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Managing Specialty Drugs and Employee Engagement are of Greatest Concern to Employers in 2017

By MBGH Information posted 12-09-2016 03:05 PM


CHICAGO – November 29, 2016 – In 2017, the focus of employers’ health benefit activities will shift from avoiding the Affordable Care Act excise tax to other priorities, such as managing the cost and use of specialty drugs and engaging employees to more effectively use their benefits and maintain their health. These are among the results of a new survey of health care purchasers to gauge their views, plans and strategies for the upcoming benefit year from the Midwest Business Group on Health (MBGH), one of the nation’s leading non-profit business groups of large, self-insured public and private employers.

“These directional findings indicate mid- and large-employers have, to a large extent, addressed the ACA requirements and will continue to focus their efforts on reducing health benefits costs and improving the health of their employees,” said Larry Boress, MBGH president and CEO. “During the election, both candidates appeared to support removing the excise tax and other administrative cost burdens to employers that don’t bring them any value or benefit. Time will tell if the Trump administration will bring relief in these areas.”

Key survey findings include:

  • Managing specialty drugs has moved to the number one health benefit priority for employers for 2017 and 2018 with 63% of employer indicating it’s a top priority – up from number three last year.
  • Almost three-quarters of employers see engagement as a priority for their worksite wellness programs.
  • Building a culture of health continues to be important for over 90% of employer responding that it was their highest or secondary area of focus.
  • Telemedicine and effective benefit communications rounded out the top four priorities.
  • Avoiding the Affordable Care Act excise tax drops to the fifth spot where it was previously a key area of focus for the last several years.
  • Other priorities included: offering more price and quality tools to select providers, increasing targeting wellness programs, offering fitness challenges, offering incentives/disincentives to improve health, and providing effective weight management programs.
  • Employers are reducing their share of plan costs, with those providing 80% of the costs dropping to 39% in 2017 and to 35% in 2018. A significant number of employers (44%) will cover 70% or less of benefit costs by 2018.
  • A majority of employers (56%) indicated that they do not plan to charge spouses/partners a surcharge if they can get coverage elsewhere.

The online poll was conducted prior to the recent election and is a directional survey on the views, perceptions and strategies of employers on the changing health care marketplace. Responding employers are members of MBGH and other business health coalition membership from throughout the nation.

About the Midwest Business Group on Health With more than 130 member organizations, the Midwest Business Group on Health is one of the nation’s leading non-profit business groups of large, self-insured public and private employers serving as a source for leading health benefit professionals and a catalyst for community initiatives to improve the quality, safety and cost-effectiveness of the health care delivery system. MBGH is a founding member of the National Business Coalition on Health. Follow on Twitter: @MidwestBGH

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