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Nonprofits Adopting High-Deductible Plans, Too

By Stephen Miller, CEBS  6/9/2014
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As with for-profit employers, new survey results reveal a growing trend among U.S. nonprofit organizationstoward consumer-driven options such as high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) and online employee self-service tools in an attempt to curb rising premiums and cut administrative costs, while continuing to offer competitive benefits programs.

PPI Benefit Solutions’ Fourth Annual Nonprofit Employee Benefits Study reveals that despite challenges, private nonprofit employers remain committed to delivering health and welfare benefits to their employees but are seeking solutions to help manage costs and improve employee engagement.

The nationwide survey, completed by over 250 small to midsize nonprofit organizations in November 2013, found that:

  • The use of traditional medical plans by respondents has decreased from 96 percent in 2009 to 83.6 percent in 2013.

  • The use of HDHPs by respondents has nearly doubled, rising from 22 percent in 2009 to 43.5 percent in 2013.

  • Respondents are offering voluntary benefits to help subsidize the higher deductibles and offer employees more choice.

“Nonprofits are really struggling to maintain a comprehensive benefits package, and consumer-driven plans like HDHPs, health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts can be great, lower-cost options,” said Karen Greco, director of marketing for PPI Benefit Solutions. “The growth in these plan types, combined with the appeal of a predictable benefits budget, is also driving a lot of interest in alternative funding and enrollment solutions like defined contribution [health care] with an online marketplace that offers a wide array of product options.”

To address issues of efficiency, a growing number of nonprofit employers are recognizing the value of automated benefits administration and enrollment, as indicated by the 77.2 percent of respondents (up from 28.4 percent in 2012) that consider benefits administration platforms to be very important and the 44.3 percent of respondents (up from 9.6 percent in 2012) that believe employee self-service portals to be very important.

“Although the nonprofit sector has been somewhat slow in adopting employee self-service enrollment, the number is steadily growing,” Greco said. “Year after year more nonprofit employers recognize how online, employee-directed enrollment improves accuracy, transparency and engagement, and provides employees with a greater understanding of their benefit options.”

As the health care marketplace continues to evolve, nearly 85 percent of nonprofit employers remain committed to delivering health and welfare benefits to employees in order to improve satisfaction and maintain a competitive advantage for talent.

Stephen Miller, CEBS, is an online editor/manager for SHRM. Follow him on Twitter @SHRMsmiller.

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