Benefitfocus data shows employers in continue to shift more health insurance costs to employees

May 7, 2018

Benefitfocus, Inc. (NASDAQ: BNFT), a leading cloud-based benefits management platform and services provider, released its “State of Employee Benefits – Industry Edition” research report. The snapshot of real, but anonymized employee benefit election data from over 540 large employers on the BENEFITFOCUS® Platform shows employers in the education, health care, manufacturing and retail sectors are using a variety of tactics to drive selection of high-deductible health plans (HDHPs), with varying levels of adoption from employees.

In education, HDHPs are becoming the norm

  • The share of employers offering at least one HDHP has more than doubled since 2016, from 23 to 50 percent
  • Employers have done a lot to make HDHPs attractive—they now pay 87 percent of the total HDHP premium and have doubled their contribution to employees’ HSAs since 2016
  • Efforts have worked—34 percent of employees selected an HDHP when given the choice for 2018, up from 20 percent two years ago

Health care employers raise price of traditional health coverage to encourage HDHP adoption

  • Employers have transferred more PPO plan costs onto workers—the average employee premium contribution for a single-coverage PPO is up 24 percent from 2016
  • The number of employers offering HDHPs has nearly doubled in two years, with 73 percent offering at least one in 2018, up from 41 percent in 2016
  • Despite efforts, only 27 percent of employees selected an HDHP for 2018

Despite boom in HDHP offerings among manufacturers, more employees go with PPOs

  • 88 percent of employers in manufacturing now offer an HDHP, up from 54 percent in 2016
  • However, the percentage of employees electing an HDHP continues to decrease while PPO participation grew from 36 percent in 2016 to 57 percent for 2018
  • Voluntary benefits have become increasingly prevalent among manufacturers, with nearly 60 percent of employers offering at least one for 2018, up from 34 percent in 2016

Retail employees shoulder more health plan costs, while more employers offer voluntary benefits to supplement coverage

  • Employers offering at least one HDHP increased from 55 percent in 2016 to 76 percent
  • 40 percent of employees elected HDHPs, but premiums for these plans are rising, with the average annual employee contribution for a single-coverage HDHP up nearly 20 percent since 2016
  • Despite HDHP prevalence, retail employers contributed 40 percent less to HSAs than the average for all employers, and employees contributed 20 percent less than peers in other industries
  • 56 percent of employers offered at least one voluntary benefit to supplement coverage, up from 43 percent in 2016

“Everywhere you turn there’s a story about rising health care costs. What employers in every industry have in common is the struggle to economically provide the best plans and care for their employees,” said Ray August, President and CEO, Benefitfocus. “The report data shows how benefits have grown horizontally, expanding to more voluntary products far beyond traditional medical insurance. This evolution is why we built BenefitsPlace™, enabling employers to pair traditional medical insurance with health, wealth, lifestyle, voluntary and ancillary benefits that give employees greater choice and coverage options at the best price.”

For more findings, download the full Benefitfocus State of Employee Benefits 2018 – Industry Edition here.


About Benefitfocus

Benefitfocus (NASDAQ: BNFT) unifies the entire U.S. benefits industry on a single technology platform to protect consumers’ health, wealth and lifestyle. Our powerful cloud-based software, data-driven insights and thoughtfully-designed services, enable employers, insurance brokers and carriers to simplify the complexity of benefits administration and deliver a world-class benefits experience. Learn more at, LinkedIn and Twitter.