Employers turning to ACOs, wellness and narrow networksNews added by Benefits Pro on May 1, 2014

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By Dan Cook

Employers serious about providing quality health coverage while also keeping a sharp eye on costs are turning to accountable care organizations, wellness programs and narrow provider networks.

That’s the upshot of survey of 70 insurance companies conducted by Wells Fargo Insurance.

These approaches to achieving better health at a more predictable cost will be used in tandem with other cost-control measures, such as cost-shifting to employees, utilization of a private insurance exchange service, and other plan design options, Wells Fargo said.

Insurers are hot to trot to get into the private insurance game, as 47 percent of respondents said they’ll launch a proprietary private exchange by next year.

The survey also confirmed what others have reported: that the cost of claims will continue to rise in the next year. Here are the estimated increases drawn from the survey by plan:
  • HMOs – 7.5 percent

  • POS – 7.7 percent

  • PPOs – 8.3 percent

  • Consumer driver health plans – 8.6 percent

  • Exclusive provider organizations (EPO) – 8.9 percent

  • Indemnity plans – 9.5 percent
“We’re finding that employers are considering private exchanges and defined contribution strategies to manage rising costs,” said Nick Allen, national practice leader for Actuarial Services with Wells Fargo Insurance. But “defined contribution strategies are often just shifting cost to employees, and private exchanges are an option, but may do little to change health care utilization behaviors. Product innovation and consumer engagement remain critical in creating a culture of smarter health care spending,” he said.

Originally published on BenefitsPro.com
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