We recently wrapped up a series of roundtable meetings in various cities where we discussed results from an employer survey we conducted on Plan Design Considerations & Innovations. Attendees at each of the roundtables enjoyed spirited discussion of the survey findings in general and of specific plan management strategies.

The survey asked participants to rate 30 plan management strategies based on market acceptance and effectiveness. For the survey, we defined “acceptance” as prevalence of use (high acceptance means most plan sponsors have already implemented or are considering that approach). “Effectiveness” referred to the level of plan impact or ROI (cost and/or quality) from each approach as typically executed.

After creating a visual representation of the results and reviewing the collective responses we noted:

  • Responding employers generally considered highly accepted strategies as highly effective, and there was a strong correlation between almost all acceptance levels and the corresponding effectiveness levels. The notable exception was voluntary products, which were viewed as significantly less effective than accepted.
  • Private exchanges stood out as the least effective and least accepted strategy.
  • The strategies with the most variation in how respondents viewed their effectiveness were ben admin outsourcing, telemedicine, group purchasing, and voluntary benefits.
  • Respondents considered many of these plan management approaches much more effective than we have observed in our own consulting work.
  • Conversely, there were a few approaches that were not highly rated by survey participants, but that we have found quite worthwhile.

In the end, our biggest takeaway from the survey and subsequent employer roundtables was that everyone has their own experiences, and details matter. Employers may use common terms to describe strategies, but further discussion often reveals significant differences in how they design, execute and manage those for results.