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As the U.S. economy struggles, value-based health benefit designs and consumer engagement strategies are gaining in popularity. These are among the findings in a nationwide survey of U.S. employers'
views on value-based benefit strategies, announced by the nonprofit Midwest Business Group on Health (MBGH) at its 28th Annual Conference in Chicago in May 2008.
value-based health benefit strategies include providing financial incentives to motivate healthy behavior changes and improving access to proven, clinically beneficial care.
"We've found that employers are shifting their view of health benefits from that of a necessary expense to a critical investment in the health management of their employees," says Larry Boress, president and CEO of MBGH. This includes "a growing trend toward the use of value-based benefit strategies.
"Employers are focusing on preventive care and the use of incentives to get people engaged, as opposed to the cost shifting we've seen in recent years," Boress adds.
The MBGH survey was disseminated to more than 60 business coalitions to distribute to their employer members throughout the country. Surveys were received from 114 employers representing a wide variety of industries. Among respondents, 72 percent have more than 1,000 employees and most were based in the eastern and mid-western United States.
The respondents' key health benefit priorities include:
Among other highlights, the MBGH survey found that:
value-based benefit designs are gaining in popularity, and there is an increasing trend to provide incentives for participation in wellness, disease management and adherence programs. Employers are reducing cost share to employees. For example:
Quality information is still lacking despite its growing importance to employers and consumers. For example:
Employers see value in collecting productivity data, yet few are doing so. For example:
Benefit Design Philosophy
Employers were asked to rate their organizations' self-perception of benefit design philosophy as leading edge (18 percent), careful watcher (63 percent) or conservative (19 percent).
The employers that defined themselves as leading edge shrunk from 21 percent in 2007, while companies that considered themselves careful watchers and conservative grew by 9 and 6 percentage points, respectively.
Stephen Miller is manager of SHRM Online’s
Compensation & Benefits Focus Area.
Value-Based Insurance Design Sparks Increased Interest, SHRM Online Benefits Discipline, February 2009
CDHPs Help To Slow Health Cost Inflation,
SHRM Online Compensation & Benefits Focus Area, April 2008
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