Research

Health Care Consumerism in a Marketplace Environment

Evidence from Willis Towers Watson online benefit marketplaces

June 20, 2017
| United States

About the study

Each year, we survey thousands of employees about their experiences using an online marketplace to choose their benefits. This survey targeted employees using our benefits marketplaces for 2016 Open Enrollment.

What we learned

The data show that after moving to a benefits marketplace, employees became savvier, more satisfied benefits consumers. Transparency into benefits costs, combined with education and decision support tools, engage and empower employees to take ownership of their benefits selection and overall financial health.

Employees really value the features they are offered in a marketplace environment...

  • 96% find expanded product offerings important.
  • 97% find exposure to the true price of benefits important.
  • 98% find the ability to choose their own benefits (rather than have their employer choose for them) important.
  • 96% find extensive education and decision support tools important.

...and become more confident and savvy health care consumers as a result.

Willis Towers Watson Media

85%

...of employees are more aware of the cost of medical care than they were prior to the marketplace.

Willis Towers Watson Media

83%

...of employees better understand what their health insurance and other benefits cover than they did prior to the marketplace.

Willis Towers Watson Media

85%

...of employees are more engaged in their health care decisions than they were prior to the marketplace.

Willis Towers Watson Media

82%

...of employees are more confident in their health care decisions than they were prior to the marketplace.


Despite any initial concern about using a benefits marketplace, employees are glad their employers made the move.

  • While only 16% of employees were originally excited about using a marketplace to choose their benefits, 79% are now glad their employer made the switch.
  • After using the marketplace, 94% were satisfied with their experience.
  • Only 5% said they wouldn’t want their future employer to offer a benefits marketplace.

Employees don’t just appreciate the experience, they are also making good selections for themselves and their families! One year later, 92% of employees were satisfied with the benefits they selected in the marketplace.

And they are thoughtful about the decisions and choices they’re making. Fifty-eight percent said they chose the benefits they did because the benefits provided the right level of coverage. Only 28% chose based on cost.

By empowering employees and engaging them in the selection process, employers are putting the power back in the hands of the consumer. And both employees and employers are seeing enhanced value as a result.

  • 72% of employees feel like they got better value from their benefits dollars than prior to the marketplace.
  • 77% of employees appreciate their benefits more than they did prior to the marketplace.
  • 83% of employees value their company’s contribution more than they did prior to the marketplace.
  • 75% are more likely to stay with their employer because of their benefits program.