Employee Benefits Benchmarking: Employer Contributions

April 6, 2017
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employee benefits

The March 2017 Zenefits Small Business Benefits Benchmark Report is now available. Representing data from more than 8,000 Zenefits customers, the report examines how plan types, contributions, premiums, deductibles, copays and out-of-pocket costs differ across regions. The study is intended to help businesses make more informed decisions by providing insights into the choices of similar companies within the same region and nationally.

In our last post, we focused on Insurance Premiums. In this post, we examine the Employer Contributions section of the report:

Employer-sponsored health insurance is a huge part of employee benefits and a great tool for attracting and retaining talent. Most insurers and health plans require employers to cover portions of the single premium for the lowest cost plan, with minimum affordability rules at the employee level in certain cases. However, Zenefits benchmark data shows small businesses are contributing significantly more than the minimum, on average.

Average Employer Contributions: Individual

  • National average: 73% toward the monthly premium for individuals.
  • On average, companies in the West contribute more toward individual premiums compared with other regions (80%).

Average Employer Contributions: Dependents/Family

  • National average: 38% toward dependent/family premiums.
  • On average, companies in the Northeast contribute more toward dependents compared with other regions.

Considerations for Employer Contributions

A primary decision for any small business is how much to contribute toward employee and dependent healthcare premiums. From a data standpoint, these contribution splits have been stable over the last several years.  However, there are many considerations, including:

  • Talent acquisition and retention: Locations, positions, industries, and job markets play a major role in contribution modeling. Although single coverage cost share usually ends up around 75% employer/ 25% employee (per above), many companies use this to pull levers higher or lower to accomplish one of several goals. For example, to ensure you are equal to or better than your competition in a competitive job market, i.e. engineering in a technology-based area or medical research elsewhere.  
  • Pre-tax considerations: Some employers chose to maximize the current uncapped ability to spend pre-taxed dollars on benefits by investing higher employer contributions than the benchmark, but adjusting down on other business levers such as salary or bonuses.  
  • Building a richer employee benefits package: Some prefer to go below the benchmark and invest more into other benefits that may make for a more competitive package, such as health savings account funds, flexible spending accounts, supplemental benefits, etc. Aiming higher on the family (spouse/dependents) contribution is another common strategy employers deploy, depending on the demographics of their workforce.

Every business is unique. Alignment is key – It is important for employers to align their contribution strategies to their specific business requirements, based on their market, industry and employee demographics. An experienced benefits consultant can help balance this data and an employer’s goals appropriately.

Get the Report Now

The March 2017 Zenefits Small Business Benefits Benchmark Report can help answer common questions including:

  • What type of health insurance benefits are similar types of companies offering?
  • Which plan types are are most popular in my region?
  • How much are similar companies contributing to employee and dependent premiums?
  • What are the average premium cost shares for the company and employees?

To download the report now, click here.

Expert Advice: Melissa Davis, CEO of Elev8 Hire Solutions (a Zenefits customer) shares her advice on key considerations for employee benefits decisions.

About

Tim Cerimele is co-founder of the Zenefits Insurance Advisory Board. He has 10 years of experience as a benefits consultant, manager, and director of operations at a national benefit firm. Recently, Tim has been focused on the ACA's impact, access to care behind new and unique health plan contracting and benefits technology.

Category: HR Tips & Trends, Zenefits, Benefits, Health Care Cost


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