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December 2008 return to the table of contents

Changing Face Of Small Business Healthcare Coverage Revealed In New Study

Small business leaders are increasingly seeing staff members taking a more active role in the healthcare benefit process.

At the same time, managers are bringing staff members more closely into the decision process as to what benefits to offer and even the plans themselves.

Preliminary data developed from surveys conducted during this year’s enrollment period indicate:

  • The trend to having employees pay more of the healthcare premium continues.
  • Consumer Directed Healthcare (CDH) choices continue to grow as well as lives covered.
  • Employees are feeling more positive about their healthcare coverage options/
  • Companies continue to offer healthcare benefits but are paring included options in favor of allowing employees to choose which they prefer.

According to Information Strategies, Inc. (ISI), this newsletter’s parent, CDH options, including Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs), Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and FSAs continue to find favor with small business leaders.

Almost half of all respondents (49%) said they had increased employee participation costs this year.

Of 741 employees interviewed, 45% said they thought their healthcare coverage this year was improved over last year. Almost half, 47% reported their out-of-pocket costs, either in terms of deductible or premiums was higher than last. Just 11% said it was lower.

Almost two in three company managers (63%) said were offering a more basic healthcare benefit plan this year but giving employees the option of paying for additional coverage.

Fully, 53% of respondent managers from small businesses said they expected CDH options to dominate next year’s enrollment process.

While fears of new healthcare mandates from the new Obama administration were voiced, 56% of all respondents said they expected the employer-based healthcare system to grow in coming years.

Of 2,031 managers responding to the latest ISI study ranked UnitedHealthcare and Aetna as the two most popular insurance providers. Both providers were also ranked highest in terms of perceived value.

Wellpoint and Cigna were also mentioned by a majority of respondents as providing highly valued healthcare insurance that filled their needs as managers in terms of dollar value.


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