healthcost-crop-600x338With the costs of providing and insuring health care still on the rise, many employers have had to actively find ways to help offset the cost. Popular choices have been to switch to consumer-driven health plans, which boast lower premiums but higher deductibles. Health savings accounts (HSAs) have also grown in popularity, as have a wider variety of voluntary benefits that can often be offered at little to no cost to the employer.

A recent study of employees from over 500 companies has shed even more light on employee behavior in the wake of all the turmoil in the health insurance industry. The report documented the trend toward more choices and personalization, as health care begins to bleed over into personal finance. Here are a few of the study’s key findings.

1. Preferred providers are still winning. Roughly three out of five employers now offer a high-deductible health plan (HDHP), so they’re definitely gaining in popularity. However, preferred provider organizations (PPOs) are still the plan of choice for most employees.

2. HDHPs are most popular with millennials. The percentage of this generation, especially those under age 26, who chose HDHPs was 45 percent. That’s up from 41 percent the year before.

3. Age and salary affect coverage choices. When surveying employees over the age of 36, those who selected a HDHP had as much as a 17 percent higher salary that those who chose a PPO.

4. Employee costs are up across the board. No matter which health plan they chose, the average out-of-pocket spending rose for all employees. PPOs increased by double digit percentages. However, those with HDHP’s only spent an average of five percent more.

5. Employees, especially millennials, are saving more. While all contributions to HSAs and flexible spending accounts (FSAs) are up, millennials in particular contributed 20 percent more than they did the previous year.

6. More voluntary benefits are being offered. Almost half of the employers surveyed offer at least one voluntary income protection benefit, such as accident, hospital indemnity, or critical illness coverage. And the number of employers offering all three of those almost doubled compared to the previous year.

Not only are employers helping keep the cost of offering health insurance low, they’re also giving their employees many more choices. As a result, they’re better able to personalize their benefits to what best meets their individual health and financial needs. It’s clear that employees are better learning how to take advantage of the benefits available to them.