Expect to see growth in consumer-directed health plans.
Employers are paying less for employees’ healthcare, and those workers are picking up the tab, a healthcare consulting firm says.
Employees’ share of healthcare costs grew by an average $650 per worker, including $500 in increased payroll contributions and $150 in higher out-of-pocket costs over last year, according to the Milliman Medical Index released May 18. That’s an increase in spending for American workers of 10.6 percent over the past year, according to healthcare consulting firm Milliman’s fifth annual index.
Healthcare costs for Americans who get medical coverage through an employer hit a record $16,771 per family this year, Reuters reported. That’s up 7.4 percent from 2008’s $15,609, Milliman said.
Employers’ health-insurance subsidies rose, but not as fast as the cost of healthcare, according to the index.
Employers’ subsidies for their workers’ coverage increased about $500, or 5.4 percent over the past year, the report said. The rise in employees’ costs exceeded employer costs by 30 percent, CNN reported.
Findings: Miami Costly, Price Hike Slowing
The MMI found that Miami had the highest annual cost of healthcare
— more than $20,000 — while Phoenix had the lowest among U.S. cities, below $15,000 and 11 percent lower than the national average.
While medical costs trend upward, momentum has slowed. The total medical cost increase is the lowest annual trend rate since the MMI started five years ago and is the third consecutive rate decrease.
The MMI predicts workers will spend nearly 15 percent more in employee payroll deductions for 2009 healthcare compared to 2008. Employers’ healthcare costs and employee out-of-pocket medical costs will both rise by 5.4 percent, the lowest medical cost increase over the past five years.
Observers blame the recession for the shift of costs from employer to worker and say some employers aren’t waiting to see whether the economy will turn around.
Expect More of the Same
Mercer, an employee benefits consultant, says nearly half of 428 employers polled said they plan to shift more health costs to employees in 2010, the Wall Street Journal reported. One-fifth of the companies said they planned to add or switch to a high-deductible or “consumer-directed” health plan with a health savings account, perhaps doubling the percentage of employers who offer such plans, Mercer said.
Milliman predicts more of the same in the foreseeable future. In part because employers can only change benefit plans annually, “we expect benefit plan changes to continue even after the recession subsides,” the MMI’s authors said.
Meanwhile, the authors say, more attention on “outliers” will reduce “medically unnecessary utilization.”
Milliman theorized that initiatives aimed at improving efficiency and quality of medical care are reducing unnecessary hospital admissions and driving greater use of outpatient medicine.