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Entries in Employers (23)

Friday
Jun212019

Ten Takeaways From PwC’s Medical Cost Trend Behind The Numbers 2020

By Clive Riddle, June 21, 2019 

PwC's Health Research Institute has just released their 14th annual report on medical cost trends: Medical cost trend: Behind the numbers 2020, which projects the 2020 trend to be a six percent cost increase. As PwC's HRI describes their 47-page report, they project "the growth of private medical costs in the coming year and identifies the leading trend drivers.... based on the best available information through June 2019. HRI conducted 55 interviews from February through June 2019 with health industry executives, health benefits experts and health plan actuaries whose companies cover more than 95 million employer sponsored large group members about their estimates for 2020 and the factors driving those trends. Also included are findings from PwC’s 2019 Health and Well-being Touchstone Survey of more than 550 employers from 37 industries as well as PwC HRI’s national consumer survey of 2,500 US adults."

Here’s Ten Takeaways from their 2020 report: 

  1. Small Uptick: The Medical Cost trend, still rounding to double digits in 2007 (11.9%) and 2008 (9.9%), trended downwards subsequently, to round to six percent since 2016 (6.2%), but have ticked up since the low-water mark of 5.5% in 2017 (and 5.7% in 2018-2019.)
  2. Price, Not Utilization: “Prices have been a larger component of employer benefit costs than utilization since 2004; utilization has hovered around zero percent growth since 2006. Utilization by individuals with employer-based insurance decreased by 0.2 percent from 2013 to 2017 while prices rose 17 percent during that time.”
  3. Impact of High Deductibles: “Average deductibles for employer-sponsored plans tripled between 2008 and 2018. This increase likely has led to a low utilization trend because employees are delaying or forgoing care due to their deductible.”
  4. Stall in HDHP Growth: “The shift to HDHPs by employers seems to have stalled. With 84 percent of employers offering an HDHP option in 2019 and a tight labor market, employers may not be as quick to push HDHPs in 2020.
  5. Acceleration in Retail Rx Spending: “Starting in 2020, retail prescription drug spending growth for private health insurance will begin to increase, hitting between 3 percent and 6 percent annually through 2027.24 The growth in spending can be attributed to the waning impact of generics on the market and the introduction of new drugs.”
  6. Specialty Drug Million Dollar Drugs Pipeline: The portion of total retail drug spending on specialty drugs continues to grow. “We are at an inflection point with drugs in the pipeline. We thought hep C was expensive at nearly $100,000 per treatment. Many drugs in the pipeline are life-altering and come with a price tag of $1 million to $2 million per treatment.”
  7. Growth in Chronic Disease Spending: "Spending by employers on individuals with chronic diseases is nearly quadruple [3.5x] that of healthy individuals while spending on individuals with complex chronic diseases is eight times higher" [8.2x].
  8. Growth in Onsite Clinics: “38 percent of large employers offered an onsite health clinic in 2019, up from the 27 percent that offered a clinic in 2014. An additional 13 percent said they were considering adding one.”
  9. Telehealth Potential: “49 percent of consumers with employer coverage said they are willing to use telehealth in place of an in-person visit.”
  10. Underutilized Wellness and Prevention programs: “For decades, employers have invested in health and wellness and prevention, yet participation remains low.....The small population of employees who participate in their employers’ health and wellness programs generally believe the programs have had a positive impact on their health.”

 

Friday
Feb092018

Employees Feel Their Own Health Plan is Better Than Most Others

Employees Feel Their Own Health Plan is Better Than Most Others
 

By Clive Riddle, February 9, 2018

Surveys have consistently shown over the years that the public generally ranks Congress low in esteem, but their personal Congressman is held in higher regard. Health Plans, like Congress, have been a favorite target as well, but similarly – people tend to like their personal coverage more than how they view health plans overall.

AHIP has just released a 42-page report of findings from their national survey “The Value of Employer Provided Coverage” that not only reinforces this phenomenon – in which respondents rank their own plan higher than their overall view how health care is covered, but also makes the case that consumers place employer provided coverage in higher regard than the nation’s health coverage system as a whole. On top of that, there is perhaps less angst about the nation’s health insurance system overall than one might have thought.

63% were satisfied with the nation's current health insurance system, and 31% were dissatisfied. 71% were satisfied with their own health plan, and 19% were dissatisfied. 60% felt their personal cost was reasonable and 29% felt the cost was unreasonable, while 66% felt the cost was unreasonable for Americans as a whole. 52% described their deductible as reasonable, while 36% said it was unreasonable. However, for those dissatisfied with their plans, 82% cited costs as the main reason.

72% say they are adequately informed about health insurance benefits under their plan, yet only 20% understand that employers average paying above 75% of the total costs.

In other findings from the survey:

·         71% remain concerned the cost of health care will continue to rise

·         56% prioritize comprehensive benefits while 41% prioritize affordability of plans.

·         46%said health insurance was a deciding factor in choosing their current job

·         56% support keeping employer provided coverage tax free, and 13% oppose

·         58% prefer increased market competition while 42% support increased government involvement to address costs

·         Prescription drug coverage (51%), preventive care (47%), and emergency care (47%) rank among the benefits that matter most.

 
Friday
Aug112017

Employer Surveys Project 2018 Cost Increases in the Five Percent Range

Employer Surveys Project 2018 Cost Increases in the Five Percent Range
 

by Clive Riddle, August 11, 2017

 

The National Business Group on Health has released results from their Large Employers’ 2018 Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey, which projects the total employer cost of providing medical and pharmacy benefits to rise 5% for the fifth consecutive year in 2018. The total cost of health care is estimated to be $13,482 per employee in 2017, and is projected to increase to $14,156 in 2018, with employers funding 70% of these costs. What is driving cost increases? The most often listed top driver was specialty pharmacy (26%) and 80% of employers ranked this among the top three cost drivers.

 

Similarly, last week Willis Towers Watson released preliminary findings from their 22nd annual Best Practices in Health Care Employer Survey, which found that "Employers expect health care costs to increase by 5.5%* in 2018, up from a 4.6% increase in 2017."

 

The NBGH 2018 survey also produced this grab-bag of interesting employer survey responses regarding health benefit strategies, regarding telehealth, onsite care, value based care, and CDHP:

 

·         96% will make telehealth services available in states where it is allowed next year

·         56% plan to offer telehealth for behavioral health services

·         20% of employers are experiencing employee telehealth utilization rates of 8% or higher

·         21%s plan to promote ACOs in 2018, and another 26% are considering offering them       

·         54% will offer onsite or near site health centers in 2018        

·         88% expect to use Centers of Excellence in 2018 for certain procedures        

·         40% of employers have incorporated some type of value-based benefit design

·         18% will use value-based benefit design to steer employees toward telehealth in 2018 (16% in 2017)

·         66% of companies will offer medical decision support and second opinion services in 2018

·         90% will offer at least one Consumer Directed Health Plan (CDHP) in 2018.

·         40% of employers will offer a CDHP as the only plan option in 2018, compared with 35% this year

·         28% pair a HDHP with a Health Reimbursement Arrangement
 

 
Friday
Jul212017

State Employee Benefit Plans Provide Insight Into Overall Group Benefit Trends

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By Clive Riddle, July 20, 2017

 

The Summer 2017 edition of Data, Segal Consulting’s publication providing research findings on public sector employee benefits, presents findings from their 2017 State Employee Health Benefits Study. As states are one of the largest employers, and their benefit decision making is directly impacted by policy makers, monitoring the pulse of state employee benefit plans provides insight into benefit trends for group coverage as a whole.

 

Andrew Sherman, Segal’s National Director of Public Sector Consulting, tells us “health benefits have become more important to state leaders as the cost of coverage outpaces overall inflation, placing budget pressure on health plan funding and underscoring the need for ongoing cost-management efforts. Examining what other states offer can be helpful for these leaders when they make difficult decisions about potential changes in coverage.”

 

The 23-page issue exclusively presents their study which involved a review of the websites for all 50 states and the District of Columbia in the fourth quarter of 2016, capturing medical, prescription drug, vision and dental plan information, as well as wellness and tobacco-cessation programs, including 105 PPOs/POS plans, 83 HDHPs/CDHPs, 149 HMOs/EPOs and five indemnity plans.

 

One insight from the study was “there are stark geographic discrepancies to where it is offered. According to the study, 13 Southern States offer HDHP/CDHPs, compared to just two in the Northeast. They are offered in eight states in the Midwest and seven in the West.” This equates to 22% of the states in the Northeast, 76% in the South, 67% in the Midwest and 54% in the West offering consumer driven plans.

 

Single premium increases averaged 8% for HMO/EPO plans, 10% for PPO/POS plans and 14% for HDHP/CDHP plans. The average single monthly premium was $780 for HMO/EPO plans, $713 for PPO/POS plans and $563 for HDHP/CDHP plans. Single deductibles averaged $194 for HMO/EPO plans, $483 for PPO/POS plans and $1,997 for HDHP/CDHP plans.

 

For the prescription benefit, single copayments averaged $9 for generic, $29 for brand formulary, $53 for brand non-formulary, and $101 for specialty drugs.

 
Friday
Jun162017

A Dozen Takeaways From PwC’s Medical Cost Trend: Behind the Numbers 2018 Report

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By Clive Riddle, June 16, 2017

 

PwC’s Health Research Institute has released Medical Cost Trend: Behind the Numbers 2018, their twelfth annual report projecting the growth of private sector medical costs in the coming year and identifying the leading trend drivers. The findings are largely based upon PwC’s annual Health & Well-being Touchstone Survey results, which draws from responses of 780 employers from 37 industries, and have also just been released.

 

Here’s a dozen takeaways from this year’s 32 page Behind the Numbers report, and 114 page Touchstone Survey report:

 

1.       PwC’s HRI projects a 6.5 percent growth rate for next year, a half percentage point increase from the estimated 2017 rate.
 

2.       This growth rates steadily decreased from 11.9% in 2007 to 6.5% in 2014, and has fluctuated slighly above or below that figure since then
 

3.       PwCs provides this definition of their projected medical cost trend: the “increase in per capita costs of medical services that affect commercial insurers and large, self-insured businesses. Insurance companies use the projection to calculate health plan premiums for the coming year.”
 

4.       PwC's HRI has identified three major inflators expected to impact medical cost trend in the coming year: (A) Rising general inflation impacts healthcare. As the U.S. economy heats up, a rise in general inflation during 2016 and 2017 will likely put upward pressure on wages, medical prices and overall cost trend in 2018; (B) Movement to high-deductible health plans is losing steam. The wave of growth in high-deductible health plans, employers' go-to strategy in recent years to curb health spending, may be plateauing; and  (C) Fewer branded drugs are coming off patent. Employers may have less opportunity to encourage employees to buy cost-saving generics in 2018.
 

5.       PwC's HRI has identified two major deflators expected to impact medical cost trend in the coming year: (A) Political and public scrutiny puts pressure on drug companies. Heightened political and public attention could encourage drug companies to moderate price increases; and (B) Employers are targeting the right people with the right treatments to minimize waste. They are doubling down on tactics such as prescription quantity limits and exploring new technologies such as artificial intelligence to match people with the best treatment.
 

6.       The report also cites these healthcare drivers affecting the 2018 cost trend:  Technology and treatment innovation: Provider and Plan Consolidation; Government regulation; and Evolving Payment models.
 

7.       The report allocated these proportions of costs by component for 2018: Pharmacy 18%; Inpatient 30%; Outpatient 19%; Physician 29%; Other 4%
 

8.       The Touchstone Survey cites that “Medical plan costs have continued to increase, but employers expect that the rate of increase will start to slow. Plan design changes contributed towards slightly lower-than-expected increases in 2016;” and that “the average increase in 2016 was 6.8% before plan design changes and 3.6% after plan design changes. In 2017, participants expect to see a 6.0% increase before plan design changes and a 3.2% increase after plan design changes.”
 

9.       The Touchstone Survey notes that “participants appear to be in a "wait and see" mode – rather than considering broader and more transformational changes, they continue to use traditional cost-shifting approaches to control health spend;” and that “57% of participants expect to continue to increase employee contributions in the next three years, while 38% (29% for Rx) plan to increase employee cost-sharing through plan design changes.”
 

10.   The Touchstone Survey finds that “participants are increasing contributions in the form of surcharges for spouse, domestic partner and dependent coverage. This may be contributing towards a decrease in enrolled family size and slowing the rise in net employer spend.”
 

11.   The Touchstone Survey also finds that “participants are utilizing High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) more and Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs) less, although PPOs remain more popular among employees. PPOs are the highest-enrolled plan 44% of the time, compared to 46% in 2016 and 60% in 2009. HDHPs are the highest-enrolled plan 34% of the time, up from 32% in 2016 and 8% in 2009.”
 

12.   The Touchtone Survey found that employer interest in population health is strong but private exchange interest is waning. They report that “79% offer wellness programs compared to 76% in 2016, and 63% offer DM programs compared to 56% in 2016;” while  “8% of participants are considering moving their active employees to a private exchange; 2% have already done so. Interest seems to have dropped off as the discussions on public exchanges and ACA have increased. However, 36% of participants who offer retiree medical coverage are considering moving pre-65 retirees to a private or public exchange.”