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Employers in today’s full-employment economy are expected to offer competitive health care benefits to attract and retain workers. This expectation stays despite the data showing that health care costs will rise by more than 5% in 20221. Rising costs and employee demand for inclusive benefits packages are causing employers to rethink the way they offer health care benefits. Changing the way companies structure their benefits could lower cost for employers while keeping employees happy.


Lowering costs while attracting and retaining talent

The Best Practices in Health Care Employer Survey by Willis Towers Watson shows that taking a strategic approach and implementing a range of strategies that offer a better employee experience can help mitigate the impact of cost increases.2

In the end, employees are happiest when they have job satisfaction, a healthy work/life balance, and a valuable benefits package. By offering customizable benefits, companies can get closer to achieving their goals.

Some ideas for customizing benefits include:

  • Encouraging use of network and delivery solutions, such as tele-behavioral health services, centers of excellence (COEs) within health plans, onsite/ worksite health promotion activities, onsite and near-site health clinics, and high-performance networks (HPNs)
  • Proactively managing pharmacy benefit costs with a particular emphasis on specialty drug costs and utilization
  • Evaluating vendors best positioned to help deliver on their organization's strategy
  • Allowing employees to pick and choose voluntary benefits


In addition to the above, there are several solutions employers are trying in order to address rising costs.

According to Willis Towers, 22% of employers currently structure benefit contributions based on pay or job grade, and 8% said they are considering moving to those structures in the next two years3.

A quarter of employers said they include surcharges for covering a working spouse and another 9% said they plan to roll out similar programs or are considering them in the next two years4.

Another popular strategy is to offer narrow networks and focus on covering high-quality providers. Thirty percent of survey responders are planning to adopt this strategy in the next few years while 21% have already implemented this approach5.

Additionally, 48% of survey responders are currently offering centers of excellence within their health plans and 23% are considering or planning to add them to their network offerings. Thirty-one percent of responders currently offer concierge services, and 25% are planning to add them.

The solutions continue:

  • On-site health promotions
  • Medication adherence programs

As employers improve access to quality, affordable healthcare, and steer employees towards high-quality affordable care by implementing value-based designs including incentives and nudging employees away from wasteful services, they are learning how to change their healthcare offerings by utilizing strategic plan design.



How to offer the right mix of benefits

What’s right for your company? You can dig into your workforce’s demographic stats and review third-party research to explore general trends and uncover what benefits are standard in your industry—but you need more customized guidance. That’s why your best resources for planning your benefits strategy are usually your employees and employee benefit advisers/brokers.

• Talk to employees. It’s particularly helpful to survey employees or meet with them directly. Ask them what types of benefits they need and want. Find out what they value—and what makes a difference to their employee satisfaction.

• Talk to industry professionals: advisers and brokers can help you determine the best way to manage your employee benefits spend, as well as communicate your offerings effectively to employees. They can also connect you with other resources to help you streamline benefits administration.


Try these benefits out for size

In this day and age, employers can get creative with their benefits offerings. You’ll find ways to provide benefits for telecommuting, student loan repayment, genetic testing, pet insurance, gym membership, onsite daycare, credit union access, and supplemental insurance plans.

Supplemental insurance plans are ideal for a mix-and-match benefits approach. They supplement the employees’ existing insurance, and can help people dealing with an unexpected illness, accident, loss of life, or disability. Some plans’ benefits can provide income replacement or be used to help cover unexpected medical bills. And what’s more, supplemental insurance can fit into just about anyone’s benefits portfolio.

They can be a great match for employees with high deductible health plans or for those with multiple dependents, both good candidates for accident and/or critical illness plans that pay cash benefits if the “unthinkable” happens. And since employees pay for them —in most cases, with affordable rates—they’re not a cost burden for employers. They help round out an employer’s insurance offerings to provide peace of mind and cash benefits when they’re needed most.

Get in touch with our dedicated team.  Fill out the form at the bottom of this page today



Workplace benefits are issued by Combined Insurance Company of America (Chicago, IL) in all states, except New York. In New York, life, policies are issued by Combined Life Insurance Company of New York (Latham, NY). Combined Insurance Company of America is not licensed and does not solicit business in New York. Policy availability varies by state.



1-Minemyer, P. (2021, October 06). Willis Towers Watson: Employers expect health costs to rise by 5% in 2022. Retrieved April 11, 2022, from

2- Best Practices in Health Care Employer Survey The 24th Annual Willis Towers Watson. (2020). Retrieved April 11, 2022, from file:///C:/Users/A9WALS/Downloads/BPS-Survey-Report-2019%20(2).pdf

3- 5-Minemyer, P. (2021, October 06). Willis Towers Watson: Employers expect health costs to rise by 5% in 2022. Retrieved April 11, 2022, from