Employers Expect Slight Increase in 2013 Health Care Costs

Health Care Costs
Health care costs are expected to increase slightly in 2013, according to some large U.S. businesses surveyed in a new poll. The increase in costs is expected to have an impact on employees due to the likelihood that companies will make adjustments to employer-sponsored health insurance options as a result.

Health Care Costs to Jump 7 Percent

A poll conducted by the National Business Group on Health, a non-profit association, revealed that large U.S. business are budgeting for a 7-percent increase in health care costs next year.

While the increase sounds substantial, the companies acknowledged that their 2013 budget increases will align with the one made in anticipation of increased health care costs in 2012. In fact, employers suggested that the increase is mild when compared to the annual double-digit increases experienced a decade ago.

The companies did note, however, that the budget increases will mean employees will notice a difference in how their employer-sponsored health insurance is offered.

Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance to Adjust

According to the poll, a number of businesses are expected to continue the trend of adjusting employer-sponsored health insurance designs in a way that will absorb costs for them.

Employers are also expected to steer employees toward high-deductible accounts and encourage them to take part in incentives that could lower their health care costs, such as wellness plans.

According to the survey, 41 percent of employers expect a “small increase” in the employee-paid percentage of health insurance premiums, while 16 percent and 3 percent of businesses expect “medium” and “large” increases, respectively.

About 73 percent of respondents say they will offer “consumer directed health plans,” also known as high-deductible plans, that are tied to various health savings or flexible spending accounts.

And 16 percent of employers say they plan to increase their wellness incentives, especially in 2014 when they will be allowed to use 30 percent of the total plan costs per individual for incentives.