Anthem: Employers increasingly looking to integrated health benefits

Stack of health insurance application forms with stethoscope on top
Employers are increasingly interested in integrated benefits, a new Anthem reports shows. (Getty/vinnstock)

Employers are increasingly integrating their health benefits as a way to achieve cost savings, according to a new report from Anthem.

Anthem has surveyed employers on their interest in integrated benefits biennially since 2014, and, in the latest report, it found that 56% of the 300 polled employers said they are actively integrating medical, pharmacy and ancillary benefits such as dental and vision.

That's an increase of 10% from a previous report in 2018, Anthem said.

In addition, 40% of those surveyed said they are considering or possibly considering integrated benefits, according to the report.

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Jeff Spahr, vice president of specialty business development for Anthem, told Fierce Healthcare employers have traditionally purchased health benefits in an a la carte way, with the expectation that this would ensure workers have access to the most high-quality benefits.

However, an integrated approach to benefits allows these offerings to work together to cover members' healthcare needs in a more holistic way.

"Employers are understanding that the pieces work best when they work together," Spahr said. "To me, that’s really encouraging."

Of the employers who are actively integrating benefits, 73% said they are integrating pharmacy benefits into their medical coverage, while 75% said vision benefits, 67% said dental benefits and 63% said disability benefits.

The number of employers integrating pharmacy, vision and/or dental benefits each increased by 6% from the 2018 survey, Anthem said.

The report also found that most employers (71%) are integrating their benefits through a single carrier instead of multiple carriers, an increase of 11% from 2018.

"That’s really how they’re pursing an integrated health strategy," Spahr said. "Companies are probably more likely to design products that work better together."