Employers Seek Narrow Networks, COEs, Virtual Care Benefits with Chart: Average Employer-Sponsored Plan Premium Rose 4% in 2020

Several recent surveys on employer-sponsored health insurance have found that plan sponsors are following three major trends: expanding virtual care and telehealth benefits, narrowing provider networks and emphasizing centers of excellence in their benefit designs. Experts suggest that these trends are driven by the continuing growth in health care costs, which is reflected in growing premiums for firms and employees. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed plan sponsors to unforeseeable risk.

According to the 2020 edition of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s (KFF) Employer Health Benefits Survey (see infographic, p. 7), which was published Oct. 8, this year’s annual premium growth (4% for individuals and families) outstripped both wage growth (3.4%) and inflation (2.1%). That is in line with the dramatic growth in premiums in recent years, which have risen 22% in the last five years and 55% in the last 10.

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Peter Johnson

Peter Johnson

Peter has worked as a journalist since 2011 and has covered health care since 2020. At AIS Health, Peter covers trends in finance, business and policy that affect the health insurance and pharma sectors. For Health Plan Weekly, he covers all aspects of the U.S. health insurance sector, including employer-sponsored insurance, Medicaid managed care, Medicare Advantage and the Affordable Care Act individual marketplaces. In Radar on Drug Benefits, Peter covers the operations of (and conflicts between) pharmacy benefit managers and pharmaceutical manufacturers, with a particular focus on pricing dynamics and market access. Before joining AIS Health, Peter covered transportation, public safety and local government for various outlets in Seattle, his hometown and current place of residence. He graduated with a B.A. from Colby College.

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