Understanding the ever-changing employee benefits landscape is important for small business leaders, tasked with making decisions about employee benefits in their organizations. Each year, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET) conduct a survey to examine employer-sponsored health benefit trends. Here are some of the main findings from the 2017 survey and suggests how this may affect healthcare decisions moving forward.

Health Insurance Premiums

  • In 2017, the average premium rose 4 percent for single coverage and 3 percent for family coverage. The average premiums were $6,690 and $18,764, respectively.
  • Premium costs varied widely across industry and regions in 2017.
  • The premium for family coverage was, on average, lower at small employers (3-199 employees) than at large employers—$17,615 compared to $19,235.

Employee Contributions

  • Most workers must pay a share of their health care costs, and 81 percent had a general annual deductible for single coverage in 2017.
  • Fifty-one percent of workers had a deductible of $1,000 or more for single coverage. The average deductible for all workers was $1,221
  • The average worker contribution toward the premium was 18 percent for single coverage and 31 percent for family coverage
  • In terms of dollar amounts, workers contributed $1,213 and $5,714 toward their premiums for single coverage and family coverage, respectively.

Plan Enrollment

  • Preferred provider organizations (PPOs) were the most common types of health plans with 48 percent of workers covered.
  • High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) were next with 28 percent of workers covered.
  • PPO enrollment has decreased by 8 percent over the last five years, and enrollment in HDHPs has risen by 9 percent over the same period.

Availability of Employer-sponsored Coverage

  • Only 40 percent of very small employers (three to nine employees) offer benefits, while virtually every large employer (1,000 or more employees) offers coverage.


  • Over half of large employers have embraced telemedicine, with 63 percent offering health care services through this method. Participants on the Helpside Medical Plan (in most states) have access to telemedicine with a $0 co-pay. If you have questions, please contact us at service@helpside.com or (801) 443-1090.

Supplemental and Voluntary Benefits

  • Dental is offered by 67 percent of small employers, 97 percent of large employers.
  • Vision is offered by 47 percent of small employers, 82 percent of large employers.
  • Critical illness is offered by 23 percent of small employers, 46 percent of large employers.
  • Hospital indemnity is offered by 16 percent of small employers, 28 percent of large employers.

Companies partnering with Helpside have access to all of these benefits options for employees. Knowing that only a small number of small employers offer some of these benefits, including these to your benefits offering can set you apart as an employer.

As this summary indicates, the market has been stable over the past few years and remains that way. The Affordable Care Act repeal effort is something to monitor—as well as the Cadillac tax, as the 2020 deadline approaches—but the market is stable despite these disruptions. Employers continue to offer employee benefits at high rates and that seems likely to be the future trend as well.