Per-Employee Premiums: PPOs Ranked Highest, CDHPs Lowest in Benchmarking Survey

By Andrew Mariotti, SHRM Customized Research Services Nov 16, 2011

As health insurance premiums continue to rise in the U.S., one way that organizations can continue to offer coverage while minimizing costs is to offer a lower-premium plan.

While preferred provider organizations (PPOs) remained the most common plan type offered in fiscal year 2010, at $929 they had the most expensive average monthly premium per covered employee (paid by the employer and/or employee), according to the 2011 SHRM Health Care Benchmarking Survey.

Only 16 percent of organizations in the U.S. offered account-based consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs) in 2010. However CDHPs, which incorporate a health savings account (HSA) or health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) as an incentive for cost-conscious decision-making, had the lowest average monthly premium per covered employee of all plans, and almost two-thirds less than PPO plan premiums, the survey showed.

CDHPs require employees to be knowledgeable about the health care system. Therefore, in order to implement a successful CDHP, good communication about the plan is necessary (see, for example, the SHRM Online article "Communicating CDH Plan Designs").

Average Monthly Premium Per Employee

Number of Respondents


Preferred provider organization (PPO) plans.



Health maintenance organization (HMO) plans.



Point of service (POS) plans.



Indemnity plans.



Exclusive provider organization (EPO) plans.



Consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs).



Source: SHRM Customized Benchmarking Service.
The figures above are for per-employee premiums and do not reflect other cost factors, such as deductibles, co-pays and co-insurance amounts.

The survey, created by the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) Strategic Research Program and reviewed by SHRM's Total Rewards Special Expertise Panel, was fielded in February 2011 to 13,000 randomly selected SHRM members who were HR managers, assistant or associate directors, directors, assistant or associate vice presidents, vice presidents or presidents. Of these, 2,558 senior HR professionals responded on behalf of their organizations, yielding a response rate of 20 percent. The survey was accessible for eight weeks.

Andrew Mariotti is a strategic research analyst at SHRM.

SHRM Customized Benchmarking Service

The SHRM Customized Benchmarking Service uses more than 400 benchmarks and draws on a database of 10,000 organizations. Reports can be customized based on industry, employee size and other factors.

For more information about SHRM Customized Health Care Benchmarking reports, as well as customized reports on Human Capital Benchmarking, Retirement and Welfare Benchmarking, Employee Benefits Prevalence Benchmarking, and Job Satisfaction and Employee Engagement Benchmarking, visit

Related Articles:

Employers Accelerate Efforts to Control Health Costs, SHRM Online Benefits Discipline, November 2011

Promoting Health Care Consumerism: A Multifaceted Approach, SHRM Online Benefits Discipline, November 2011

Health Benefit Costs Vary Widely by Industry, SHRM Benchmarking Shows, SHRM Online Benefits Discipline, November 2011

HSAs Viewed as Cost-Saving Option by Employers and Account Holders, SHRM Online Benefits Discipline, November 2011

Costs of Employer Health Plans Vary Widely by State, SHRM Online Benefits Discipline, October 2011

Per Employee Health Coverage to Cross $10,000 Threshold, SHRM Online Benefits Discipline, October 2011

Average Family Health Premiums Top $15,000 in 2011, SHRM Online Benefits Discipline, September 2011

Large U.S. Employers Revamping Health Benefits for 2012, SHRMOnline Benefits Discipline, August 2011

Consumer-Driven Decision: Weighing HSAs vs. HRAs, SHRMOnline Benefits Discipline, May 2011

Future Bright for Health Savings Accounts, Says Policy Analyst, SHRM Online Benefits Discipline, September 2010

Communicating CDH Plan Designs, SHRM Online Benefits Discipline, March 2006

Quick Links:

SHRM Online Benefits Discipline

SHRM Online Health Care Reform Resource Page

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