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A recent study released by PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute imparted less-than-shocking news: employers have become less satisfied with their health insurers. In part due to the poor economic climate, employers of all sizes are taking a critical look at their health benefits strategy and the value they derive from it. What makes this study particularly interesting is that while many studies examine how employees view their employer-sponsored benefits, the question of how employers view their health insurance carriers and what they want from them is seldom asked.
The survey of both large and small companies found declining satisfaction with insurers, with the drop specifically attributable to large employers. Among large employers (an average of 11,000 employees), overall satisfaction dropped from 64% in 2008 to 59% in 2009. Smaller employers (200 or fewer employees) exhibited even less satisfaction -- about seven percentage points lower than large companies -- but that number held steady between 2008 and 2009.
According to the study, claims processing, administrative fees and provider discounts remain the most important service offerings for all employers. However, among large employers, wellness programs surpassed provider discounts as the more important offering. Notably, employers want their health plan to devise strategies to help reduce waste in healthcare spending and better engage employees in managing their health. Focusing on wellness initiatives, the study found that 71% of the employers surveyed now offer wellness programs and 67% offer disease management programs. The study also found that companies that offer such programs are frustrated with the low level of employee participation, which continues to hover around 50%. The employers surveyed related that simple financial incentives (such as cash, gift cards and annual premium savings) are no longer working to engage employees.
For additional information on the study’s findings, please see articles from the American Medical News.
This entry was written by Gregory C. Keating.