Articles, Editorial Address Issues Related to Employer Health Care Costs
The Houston Chronicle recently published two articles related to employer health costs. Summaries appear below.
- Consumer-driven plans: Small business, which tend to be most affected by health cost increases, "are leading a charge" toward consumer-driven health plans, the Chronicle reports. According to data from Mercer Health & Benefits, consumer-driven plans reduce the annual cost per employee by approximately $1,000 compared with a PPO or an HMO (Brune, Houston Chronicle, 12/17).
- Wellness initiatives: Cost-containment efforts, such as wellness programs and preventive care initiatives, are on the rise in companies across the nation, the Chronicle reports. Such programs have helped level off the rate of increase for deductibles and copayments paid by employees this year, according to experts (Brune, Houston Chronicle, 12/18).
"With an aging population driving up health care costs in the coming years," Congress might have to "loosen restraints" on health savings accounts -- by "rais[ing] the contribution level, exempt[ing] prescription drugs from out-of-pocket spending -- or face the prospect of even more uninsured Americans," a Washington Times editorial states (Washington Times, 12/15).
APM's "Marketplace Money" on Friday included an interview with Starbucks Chair Howard Schultz about the company's policy of providing health insurance coverage to part-time employees.
Schultz said that although the company spends more on health insurance costs than on coffee beans, the policy is sustainable because the organization has committed to "never turn our back on that benefit."
However, Schultz said the "country is on a collision course with time" over access to health insurance because of the number of uninsured U.S. residents and the implications for U.S. competitiveness in the global market (Ryssdal, "Marketplace Money," APM, 12/15).
Audio of the segment is available online.