The survey was conducted in February 2011 through the joint effort of more than 140 of the nation's premier independent advisory firms who comprise UBA. Member Firms invited clients and area employers to complete the web-based survey. The resulting database contains the responses of these 1,280 employers.
The array of respondents were targeted to mirror the actual distribution of employer health plan sponsors based on region of the country, industry group, and number of employee range. The national distribution of UBA Member Firms and the diversity of their client base provide a unique basis to achieve this balance.
The survey was designed to gauge the opinions and strategies of employers who offer health benefits in the following four key areas: Health Care Strategy, Health Benefits Philosophy and Opinion, Health Plan Management, Personal Health Management, Scope of Benefits Offered, and Employee Communications.
The survey delineates the specific health care strategy, cost-containment efforts, opinions, and future expectations regarding employer-sponsored health plans. Results are reported for each of the 16 questions and 108 specific responses offered, with brief commentary regarding the findings and possible implications. The report specifically addresses both current and potential future strategies and identifies areas of increased interest.
A number of themes identified in our last survey conducted in 2010 were dominant again this year, some new findings emerged:
- Nearly all (99.38%) top decision makers remain concerned with the impact health care costs are having or are going to have on their overall corporate costs (essentially unchanged from our last survey). More than one half said it was a critical concern. Just slightly fewer (97.89%) are also concerned with the impact health care costs are having on their employees, consistent with our last report.
- In general, employers felt better prepared to communicate and implement more complex strategies to deal with health benefits, yet they are far less prepared to meet the legislative and regulatory requirements, with only one in five employers stating they are fully prepared to deal with all the regulatory compliance requirements.
- The percentage of employers who feel employees should bear the bulk of future health care cost increases remains essentially the same as 2008 (12%) with this year's results of 12.46%.
- At the same time, the belief that their organization should not help employees make effective retirement plan investment decisions (15.75%) decreased by about 25% from 2010 back to a level similar to 2008 (16.5%).
- Only 23.86% of the employers agree they should provide retiree benefits to employees over age 65.
- 93.79% of all employers reporting felt that a good benefits program keeps employees from leaving - improving retention - while 96.94% believe it helps attract new employees. Two-thirds of the employers believe good benefits improve worker productivity.
Incentive-based employee wellness programs and chronic disease management programs, combined with enhanced employee education and communications, are gaining increased use as key cost-containment alternatives. These changes are also being fueled by the increasing applicability and decreasing costs of web-based solutions and the growing sophistication of benefits advisors. This has enabled employers of all sizes to now have access to tools, services, and programs that were previously available only to very large employers.
By comparing the results of this report with those of previous surveys, it is possible to identify both patterns of consistency as well as some issues of potential differences in employers' general responses.
For the full report, contact your local UBA Member Firm or email survey@UBAbeneftis.com.