Benefit Trends Reported In Area

June 16, 2008
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GRAND RAPIDS — McGraw Wentworth, an employee group benefit brokerage/consulting firm, has released the results of its first West Michigan Mid-Market Group Benefits Survey.  The survey compares health benefits and trends among 80 West Michigan-based organizations with 100 to 10,000 employees. 

Survey results show that health care costs for West Michigan employers are increasing at an average rate of 6 percent in 2008, comparable to a 6 percent rate increase nationally.

“West Michigan is a unique business environment for which timely, accurate trend data is often difficult to find,” said Roger Edgren, account director for McGraw Wentworth’s West Michigan office. “This survey provides mid-sized organizations with a statistically valid tool and benchmark to evaluate competitive plan designs and cost sharing at the local level, which will result in better decision-making.”

The West Michigan survey showed:

  • Eligibility management strategies are popular as a cost control strategy — most employers are looking to improve aspects of the enrollment process and conducting eligibility audits.

  • Wellness programs are the second most popular cost control strategy.

  • Interest and participation in wellness and consumer driven health plans is very high.

“Employers are implementing cost control measures they can manage directly, such as eligibility audits and spousal and smoker surcharges, to hold the line on health care costs,” said Edgren.

The survey analysis also provides a Total Cost Ratio comparing what West Michigan employers and employees pay in total for benefits in 2008, including premiums, employee payroll contributions and out of pocket costs. Specifically, the Total Cost Ratio in 2008 for a median individual PPO Plan was $496 per month, of which the employer paid 63 percent or $316. The employee paid 37 percent, or $180 in payroll deduction ($79) and deductibles and co-pays ($101).

Results of the McGraw Wentworth 2008 West Michigan Mid-Market Group Benefits Survey will be shared with survey participants at a private seminar in June. More information can be found at the company’s Web site,

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