Health Benefits for Employees: Which Path Did Employers Take for 2018?

December 29, 2017

A common concept (and book) for businesses today is that it’s a leader’s responsibility to “get the right things done”. While this is a powerfully simple concept, 2017 was a challenging year for many business leaders, especially related to employee health benefits. What was the “right” choice, and what was the best way to get it done? In 2017 there were regulatory rumors and changes, coupled with coverage and price shifts nationwide. This meant that finding the right choice for 2018 health benefits was no small feat. 

Which paths were most common?

As we work with employers across the nation, from those with a handful of employees to those with thousands, we’re able to see trends in what made the most sense. Since we offer an array of options for health benefits – pre-tax or post-tax individual marketplace, private exchange and traditional group plan options – our job is to provide an informed recommendation of what makes the most sense for any employer and their employees.

Their most common choices, as well as the reasons why, are as follows:

Most Popular: Individual Marketplace

How it works: With this approach, the employer provides funds (either pre- or post-tax) and employees purchase benefits through Gravie’s web-based marketplace, with the help of licensed Gravie advisors. This approach means employees and their families make their own choices, rather than the employer trying to find a “one-size-fits-all” group plan. For some employers this represented the lowest cost option as well, which is identified in the dynamic financial analysis. Choosing this path could also mean incorporating Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs), enabling employees to use Health Savings Accounts, and opening up previously untapped tax credits – all based on employees’ specific needs. 

Why it makes sense: There are several reasons this was the best choice for a growing group of employers. First, it provides more choice for employees. Second, it enables employers to set a fixed budget through “defined contribution”. Third, using individual plans and services like Gravie (with an intuitive web shopping experience and concierge services from licensed advisors) means that the employer greatly reduces their administrative burden.

Second Most Popular: Private Exchange

How it works: This level-funded approach allows employers to self-insure, but pay a level or steady fee each month, without any additional liability. Employees access the marketplace and choose from seven group plans offering wide, national coverage and competitive rates. Depending on plan performance, employers also have the opportunity to earn a claims refund at the end of the year.

Why it makes sense: Gravie’s Private Exchange option was a new innovation for 2017 and was a popular option for employers that wanted a way to save money and avoid community rating, while still providing choices to employees with broad networks. Especially for employers with healthy employees, it proved to be a great path. 

Third Most Popular: Traditional Group

How it works: By becoming the administrator of your current group plan, employees get immediate access to Gravie’s smart-tech, human touch offerings that are available with our marketplace options and employers are positioned to take advantage of a new benefits approach when they are ready. 

Why it makes sense: The traditional group option was a fit for employers that had their coverage and cost needs met through this approach. For most of our customers, they see the value in one of the unique benefits models above, but weren’t in a position to go there this year. So, with Gravie’s adaptive approach, they can maintain a tradition group plan in the short-term and make a switch to a different way in the future. Employers still get expert guidance in what path makes sense and employees get all the benefits of concierge service from Gravie’s licensed advisors.

This time of year is a great time to reflect on the choices you’ve made for your organization and consider the best way to get the right things done in the future. As you evaluate employee benefits that control costs, expand choice, and improve the overall experience for you and your team, Gravie’s team can help you find the best fit.

Ready to learn more? Contact us today to learn more: or 844.540.8701.

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