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Ease Report Reveals Stark Regional Differences in Insurance Price Increases, Plan Variety

February 11, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO, January 11, 2020 ? Ease, the country?s leading benefits and HR administration software for small businesses, powered by insurance brokers, today released its first annual SMB Benefits and Employee Insights Report, which found businesses are coping with steep premium increases by offering a greater variety of plans that span a wider range of pricing.

?With premiums on the rise nationwide, business owners are clamoring for ways to control costs while still offering quality benefits to valued employees,? said Ease co-founder and CEO David Reid. ?We?ve found that businesses are combatting this financial pressure, which impacts businesses and employers alike, by offering more plan options than ever before. The West Coast is leading this trend, which we expect to proliferate throughout the country in the coming years.?

The report, which draws on the data of 70,000 small businesses and 2 million employees nationwide, found West Coast businesses offer double the number of health plan options ? over 6 options, on average ? of businesses in other parts of the country.

The full report, which explores national trends in benefit costs and adoption, is available here.

Other key findings include:

Northeast Leads the Nation in Premium Increases, High Rates

Medical premiums have been on the rise for both individuals and families, with individual premiums up 37.4% in the past three years. For both individuals and families, the increase in pricing was most severe in the Northeast, where premiums increased 55% for individuals and 112.2% for families, likely due to legislation impacting both the competitive dynamics and the larger number of treatments covered to region.

The ratio of contributions between employers and employees has remained steady across all markets as both bear the burden of these premium increases.

family medical premiums

Plan Variety Has Not Yet Led to Selection Changes

Among the varied plan options, many businesses are offering HDHPs, which are still in the early adoption stage, mostly among Millennials who seek them as a low-cost option. PPOs, however, continue to be the most selected plan type across generations.

The percentage of employees waiving coverage has remained steady, despite the repeal of the individual mandate.

plan types elected by employees

Voluntary Benefits on the Rise

There has been an increase in use of voluntary benefits. Interestingly, the Northeast leads the pack in adoption, further increasing the already high price individuals and families are paying in that region.

More individuals have life insurance through their employer than dental or vision coverage, with all three hovering around a 20 percent adoption rate. This is likely due to employer contributions ? employees bear a heavier burden for vision and dental than other insurance types.

?As unemployment remains low, employers continue to look for ways to remain attractive to current and prospective employees using benefits,? Reid continued. ?However, the rising costs of these benefits is consequential. Many businesses are opting for tech solutions that can streamline some of the more time consuming, and therefore costlier, aspects of the benefits process. That?s where Ease fits nicely into the equation.?

popular voluntary benefits

About Ease

Ease is an online benefits enrollment system that makes it simple for insurance brokers and small business employers to set up and manage benefits, onboard new hires, stay compliant, and offer employees one destination for all their human resources information. Started in 2012 in San Francisco by employee benefits veteran David Reid and web and engineering architect Courtney Guertin, Ease creates a seamless HR and benefits processes on an easy-to-use system. It has offices in Las Vegas, New York, Omaha, and San Diego. Over 70,000 employers and over 2 million employees use the rapidly growing system.

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