February 17, 2014
Benefits: Health Insurance - 2014

2014 vs. 2013

Health insurance packages for 2014 are about the same as in 2013 for 71% of survey participants and 8% (up from 6% last year) have a more generous package. Their 2014 package is less generous than last year for 16% and, while the “other” basket was home to 4%, 1% weren’t sure.

Plan options

PPOs are offered by 69% of survey participants and HMOs are offered by 28%. High deductible plans are a benefit for 40% (up from 35% last year) and point-of-service plans are available for 12%. “Other” captured 5% in a tie with traditional indemnity plans also at 5%.

Offering high deductible plans has been considered by 45% of survey participants, leaving 43% that haven’t considered it, 10% that don’t know if they have or not, and 2% in the “other” basket.

Health savings accounts are offered by 58%. FSAs (flexible spending accounts) are not an option for 36% (down from 39% last year). FSAs are available, however, to 55% for childcare (51% last year), 14% for eldercare (12% last year), 60% for healthcare (58% in 2013), and 2% for disability insurance (same as last year). A two-and-a-half-month grace period for reimbursements is offered by 64% of respondents (71% in 2013) and carryover of FSA balances from one year to the next is allowed by 30%.

Dependent coverage

Unmarried partners are included in their benefit plans for 28%, but 61% of our survey participants do not offer such benefits and 8% are not sure. The remaining 3% fall into the “other” category, some of which allow the benefit for registered domestic partners if required by state law. The numbers vary slightly for same-sex partners. Health insurance benefits are offered by 39% (up from 32% in 2013) and not offered by 37% (down from 48% in 2013). “Not sure” and “other” round out the group with 15% and 7%, respectively.

Plan changes

No changes to their 2014 insurance plan designs are anticipated by 32% of survey respondents. Significant changes, however, are expected by 6% and minor to moderate changes are in store for 43%. The “other” category rounds out the field at 19%.

Plan costs

Health insurance costs in 2014 increased as much as 5% for 24% of survey participants and from 6-10% for 26%. The cost increase was 11-15% for 12% and 16-20% for 6%, though 2014 costs stayed the same for 10%.   

For survey participants who had increased health insurance costs for 2014, 64% passed some of the increase along to employees (up from 58% last year), 7% passed along most of the increase, and another 4% passed on all of the increased cost to employees (down from 6% last year). Only 17% absorbed all of the increased cost this year (down from 22% in 2013). A lucky 2% did not have increased costs in 2014.

While almost half (49%) of our survey participants cover 75-99% of the premium for employee coverage (up from 46% in 2013), 19% cover 100% of employee health insurance premiums (down from 22% last year). Another 23% pay 50-74% of the premium and 3% cover 1-49%. Zero employer contribution to health insurance premiums is made by 1% of survey respondents, while 5% responded with either “not sure” (1%) or “other” (4%).

Employer contribution to family coverage paints a different picture, though very similar to last year, with 5% of employers paying 100% of the premium for family coverage and 29% paying 75% to 99%. One-half to three fourths (50-74%) of the family premium is paid by 31 percent of survey participants and 1% to 49% of the premium is covered by 11% of employers. The employee pays 100% of family coverage for 16% of the employers in our survey and 9% indicated either “not sure” (2%) or “other” (7%), respectively.

Cost containment

The steps employers took to reduce their organizations’ 2014 health insurance costs included raising the employee portion of the premium (37%), implementing wellness programs (25%), and raising employee deductibles (33%). Some employers offered HSA/HRA high deductible plans (21%) and/or raised employee copayments (22%). “Other” accounting for 29% of the responses to this question in our survey, included renegotiating with provider, shopping for new provider, and converting to a self-insured program.

When asked how they think their organization’s healthcare costs will change in 2015, 35% indicated their costs will increase significantly (down from 38% last year), 40% believe their costs will increase but not significantly (up from 35%), 15% expect their costs to stay the same with a small inflationary increase, and 1% think their costs will go down.

To help reduce their organizations’ 2015 health insurance costs, 36% plan to increase employee premiums, 26% plan to implement wellness programs, and 41% plan to raise employee deductibles or copayments. Some employers plan to offer HSA/HRA high deductible plans (18%) and 8% plan to conduct dependent audits. With 34% of the responses, the “other” basket reveals that many either will do nothing or don’t know what they’ll do yet.

Healthcare reform

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) caused 2014 insurance costs to increase for 45% of our survey participants. It has not caused significant increases in costs, though, for 36% and 13% don’t know yet. Some employers (23%) have considered dropping their healthcare benefits due to PPACA and 1% plan to do so. The majority (73%), however, plan to continue providing health insurance to their employees. The remaining 3% are not sure or are taking a “wait and see” position.

The availability of healthcare exchanges in 2014 may compel 3% of the employers responding to our survey to eliminate their group healthcare plans. The exchanges will not, however, prompt 71% to discontinue providing health insurance to their employees (up from 44% last year). A smaller number (24%) than last year (47%) aren’t sure.

While 31% of our survey participants are doing their best to make sure they don’t lose their grandfathered status, 41% have already lost it, 7% expect to lose theirs this year, 9% expect to lose grandfathered status in 2015, and 7% expect to lose it at some point after that, leaving 7% having not had such status or unsure when or if they will lose it.


For healthcare benefits in 2014, the main priority for 33% of survey participants is cost containment. It is complying with healthcare reform for 30% and rethinking their long-term benefits strategy for 32%. Though offering healthcare benefits is neutral or not important to the recruiting and retention efforts of 17% of survey participants, it is very important to 79%.

About this survey

A total of 1,910 individuals participated in this survey, which was conducted in January 2014. Of those who identified themselves, 57% represent privately owned companies, 8% are with public entities, and 31% work for government or nonprofit organizations.

The majority (64%) of our survey respondents provide HR services to a workforce of 1-250 employees. Another 13% provide guidance to 251-500 employees at their organizations and 10% have a workforce of 501-1,000 employees. Companies with more than 1,000 employees account for 14% of survey participants.

A 50-100% unionized workforce applies to 8% of the employers surveyed. Also, 84% have a workforce with no union-represented employees. Exempt employees account for more than 50% of their workforce for 26% of survey participants.

Over half (54%) of the participants are in service industries; 21% are in agriculture, forestry, construction, manufacturing, or mining; 8% are in wholesale, retail, transportation, or warehousing; and 3% are in real estate or utilities. The remaining 14% selected other.

HR/benefit managers and directors account for 50% of the survey participants who self-identified, other HR/benefit professionals make up 19%, 11% are VP level or higher, and 19% are in other areas with HR responsibilities.

Note: Not all participants answered all questions in the survey. Numbers have been rounded to the nearest percent.

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