The 2014 Health Care Benefits Benchmarking Surveypro­vides a timely and accurate measurement of health care plan costs that can serve as a valuable reference when considering plan changes and cost-saving strategies. The report features sec­tions on general benefits practices, general features of medical coverage, and co-payment requirements, as well as prescription drug plans, dental benefits, vision benefits, and more. Data are presented by organization sector, industry group, organization size (number of employees), and geographic region.

A recent survey conducted by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) shows that HR professionals have been acutely aware of the impacts of rising health care costs since 2005. According to the 2013 biennial report, employee health care coverage was again rated as the top issue having a major impact on the workplace over the next five years. Following suit, federal health care legislation was rated as the second most important trend to monitor.

Health Care Benefits Benchmarking Survey results over the past few years have highlighted such concerns. Employers, par­ticularly small businesses, have implemented less expensive health care options. Rather than offering changes in traditional plans, many employers have shifted to High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP) with a Health Savings Account (HSA). Other em­ployers have simply reduced benefit levels overall by increasing employee contributions, deductibles, co-payments, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket maximums. Cost management strategies such as disease management, health promotions, and wellness pro­grams have also been used by many employers to counter in­creasing costs.

Given the recent attention paid to benefits management by HR professionals, combined with new legislation under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and potential penalties and fees for employers, it stands to reason that executive and finan­cial leadership will have a heightened interest in benefits deci­sions in 2014 and beyond. Benchmarking health plan costs and practices with other employers in the external marketplace is the first step in evaluating the effectiveness of current strategies or potential changes.

The annual Health Care Benefits Benchmarking Survey as­sists employers in making competitive decisions about their of­ferings. Participation for the seventh edition of the survey was solicited from US employers in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, as well as government entities. For more information and a full participant list, visit The survey is available for $389 and may be purchased online or by calling 877-210-6563.