Mixed Results, Lots of Change for South Carolina in Employer Health Benefits 2012 Survey

Businesses providing more plan options, offering wellness incentives

SOUTH CAROLINA – August 10, 2012 – Upstate-based Rosenfeld Einstein, one of the Carolinas’ leading insurance agency/brokers, has released results of the 2012 South Carolina Employer Benefits Survey to more than 130 participating organizations from across South Carolina, noting that in-state businesses are attacking rising health care costs by expanding consumer-driven healthcare programs and choices, adopting high deductible health plan options, providing health risk assessments, and banning tobacco from work campuses.

And as both cost and importance of benefits rises – 53% of employees nationwide now rank benefits as an important aspect of job satisfaction, along with such criteria as job security and organizational financial stability – more employers and employees are becoming engaged in wellness programs in South Carolina, statistics show.

As medical costs continue to rise across the nation, premiums for Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans are lower on average in South Carolina at $406 for single coverage premiums versus a national average of $465.

High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs), which include those plans offering either a Health Reimbursement Arrangement or Health Savings Account, have grown to represent 60% of surveyed plans across the state, up from 46% just two years ago, and are also priced advantageously compared to national levels. HDHP premiums in South Carolina average $385 single compared to $399 single on the national scene.

Employee contributions are another story, however, as South Carolina businesses tend to require higher levels of employee contribution than do most national organizations. For PPO single coverage, employees contribute an average of $92 towards premiums versus $84 nationally. For HDHPs, single coverage averages $59 in South Carolina versus $60 nationally – essentially flat.

Average deductibles run significantly higher as well, impacting South Carolinians. PPO deductibles in South Carolina average $1,449 for single coverage and $3,693 for family coverage, versus national averages of $928 and $1,521 respectively. Out-of-pocket maximums, excluding deductibles, average $2,830 for PPO coverage and $1,331 for HDHP coverage in the Palmetto State.

For HDHPs, single deductibles in South Carolina average $2,255 versus $1,908 nationally, while family deductibles average $4,620 in-state and $3,666 nationally. Out-of-pocket maximums average only $1,331 single in South Carolina as compared to $2,935 nationwide, partially offsetting the impact of the higher deductible levels.

The findings were unveiled in a private presentation to representatives of businesses which participated in the 2012 South Carolina Employer Benefits Survey. Rosenfeld Einstein conducted the confidential survey in tandem with numerous human resource, chamber of commerce and economic development organizations across the state to help South Carolina business owners and company leaders benchmark their health benefit programs against peers and competitors, evaluate their competitive position, and determine if their organizations are providing competitive packages.

In assessing aggregated data from all companies and organizations combined, Rosenfeld Einstein’s David Slade and Howard Einstein pointed out other notable insights, including:

• South Carolina is among national leaders in its exploration and consideration of Consumer Directed Healthcare Plans (CDHPs), which include high-deductible programs and utilization of HSAs and HRAs. Some 60% of surveyed companies currently offer such plans in the Palmetto State, up from just 46% two years ago
• Wellness programs in South Carolina are gaining ground, with more than 56% of employers now offering such programs. Initiatives include personal health risk assessments (offered by 66%, up from 38% in 2010), employee assistance programs (offered by 70% of employers, and paid for by 96%), discounts for non-tobacco use (39%, up from 19.4%) and banning of tobacco on campuses (27%, with 13% more considering such action) are all positive indicators
• Fully 56% of South Carolina companies offer employees more than a single plan to choose from; 9% offer employees 3 or more plans from which to select
• Office visit copays continue to rise, averaging $27 for PPO plans, up from $23 in 2011; specialist office copays average $43, up from $32 in 2011. 87% of companies now have a specialist copay that is higher than a Primary Care Physician copay, up from 78% in 2010
• Prescription drug copays are very comparable to national averages for generic, preferred and non-preferred prescriptions
• 75% of employers offer 401(k), 403(b) or profit sharing plans to employees, down from 91% in 2010, with 73% offering a company match where applicable
• Short-term disability coverage is offered by 76% of respondents, with 66% providing the coverage at no cost to employees
• Long-term disability coverage is offered by 86% of respondents, with 73% providing the coverage at no cost to employees
• Long-term care insurance is offered by 19.2% of state participants, cancer insurance by 35%, and 29% offer critical illness coverage; these plans are now offered on a group basis and help to bridge the gap in deductibles and out of pocket maximums under consumer directed health plans
• Identity theft insurance is offered by 6.2%

“The participation from across the state validated our belief that businesses want actionable information to help them grow and succeed,” said Howard Einstein, principal of Rosenfeld Einstein. “Over 130 businesses from 30 cities across South Carolina participated, providing data representing more than 30,000 employees and dozens of industries, which is a highly significant sampling. These survey findings will provide them with actionable, current information to guide future benefits planning decisions.”

Conducted online and containing over 200 data points, the Rosenfeld Einstein survey provides businesses with insight on how their own benefits package compares to competitors, and offers regional groups insight on new strategies for recruiting businesses, noted David Slade, an executive with Rosenfeld Einstein who presented the survey findings to attendees. The firm’s proprietary survey data was compared to Kaiser/HRET’s 2011 national survey results – the latest available.

“A key value of this initiative is in helping companies understand where they are competitively, both locally and nationally, in recruiting and retaining their best associates,” noted Slade. “The survey data helps organizations and regions – like
regional chambers and economic development organizations -- make better informed decisions about their benefit plans based on real-time market data.”

Participating organizations receive a customized analysis comparing their plan to others locally and nationally. All information is held in confidence, and participating company information is only shared with that company.

Companies contributing data represented a broad base of South Carolina industry, including manufacturing, distribution, construction, healthcare, government and municipalities, financial services, technology and professional services. Average employer size of participants was 252 employees, while the median employer was 89 employees.

“This diverse make-up is very representative of today’s evolving economic base in South Carolina and provides real context to the findings,” said Einstein. “Manufacturing is still hugely important, yet we continue to see growth in services and knowledge based organizations. The diversity of these participating companies really bears out this transition in our state.”

“For South Carolina to continue to advance in the global economy, this type of benchmark information is essential to every forward-thinking organization, and we’re pleased to make it available,” Slade added.

For additional information on Rosenfeld Einstein or the 2012 South Carolina Employer Benefits Survey, contact David Slade or Howard Einstein at (864) 271-6336 or via email at [email protected].

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Rosenfeld Einstein is a regional, independent insurance agency/brokerage and consulting firm. Areas of specialty include employee benefits, personal, commercial property and casualty, life and health insurance, workplace safety, wellness and financial services. Visit them on the web at www.RosenfeldEinstein.com

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