Long before PPACA, rising health care costs were a hot-button political issue. In 2006, a chart compares increases in workers' earnings to increases in health care premiums. (AP Photos/Rich Pedroncelli)

A recent analysis by Towers Watson suggests that, in the year to come, employer cost-sharing methods will largely take the form of premium increases, broadening the impact of rising health care costs. Many previous cost-sharing methods targeted deductibles and co-payments, and thus impacted a smaller group of employees — the ones who used their policies.

Towers Watson projects that 66 percent of companies will increase employees’ share of premiums for single-only coverage in 2012, and 73 percent will increase the share of premiums for dependent coverage. Another survey by the National Business Group on Health found that 53 percent of employers plan to increase employees’ share of premiums, while 39 percent plan to increase in-network deductibles.

Other changes employees can expect to see in 2012 include higher costs for dependents, more spousal surcharges, more consumer-directed health plans, and greater pressure to sign up for wellness programs.

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