The nation’s largest companies expect the cost of their health care benefits to rise an average 7% in 2013, according to findings released Monday by the National Business Group on Health.
While the majority – 60% – plan to slightly increase the percentage of the premium paid by employees, these employers are counting on consumer-driven health plans and wellness initiatives to stem costs. They’re also boosting financial incentives to engage workers in healthy lifestyles.
This is a major change from last year, when employers cited cost-shifting as the most effective measure to control costs.
“Despite keeping cost increases steady for next year, providing high quality, affordable health care remains a top priority for employers. HR leaders need to keep the pressure on to control health care cost increases, increase consumerism and individual accountability, use all of the tools and resources available to empower consumers to be wiser purchasers and support them to choose healthier lifestyles. At the same time they must continue to stay on top of the ever changing regulatory environment, and adapt the design of their health plans as necessary,” said NBGH President and CEO Helen Darling, who spoke Monday before the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Bottom line, Darling emphasized, employees will be increasingly on the hook for identifying their own risk factors and for doing their part to control rising benefits costs. According to the survey, 43 percent of employers cited a CDHP as the most effective cost-control tactic followed by wellness programs (19 percent). Less than one in 10 (9 percent) respondents reported increased employee cost-sharing as the most effective tactic.
The NBGH survey of companies that range from less than 10,000 full-time employees to more than 100,000 also parallels several recent surveys of employers of all sizes that there may be a slight decline in the number that offer employer-sponsored health insurance. Beyond a decade, that number may increase, Darling said, but in the near-term, only a fraction of employers are looking to drop benefits (reports estimates range from 1% to 30%).