2018 “State of Employee Benefits” Report Displays Continued Shift To Consumer-Directed Health Care

January 30, 2018



Editor’s Note: As the leader in HCM technology consulting services, HRchitect is a founding System Integration (SI) Partner with Benefitfocus and serves on their SI Advisory Committee. Our Benefitfocus experience includes Project Management, Configuration, Process Analysis/Redesign, Training, Integration, Change Management, and Ongoing Support.


Enrollment data shows 65% of employers now offer HDHPs alongside traditional health plans; HSA participation is up 60 percent from 2017.

Charleston, S.C. – January 30, 2018 – Benefitfocus, Inc., a leading cloud-based benefits management platform and services provider, today published its third annual “State of Employee Benefits” report, which analyzed the anonymous employee benefit election data of more than 1.3 million consumers from 540 large employers – representing a sample of the total consumers who use the BENEFITFOCUS® Platform.

The data shows a continued shift toward consumer-directed health care, with the rate of employers offering at least one high-deductible health plan (HDHP) increasing more than 20 percent since 2016. This growth primarily stems from employers offering HDHPs alongside traditional health plans, reflecting the increased commitment among employers to offer more choice to employees. With respect to enrollment, the data indicates that employees’ health plan preference and benefits needs differ by demographic criteria, making plan diversity critical.

 “This is a pivotal time for the benefits market as core and voluntary plan options multiply to meet consumers’ preferences,” said Ray August, President & CEO, Benefitfocus. “As employers seek to offer competitive packages while containing costs, the size and scale of our platform gives us the unique ability to identify trends and use data-driven insights to tailor our solutions to market needs and advise employers and, equally as important, their brokers, on how to be more efficient about their benefits strategy and plan design.”

The report identifies other key trends for the 2018 benefit plan year, including:

  1. Employees are embracing health savings accounts.

Participation in HSAs among eligible employees – those in HDHPs – grew by more than 60 percent, from roughly 50 percent in 2017 to 81 percent in 2018. Millennials were especially eager to adopt these accounts, nearly doubling their HSA participation from 2017.


  1. Higher earners don’t mind higher deductibles.

The report points to mounting evidence that HDHPs are more appealing to employees with higher incomes. On average, employees enrolled in HDHPs for 2018 earn seven percent more than employees enrolled in PPOs—a percentage difference more than twice what it was last year. This trend is consistent across all age groups.


  1. Reduced out-of-pocket risk offsets rising premiums.

As employers continue to fine-tune plan design, most employees will again see their medical premiums increase, but will also enjoy lower deductibles in 2018. Notably, PPO subscribers will see a nine percent decrease for family-coverage plans and a seven percent decrease for single-coverage plans.


  1. Voluntary benefits address a diverse set of employee needs, from critical illness to pets.

In addition to options like hospital indemnity, critical illness and accident insurance, employers are increasingly offering products like legal insurance, identity theft protection and pet insurance to round out their voluntary benefit offerings. Over the past two years, the share of large employers offering identity theft protection rose 56 percent, with the share offering pet insurance up 80 percent.


For more findings, download the full Benefitfocus State of Employee Benefits 2018 report. Additionally, Benefitfocus will release two subsequent reports in the coming months providing insight into benefits trends by region and by industry.


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