Marsh & McLennan Agency Survey Shows Health Benefit Trends Shifting During COVID to Focus on Employee Wellbeing, Cost Control

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August 24, 2020
Troy, Michigan – August 24, 2020 …Survey data from Marsh & McLennan Agency’s Michigan Mid-Market Group Benefits Survey and a Covid-19 Supplemental Survey shows that mid-sized employers in Michigan are focusing on employee well-being and cost control during the Covid-19 pandemic. In its seventeenth year, the Michigan Mid-Market Group Benefits Survey benchmarked health benefits and cost trends for 2020 among 381 Michigan organizations with 100-10,000 employees. As data collection closed for MMA’s annual survey just prior to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, MMA conducted a Covid-19 Supplemental Survey, gathering data from 130 respondents in May 2020 to gauge employers’ response to the pandemic.
“Employers are sensitive to the fragile environment. The impact of the pandemic on health benefit plan design and strategies varies widely among employers as they make plan renewal decisions,” said Rebecca McLaughlan, president & CEO of Michigan’s employee health benefits practice.
“Health plan cost increases after plan changes are at 3% over 2019. The data shows a shift in benefit planning from a pre-Covid emphasis on competing for talent to employee well-being, to taking care of existing talent as employers move to return to work,” said Jackie Webster, vice president and survey lead. “The majority of employers surveyed don’t anticipate making significant changes for 2021 as a result of COVID-19, but indicate they do plan to implement strategic cost control strategies such as increasing deductibles and co-pays.”

Major Findings:
  • Health plan costs increased in 2020 at 3% after plan changes, similar to but down slightly from 2019 (3.2%). 
  • With the onset of COVID-19, employers are considering modifying plan designs to control costs, i.e. increasing deductibles and co-pays, at a greater rate than before the pandemic (54% vs. 28%).
  • Organizations continue to proactively manage their prescription drug programs with forty-five percent (45%) of Michigan employers now incorporating 4th or 5th copay tiers.
  • Consumer-driven health plans (CDHP) continue to grow with more than half (58%) of Michigan employers surveyed offering a CDHP plan.
  • Michigan employers offer telemedicine services at a greater rate than nationally (86% vs. 75%). More are focusing on digital technology solutions for tele-therapy and mental health. 
  • Going beyond physical and mental wellbeing, organizations are increasingly focused on financial wellbeing (78% in 2020 vs. 71% in 2019) and social wellbeing (48% vs. 43%).
  • Employers will continue to highlight the importance of employee wellbeing given COVID-19, but only 7% anticipate scaling back on wellbeing initiatives as a result of the pandemic.
“MMA is using a specially designed Covid-19 Financial Impact Model to give companies insights into their costs and make informed decisions around budget reforecasting and overall impact of the pandemic to their bottom line,” said McLaughlan. “The data is customized to each employer and lays out impact scenarios of Covid-19 including the potential cost implications of pent-up demand for non-emergency procedures and workforce layoffs and furloughs.”
Interest in adoption of digital solutions for employee well-being such as apps to mitigate anxiety while employees work remotely, juggle child care and finances is on the rise according to Susan Bailey, vice president, MMA Culture & Wellbeing Practice Leader.
“We are seeing employers offering Cloud-based solutions such as app-based musculoskeletal therapies. Technology is the ‘digital front door’ of employee well-being - whether this is emotional, financial, social or physical support during Covid.”
The Mid-Market Group Benefits Survey, now in its 17th year, is the largest of its kind with 381 Michigan-based midsize organizations participating plus 33 school systems and municipalities. The survey has a 4.7% margin of error. The Covid-19 Supplemental Survey of 130 employers was a 10-question qualitative survey.
The surveys were conducted by the Michigan office of Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC and results shared exclusively with participants. For information, contact Ryan Bowers at (248) 822-6231 or visit

About Marsh & McLennan Agency
Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC is a subsidiary of Marsh established in 2008 to serve as a platform for the middle market. MMA offers commercial property, casualty, personal lines, and employee benefits to midsize businesses and individuals across North America.
About Marsh
Marsh is the world’s leading insurance broker and risk adviser. With over 35,000 colleagues operating in more than 130 countries, Marsh serves commercial and individual clients with data driven risk solutions and advisory services. Marsh is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies NYSE: MMC), the leading global professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people.
Ryan Bowers, Director of Marketing, (248) 822-6231