For an interesting preview of health plan changes some of the nation’s largest employers are making in 2015, check out the National Business Group on Health’s latest survey of its members (covered in this Business Insurance article). The 138 employers responding to the survey expect to hold cost growth to 5.0% on average in 2015 – although they say that if they made no changes, cost would rise by 6.5%. We were struck by the finding that 32% of the NBGH members responding to the survey expect to offer a consumer-directed health plan as a full replacement in 2015 – meaning that no other medical plan will be offered. In the broader employer population, which Mercer’s national survey represents, full-replacement CDHPs are less common. Our 2014 survey is still in the field, but in 2013 we found just 7% of the nation’s largest employers (those with 10,000 or more employees, similar to the NBGH membership) had moved to a full-replacement strategy. This compares to 19% of the NBGH members reporting on their 2013 programs. Certainly, as employers shift focus to avoiding the excise tax in 2018, we expect to see a general increase in full-replacement CDHPs. In our survey last year, 22% of employers with 10,000 or more employees expected they would move to a full-replacement CDHP by 2016. That would still leave them well behind the NBGH membership, but it would be more than double the number using that strategy in 2013. The industry group most interested in this approach? Retailers, by far.
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