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Mercer National Survey Of Employer Sponsored Health Plans

Overview of the Mercer National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans

The Mercer National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans is a comprehensive annual survey conducted by Mercer, a global consulting firm specializing in health benefits and workplace policies. This survey provides valuable insights into the trends, challenges, and strategies related to employer-sponsored health plans in the United States.

Objectives of the Survey

The primary objective of the Mercer National Survey is to help employers understand the evolving landscape of employer-sponsored health plans and make informed decisions regarding their employee benefits strategies. The survey covers various aspects of health plan design, cost-sharing arrangements, voluntary benefits, wellness programs, and the use of technology in managing health benefits.

Methodology and Sample Size

The survey collects data from a diverse sample of employers across the country, representing various industries, sizes, and regions. The data is collected through an extensive online survey, which gathers information on both large and small employers. Mercer ensures the robustness and credibility of the survey results by adhering to a standardized methodology and maintaining a large sample size.

Key Areas of Examination

The Mercer National Survey explores several key areas related to employer-sponsored health plans, including:

  1. Plan Design: The survey examines the different plan designs offered by employers, such as preferred provider organizations (PPOs), health maintenance organizations (HMOs), and high-deductible health plans (HDHPs). It also assesses the prevalence of features like prescription drug coverage, mental health benefits, and telemedicine services.
  2. Cost-Sharing Arrangements: The survey analyzes the various cost-sharing arrangements between employers and employees, such as deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance. It provides insights into the average cost-sharing amounts and trends in cost-sharing over the years.
  3. Voluntary Benefits: In addition to health insurance, the survey investigates the adoption and popularity of voluntary benefits, such as dental and vision coverage, life insurance, and disability insurance. It examines the strategies used by employers to offer a comprehensive benefits package to meet the diverse needs of their workforce.
  4. Wellness Programs: The survey delves into the prevalence and effectiveness of wellness programs, including initiatives to promote physical activity, healthy eating, stress management, and disease prevention. It explores the impact of such programs on employee engagement, productivity, and overall well-being.
  5. Technology Adoption: Recognizing the transformative role of technology in healthcare, the survey assesses the use of technology in managing health benefits. This includes the implementation of digital platforms for enrollment, claims processing, provider directories, and telehealth services.

Significance of the Survey

The Mercer National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans acts as a compass for employers navigating the complex landscape of health benefits. The survey results provide employers with actionable insights to make informed decisions about plan design, cost-sharing arrangements, and voluntary benefits. Additionally, the survey highlights emerging trends in wellness programs and the role of technology in shaping the future of employer-sponsored health plans.

By leveraging the data and analysis from the Mercer National Survey, employers can optimize their employee benefits strategies to attract and retain top talent, control healthcare costs, and ensure the well-being of their workforce. It serves as a valuable resource for human resources professionals, benefits managers, and executives seeking to benchmark their health benefits offerings and align them with industry best practices.

Key Findings and Trends from the Mercer National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans

Rising Costs of Employee Health Plans

Healthcare costs have been consistently rising over the years, and the Mercer National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans has shed some light on the impact of these rising costs on employee benefits. According to the survey, employers have had to make several adjustments in order to manage these rising costs effectively. One of the key findings is that the average total health benefit cost per employee grew by X% in the past year alone.

Shift towards High-Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs)

In an effort to reduce costs, employers have increasingly embraced high-deductible health plans (HDHPs). These plans typically have lower premium costs, but higher deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses for employees. The survey found that X% of employers now offer HDHPs as part of their employee benefits package. This shift towards HDHPs reflects a growing trend in the industry, with employers seeking to engage employees in healthcare decision-making and cost-consciousness.

Increased Focus on Wellness and Disease Management Programs

As healthcare costs continue to rise, employers are recognizing the importance of investing in wellness and disease management programs. These programs are designed to promote healthier lifestyles and manage chronic conditions, ultimately reducing healthcare expenses. The survey revealed that X% of employers offer wellness and disease management programs, ranging from fitness incentives to personalized health coaching. By encouraging employees to take proactive steps towards their well-being, employers can potentially lower healthcare utilization and costs.

Adoption of Telemedicine Services

Telemedicine, which allows employees to consult with healthcare professionals remotely, has gained significant traction in recent years. The Mercer National Survey highlighted that X% of employers now offer telemedicine services as part of their healthcare benefits. This shift is driven by the convenience, cost savings, and increased access to care that telemedicine provides. Employers have recognized the value of telemedicine in reducing unnecessary emergency room visits and improving overall employee well-being.

Increasing Emphasis on Mental Health Benefits

The recognition of mental health as an integral part of overall well-being has been growing steadily. The survey revealed that X% of employers now offer mental health benefits, recognizing the impact of mental health issues on employee productivity and engagement. Services such as counseling, therapy, and mental health resources are becoming more common in employee benefits packages. This trend is likely to continue as employers acknowledge the importance of supporting their employees’ mental health needs.

Customization and Personalization of Benefit Plans

Employers are increasingly recognizing that a one-size-fits-all approach to employee benefits may not be effective. The Mercer survey revealed that X% of employers offer a choice of health plans to their employees, allowing them to select the coverage that best suits their individual needs. This shift towards customization and personalization helps employers attract and retain top talent, as employees value flexibility and options in their healthcare benefits.

Increased Focus on Data Analytics and Employee Engagement

The adoption of data analytics and technology in healthcare benefits administration is on the rise. Employers are leveraging data to gather insights into healthcare utilization trends, cost drivers, and employee preferences. This data-driven approach helps employers tailor benefit plans to address specific needs and engage employees in their healthcare decisions. With the help of technology tools, employers can deliver personalized communications, targeted wellness programs, and real-time cost transparency, contributing to better employee satisfaction and cost management.

The Mercer National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans provides valuable insights into the current state of employer-sponsored health plans. Rising costs, the shift towards high-deductible plans, emphasis on wellness and mental health, adoption of telemedicine, customization of benefit plans, and the use of data analytics and technology are key trends observed in the survey findings. Employers can leverage these insights to design competitive benefit packages that meet employee needs while effectively managing costs. As the healthcare landscape evolves, it is crucial for employers to stay informed about the latest trends and adapt their strategies accordingly.

The Impact of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans on Employee Benefits

Employee benefits play a crucial role in attracting and retaining top talent in today’s competitive job market. Among the various benefits that employers offer, employer-sponsored health plans are particularly significant. The Mercer National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans provides valuable insights into the impact of these health plans on employees and their overall benefits package.

Importance of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans

Employer-sponsored health plans are a cornerstone of employee benefits packages. These plans provide employees with access to healthcare services and coverage for medical expenses, promoting their well-being and financial security. In addition to medical insurance, these plans may include dental, vision, and mental health coverage, ensuring comprehensive care for employees and their families.

Improved Access to Healthcare Services

One of the primary benefits of employer-sponsored health plans is the increased access to healthcare services. With rising healthcare costs, many individuals find it challenging to afford medical care. However, through these health plans, employees have access to a broad network of healthcare providers at negotiated rates. This allows them to receive timely medical attention, preventive care, and necessary treatments without incurring significant out-of-pocket expenses.

Financial Security and Protection

Employer-sponsored health plans help to protect employees from the financial burden of medical expenses. By sharing the costs of healthcare through premium contributions, deductibles, and copayments, these plans provide employees with a level of financial security. In the event of a serious illness or injury, employees can focus on their recovery rather than worrying about exorbitant medical bills or the strain it may put on their finances.

Wellness Programs and Preventive Care

Many employer-sponsored health plans include wellness programs and preventive care initiatives. These programs aim to educate and encourage employees to adopt healthier lifestyles, leading to a reduction in healthcare costs for both the employer and the employee. Mercer’s survey data reveals that employers increasingly prioritize preventive care, such as vaccinations, screenings, and annual check-ups, as part of their health plan offerings. By investing in employee wellness, employers can improve productivity, reduce absenteeism, and lower healthcare expenses in the long run.

Impact on Employee Satisfaction and Retention

The availability of comprehensive health benefits significantly impacts employee satisfaction and retention. According to the Mercer survey, when employees feel their health plan meets their needs and provides adequate coverage, they are more likely to be satisfied with their overall benefits package and their employer. Moreover, quality health benefits are a crucial factor for employees when considering job offers, and they can be a significant differentiator in attracting top talent and reducing turnover.

Compliance with Healthcare Regulations

Employer-sponsored health plans must comply with various healthcare regulations and legal requirements. These regulations, such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the United States, ensure that employees receive certain minimum benefits and protections. Mercer’s research helps employers navigate these complex regulations and make informed decisions regarding their health plan offerings, ensuring compliance and avoiding potential penalties or legal issues.

Employer-sponsored health plans have a profound impact on employee benefits. They provide improved access to healthcare services, financial security, wellness programs, and preventive care. These benefits contribute to employee satisfaction and retention, making them an essential component of a comprehensive benefits package. By leveraging the insights provided by the Mercer National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans, employers can build robust health plans that meet the needs of their employees while complying with healthcare regulations.

Strategies Employers can Implement Based on Mercer National Survey Findings


The Mercer National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans provides valuable insights into the world of employee benefits. Employers can leverage the findings and trends from the survey to develop effective strategies for their own health benefit plans. In this section, we will discuss some of the key strategies that employers can implement based on the survey’s findings.

Offer a Diverse Range of Health Plans

One of the key findings from the Mercer National Survey is the rising popularity of high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) combined with health savings accounts (HSAs). Employers can consider offering a diverse range of health plans to cater to the different needs and preferences of their employees. This could include traditional PPO plans, HDHPs with HSAs, or even alternative options such as health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs). By offering a variety of plans, employers can ensure that employees have access to the benefits that best suit their individual situations.

Focus on Cost Control

Another important takeaway from the survey is the increasing concern about rising healthcare costs. Employers can take steps to control costs while still providing comprehensive coverage to their employees. This might involve implementing cost-sharing mechanisms such as higher deductibles or copayments. Additionally, employers can explore innovative strategies like reference-based pricing or value-based insurance design to encourage employees to seek high-quality, cost-effective care.

Emphasize Wellness and Preventive Care

The Mercer National Survey highlights the growing importance of wellness programs and preventive care in employer-sponsored health plans. Employers can promote employee wellness by offering incentives for participation in wellness activities, such as gym memberships or healthy lifestyle programs. Additionally, employers can ensure that their health plans cover preventive services at no cost to the employee, in line with the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. By prioritizing wellness and preventive care, employers can help employees stay healthy and reduce healthcare costs in the long run.

Enhance Benefits Communication and Education

Effective communication and education are crucial for maximizing the value and utilization of employer-sponsored health plans. The survey reveals that many employees struggle to understand their health benefits and make informed decisions. Employers can address this by providing clear, concise, and easily accessible information about their health plans. This could include regular communication through various channels, such as emails, newsletters, or an online benefits portal. Employers can also offer personalized guidance, such as decision support tools or access to benefits advisors, to help employees navigate their options.

Consider Telehealth and Virtual Care Options

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of telehealth and virtual care services. The survey shows that many employers have expanded their telehealth offerings in response to the pandemic. Employers can leverage this trend by integrating telehealth services into their health plans. By providing employees with access to virtual consultations and remote care options, employers can improve access to healthcare while also potentially reducing costs. Telehealth can be particularly beneficial for employees in remote locations or for those with limited access to in-person healthcare services.

The Mercer National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans provides employers with valuable insights and data to inform their health benefit strategies. By offering a diverse range of plans, focusing on cost control, emphasizing wellness and preventive care, improving benefits communication, and considering telehealth options, employers can optimize their health plans to better meet the needs of their employees. Implementing these strategies can not only help attract and retain top talent but also contribute to the overall health and well-being of the workforce.

The Role of Technology in Shaping Employer-Sponsored Health Plans

In today’s digital age, technology plays a pivotal role in every aspect of our lives, including healthcare. This is particularly true when it comes to employer-sponsored health plans. As more and more employers seek innovative ways to enhance the quality and delivery of healthcare for their employees, technology provides a solution that can streamline processes, improve access to care, and empower employees to take charge of their health and well-being. In this section, we will explore the role of technology in shaping employer-sponsored health plans, highlighting its benefits and potential challenges.

Utilizing Telemedicine and Virtual Care

One of the significant advancements in technology that has transformed employer-sponsored health plans is telemedicine and virtual care. With the increasing availability of high-speed internet and smartphones, employees can now access healthcare services remotely. Telemedicine allows physicians to diagnose and treat patients through virtual consultations, eliminating the need for in-person visits. This not only enhances convenience for employees but also reduces healthcare costs by eliminating unnecessary emergency room visits or hospital stays.

Telemedicine also improves access to care, particularly for employees living in rural or underserved areas. With the ability to connect with healthcare providers online, employees can receive timely medical advice and consultations, reducing the barriers to healthcare faced by many individuals.

Data Analytics for Better Decision-Making

Another way technology is shaping employer-sponsored health plans is through the use of data analytics. Employers can leverage the power of data to gain insights into the health patterns and behaviors of their workforce. By analyzing this data, employers can identify trends, risks, and opportunities to optimize their health plans.

Data analytics can help employers customize benefits, identify high-risk individuals, and design wellness programs that target specific health issues. For example, if the data reveals a high prevalence of chronic diseases within the workforce, employers can implement disease management programs or provide resources to promote healthier lifestyles. By using data-driven insights, employers can make more informed decisions that align with the unique needs of their employee population.

Digital Health Tools and Apps

The proliferation of digital health tools and mobile apps has revolutionized the way employees engage with their health and wellness. From fitness trackers to calorie counters, employees have access to a wide range of digital tools that can support their personal health goals. Employers can leverage these tools and apps to promote a culture of wellness within the workplace.

For instance, employers can offer incentives for employees who meet certain activity targets tracked through their fitness devices. This not only encourages physical activity but also fosters a sense of community and healthy competition among employees. Additionally, digital health tools can provide employees with personalized health tips, reminders for preventive screenings, and access to educational resources, empowering them to make informed decisions about their health.

Privacy and Security Considerations

While technology offers numerous benefits to employer-sponsored health plans, it also raises concerns about privacy and security. The collection and storage of healthcare data require robust security measures to ensure the confidentiality of employee information. Employers must prioritize data protection and comply with relevant privacy regulations, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in the United States.

To address these concerns, employers can partner with technology vendors that have strong security protocols in place. Additionally, educating employees about the importance of data privacy and providing clear guidelines on how their information will be used can help foster trust and ensure compliance.

Technology has become an integral part of shaping employer-sponsored health plans. From telemedicine and virtual care to data analytics and digital health tools, there are numerous opportunities to enhance the quality, accessibility, and personalization of healthcare for employees. As employers continue to embrace technology-driven solutions, it is crucial to balance the benefits with privacy and security considerations. By leveraging technology effectively, employers can create a healthier and more productive workforce while maximizing the value of their health plans.

The Future Outlook and Predictions for Employer-Sponsored Health Plans based on Mercer’s Research

Influencing Factors for Future Employer-Sponsored Health Plans

With the ever-changing landscape of healthcare and employee benefits, it is crucial for employers to stay updated on the latest trends and predictions for employer-sponsored health plans. The Mercer National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans provides valuable insights into the future outlook for such plans, taking into account various influencing factors. These factors include regulatory changes, technological advancements, and shifting employee preferences.

Regulatory Changes and Compliance Challenges

One important aspect that will shape the future of employer-sponsored health plans is regulatory changes. The healthcare industry is subject to constant regulatory updates, and employers must stay compliant to avoid penalties and maintain the affordability and sustainability of their plans. Recent changes, such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and subsequent amendments, have had a significant impact on employer-sponsored health plans. As new regulations arise, employers must adapt their plans accordingly to ensure compliance while still providing desirable benefits.

Compliance challenges are not limited to the ACA. The Mercer survey highlights the increasing complexity of health plan sponsor compliance with other regulations, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). Employers need to allocate resources and invest in technology solutions that help them navigate these regulations and ensure they are offering plans that adhere to the latest requirements.

Shifting Employee Preferences and Expectations

Employee preferences and expectations regarding health benefits have been evolving rapidly in recent years. The Mercer survey sheds light on these changes and offers insights into the future direction of employer-sponsored health plans. One noteworthy trend is the increasing demand for personalized and consumer-centric healthcare. Employees now expect more choices and flexibility when it comes to selecting insurance plans, providers, and treatment options.

To meet these evolving expectations, employers will need to incorporate more personalized options into their health plans. This could involve offering a range of plan designs that cater to different employee needs and preferences, such as high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) with health savings accounts (HSAs) or flexible spending accounts (FSAs) to empower employees to take control of their healthcare spending.

Additionally, mental health and well-being have gained significant attention in recent years. The Mercer survey highlights the need for employers to prioritize mental health benefits and resources. This may include offering access to counseling services, stress management programs, and employee assistance programs (EAPs) that provide support for mental health issues and work-life balance.

Technological Advancements and Digital Solutions

In today’s digitized world, technology plays a crucial role in shaping employer-sponsored health plans. The Mercer survey indicates that employers are increasingly leveraging technology to enhance the employee experience, drive engagement, and improve healthcare outcomes. Advancements such as telemedicine, mobile health apps, and wearable devices offer new opportunities to deliver healthcare services more efficiently and conveniently.

Telemedicine, in particular, has gained significant popularity. It allows employees to consult with healthcare providers remotely, reducing the need for in-person visits and providing greater accessibility to care. Employers can include telemedicine services in their health plans to offer cost-effective and convenient healthcare options, especially for non-emergency medical issues.

Furthermore, wellness programs and platforms that utilize data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) are becoming more prevalent. These technologies can provide personalized health recommendations, track progress, and encourage healthy behaviors. Integrating these digital solutions into employer-sponsored health plans can lead to improved employee engagement, increased wellness, and potentially lower healthcare costs.

Based on the Mercer National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans, it is clear that the future of employer-sponsored health plans will be shaped by regulatory changes, shifting employee preferences, and technological advancements. Employers must proactively adapt their health plans to ensure compliance, meet employee expectations, and leverage technology to enhance the overall employee experience. By staying informed and embracing these trends, employers can design and implement health plans that promote employee well-being, satisfaction, and productivity.


In conclusion, the Mercer National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans provides valuable insights into the current state of employee benefits in organizations across the United States. This comprehensive survey helps employers and industry professionals gain a deeper understanding of the trends and challenges they face in providing health coverage to their employees.

The survey’s key findings and trends highlight the ongoing shifts in employer-sponsored health plans. It reveals that employers are actively seeking cost-effective strategies to manage their benefits programs. This includes implementing plan designs that focus on consumerism and cost-sharing, such as high-deductible health plans and health savings accounts. These findings signal a continued shift of healthcare costs onto employees, creating a need for better education and engagement to help employees make informed decisions about their healthcare.

Employer-sponsored health plans play a crucial role in attracting and retaining top talent in today’s competitive job market. Offering comprehensive benefits and robust health coverage is a way for employers to differentiate themselves and enhance employee satisfaction. Mercer’s research shows that employees highly value health benefits, and they consider it an essential part of their overall compensation package.

Based on the survey’s findings, there are several strategies that employers can consider implementing. One approach is to adopt innovative technologies that streamline administration, improve communication, and enhance the overall employee experience. This can include digital tools for benefits enrollment, telemedicine services, and personalized wellness platforms. By leveraging technology, employers can create a more efficient and personalized healthcare experience for employees while also reducing administrative burdens.

Looking ahead, Mercer’s research suggests that employer-sponsored health plans will continue to evolve in response to changing healthcare landscapes and employee expectations. Rising healthcare costs, advances in technology, and the increasing demand for personalized benefits experiences are likely to shape the future of employer-sponsored health plans.

In conclusion, the Mercer National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans serves as a vital resource for employers and industry professionals seeking to navigate the complex world of employee benefits. By staying informed of the key findings and trends identified in the survey, organizations can make data-driven decisions to optimize their benefit offerings and meet the evolving needs of their workforce. Through innovative strategies and the effective use of technology, employers can create a positive impact on employee health and well-being while managing costs and remaining competitive in the marketplace.