level of value in 3–5 years.

The 40-page report also shows employers continuing to lean on workers for more accountability and cost sharing. Nothing new there; however, this year, the report also focused on companies it deemed "best performers," which are firms that held down the rate of health care cost increases over four years.

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