Employers Plan to Ask Workers to Absorb More Health Care Costs in 2012

A new study conducted by consulting firm PwC revealed that employers will ask workers to absorb rising health care costs by having them pay higher health insurance deductibles in 2012. This news comes only days after a separate study conducted by Milliman Inc. found that employee contributions in employer-sponsored plans have reached an all-time high.

Percentage of Companies Asking for Help Expected to Grow

According to PwC, the percentage of companies that ask their workers to pay deductibles (the annual amount a patient pays out of pocket for care before the insurance company will begin coverage) has grown steadily over the past several years. With health costs increasing rapidly, employers plan to ask for deductible payments even if the care isn’t within a plan’s network of providers.

In 2009, only 11 percent of companies surveyed by PwC reported deductibles of $1,000 or greater, but 28 percent of companies expect to require this level of deductible for their employees in 2012.

The percentage of employees paying deductibles of $400 or greater is also expected to grow. In 2009, 31 percent of workers contributed this amount, but the survey finds that 54 percent are expected to make this contribution in 2012.

Medical Costs Expected to Rise 8.5 Percent in 2012

PwC also revealed in its report that medical costs are expected to rise 8.5 percent, as compared to an 8 percent last year. However, the study noted that the increase in costs doesn’t necessarily mean that premiums will increase.

In many cases, companies find ways to absorb costs while others require workers to pay even more in deductibles to avoid the higher premiums since deductibles aren’t guaranteed to be used if a person never gets sick.

Despite the expected increases in medical costs, analysts and insurance executives have found they have been rising more slowly than expected, partially because people have held off on medical care in the aftermath of the recession.