High Deductible Health Care Plans Gain in Popularity

The 2015 Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce Health Benefits Survey found an increase in the number of responding employers that offer high deductible health care plans.  Among respondents to the survey, 86 percent said that this year they offered one or more high-deductible health insurance plans, up from 76 percent in 2014.

Rochester Chamber CEO Bob Duffy said, “High deductible health care plans give employers a way to offer competitive benefits while maintaining control over rising health insurance costs. In our surveys, Rochester Chamber members consistently list health care costs as their top concern about doing business.  Along with controlling costs, high deductible plans also encourage employees to make more informed health care and wellness decisions.”

The annual Rochester Chamber Health Benefits Survey also found that employers pay a significant share of their employees’ health insurance premiums. Respondents reported contributing an average of 71 percent of single-person plans, 63 percent of two-person, 66 percent of family plans without spousal coverage, and 61 percent of family premiums.  For 2015, only 14 percent paid the full cost of single coverage for at least one plan, down from 17 percent a year ago.

The average employer contributions by health insurance plan contract level were:

  • $323 a month or $3,876 a year for single coverage, down 1 percent from a year ago.
  • $615 a month or $7,380 a year for a two-person household, no change.
  • $614 a month of $7,368 a year for family no spouse coverage, down 2 percent.
  • $787 a month of $9,444 a year for family coverage, no change.

Other highlights of the Health Benefits Survey:

  • Employer health insurance premium contributions as a percentage of payroll averaged 9.4 percent, up from 8.9 percent last year.
  • Responding employers said they expect their 2016 health insurance premiums to rise by an average of 13.1 percent.
  • Asked about covering the increase, 13 percent of respondents said they plan to absorb the majority, 18 percent plan to split the increase with employees 50/50, and 11 percent plan to pass on either a majority or all of the cost.
  • Some strategies employers plan to use to ease the impact of any premium increases for 2016 include increasing employee premium contributions (28 percent), and increasing the company premium contribution (19 percent).
  • 68 percent offered employee assistance programs (EAPs), 58 percent offered on-site flu shots, and 23 percent offered a wellness program in 2015 to keep their workforce healthy and offset costs.

In comparing Rochester’s health care costs with other communities, 15 percent said local costs are higher, same as last year; 33 percent said local costs were lower, down from 38 percent a year ago, while 52 percent said costs are about the same, up from 48 percent a year ago.

Some other findings:

  • 22 percent said they provide cash incentives averaging $1,319 to employees who opt-out of employer-sponsored health insurance plans, down from 23 percent a year ago.
  • 78 percent offer health benefits to their part-time employees, up from 66 percent a year ago.
  • Nine percent offer health benefits to retirees who met age and service requirements, 6 percent offered benefits to grandfathered employees, and 5 percent offered benefits to all retirees.
  • 61 percent offer coverage for domestic partners, down from 62 percent last year.
  • 41 percent of employers offered two health insurance plan choices to their employees this year, while 34 percent offered three plans, and 16 percent offered one plan.
  • The percentage of employers offering dental insurance remained at 98 percent. 

The Health Benefits Survey included responses from 209 member organizations representing approximately 76,100 full time employees. The Health Benefits Survey is conducted annually by the Rochester Chamber Human Resource Services department, and is one of many annual wage, benefits, and human resource practice surveys conducted by Rochester Chamber each year.  Only Corporate and Partner members are eligible to participate in the survey and receive the full results.