Innovation is on Our Side | Digital Report

Mercer U.S. Digital Report



2017 Survey Report

Innovation is on Our Side




The bar is low. Today’s healthcare consumer, who has seen the transformation of retail and many other service industries, is not satisfied with the current healthcare experience. Employer purchasers aren’t satisfied either: They pay too much for health coverage and see too little return on their investment. That means the industry is primed for disruption.


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The market is responding with health IT innovations – although exploding might be a better term. Employers need to choose carefully where and how to invest in innovation. For some employers, the answer is a bundled benefits solution, that provides consulting, benefits administration and a high-tech integrated platform that is continuously updated with curated new benefits offerings, point solutions, and decision-support and other consumerism tools, and point solutions.




Respondents' cost trends were analyzed based on their use of 24 best practice health program strategies


We are already seeing that when employers take action, they can accomplish seemingly impossible things – like bending the healthcare cost trend. The well-being impact analysis discussed earlier showed that employers doing the most to create a culture of health have lower turnover.


For this analysis, we looked at all health program management best practices covered in the survey, a total of 24. Again, respondents were divided into three groups based on the number of these actions they’ve taken. We averaged their total health benefit cost increase from 2016 to 2017, and then compared the group using the most of these practices to group using the fewest.




 • Offer CDHP

 • HSA sponsor makes a contribution to employees' accounts

 • Offer voluntary supplemental health insurance

 • Use/planning to use bundled solution for health benefits

   (including private benefits exchange)

 •  Transparency tool provided by specialty vendor

 • Mandatory generics or other Rx strategies

 •  Steer members to specialty pharmacy for specialty drugs

 •  Collective purchasing of Rx benefits



 • Offer optional (paid) well-being programs through plan or vendor

 • Company vision/mission statement supports a healthy workplace culture

 • Offer technology-based well-being resources (apps, devices, web-based)

 • Use incentives for well-being programs

 •  Well-being strategy includes focus on intrinsic

    motivation to improve health

 • Spouses and/or children may participate in programs

 • Smoker surcharge

 • Have conducted analysis of employee behavioral health issues

 • Provide stress management, resiliency, or mindfulness programs



 • Offer health advocacy program

 • Offer a Surgical Center of Excellence

 • Offer a COE other than for surgical

   (oncology, orthopedics, cardiology, women`s health)

 • Primary care on-site clinic

 • Telemedicine utilization of 5% or higher

 • Employees have incentives to use:

- Medical homes

- Accountable care organizations

Other narrow network

 •  Reference-based pricing


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For a fourth year in a row, we found that the employers with the most comprehensive strategy to manage cost have lower cost increases. As we move rapidly into a world of personalized medicine, consumer empowerment tools, nontraditional healthcare suppliers, marketplace consolidation across the supply chain, alternative provider reimbursement and network strategies, we will just have that many more tools to work with.