Companies Plan To Shift More Health Care Costs to Workers, Survey Finds
Fifty-nine percent of U.S. businesses in 2009 intend to hold down rising health care costs by increasing employees' deductibles, copayments and out-of-pocket spending limits, according to preliminary data of a national survey released on Thursday by Mercer, the AP/Houston Chronicle reports.
The preliminary results included the responses of about half of the 3,000 large companies surveyed who responded, but preliminary data have "historically been in line with final results," the AP/Chronicle reports.
The survey found that health care costs for workers and employers will increase by an estimated 5.7% in 2009, the same rate as this year.
According to Mercer, health care costs have grown by about 6% per year since 2005, and while the rate is lower than the double-digit increases in previous years, it still is growing at a faster rate than inflation or workers' wages.
Blaine Bos, the author of the survey, said, "It's not something to cheer about, especially since costs are getting passed on to employees."
The survey also found that 47% of the companies are encouraging enrollment in health plans with lower premiums and higher deductibles, and that 19% intend to offer consumer-directed health plans with employee-controlled spending accounts.
According to Mercer, the average deductible for a single person between 2003 and 2007 increased from $250 to $400 and from $1,000 to $1,500 for a family for the same period (Choi, AP/Houston Chronicle, 9/3).