Accompass has published Fresh Perspectives on Group Benefits, a comprehensive survey of 1,623 Canadians, 183 employers, and 11 group insurers.
Many employers looking for ideas about the design of their employee benefits plan will find the study useful. Many organizations are starting to embrace wellness initiatives; while focusing on mental health, and other innovative ways of providing benefits. This year’s survey re-affirmed employers are going to have to be creative about being competitive with their plans, while managing the increasing costs of health care. The country’s insurance companies reported a health trend factor of 11.7%, which is similar to previous years’ results, dating back to 2012. Trend factors remain ‘double digits’ primarily due to the rising cost of expensive specialty drugs.
“The survey provides employers with an opportunity to use critical research to be thoughtful about how they design their plans,” said Accompass President Sarah Beech. “Half of all employers that we surveyed said that they provide benefits because they care about the welfare of their employees – organizations will want to keep this in mind as they balance the need to reduce costs with the desire to align coverage to deliver on this objective.”
Canadians were clear about how much they valued their benefit plans. 80% of those surveyed who were currently in a plan stated that they would not consider a job if it did not offer a group benefits plan. In fact, employees are looking to utilize their plans even more. “This will put pressure on plan sponsors to better understand what their employees really need in order to evaluate potential trade-offs,” remarked Beech.
Theoretically, with a stronger wellness program, in the long term, organizations should expect to see healthier employees and fewer claims to treat multiple chronic conditions – which may include big ticket items such as specialty medications.
Currently 42.5% of Canadians covered under a benefits plan are taking prescription medication to manage a chronic condition. But only 26% of Canadians without a benefits plan are taking medication for a chronic illness, which suggests that people may be less likely to take medication to treat an illness when it’s not covered.