The consolidation of two health insurer giants has divided employers into two camps.
Twenty-one percent of almost 100 surveyed in an Aon Hewitt brief pulse survey say the proposed Aetna and Humana merger will result in greater cost efficiencies and better cost management. On the other hand, however, 46% say the union will result in fewer health plan options for them and for their employees.
Despite these differences of opinion, 44% of companies do not expect to make any meaningful changes to their overall health strategies. The remaining 54% said they are considering a few options. These include:
- Reassessing their current vendor within the next two years (38%)
- Adopting third-party vendor solutions, such as telemedicine or transparency to supplement what the health plan provides (13%)
- Supplementing national carriers with regional/local players (5%)
There are also mixed feelings on retiree health care coverage, the survey notes.
Also see: Consolidation makes room for new players, ideas
Just over three-fourths of the respondents said industry consolidation will not affect short-term decision-making; 14% say the potential for market disruption will encourage them to take a wait-and-see attitude; and 10% said consolidation will offer an opportunity to make changes to leverage the potential for market efficiencies.
Despite whether employers think merger consolidation is good or bad for the industry, most do not feel the need to wait to see how the market shakes out before moving forward with the analysis and implementation of their longer-term health care strategies, said Tucker Sharp, global chief broking officer of Aon Health. Employers know they need to take action now to address the impact of inevitable premium increases and the upcoming 2018 Affordable Care Act excise tax.
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