2019 Benefit Trends Report

Explore the newest patterns and strategies emerging in the benefits landscape

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  1. Core Benefits
  2. Decision Support
  3. Voluntary & Supplemental Benefits
  4. Wealth & Wellness
  5. Verification & Surcharges

About the Report


Benefits are a fast-evolving business, and this year’s Benefit Trends Report demonstrates that this evolution continues as quickly as ever.

Among this year’s findings: employers are focusing on delivering coverage choice in addition to managing costs, offering competitive and comprehensive options that expand beyond the basics, and helping families make the most of their benefit programs by integrating the right tools, technology, and service to educate and engage their employees.

As benefits increase in complexity and the workforce becomes more diverse, organizations can expect these growing employee (or consumer) demands to make an even bigger impact on not just hiring and retention strategies, but also companies’ bottom-line expectations.

The data shows that benefits matter more than ever – and that strengthening people’s connection to their benefits is the key to unlocking positive outcomes for both employees and employers.

This report was compiled from data collected in January 2019 across Empyrean clients.

1 | Core Benefits

Highlights at a Glance:

  • Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs) and High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) remain the most popular medical plans: 97% of employers surveyed offer at least one of these two types of plans – signaling that many employers continue to focus on offering a variety of coverage choices to meet the needs of their generationally diverse workforces.
  • Despite the buzz surrounding HDHPs, PPOs have grown in popularity over the last year while HDHP growth has remained stagnant. Today, 84% of employers offer a PPO to their employees, compared to 76% in 2018.
  • Only 8% of employers that offer an HDHP utilize a full-replacement (HDHP-only) strategy, down significantly from 14% in 2018. This suggests that while employers are still focused on managing medical coverage spending, some businesses may find the tradeoffs from a full-replacement strategy too taxing on other factors, such as talent attraction and employee satisfaction.
  • Manufacturing remains the leading industry in full-replacement strategy adoption.
  • One-fifth of employers pay the full cost of medical coverage for their employees, with the Services and Energy & Utilities industries leading this approach.
  • More employers are choosing to eliminate medical coverage waiting periods for new employees, with 40% now offering coverage immediately starting on an employee’s date of hire – a 9% increase over 2018. Additionally, over a quarter of employers surveyed now offer coverage effective on the first day of the month following an employee’s date of hire – another 9% increase over last year’s findings.

[Graphs displaying the complete breakdown of this information by category are included in the full report]

HDHP or PPO: Which Plan is Right for your Business?

High deductible health plans (HDHPs) and preferred provider organizations (PPOs) are the two most widely available medical coverage options for employees. Yet while HDHPs have garnered a lot of attention in recent years, their growth has remained static over the past year- suggesting employers have slowed down their adoption of HDHPs. More »

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About Empyrean
Empyrean manages employee health and welfare benefits programs, combining the indistry’s most modern, client adaptive, and configurable benefits technology platform with expert, responsive service to deliver Hi-Touch Benefits Administration. With Empyrean, you can drive customized strategies, increase employee engagement, achieve ACA compliance and more – all on one secure system.

Talk to one of our experts and learn how Empyrean can help your business.