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American Society of Employers (ASE) Releases 2018 Healthcare Insurance Benefits Survey Findings – Health Benefit Costs Continue to Outpace Inflation Despite Efforts to Control Costs

The American Society of Employers (ASE), one of the nation’s oldest and largest employer associations, has released its 2018 Healthcare Insurance Benefits Survey. The annual survey, covering Michigan employers, examines the premiums, deductibles, and co-pays of employer-sponsored health plans as well as wellness benefits and cost control measures.

Highlights of the ASE 2018 Healthcare Insurance Benefits Survey:

• An average annual premium increase (after plan changes) of 4.4% for the 2018 plan year marked the lowest rate hike since 2015 when premiums rose just 3%. This increase also came in under the projected climb of 5% reported in the 2017 edition.

• Projected 2019 premium rate increases are expected to average 5%.

• Among non-unionized organizations, the most utilized plan type continues to be the Preferred Provider Organization Plans (PPO) with 88% of companies offering this option. This is up 4% from last year, but down slightly from 2016 (90%).

• The three-tiered price structure (generic, preferred brand, non-preferred brand) for prescription drug plans remains as the most popular among traditional PPOs with 59% of non-unionized organizations reporting this structure. Four-tiered price structures followed as the second most prevalent among Michigan employers.

• Median annual contributions to Health Savings Accounts (HSA) remained unchanged from the last two years with an employee only contribution totaling $500 and an employee + family contribution totaling $1,000 in non-unionized organizations.

Cost containment strategies were also addressed in the annual survey. Here are the highlights:

• The number one strategy that employers plan to implement in 2018 is increasing employee education regarding health plan features and costs. This was followed closely by plans to implement/expand wellness programs, which top the list of strategies that companies are considering but have yet to set a timeline for.

• Three out of four organizations have no plans to limit a patient’s choice of physicians as a means of cost savings, which is in line with what has been reported in previous years. Eliminating spousal coverage is also unlikely to be a cost saving measure for many companies.

The ASE 2018 Healthcare Insurance Benefits Survey findings were announced by ASE President and CEO, Mary E. Corrado.

“Few employers can afford to stand pat with their current health plan design. Most often, plan design changes and cost containment strategies focus on reducing coverage or increasing the employees’ portion of the cost. However, our data shows that employers are finding that employee education and wellness initiatives can be effective as a cost containment strategy,” stated Mary E. Corrado, ASE President & CEO.

Background information on the ASE 2018 Healthcare Insurance Benefits Survey:
• 215 organizations from across Michigan participated.

• Organizations with 50 to 499 employees nationally made up more than 53% of the survey sample, while organizations with more than 500 employees nationally represented nearly 34% of the sample. The remaining 13% of the sample come from organizations with fewer than 50 employees nationally.

• A variety of industries have been represented in the survey, with durable goods, manufacturing (40%) leading the pack. Trades and services (29%) were the second-largest industry representation.

To obtain a copy of ASE’s 2018 Healthcare Insurance Benefits Survey, contact ASE’s Survey Team at or 248.223.8051. This survey is available free of charge to ASE-member survey participants and is $1,350 for non-members.

About the American Society of Employers (ASE) – a Centennial Organization
The American Society of Employers (ASE) is a not-for-profit trade association providing people-management information and services to Michigan employers for over 115 years. Since 1902, member organizations have relied on ASE to be their single, cost-effective source for information and support, helping to grow their bottom line by enhancing the effectiveness of their people. Learn more about ASE at

Media Contact: Heather Nezich, Communications Manager, ASE, 248.223.8040,