Most patients still have a choice of health plans

Study of enrollment trends highlights the benefits most employers offer their workers

A study that looked at the benefit enrollment trends from more than 450 organizations employing more than 9.5 million people found that employers continue to offer a variety of benefit options that are designed to appeal to the unique needs and preferences of their employees and families.

Alight’s 2023 Benefits and Enrollment Trends report found that 93% of employers offer a choice of medical plans, whether it be a PPO, HDHP, HMO, or other plan type. A large majority, 74%, contribute to a health savings account for employees who enroll in a high-deductible health plan, while roughly half offer some type of supplemental health care benefit, such as accident, critical illness, or hospital indemnity insurance.

The most common medical plan offered by employers are the PPO (91%) and HDHP (86%). Almost half (47%) of employers offer four or more medical plans to employees, and only 7% offer just one type of plan.

Employee income and age play a large role in medical benefit decisions, according to the report.

Employees earning less than $40,000 have the lowest enrollment rate for medical at 56%, and medical enrollment has significantly declined year-over-year for employees earning less than $60,000. Employees earning $100,000 or more are most likely to enroll in a high-deductible plan and participate in an HSA than employees of any other income level. The report notes that these patterns based on income may have implications for employers as they evaluate how their benefit strategy supports their diversity, equity, and inclusion goals.

Employers, despite cost pressures, do not appear to be passing major cost increases to employees, but the report speculates that they are likely making changes to medical plans including increased deductibles and formulary changes.

The average total cost of medical coverage across all plans is $5,330 for single coverage and $13,998 for family coverage, an increase of 2.3% and 3.2% respectively compared to 2022 costs. According to the report, employees are carrying a larger share of the medical cost increases with an average increase of 3% for single coverage and 4.6% for family coverage. Overall, employers contribute 72% toward the cost of single coverage and 70% for family coverage.

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