Posts Tagged ‘healthcare plans’

Spousal Health Coverage Costs Continue To Rise

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Guest blog from Joy Binkley who serves as Principal, Health & Welfare Consultant for CAI’s employee benefits partner Hill, Chesson & Woody.

Spousal Health CoverageThe cost of health insurance continues to rise, but the cost of covering one’s spouse is looking to be quite expensive for those spouses that waive their own employer-sponsored benefits. According to a recent survey of U.S. employers, the use of spousal surcharges is expected to double by 2018, from 27% to 56%. The average spousal surcharge is $1,200 per year, which is tacked on the previously determined payroll deduction.

The surcharge is going on top of the fact that employers are just asking employees to pay more to cover spouses and dependent children. More than half (56%) of employers are increasing payroll deductions for spouses, while just under half (46%) are increasing the cost to cover children. This is a trend we are seeing here in North Carolina as well. The most recent CAI 2015-2016 North Carolina Benefit and Cost Survey shows the average medical cost increasing for family rates going up 6.2% versus the previous survey’s increase of 4.4%. Employers are consistently asking employees to pay roughly the same portion as last year, which is 47% of the total premium cost.

Employers are continuing to focus on ways to impact healthcare cost. Besides asking those to pay more that are waiving their own employer plans, some are considering dropping spouses all together. The elimination of spousal health coverage is permitted under the Affordable Care Act criteria. The rational to drop coverage entirely can depend on the underlying benefit strategy. Some employers are dropping coverage due to low (or no current) participation on their plans, therefore eliminating coverage just entitles those that may be subsidy eligible to earn those governmental credits. Other may be considering it due to a financial hardship. Regardless, of the reason the current landscape is quickly changing for spousal health coverage.

Look back on the trends in spousal health coverage in 2014 and 2015, and see how the numbers have changed over the past couple of years.

Survey Reveals NC Employers Are Finding Strategies to Contain Healthcare Costs in 2015 and Beyond

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

The results of the 2014/2015 NC Healthcare Benefits & Cost Survey are officially in! Serving as the premier health plan benchmark survey for companies in North Carolina, employers in the state can use the data to help manage their employee benefits plan and see what other companies of similar size or industry are doing.

More than 600 organizations from across the state of North Carolina participated in this year’s survey. The majority of participating organizations are located in the Research Triangle region.

Here are some highlights from this year’s survey results:

  • employer individual contributionThe number of employers who provided data for a traditional plan only is 405. The number of employers who provided data for consumer driven health plans is 85. The number of employers that provided both traditional and consumer driven health plans is 144.
  • Seventy-two percent of employers are fully insured, 25.9 percent are self-funded and 1.9 percent of employers report other funding arrangements.
  • Employers with traditional plans reported an average original premium increase of 11.1 percent and an average final premium increase of 5.8 percent. Those with consumer driven health plans saw an initial increase of 10.1 percent and an average final premium increase of 5.6 percent.
  • employer family contributionUnder traditional plans, the average monthly healthcare premium for a family is $1,458.56 and for a single individual is $498.75. On average, employers cover 81 percent and 54 percent of individual and family premiums respectively.
  • To better understand what local employers are doing to navigate the rapidly changing healthcare landscape, the survey asked participants about their top three healthcare cost containment strategies that are currently being implemented or will be put in place. Fifty-eight percent of the 634 unique organizations participating provided an applicable response. The three most popular cost containment strategies include:
  1. All things wellness: encouraging wellness and a healthy lifestyle, establishing formal and informal wellness programs, health education and coaching, providing smoking cessation, etc.
  2. Plan Redesign: taking a close look at their plans and dissecting them, figuring out what is needed and what is not, shopping around for the best deal, opting for leaner plans, increasing the deductible and copays, etc.
  3. Healthcare Consumer Education: teaching employees about health plans and proper utilization, encouraging preventative/annual exams, discouraging emergency room visits or opting for urgent care first, etc.

Most benchmark surveys out today are based on national data with regional breakouts. Our 2014/2015 NC Healthcare Benefits & Cost Survey is unique in that CAI collects data specifically from North Carolina employers for use by North Carolina employers. The information found in this year’s survey results can help you see how your benefit plan design and premium costs compare to other local companies.

The NC Healthcare Benefits & Cost Survey is conducted annually by CAI, with design assistance provided by Hill, Chesson & Woody (HCW). The Employers Association (TEA) of Charlotte, North Carolina co-sponsored the 2014/2015 survey.  For more information on this survey and how to participate in our other surveys, please visit our survey page here.