10 Health-Care Plan Questions Employers Must Be Prepared to Answer

Sept. 23, 2016
With healthcare complexity increasing, employers must offer more advice, education and decision support tools to help employees choose the right insurance plan.

This gallery is based on the findings of the Willis Towers Watson 21st annual Best Practices in Health Care survey, which provides a clear picture of the benefits changes employers are planning as they head into the fall open enrollment period for the plan year 2017. The survey queried more than 600 employers across all industries and was fielded in June and July of 2016. We bolstered the survey results with observations based on conversations with our employer clients. This year, as always, most of the planned changes are driven by a balance of needs: managing rising health care costs while optimizing quality and health outcomes for employees.

According to the survey, employers across all industries, and specifically in the manufacturing sector, expect health care costs to increase an average 5.0%* in 2017. While the expected cost increase is in line with historical lows, it’s still more than double the rate of inflation. Of note, employers in the manufacturing sector reported they will make changes to coverage for expensive medical procedures, prescription drugs, and spouse and dependent coverage. They also will encourage employees to use treatment settings and service providers that deliver higher-quality health care at lower cost.

* Projected cost increases in 2017 are actual costs (not actuarial equivalent rates) are after plan changes; projected increases without plan changes across all industries are 6.0%; in the manufacturing sector, expected cost increases are 5.1%.

Randall K. Abbott is a senior strategist and a North American Leader in the Health and Benefits practice of Willis Towers Watson. He has consulted to many of the nation’s largest employers on benefits strategy and design within the broader total rewards construct.

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