HR Tech Group posted an articleDo you scrutinize benefit costs and take actions to manage these escalating costs? see more
Are You Managing Your Group Benefits Costs?
This is the second in a series of blog posts leveraging data and insights from our 2020 Tech Industry Benefits Survey, our partners at HUB International’s National Employee Benefits Practice and an additional member survey done this September regarding the impacts of COVID on group benefits plans in tech.
Annual group benefits costs in the tech industry have increased 15-20% over the past 2 years.
Salary increases get much attention and scrutiny each year, but what about your group benefits costs? Do you scrutinize those each year? Or throw up your hands in frustration?
Yes, there are some costs that employers cannot control. You cannot control employee and dependent claim patterns. I am definitely guilty of throwing up my hands in frustration when faced with skyrocketing claims patterns.
So what costs can employers control?
Employers can control:
- Insurer expenses
- Plan design
- Premium cost sharing
- Encouragement of healthy behaviors
To a degree, employers can control expenses paid to group benefits insurance companies.
Look at your underwriting arrangements. Employers can reduce these insurer expenses by taking on more of the risk on claims. Self-insuring dental benefits in an option to consider.
Look for opportunities to leverage aggregate purchasing power of a group. The HR Tech Group Benefits Buying Plan provides members with an opportunity to lower insurer expenses through volume purchasing. By pooling premiums, our participating members gain significant and ongoing cost savings.
Your claims experience data can provide valuable insights to help you make data driven decisions about your plan design.
Where are the largest claims costs? Are there cost control measures built into your plan design for those benefits? Do you cap certain benefits? Do you have combined maximums, co-pays, deductibles? How about other cost control measures on prescription drugs?
Disability costs are increasing in the tech industry. Review your short-term and long-term disability claim data for trends. Why are people going on disability leave? What disability management processes does your insurance company have in place? Are they proactively partnering with the individual and with you, the employer, to help get the person back to work? Some insurers are better at managing disability claims than others.
Premium cost sharing
Our recent survey showed that extended health care premium cost sharing is in place at sizes of employers, it is far more prevalent with larger employers. Our Fall survey also indicated that some tech companies are considering introducing or increasing employee cost sharing on their benefits premiums. This can have an added effect of reducing the number of dependents on a plan if families have other plans available through spouses.
Encouragement of healthy behaviours
Again, claims experience data can provide valuable insights to help you make data driven decisions. Do you have employees with conditions that could be improved with lifestyle changes?
Employee Assistance Plan providers and other benefits insurers and wellness providers offer health and wellness campaigns, such as wellness challenges, heart health campaigns and smoking cessation campaigns.
Some tech employers provide their employees with free health assessments and/or wellness spending accounts. With the current work-from-home arrangements, many tech employers are offering virtual fitness classes, yoga classes, meditations and other activities to encourage and influence healthy behaviours.
While it’s tempting to throw up one’s hands in frustration during renewals, there are many actions that can be taken to manage escalating benefits costs.
Stephanie Hollingshead posted an articleIs your employee benefits program evolving? see more
The Evolution of Employee Benefits
This is the first in a series of blog posts leveraging data and insights from our 2020 Tech Industry Benefits Survey, our partners at HUB International’s National Employee Benefits Practice and an additional member survey done this September regarding the impacts of COVID on group benefits plans in tech.
Is your employee benefits program evolving?
A couple of years ago, several telemedicine providers burst onto the scene, making it easier for Canadians to seek treatment and advice from physicians and nurse practitioners, all from the comfort of their home or office; however, companies were slow to adopt this as a virtual health option for their employees.
Digital transformation has been a well-trodden expression for a few years now. For many of us, it’s been vague and intangible and not especially pressing. Until COVID-19 hit.
In a hot minute we’ve collectively transformed our personal lives, our education systems and our businesses to operate digitally. We need to do the same with our employee benefits offerings.
Health care providers have adapted and have new offerings. COVID-19 has pushed many physicians to offer virtual healthcare consults. My daughter and I have both seen our family doctor virtually over the past 6 months and last week my friend’s son had a virtual orthodontic check-up. Heath practitioners, from psychologists to naturopaths, now offer services virtually.
Internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (iCBT) is being offered through digital platforms. Counseling and support groups are available virtually. Virtual pharmacies like PocketPills enable people to renew prescriptions and receive medications without leaving their homes.
Fitness and wellness resources are online. Virtual personal assessment tools for mental health and nutrition were already available before the pandemic. My husband now participates in weekly virtual yoga classes, right outside my office door.
So how are you evolving your employee benefits in this time of dramatic change?
Our surveys showed three key HR and group insurance concerns for tech companies -
Employee mental health
We are seeing tech companies add coverage relating to mental health. They are increasing psychologist and clinical counselling visit coverage amounts. They are reimbursing for online fitness classes. They are putting in place Employee and Family Assistance Plans where they haven’t yet been in place. 24% of surveyed tech companies are planning on offering on-line health & wellness challenges within the next 12 months.
How are you evolving your benefits programs to better support employee health?
Only 50% of the companies in our survey provide maternity leave top-up pay.
How are you evolving your benefits programs to retain your employees? Who do you want to retain and what’s important to them? Are you looking to hire and retain women? How about parental leave top-up pay?
Adding flexibility to benefits programs
46% of tech companies surveyed provide Health Care Spending Accounts. Only 9% currently provide flexible benefits plans but an additional 20% are considering them.
27% are planning on adding a virtual healthcare option within their benefits programs within the next year. 16% are adding virtual fitness programs and 8% plan to add a virtual pharmacy option. How are you adding flexibility to your benefits programs?
Benefits programs are an expensive and important component of total compensation. How will you evolve your employee benefits programs this year?
Want to know more? Click here for more information on HR Tech Group’s 2020 Tech Industry Benefits Survey, produced by our partners at HUB International.