Employees to Pay Higher Share of Health Costs

With an emphasis on practical strategies to improve productivity and performance, and limit potential liabilities, Bulletin to Management™ concisely analyzes new developments in employment and human resources management.

A majority of large employers plan to require employees to contribute a higher percentage of health care premium costs in 2012, according to a survey released Aug. 18 by the National Business Group on Health.

Speaking at an Aug. 18 briefing discussing the results of the annual midyear survey of large U.S. employers, Helen Darling, NBGH president, said U.S. employers continue to struggle with health care costs, with the estimated per-employee cost in 2012 hitting $11,983. In response, employers are turning to cost-management techniques such as increased cost-sharing and focusing on health improvement initiatives, Darling said.

According to the report, Large Employers' 2012 Health Plan Design Changes, 53 percent of employers plan to increase the percentage of premium costs for which employees pay, but most employers said they plan to increase the contribution amount by less than 10 percent.

Two provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that employers anticipate having the most impact on plans in 2012 are the requirement to extend dependent coverage to children up to age 26 and the restrictions on annual benefit limits, Darling said.

Of the 83 employers surveyed in the NBGH report, 59 percent said they do not plan to make any changes to their annual benefit limits for 2012, but 27 percent said they will make changes to their annual limits for wellness and preventive services.

The restrictions on annual benefit limits are being phased in until 2014, when they will be banned.

While PPACA continues to affect health plans, Darling cautioned against linking new health care law requirements with rising health care costs.

“We have serious health care cost problems completely independent of the Affordable Care Act,” Darling said. “We have to solve these problems no matter what the impact of health care reform is.”

The report can be found at http://op.bna.com/pen.nsf/r?Open=krie-8kustc .