Back Button
Menu Button

2015 Iowa Employer Benefits Study© Has Begun!

17 Year Anniversary - Iowa Employer Benefits Study1999 – quite a year!

What were you doing 16 years ago? Were you working at the same organization, perhaps with a different job description and title? Possibly still in high school or college? Maybe beginning a new family, or about to become an empty-nester?

To give you a nudge about events during that particular year, here are a few top highlights:

  • The world’s population exceeded six billion. (In July 2015, it is projected to reach 7.325 billion.)
  • People worried about Y2K and the millennium bug (remember all of that?)
  • Columbine High School Shootings (Colorado)
  • Dr. Jack Kevorkian was found guilty of second-degree murder for giving a lethal injection in a case of voluntary euthanasia
  • Internet and mobile phones around the world opened up new opportunities for successful entrepreneurs
  • Dow Jones Average – 11,497
  • Interest rates at year-end (Federal Reserve) – 8.50%
  • Cost of a gallon of gas – $1.22
  • Cost of U.S. postage stamp – 33 cents

Without question, much has happened since that final year of the 20th century!

Now, in 2015, our organization begins its 17th year of the Iowa Employer Benefits Study© – a feat that I never imagined possible when we first began the Study in 1999. Just last week on April 30, Data Point Research, the firm we use to perform this research, began the process of contacting randomly-selected Iowa employers to become survey participants. Our desired goal this year is to survey 1,000 employers, which means that we will have surveyed over 12,000 Iowa organizations since 1999!

If your organization has been invited to participate in this year’s survey, I highly encourage your involvement. By doing so, this September you will receive a unique link via email to download a complementary electronic summary of the survey results – a $300 value!

During this time of year, Iowa employers have an on-going anticipation – an opportunity to participate in this trustworthy and credible resource on employee benefits offered within this state! Many thanks in advance to those organizations who participate in our annual survey. Without having this assistance, our survey would not be possible.

Please know that our firm is Rated A+ by the Better Business Bureau. Should you have any questions about the 2015 survey, please contact me directly.

To stay abreast of employee benefits and healthcare issues, we invite you to subscribe to our blog.

Healthcare Information:
Converting Water Drops to a Tsunami

Water Drops Become TsunamiI am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.
Abraham Lincoln

A free-market system is most efficient when consumers have relevant facts about the products and services they desire. After all, knowing the cost, features and benefits of each consumable good or service is the first step in having informed purchasers.

But unfortunately, this is not yet reality within the U.S. healthcare ‘system.’ A group of highly-imaginative, energetic people armed with the world’s largest chalkboard could not purposely design a more complex, dysfunctional system if they had tried. To put it mildly, our currently-structured healthcare system is so complicated and rife with economic conflict that every attempt to simplify it actually complicates it further.

An April Health Tracking Poll from Kaiser Family Foundation indicates that very few Americans use quality and cost information on hospitals and doctors – and the reasons are numerous. First of all, finding access to updated comparative quality information is a hit-and-miss process, with only 13 percent of Americans claiming to have seen quality information comparing hospitals or doctors (10 percent) during the last 12 months. Of those people, only four percent used the information for hospitals while just six percent for doctors. As for pricing information, a scant six percent saw comparative pricing information for hospitals or doctors in the past year, and only half as many actually used the information.

These numbers are dismal. But the results should not suggest that Americans are indifferent in desiring this information. It is the complexities of our system that are preventing those who seek quality and affordable healthcare.

‘Reputation’ and ‘location’ appear to dominate the choice of providers we use, possibly trumping any immediate urge to seek ‘quality’ and ‘price’ information. For the time being, we haven’t made much headway in the development of reliable quality and price information. This is unfortunate since the healthcare sector sucks up about one-fifth of our economy!

Healthcare data needs a ‘Steve Jobs’ moment. As many Apple products revolutionized social and recreational connectivity through innovation, the creation of a huge data ‘bank’ can revolutionize healthcare. But this will only become reality when we desire to make the connection of quality and price to serve our best interests.

Can this be done? You bet it can.

Mount RushmoreIf humans can put a man on a moon using technology from the 60s*, dig a tunnel under the English Channel (31.4 miles long), chisel four American presidents from a granite mountain top, build pyramids in the middle of a desert (approximately 4,700 years ago), and perform other countless miraculous marvels – why can’t we figure out how to consistently deliver basic healthcare information to Americans (utilizing advanced technology we have today)?

The common thread that ties together each of these amazing feats is just one thing: Having the WILL to succeed. When it comes to healthcare, we appear to be a fractured country. We have failed to define our goal to engage Americans to be more involved with our health and, consequently, our subsequent care. Yes, our own behaviors determine our health, but we should not have to blindly seek the care we need.

Metaphorically, each of us represents a drop of water, placed in a vast ocean. By ourselves, we cannot cause a tsunami of change (or revolution) without first coming together with a massive number of other water drops to make the difference in how we desire to receive care in the future. Tsunamis have developed in other markets, and it is only a matter of time before we have monster waves appear in healthcare.

Each drop of water can make a difference!

To stay abreast of employee benefits and healthcare issues, we invite you to subscribe to our blog.

*Some Americans believe that having a man on the moon was merely a fabrication in the back lot of a studio!

Psst…Guess Which Areas in Iowa Offer More Employee Benefits?

Knowledge Is Power“All politics is local.” Tip O’Neill, Former Congressman from Massachusetts

To rephrase this famous quote:

“All employee benefits in Iowa are local.”

Allow me to explain…

Using the Lindex Radius, a simple interactive feature within our Lindex Online® benchmarking program, I compared the prevalence of employers offering two important benefits – health and dental plans – to statewide averages in seven different Iowa metropolitan areas. The seven locations are:

  • Cedar Rapids (zip code: 52401)
  • Council Bluffs (51501)
  • Davenport (52801)
  • Des Moines (50309)
  • Dubuque (52001)
  • Mason City (50401)
  • Sioux City (51101)

The Lindex Radius allows the user to insert their desired zip code and radius (in miles) to determine the information being sought for any given location within Iowa*. For example, using a 50-mile radius (regardless of employer size and industry), the user can quickly learn the percentage of employers who offer health insurance coverage for each of the seven Iowa locations. In fact, when compared to the statewide average, the variances of offering health coverage are quite startling.

Using the statewide average as the baseline (set at zero), the graph below displays the variance in the percentage of employers offering health coverage to their employees in each location:

Health Coverage Offered by  Major Cities in Iowa

So what do these variances tell us about health coverage in Iowa?

Location can matter a great deal!

Employers within a 50-mile radius of Des Moines offer health coverage about six percent more than the statewide average, while Cedar Rapids, Mason City and Davenport-area employers fall below the statewide average by five percent. From this, we also learn that 19 percent more Des Moines-area employers offer health coverage when compared to Dubuque-area employers! The margin of error of this data does vary by zip code and desired radius.

The graph below shows the variances for each Iowa location offering dental coverage:

Dental Coverage Offered by  Major Cities in Iowalide3

When offering dental coverage to employees, Des Moines–area employers offer this benefit 19 percent more than the statewide average. With the exception of Davenport, employers in the other five cities offer less dental coverage compared to the statewide average, while Dubuque lags with this particular benefit. Other benefits found within our study, including: retirement, group life, short- and long- term disability, vision, sick leave and PTO also show a great deal of variance between Iowa locations.

It is important to note that both employer size and industry will greatly impact the averages found within each metropolitan area. Our previous studies confirm that as employers grow in size, their ability to offer more benefits will expand. Governmental (state and local) entities are more likely to offer some key benefits compared to, say, the retail industry.

Employer respondents within our surveys are randomly-selected, which makes the results highly-reflective of the overall employer population. Within any given geographical area in the state, the size and industry of employers will greatly impact the scope of benefits offered for each particular area.

Using Lindex Online and the Lindex Radius will ensure that employers remain competitive within their specific ‘turf’ of operation. As we all know, when assessing the labor pool within a given market, the attraction and retention of employees will always be an important consideration for any employer.

Knowledge of pertinent facts does indeed trump pure guesswork!

To stay abreast of employee benefits and healthcare issues, we invite you to subscribe to our blog.

*The margin of error must be considered when using the Radius filter. If the radius is set at too few miles within a desired zip code, fewer survey respondents will appear, resulting in a higher margin of error calculation which will provide less data credibility to the user.