Cost of Health Care Benefits Set To Rise by 6.7% in 2008
Health care benefit costs for U.S. employers may rise an average of 6.7% to $8,500 per employee in 2008, a slight increase over 2007's 6.1% increase, according to a nationwide survey of 1,557 employers conducted by Mercer Health & Benefits, the Hartford Courant reports.
The survey results offer a "preliminary peek into how employers and their employees will fare next year," according to the Courant. Mercer will release full results from a survey of about 3,000 employers later this year.
The preliminary survey found that 36% of employers want to raise the percentage of premiums employees pay, while 29% expect to increase deductibles, copayments or the maximum out-of-pocket payments allowed for employees. Some companies plan to take both approaches (Levick, Hartford Courant, 9/6).
Without cutting expenses and shifting costs to workers, employers would see an average health benefit cost increase of 9%, according to the survey (Bloomberg/Asbury Park Press, 9/6).
"Employer thinking on what constitutes a 'fair share' for employees has definitely changed over the past few years," Blaine Bos, a senior Mercer consultant in Minneapolis, said. He added, "But in many cases, we're seeing employers providing more choice rather than just shifting cost, so that employees have the opportunity to save money by selecting lower levels of coverage" (Hartford Courant, 9/6).