Large U.S. employers are expecting to pay an average of $9,821 in health insurance premiums per employee in 2011, up from an average of $9,028 this year.
Hewitt Associates Inc., Lincolnshire, Ill. (NYSE:HEW), has published those figures in a summary of results from an analysis of benefits data from 350 large U.S. employers.
The 8.8% year-over-year increase is the largest Hewitt has recorded in the past 5 years.
Changes resulting from the Affordable Care Act – the federal legislative package that includes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) – are probably causing just 1 percentage point to 2 percentage points of the average 2011 increase, Hewitt analysts say.
But Ken Sperling, Hewitt’s health care practice leaders, says the extra Affordable Care Act costs come as employers are facing the effects of a weak economy, an increase in the frequency of catastrophic claims, and a general increase in medical costs.
“Reform creates opportunities for meaningful change in how health care is delivered in the U.S., but most of these positive effects won’t be felt for a few years,” Sperling says in a statement about the health cost analysis. “The incremental expense of complying with the new law adds fuel to the fire, at least for the short term.”
A Hewitt competitor, Towers Watson & Company, New York (NYSE:TW), came up with similar results recently when it looked at underlying health care costs.