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MBGH Survey Finds Growing Number of Employers Acting as Catalyst for Change to Shift Health Benefits Market and Drive Innovation

By MBGH Information posted 01-27-2021 06:59 AM


MBGH Survey Finds Growing Number of Employers Acting as

Catalyst for Change to Shift Health Benefits Market and Drive Innovation


CHICAGO – January 27, 2021 – When asked about plans around COVID-19 vaccines, 71% plan to provide education about the vaccines and 56% plan to promote the vaccine to their employees. These are among the findings of the latest survey of employers conducted by the non-profit Midwest Business Group on Health (MBGH).


“Employers are putting their COVID-19 vaccine plans in place now and know that education is key, especially for those focused on getting and keeping their people at a physical worksite,” said Cheryl Larson, MBGH president and CEO. “The drop in preventive screenings and vaccinations over the last year because of the pandemic is of significant concern and we anticipate a sharp rise in cancers, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and other chronic conditions.”


Additional survey findings:

  • Employer top health benefit priorities for 2021 include ensuring members are engaged in the programs offered and using benefits, along with COVID-19 related initiatives and chronic condition management.
  • Top payment reform strategies being used now or planned in 2021 consist of specialty drug management (89%), centers of excellence/episodes of care (75%) and steerage within networks (69%).
  • Top threats to the affordability of employer-sponsored health coverage consists of specialty drug costs (72%), high-cost claims (64%) and specific diseases and conditions (46%); about 15% of respondents don’t see industry consolidation or intermediary conflicts of interest as a threat.
  • Anticipated cost increases in 2021, after plan design changes found that 41% anticipate less than a 5% increase, 26% expect a 5-10% increase and 21% do not anticipate any increases.
  • When asked about mental/behavioral health services, 78% are currently offering expanded telemedicine services, and 31% currently or plan to offer next generation (digital) employee assistance programs.
  • Pharmacy benefit strategies currently offered include plan design steerage to the lowest cost drugs (83%), use of authorized generics (70%), improving or refining pharmacy benefit management contract terms (63%), placing biosimilars on formulary (63%) and removing low value drugs from formulary (54%).
  • With concerns about the drop off in preventive care, 83% are currently evaluating their health plan utilization rates for health screenings and vaccinations.
  • Almost 75% of employers are working to address race, health and inequity through anti-racism education, encouraging community volunteerism, engaging in community improvement and working to improve race/gender equality in senior leadership and 8% plan to consider these activities in the next 12-24 months.
  • When asked what role employers will play in today’s health care, 18% rate themselves as a catalyst for change which is an increase of 50% from last year.


The online survey was conducted November-December 2020 with 47 employer responses, most with 1,000 to 5,000 employees, representing industries including manufacturing (36%), health care (12%) and finance (9%).


The findings will be shared during an Employer-Only Forum on Wellness, Wellbeing & The Workplace, a virtual event being held today from 10:00 am-3:00 pm Central. Employers and accredited media can register to participate here.


About the Midwest Business Group on Health

MBGH is one of the nation’s leading non-profit employer coalitions of 135 mid, large and jumbo self-funded public and private employers, representing over 4 million lives and annually spending over $12 billion on health care. Members consist of leading health benefit professionals, with activities focused on education, research, benchmarking and community-based initiatives that increase the value of health benefits and health care services. MBGH is a founding member of the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions. For additional details visit and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Cary Conway