Survey: R.I. plans cost more per employee

A national survey of employee health plans showed plans offered in Rhode Island had a higher per employee cost than the national average. More

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Survey: R.I. plans cost more per employee

Posted 11/4/13

A national survey of employee health plans showed plans offered in Rhode Island had a higher per employee cost than the national average.

Rhode Island’s per-employee cost of $10,171 was more than $800 greater than national average of $9,302. However, the state’s annual premium increase of 3.1 percent was less than the national average of 5.5 percent, according to the survey, which was conducted by United Benefit Advisors, a national employee-benefits advisory organization.

UBA’s 2013 survey was answered by 10,551 employers nationwide, who offered a total of 16,928 health care plans. The results were released by Warwick-based Cornerstone Group, a benefits advisory firm, which extrapolated and analyzed the data for Rhode Island.

Amy Gallagher, Cornerstone’s Vice President of Major Accounts, said UBA’s survey focuses on companies with 1,000 employees or fewer, which reflects the size of most of the companies in Rhode Island.

“We really use this survey as a good, independent profile of the market,’’ she said.

In addition to higher costs per employee and lower premium increases, the results showed a significantly higher increase in Rhode Island in Health Savings Accounts and other so-called consumer-driven health plans. Just over fifty-eight percent of employers in Rhode Island offered CDHPs here compared with only 24.1 percent nationally.

“In Rhode Island, while average annual costs for plans are still higher here than in other parts of the country, companies are getting more creative with changes in plan designs and increased employee engagement in health care decision,” Gallagher said.

The goal of these plan changes is to keep costs flat in preparation for Jan. 1 2014, when most of the new health care law goes into effect, she said.

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