Three-quarters (74 per cent) of plan sponsors described the quality of their health benefits plan as excellent (22 per cent) or good (52 per cent), down from 80 per cent in January 2020, according to the 2021 Benefits Canada Healthcare Survey.
It found employers with more than 500 employees were more likely to describe their plan as excellent/good (79 per cent versus 65 per cent with less than 50 employees), as were those with a wellness culture (76 per cent versus 50 per cent).
By comparison, only 47 per cent of plan members described the quality of their health benefits plan as excellent (13 per cent) or very good (34 per cent). While this number was unchanged from 2020, it’s down from 59 per cent in 2006, when the question was first asked.
In addition, 10 per cent of members described the quality of their plan as poor, up from seven per cent in 2020 and four per cent in 2006. However, when plan members were asked in a slightly different way — with the option of a more neutral mid-point response — 22 per cent described their plan as excellent, 46 per cent as good, 26 per cent as adequate and five per cent as poor/very poor.
More than half (57 per cent) of members stated their benefits plan meets their needs extremely or very well, unchanged from 2020 and consistent with results since 2012. In 1999, when this question was first asked, the result was 73 per cent. However, 10 per cent said their plan doesn’t meet their needs, with personal health, workplace setting and job satisfaction among the factors influencing the results.
When first asked in 2014 why they provide benefits plans, 67 per cent of plan sponsors cited the broad concept of “peace of mind for employees.” In 2021, 60 per cent indicated their top reason was “to provide coverage so that employees are not placed under undue financial burden,” while peace of mind slipped to fourth position (51 per cent) behind “to attract and retain employees” (57 per cent) and “to keep employees healthy and productive” (56 per cent).
Three-quarters (74 per cent) of plan sponsors said they receive claims data analyses from their insurance provider or benefits consultant/advisor that identify the main disease states in their workforce. This number is up from 69 per cent in 2020 and 58 per cent in 2018, when this question was first asked. Employers with 500 or more employees were much more likely to get this information (89 per cent compared to 54 per cent among those with less than 50 employees).
A third (31 per cent) of plan sponsors said they receive these analyses regularly, up from 22 per cent in 2020 and 19 per cent in 2018. Among the 26 per cent that didn’t receive this reporting, 46 per cent would like to. Consistent with previous years, plan sponsors that receive this reporting were more likely to describe the quality of their health benefits plan as excellent or good (80 per cent versus 56 per cent among those without this reporting) or to invest funding or other resources in wellness areas in the next three years (76 per cent versus 41 per cent).
“The pandemic has put a spotlight on health benefits in that people appreciate them more — not just the employees, but also the executive teams,” said Heidi Worthington, an advisory board member and senior vice-president and chief revenue officer at Pacific Blue Cross, in the report. “Plan sponsors are taking time to evaluate the effectiveness of their plans based on benefits usage and shifts in care delivery models.”