Many employers intend to increase their healthcare benefits offer after focusing on communication to obtain better value in the past year, says Jennifer Paterson
When it comes to increasing the healthcare benefits they offer, the percentage of employers that say they are likely to do so in the coming 12 months has risen over the past two year. This may indicate they are keen to ensure their package remains relevant to staff needs.
Over the next 12 months, 23% of respondents intend to increase the number of healthcare benefits on offer, while only 4% plan to make reductions. This has stayed fairly static year on year. In 2010, the same proportion of respondents intended to increase their benefits offering, while 5% planned to reduce benefits. Five years ago, 28% intended to increase the number of healthcare perks they offered, while just 2% intended to reduce them.
Meanwhile, the proportion of respondents that plan to increase the number of employees covered has remained fairly static over the past few years this year 7% said they intend to do so. One-tenth (10%) intended to do so in 2010, and 9% in 2009. This is a significant change from more buoyant economic times. In 2006, for example, 21% intended to increase the number of employees covered.
In the next 12 months, more respondents intend to provide healthcare benefits through an employee-funded voluntary benefits scheme (14%) than place them into an employer-funded flexible benefits scheme (4%) over the next 12 months. However, when respondents’ consider their combined healthcare and group risk package, these figures rise to 21% and 20% respectively.
Just 4% of respondents do not intend to take any action on healthcare benefits in the next 12 months. This rises to 30% when looking at healthcare benefits in conjunction with their group risk provision.
In the last 12 months, 36% of respondents saw the value in communicating their healthcare benefits in order to obtain more value from them in the current economic climate. This is higher than the 22% that were intending to do so in 2010, as well as the 16% that had already done so last year.
Just under a quarter (23%) have also placed a greater emphasis on benefits aimed at tackling stress, such as counselling services and employee assistance programmes. A further 24% have focused more on wellbeing perks in the past 12 months. This is a rise on the 14% of respondents in 2010 that had focused on tackling stress and the 8% that had focused more on wellbeing perks in the previous 12 months.
The percentage of respondents that have reviewed the fees and commission paid to their brokers, advisers or providers of healthcare benefits has also risen year on year, from 12% in 2010 to 32% now.
Over the past two years, the proportion of employers that review their healthcare and group risk benefits at least annually has increased. This year, 73% say they do so, compared with 66% in 2010 and 2009.
Just as in 2010, this means once a year is the most popular frequency at which respondents review their healthcare benefits provision. Regularly reviewing the benefits on offer means employers can ensure their package remains relevant and is valued by employees, which, in turn, helps them to obtain the best return on their investment.
Little has changed over the past nine years in terms of how regularly employers review their healthcare benefits package. Although the figures cannot be compared directly, back in 2002, 62% of respondents said that they had reviewed their healthcare benefits provision in the past year, while 67% said the same in 2003.
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