United Benefit Advisors Insight and Analysis Blog

Top Mistake with Health Plan Design: Benchmarking Solely with National Data

By Thomas Mangan,
  Nov 14, 2012 11:43:00 AM

national data healthcare benchmarkingBy Thomas Mangan, CEO, United Benefit Advisors

Whether you are a tech company in Silicon Valley, a financial firm on Wall Street, or a Mom & Pop shop somewhere in the middle, the rising cost of health care is making a big impact on your bottom line. So how do you make important decisions about your employee benefits design in hopes of cutting costs, but not so much that you risk losing top talent? The answer is simple: Benchmarking.

Health plan benefits benchmarking data is vital for employers looking to evaluate their health plan costs against both national and regional averages. A close look at findings from the 2012 UBA Health Plan Survey shows a drastically different picture for various regions of the country. For example, a close look at the Northeast reveals:

- The average annual cost for plans in this region are markedly higher than in other regions of the country. 
- 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. 
- 76.9 % of all plans in the Northeast provide 100 % in-network coinsurance. That’s compared with a low of 27.8 % in the Central region and an average of 31.6 % among the remaining regions. 
- The significant plan differences resulting from specific coverage items also help explain this region’s cost disparity from the rest of the country. One of the most notable examples of this trend is same-sex domestic partner coverage. Among all employers, only 45.4 % in the Northeast offer such coverage, compared to 70.7 % in the West (the remaining three regions average just 15.9 percent).

You can’t manage what you can’t measure. Benchmarking your competitor's employee benefits to compare your costs and the type of benefits you offer using accurate data is essential. Strategic positioning of your employee benefits in the competitive landscape should help retain your key talent, attract employees from your competitors, and ensure a maximum return on investment.

Download a free copy of the 2012 survey executive summary online, or visit one of the 200 UBA Member Firm locations throughout the country to request a personalized benchmarking report for a closer look at your region, state, industry and size. 

Topics: employee benefits, health plan survey, health care, health care costs