Zywave health plan report reveals cost-cutting strategies, but most employers stay put

Health Plan Benchmarks Report represents over 73,000 health plans nationwide

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Milwaukee, WI (PRWEB) March 20, 2013

Backed by one of the largest database of plan designs in the U.S. (nearly 50,000 employers and over 73,000 health plans), Zywave has just released the 2012 Health Plan Benchmark Report and accompanying drill-down tool exclusively to its client network of insurance brokers. While the report did offer some interesting insights, particularly as compared to last year, the most notable is what didn't change.

"Looking at the data, the biggest takeaway for us was that 2012 was largely the same as 2011," said Dave O'Brien, Zywave CMO and executive vice president. "And that's consistent with what brokers are hearing from their clients across the country. Employers may be making small plan design tweaks, but largely taking a 'wait-and-see' approach to their plan design leading up to 2014."

The report did, however, reveal some notable strategies that employers used to manage their health benefit costs in 2012, including the following:
-While PPO remains the most prevalent plan type (43% of all known plans), there was a 5% increase in HSA plan types - from 16 to 21% of plans. This represents a common cost-control strategy, as more employers shift to a consumer-driven model.

-The highest individual deductible option ($2,500+) saw a significant increase over the past year, rising 7% in popularity. This supports the growth in HSA plan types, as HSAs must be accompanied by a high-deductible health plan, plus illustrates another employer cost-shifting strategy.
-The most common range for out-of-pocket costs stayed the same from 2011 to 2012, in the $2,500-$3,499 category. "However," said O'Brien, "there was a noticeable shift toward higher out-of-pocket maximums across the board."

-Another cost-cutting strategy revealed was via the prescription drug deductible. Though Rx deductibles under $50 remained the most common, the Rx deductibles over $250 now represent 25% of all plans - up 5% from 2011.

The benchmarks break down the data by region, industry, group size and plan type, and include several key plan design measures. The drill-down tool allows a broker to input their client's plan information and demographics, and create a custom chart showing how that employer group matches up to similar companies. Business owners are concerned about remaining competitive with their benefit offerings, while also managing costs, and Zywave brokers now have a tool to deliver this valuable information to their clients. Plus, as more and more brokers shift to a fee-for-service model, adding a tool like this strengthens an agency's menu of services.

"These types of benchmark breakdowns are invaluable for benefits brokers," said O'Brien. "Having a huge data set is a great start, but the true impact this year comes from our new drill-down tool. Brokers can see the overarching trends, and then plug in their data to see exactly how clients compare in their region, industry and group size. That's powerful stuff for an employer in today's market."

About Zywave
Zywave is the leading provider of software-as-a-service (SaaS) technology solutions for the insurance and financial services industries. The company's products include Web-enabled marketing communications, business intelligence and analytics, agency automation, and needs-assessment and financial planning tools. More than 350,000 financial and insurance professionals, including 90 of the Top 100 U.S. insurance firms and dozens of the world's largest financial institutions, use Zywave's proven solutions to help them differentiate from the competition, enhance client services, improve efficiencies and achieve organic growth. To learn more, visit http://www.zywave.com.

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