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Women pay more for health benefits and receive less coverage, according to researchers at Mercer L.L.C.
Using preliminary findings from Mercer's National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans, researchers compared benefits provided to workforces that are predominantly female against those that are primarily male and found that mostly female workforces pay on average 13% more for single coverage than their male counterparts and typically are subject to deductibles that are 31% higher than mostly male workforces.
Analysis of the Mercer survey, to be released next month, used 2013 data from 2,842 employers.
Because women tend to use health care services more than men, the disparity in benefit levels has an even greater impact on them financially given that the average salary was found to be about $10,000 less when workforces were predominantly female vs. mostly male, Mercer researchers found.
“There is definitely an industry slant,” Beth Umland, Mercer's director of research and benefits in New York, told Business Insurance. “Not only are women being paid less, but their benefits go hand in hand.”
About half of the mostly female companies are in health care, and about one-quarter are in the services sector, while mostly male companies are found to be mostly in the manufacturing sector, Ms. Umland noted.
In comparing premium contributions and deductibles paid by workforces where 65% or more of employees were female vs. those where 65% or more were male, Mercer found:
• The average annual individual preferred provider organization contribution was $123 in mostly female workforces, compared with $109 in predominantly male workforces.
• The average PPO family contribution was $442 for predominantly female workforces vs. $338 for mostly male workforces.
• The average in-network individual deductible was $727 in mostly female workforces, compared with $557 in mostly male workforces.
• The average family deductible in mostly female workforces was $1,614 compared with $1,318 for mostly male workforces.
• The average individual out-of-pocket maximum in mostly female workforces was $2,668 vs. $2,413 in mostly male workforces.
• The average family out-of-pocket maximum was $5,709 in predominantly female workforces compared with $5,364 in mostly male workforces.
• Total health benefit cost per employee in 2013 for mostly female workforces was less on average than for mostly male workforces: $11,196 vs. $11,521.
Mercer's research also found that the benefit gap continues with retirement. Mostly male companies are more likely than mostly female companies to offer retiree medical benefits: 27% vs. 19%.
As the economy improves and the unemployment rate falls, employers that employ mostly women might want to address the benefits disparity to attract and retain female talent, Ms. Umland said.
“For employers with a mostly female workforce, the right health benefit package might be the key to a more engaged, productive and loyal workforce,” Ms. Umland said. “Because women use health benefits more, it stands to reason they value them more.”
(Reuters) — Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the biggest U.S. private-sector employer, said on Tuesday that its 1.3 million workers would have to pay more for health care and it would end benefits for some part-time staff in a move that could prompt other companies to follow suit.