For Immediate Release
Washington, DC – The following statement should be attributed to James Gelfand, Senior Vice President of Health Policy, The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC):
“Today’s release of data from Mercer’s National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans, highlights the important role large employers play as plan sponsors.
ERIC members –the largest employers in the nation across all industries–offer some of the highest quality health insurance plans in the country because the health and well-being of their employees and their employees’ families are important to them.
According to the Mercer survey the average total health benefit cost per employee rose just 2.4% in 2016, one of the lowest increases in decades – especially compared to the recent announcement of jarring increases coming to the individual market. The much smaller increase for large employer plans is partly attributed to employer innovation, including increasing access to telemedicine, wellness programs, and alternative provider payment models.
ERIC and its members recognize in particular the important role telemedicine can play. Last year, ERIC launched a nationwide initiative among our member companies to promote policies that facilitate access to telehealth for employees and their families. Now, according to the Mercer survey 59% of all large employers offer these services, up from 30% last year.
More large employers are also covering gender reassignment surgery, with 43% of employers with 20,000 or more employees offering coverage, up from 29%. This is likely attributable both to evolving societal views on the subject, and new rules finalized by the federal government this year.
While large employers are able to offer more coverage options, one area where they have been met with frustration is the cost of prescription drugs. According to the survey, large employers reported that drug benefit cost rose 7.4%, on average and predict an increase of 7.9% at their next renewal.
ERIC and its members recognize the important value of prescription drugs in preventing and improving health care, and are also working to address the issue of rising drug costs. Member companies have called for the FDA to address their backlog of genERIC drugs, for improvements in comparative effectiveness research, and for better transparency on the price and value of medications. But the Mercer data makes clear that there is a long way to go to getting rising prescription drug costs under control.”