Health Plan Design Drives Regional Health Care Cost Differences, Survey Finds

Benefits Benchmarking Critical to Help Employers Stay Competitive and Control Costs

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, November 13, 2012 — United Benefit Advisors (UBA), one of the nation’s largest employee benefit advisory organizations, announces more key findings from its 2012 Health Plan Survey. As health care costs continue to increase and recruitment and retention of quality employees becomes more competitive, accurate and detailed benefits benchmarking data is imperative for employee benefits design. Among the trends illuminated in the 2012 United Benefit Advisors Health Plan Survey, the nation’s largest health plan benefits benchmarking survey with 11,711 employers responding, one of the most dramatic was the stark difference in plan design across each of the country’s five regions — Northeast, Southeast, North Central, Central and West, and the impact these variances had on plan costs. Notably, the average annual cost for plans in the Northeast is markedly higher than in other regions of the country. The 2012 UBA Health Plan Survey executive summary — available as a free download — helps explain why.

A close look at the data shows that of all health plans in the Northeast, 33.6 percent have no single deductible, compared with just 8.4 percent and 4.1 percent in the Southeast and Central regions, respectively. In addition, 76.9 percent of all plans in the Northeast provide 100 percent in-network coinsurance. That’s compared with a low of 27.8 percent in the Central region and an average of 31.6 percent among the remaining regions.

The significant plan differences resulting from specific coverage items also help explain this region-to-region cost disparity. One of the most notable examples of this trend is same-sex domestic partner coverage. Among all employers, 70.7 percent in the West and 45.4 percent in the Northeast offer such coverage, while the remaining three regions average just 15.9 percent.

As employers and employees consider their health insurance solutions, especially in the face of the health care reform law and the need to cut costs, this benefits benchmarking data is vital for employers looking to evaluate their plan costs against both national and regional averages. The 2012 UBA Health Plan Survey — the only one of its size able to provide in-depth results broken down by region, industry and by employer size — helps employers answer important questions, such as:

– How much should we contribute to employee premiums?
– Which would result in more cost savings: raising deductibles or changing plan types?
– How are other employers cutting health costs?
– What are the trends across the country and in my area?
– What risks are involved over the long run if we drop health benefits for employees?

Download a free copy of the 2012 survey executive summary online, or visit one of the 200 UBA Member Firm locations throughout the country for a custom benefits benchmarking report.

ABOUT THE 2012 UBA HEALTH PLAN SURVEY — With responses from 17,905 health plans sponsored by 11,711 employers nationwide, the 2012 UBA Health Plan Survey is 2.5 times larger than the next three of the nation’s largest health plan benchmarking surveys combined, with more than 290,000 pages of granular data related to health plans. It can support local results simply not available from the other national health plan surveys, providing employers of all sizes with data by region, industry and employer size they need to manage their health care benefit programs effectively.

ABOUT UNITED BENEFIT ADVISORS — United Benefit Advisors is a member-owned alliance of more than 140 premier independent benefit advisory firms with more than 200 offices throughout the U.S, Canada and the U.K., and is the nation’s largest independent benefits advisory organization. As trusted and knowledgeable advisors, UBA Members collaborate with more than 2,200 professionals to seek out ideas, insight, expertise and best-in-class solutions that positively impact employers and make a real difference in the lives of their employees and families. Employers, advisors and industry-related organizations interested in obtaining powerful results from our shared wisdom should visit UBA online to locate your local UBA Member Firm.