The 19th Annual Towers Watson/National Business Group on Health Employer Survey on Purchasing Value in Health Care tracks employers’ strategies and practices, and the results of their efforts to provide and manage health benefits for their workforce. This comprehensive report, The New Health Care Imperative: Driving Performance, Connecting to Value, identifies the actions of high-performing companies, as well as current trends in the health care benefit programs of U.S. employers with at least 1,000 employees. The survey was completed by 595 employers between November 2013 and January 2014. Respondents collectively employ 11.3 million full-time employees, have 7.8 million employees enrolled in their health care programs and represent all major industry sectors.

Full report available

The survey found that employers are clearly committed to providing subsidized health care benefits to active employees, even in an environment of continued health care cost increases, uncertainty about some provisions of health care reform and an economy that is slow to recover. Almost all (95%) companies indicate that subsidizing health care coverage for active employees will be a very important part of their total rewards package in the period covering 2015 and beyond  However, 94% of respondents expect employer-sponsored health care benefits to undergo either modest or major changes by 2018.

Towers Watson - Nearly all employers anticipate modest or major changes

Health care trend increases (employer costs after plan changes) fell to a 15-year low of 4.1% (after plan changes) in 2013 and are expected to average 4.4% for 2014.

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Employee affordability issues are a growing challenge. Employees’ share of premium costs increased nearly 7% in the last year, from $2,782 to $2,975. Out-of-pocket expenses also continue to increase, by nearly three percentage points over the last four years (from 15.9% to 18.7%). Total employee cost share, including premiums and out-of-pocket costs, has climbed from 34.4% in 2011 to 37% in 2014. Employees now pay more than $100 more per month than three years ago.

Towers Watson -Total employee/employer health care costs continue to grosw

Learn more about the strategies employers are implementing in their health benefit programs, and gain insight into the actions of top-performing companies, by reading the executive summary of the full report.