Survey: Michigan Employers Searching for Long-term Healthcare Cost Control


The American Society of Employers (ASE), a Livonia-based not-for-profit trade association, today released the results of its 2017 Healthcare Insurance Benefits Survey. The annual survey examines the premiums, deductibles, and co-pays of Michigan employer-sponsored health plans as well as wellness benefits and cost control measures.

“We are seeing strong evidence that employers are looking more long-term and are working to change the behaviors of their employees through increased education, wellness initiatives, and by implementing and offering consumer driven health plans,” says Mary E. Corrado, president and CEO of ASE. “It’s also interesting to see how technology is playing a role in healthcare cost control with the rise of telemedicine.”

A total of 236 organizations from across Michigan participated in the survey. Organizations with 50 to 499 employees nationally made up more than 56 percent of the survey sample, while organizations with more than 500 employees nationally represented roughly 27 percent of the sample. The remaining 17 percent of the sample was drawn from organizations with less than 50 employees nationally.

Key findings of the survey include:

  • Annual premium increased 5 percent for the 2017 plan year. This adjustment represents the increase to premiums after plan design changes and is up slightly from 4.5 percent in 2016 and 4.25 percent in 2015. Projected increases for 2018 are anticipated to remain at 5 percent.
  • Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans, which offer employees more provider options, are used by 84 percent of participants making them the most widely used plan type among non-union organizations. Only 38 percent of surveyed non-union organizations offered a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plan.
  • The median employer premium percentage among non-union organizations for PPO plans for employee only and employee plus family coverage has remained constant at 80 percent for both Consumer Driven Health Plans and Traditional plans.
  • The 2017 median in-network PPO plan deductible (in high deductible plans) for employee-only coverage among non-union organizations was $1,775, down from $1,875 in 2016. Median deductibles for employee plus family coverage decreased to $3,300 from $3,750 in 2016.  In-network deductibles in traditional PPO plans increased for employee only and employee plus family coverage. Increases for those plan types were $100 and $200 for employee-only and employee plus family coverage respectively.
  • More significant increases to plan deductibles (among PPO plans) were seen in out-of-network coverage. Increases to those deductibles were as high as $1,500 year-over-year, suggesting employers are making greater efforts to encourage plan participants to stay in-network where costs can be better managed.
  • Median annual contributions to Health Savings Accounts were flat. Median employer contributions in non-union organizations for employee only coverage was $500 in 2017 and 2016. Similarly, median annual contributions to employee plus family coverage was $1,000. Contributions at the 75th percentile of all firms were $700 and $1,300 respectively for employee only and employee plus family coverage.To control costs for employees, 48 percent of the organizations surveyed either implemented or plan to implement telemedicine services in 2017, while 46 percent have increased, or plan to increase, employee education around plan features and costs.
  • Other solutions for limiting cost hikes low include implementing or expanding wellness programs (31 percent), implementing a consumer driven health plan (30 percent), and making generic prescriptions mandatory (28 percent).

To obtain a full copy of ASE’s 2017 Healthcare Insurance Benefits Survey, contact ASE’s Compensation and Benefits Surveys department at: or (248) 353-4500.