The common underlying phrase that all service providers, brokers and experienced employers consider as they take the next steps for their business is: “the employee benefits marketplace is continuously changing.” At Optimax Benefits, we stay on top of relevant behaviour trends that indicate employee values and opinions so that we can identify significant perspectives and educate clients on the potential gaps in offerings. The following summary does just that. We have reviewed the findings of survey data collected from over 1500 plan members and 461 plan providers in the 2017 Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey and composed an article of What You Need to Know.
The Changing Marketplace
According to the study, 53% of employees agree that their benefits plan meets their needs extremely well, While this appears to be positive data, the number has dropped significantly from 1999, when 73% were as satisfied with their benefits plans.
Of course, the elements that contribute to employee satisfaction have changed since 1999. Employees are of different generations with diverse experience, perspectives and values. This is evident in the example of entitlement levels, which are down 18% from 2007, with only 60% of today’s employees believing they have an obligation to help control the costs of their health benefits plan. The study notes that “the positioning of health benefits as part of compensation contributes to the sense of entitlement.”
The majority employee mindset (68%) is that employers are more concerned about limiting costs than ensuring the best benefits. Demonstrating higher value and demonstrating that, as a plan sponsor, value rather than cost is a priority is very important for today’s employers.
What is Higher Value?
Since 2009, about 2/3 of plan members surveyed have stated that they value the routine coverage of a benefits plan over the coverage of unexpected health care costs. This statistic has been supported by 68% of plan sponsors.
While it would seem current industry data points to a collective overall value for compensation rather than insurance types of coverage, it can also be inferred that employee perception of value is greatly impacted by the sponsor’s positioning of their benefits package.
According to Sanofi’s data analysis, employers are becoming more aware of the cost of specialty medicine and the different coverages can make in the life of an employee. However, many still underestimate the number of employees that may benefit more from plans geared towards specialty medicine coverage. Of those surveyed, it was estimated that 32% of their employees have a chronic condition, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, when in fact, 57% of plan members report being diagnosed with at least one such condition.
While this data demonstrates misunderstanding of employee needs, it should not be taken as a reflection on actual numbers of chronic illness in all organizations. The best way to discover how claims are being used is to receive reports from the provider and analyze data accordingly. From that data, customized plans that consider the weight of healthcare costs for all employees can be made.
Contributions to Employer Satisfaction
Aside from understanding how to position the value of a benefits package to plan members, there are a number of factors that impact an employer’s satisfaction with their benefits plans.
People who are satisfied with their jobs also think more highly of their benefits plans.:
58% say it meets their needs extremely or very well
52% say the quality is excellent or very good
For dissatisfied employees, they say the following:
39% say it meets their needs extremely or very well
33% describe the quality as excellent or very good
Employees who describe their health as excellent or very good are far more likely than those in poor health to be most positive about both needs (65% versus 38%) and quality (61% versus 36%).
Health Spending Accounts
55% of members with Health Spending Accounts (HSAs) gave top marks compared to 50% among those without HSAs.
70% of those with HSAs describe their plans as being excellent or very good as compared to 59% among those without this offering.
Human Resources policies, such as employee engagement surveys, harassment policies, flexible work arrangements and healthy workplaces that address employee mental health are found to have a positive impact on employee satisfaction. 63% of those with wellness programs said their plan meets their needs extremely or very well, compared to 46% among those without.
The Next Steps
After reviewing the above statistics which present heavily in percentages, consider where your employees might fall on either side of the figures. This information is useful when reviewing your position in the marketplace, determining how you can provide competitive value to your team and choosing the levels of value you should offer.
The full Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey 2017 provides in-depth breakdowns of data, profiles of innovative plan sponsors and analysis from the advisory board, as well as results from over 1500 plan members and 461 plan sponsors.
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