2015 Employer Health Benefits Survey
Summary Of Findings
Majerol, Melissa, Newkirk, Vann and Garfield, Rachel. "The uninsured: A primer—key facts about health insurance on the eve of coverage expansions." Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. Dec 2014. https://www.kff.org/uninsured/report/the-uninsured-a-primer/ See supplemental tables - Table 1: 268.9 million non-elderly people, 54.6% of whom are covered by ESI.
Kaiser/HRET surveys use the April-to-April time period, as do the sources in this and the following note. The inflation numbers are not seasonally adjusted. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Consumer Price Index - All Urban Consumers: Department of Labor; 2015. [cited 2015 September 2] http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CUUR0000SA0?output_view=pct_1mth. Wage data are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and based on the change in total average hourly earnings of production and nonsupervisory employees. Employment, hours, and earnings from the Current Employment Statistics survey: Department of Labor; 2015 [cited 2015 September 2]. http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0500000008
"Application of Market Reform and other Provisions of the Affordable Care Act to HRAs, Health FSAs, and Certain other Employer Healthcare Arrangements." Notice 2013-54. Internal Revenue Service. http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-13-54.pdf
Federal Register. Volume 79, No 36, February 24, 2014. http://webapps.dol.gov/FederalRegister/HtmlDisplay.aspx?DocId=27369&Month=2&Year=2014
Federal Register. Vol. 75, No 221, November 17, 2010, http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2010-11-17/pdf/2010-28861.pdf.
Claxton, Gary & Levitt, Larry. "How Many Employers Could be Affected by the Cadillac Plan Tax?" Kaiser Family Foundation. Apr 2015. https://www.kff.org/health-reform/issue-brief/how-many-employers-could-be-affected-by-the-cadillac-plan-tax/
The 2015 offer rate is significantly lower than the 69% of firms which indicated that they offered benefits in 2010. The increase in the 2010 estimate was primarily driven by a 12 percentage point increase in firms with between 3 and 9 employees offering coverage. Given the number of small firms in the country, statistics weighted by the number of employers tend to be volatile - for more information see the survey design section.
"Assessing the Effects of the Economy on the Recent Slowdown in Health Spending." Kaiser Family Foundation. Apr 2013. https://www.kff.org/health-costs/issue-brief/assessing-the-effects-of-the-economy-on-the-recent-slowdown-in-health-spending-2/
"How has health spending changed over time?" Peterson-Kaiser Health System Tracker. June 2015. http://www.healthsystemtracker.org/chart-collection/how-has-health-spending-changed-over-time/?slide=1
Section Two: Health Benefits Offer Rates
- Because surveys only collect information from a portion of the total number of firms in the country, there is uncertainty in any estimate. Since there are so many small firms, sometimes even seemingly large differences are not statistically different. For more information on the Employer Health Benefits Survey's weighting and design please see the Survey Design and Methods section.
- Internal Revenue Service. "Determining Full-Time Employees for Purposes of Shared Responsibility for Employers Regarding Health Coverage". Notice 2012-58. http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-12-58.pdf
- Internal Revenue Service. "Employer Health Care Arrangements". April 16, 2015. http://www.irs.gov/Affordable-Care-Act/Employer-Health-Care-Arrangements
Section Three: Employee Coverage, Eligibility, and Participation
Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. The uninsured: A primer—key facts about health insurance and the uninsured in America [Internet]. Washington (DC): The Commission; 2014 Dec [cited 2015 Jul 24]. https://www.kff.org/uninsured/report/the-uninsured-a-primer/ See supplemental tables - Table 1: 268.9 million non-elderly people, 54.6% of whom are covered by ESI.
In 2009, Kaiser/HRET began weighting the percentage of workers that take up coverage by the number of workers eligible for coverage. The historical take up estimates have also been updated. See the Survey Design and Methods section for more information.
Variable hour employees may have a measurement period of up to 12 months before it is determined if they are eligible for benefits. Employers may require a cumulative service requirement of 1,200 hours before an employee may enroll. Federal Register. Vol. 79, No.36. February 24, 2014. https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/02/24/2014-03811/ninety-day-waiting-period-limitation
United States Department of Labor. “Technical Release 2012-01”. http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/healthreform/regulations/automaticenrollment.html
Section Four: Types of Plans Offered
Starting in 2010, we included firms that said they offer a plan type even if there are no covered workers enrolled in that plan type.
Section Six: Worker and Employer Contributions for Premiums
Estimates for premiums, worker contributions to premiums, and employer contributions to premiums presented in Section 6 do not include contributions made by the employer to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) or Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs). See Section 8 for estimates of employer contributions to HSAs and HRAs.
For definitions of Self-Funded and Fully Insured plans, see the introduction to Section 10.
Section Seven: Employee Cost Sharing
Some workers with separate per-person deductibles or out-of-pocket maximums for family coverage do not have a specific number of family members that are required to meet the deductible amount and instead have another type of limit, such as a per-person amount with a total dollar amount limit. These responses are included in the averages and distributions for separate family deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums.
Starting in 2010, the survey asked about the prevalence and cost of physician office visits separately for primary care and specialty care. Prior to the 2010 survey, if the respondent indicated the plan had a copayment for office visits, we assumed the plan had a copayment for both primary and specialty care visits. The survey did not allow for a respondent to report that a plan had a copayment for primary care visits and coinsurance for visits with a specialist physician. The changes made in 2010 allow for variations in the type of cost sharing for primary care and specialty care visits. This year the survey includes cost sharing for in-network services only. See the 2007 survey for information on out-of-network office visit cost sharing.
Section Eight: High-Deductible Health Plans with Savings Option
There is no legal requirement for the minimum deductible in a plan offered with an HRA. The survey defines a high-deductible HRA plan as a plan with a deductible of at least $1,000 for single coverage and $2,000 for family coverage. Federal law requires a deductible of at least $1,300 for single coverage and $2,600 for family coverage for HSA-qualified HDHPs in 2015. See the Text Box for more information on HDHP/HRAs and HSA-qualified HDHPs.
The definitions of HDHP/SOs do not include other consumer-driven plan options, such as arrangements that combine an HRA with a lower-deductible health plan or arrangements in which an insurer (rather than the employer as in the case of HRAs or the enrollee as in the case of HSAs) establishes an account for each enrollee. Other arrangements may be included in future surveys as the market evolves.
The average out-of-pocket maximum for HDHP/HRAs is calculated for plans with an out-of-pocket maximum. About 3% of covered workers in HDHP/HRAs with single coverage or family coverage are in plans that reported having no limit on out-of-pocket expenses.
In the survey, we ask, “Up to what dollar amount does your firm promise to contribute each year to an employee’s HRA or health reimbursement arrangement for single coverage?” We refer to the amount that the employer commits to make available to an HRA as a contribution for ease of discussion. As discussed, HRAs are notional accounts, and employers are not required to actually transfer funds until an employee incurs expenses. Thus, employers may not expend the entire amount that they commit to make available to their employees through an HRA. Some employers may make their HRA contribution contingent on other factors, such as completing wellness programs.
Section Thirteen: Grandfathered Health Plans
Federal Register. Vol. 75, No. 116, June 17, 2010, http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2010-06-17/pdf/2010-14614.pdf, and No. 221, Nov. 17, 2010, http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/pdf/2010-28861.pdf
United States Department of Labor. (June 17, 2010). EBSA Final Rules. Group Health Plans and Health Insurance Coverage Relating to Status as a Grandfathered Health Plan Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; Interim Final Rule and Proposed Rule. http://webapps.dol.gov/FederalRegister/HtmlDisplay.aspx?DocId=23967&AgencyId=8&DocumentType=2
Cohen, Gary. Department of Health and Human Services. Nov 14, 2013. http://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Resources/Letters/Downloads/commissioner-letter-11-14-2013.PDF and Cohen, Gary, "Insurance Standards Bulletin Series – Extension of Transitional Policy through October 1, 2016." Department of Health and Human Services. March 5, 2014. https://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Resources/Regulations-and-Guidance/Downloads/transition-to-compliant-policies-03-06-2015.pdf
HDHP/SO includes high-deductible health plans offered with either a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) or a Health Savings Account (HSA). Although HRAs can be offered along with a health plan that is not an HDHP, the survey collected information only on HRAs that are offered along with HDHPs. For specific definitions of HDHPs, HRAs, and HSAs, see the introduction to Section 8.
HDHP/SO premium estimates do not include contributions made by the employer to Health Savings Accounts or Health Reimbursement Arrangements.
In total, 142 firms participated in 2013, 315 firms participated in 2014 and, and 1,082 firms participated in 2013 and 2014.
Response rate estimates are calculated by dividing the number of completes over the number of refusals and the fraction of the firms with unknown eligibility to participate estimated to be eligible. Firms determined to be ineligible to complete the survey are not included in the response rate calculation.
Estimates presented in Exhibits 2.1, 2.2, 2.3 and 2.5 are based on the sample of both firms that completed the entire survey and those that answered just one question about whether they offer health benefits.
General information on the OES can be found at: http://www.bls.gov/oes/oes_emp.htm#scope. A comparison between the OES and the NCS is available at: http://www.bls.gov/oes/oes_ques.htm
Analysis of the 2011 survey data using both R and SUDAAN (the statistical package used prior to 2012) produced the same estimates and standard errors. Research Triangle Institute (2008). SUDAAN Software for the Statistical Analysis of Correlated Data, Release 10.0, Research Triangle Park, NC: Research Triangle Institute.
A supplement with standard errors for select estimates can be found online at Technical Supplement: Standard Error Tables for Selected Estimates, http://ehbs.kff.org
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Price Index, U.S. City Average of Annual Inflation (April to April), 2000-2015; http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CUUR0000SA0?output_view=pct_1mth