Employers throughout the United States are continuing to implement less costly health care options because of rising medical costs. Rather than offering changes in traditional plans, many employers are moving to High Deductible Health Plans coupled with a Health Savings Account. Others are simply reducing benefit levels by increasing employee contributions, deductibles, co-payments, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket maximums.


The new 2012 Health Care Benefits Benchmarking Survey, released April 2, 2012, by ERI Salary Surveys, confirms the trend to shift more costs to employees. The report details data submissions from 163 employers representing more than 160,000 employees. Data are reported for 330 medical plans and 185 dental plans in the U.S., all effective January 2012. The information provides employers with a baseline of current health plan costs and practices that may be used to make informed decisions regarding benefits management.


Here are some highlights of the survey:


Provision of Medical Benefits

  • Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans continue to dominate the market, enrolling 59% of the covered employees in the United States.
  • Participation in High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP) combined with a Health Savings Account (HSA) has increased dramatically since 2009. For 2012, total response for such plans ranked third behind PPOs and Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans, respectively.
  • Enrollment in Indemnity and Point of Service (POS) plans continue to decline.

Cost of Medical Benefits through PPOs

  • Average monthly employee cost for employee-only coverage is $130.90, up 2% from last year.
  • For employers, the average monthly cost for employee-only coverage dipped 5 percent to $397.29, but still represents three-quarters of the total premium cost.

Dental/Vision Coverage

  • Dental benefits are offered by 91% of responding organizations. Within those organizations, 62% of the employees enrolled.
  • Vision benefits are offered by 85% of respondents; 67% contribute to the cost.


In addition to providing details on the findings listed above, the fifth annual Health Care Benefits Benchmarking Survey also reports information on the length of employment requirements for coverage, cost-management strategies (such as disease management, health promotion, and wellness programs), as well as breakouts by size and type of employer and geographic location. The survey is available online for $289 via http://salary-surveys.erieri.com. For more information, contact ERI Salary Surveys at (800) 627-3697.


For those interested specifically in benefits for nonprofits, the 2012 Benefits in Nonprofit Organizations, 12th Edition, will be available from ERI Salary Surveys in July 2012.