5 Common Questions Employers Have About Health Insurance

Employer discussing health insurance with their employee in sunny office

Let’s face it: Health care can be a complex topic, and it isn’t getting any simpler. That’s why it’s more important than ever for you to have the information you need to make the right decisions for your business and your employees. Here are five of the most common questions we’re being asked by employers like you.

What drives premium increases?

Health spending continues to surpass wage increases. In fact, from 2011 to 2016 the average health premium for family coverage through an employer went up 20%, while wages only increased 11%.1,2

Here are some of the biggest reasons why premiums seem to be climbing:

  • Faster growth in drug spending
    Fewer branded drugs are coming off patent, so employers have fewer opportunities to encourage their employees to buy lower-cost generics.
  • Chronic diseases
    For employers, per capita health spending on an individual with a complex chronic illness is 8X that of a healthy individual. And 60% of adults have a chronic disease, with 40% having two or more.
  • Increased utilization of mental health services
    With more of a demand for this type of care, insurance companies need to contract with more mental health providers to build out more robust networks – and network builds often come with initially higher costs.

What are the benefits of partnering with a not-for-profit health insurance company?

Along with providing coverage for health care and other medical expenses, not-for-profit health insurers offer unique benefits to their members and communities, including:

  • Keeping a focus on helping members access quality, local, preventative care
  • Reinvestment of premium dollars back into the business to drive improvements and innovations for their members, keep premium costs down, ensure access to health tech solutions and health literacy tools, and improve overall member experience when interacting with the plan
  • Often having a local presence within their communities, supported by a mission-driven, service-minded workforce

“Top-ranking plans in the US carry a not-for-profit status, according to a Consumer Reports analysis of private health insurance plans in the US.” (6)

For 50 years, Harvard Pilgrim has been a leading not-for-profit health services company that’s committed to helping guide members – and the communities we serve – to better health.

Top-ranking plans in the US carry a not-for-profit status, according to a Consumer Reports analysis of private health insurance plans in the US, and 63% of US health plans with over 100,000 enrollees are nonprofit, per the Alliance for Advancing Nonprofit Health Care.

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What is the difference between wellness and well-being?

Tami Ireland, Director of Population Health Improvement at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, explains the difference. “Wellness has been associated with traditional fitness and exercise. And well-being is this bigger notion of your sense of purpose, which is one of the biggest predictors of longevity. It’s about your community, how you’re feeling, financial wellness, and so on. It brings all of those pieces together in a more comprehensive, holistic approach.”

Employer talking to employee at their computer

$300 billion: the annual cost of work-related stress in the US, according to the American Institute of Stress. (7)

$300 billion: the annual cost of work-related stress in the US, according to the American Institute of Stress.

Programs that incorporate physical, emotional, financial, and social elements go beyond the traditional biometrics and walking challenges, helping clients transition to a more encompassing focus of well-being in their workplace.

When companies offer health benefits that support a holistic approach to improving overall well-being, the numbers follow suit (1)

When companies offer health benefits that support a holistic approach to improving overall well-being, the numbers follow suit:

  • Individual productivity rises
    Employees considered to have poor well-being only accomplish 64% of potential work output – a far cry from the 83% accomplished by those considered to have excellent well-being.
  • Team output increases
    When team well-being goes from poor to excellent, work output goes from 61% to 81%.
  • Job satisfaction doubles
    Only 44% of employees with poor well-being say they’re satisfied with their jobs vs. 89% satisfaction from those with excellent well-being.

How can you encourage your employees to consider choosing a high-deductible plan?

High-deductible health plans have become a common element in employers’ health benefit options, with 84% of companies offering them in 2019. However, it can be challenging to encourage employees to select this type of plan, as a recent survey found 42% of those who chose one were dissatisfied with their deductible.3

Here are four steps to help your employees consider a high-deductible plan:

  1. Offer options
    Include plans that have a range of affordable premiums and costs.
  2. Give guidance through the plan selection process
    Plan selection programs such as MyHealthMath, which is offered with some Harvard Pilgrim Health Care plans, can help your employees understand the real cost of their health care – not just their premiums, but their expected. out-of-pocket medical expenses as well.
  3. Provide a financial contribution
    Offer money toward an HSA or an HRA to help offset some of the anticipated out-of-pocket costs associated with a high-deductible health plan.
  4. Educate employees
    Similar to how you educate employees about saving toward a 401(k), talk to your employees about how they can access guidance and support to anticipate and manage the out-of-pocket costs of a high-deductible plan. In addition, communicating the benefits of an HSA – including tax advantages and portability – can also help employees better understand how the account works, and why it might be a smarter choice for them than they initially thought.

How can you encourage your employees to value and utilize all the benefits their health plan offers?

As diversity, equity, and inclusion continue to gain ground, now more than ever employers are focused on creating a robust benefits package – often including unique health benefits — that appeal to the full spectrum of their employees. No surprise, since new research makes it increasingly clear that companies with more diverse workforces perform better financially.

But, when it comes to benefits, maintaining satisfaction among a diverse workforce can be challenging. Employees need to feel that their feedback is considered, and that their personal health journeys are supported. Benefit decision makers can help by:

  • Establishing regular communication and an ongoing feedback loop with the different segments of their employee population
  • Creating choice in the benefit package and the channels to access decision support along the way
  • Identifying those high-value benefits that will appeal to or resonate with certain employee segments, and actively connect them to these benefits and services.10

Learn more about plans, benefits, and new offerings Harvard Pilgrim can provide to meet the unique needs of your employees here: https://www.harvardpilgrim.org/employer/