Growing Health Care Costs May Force Employer Coverage Revisions
Increased health care costs may prompt small and midsize employers to begin to require employees to cover a percentage of their health insurance costs, rather than make set copayments for physician visits and prescription drugs, USA Today reports. A survey of 1,333 small and midsize businesses scheduled for release this week found that health care costs increased more than 20% for small businesses and 13.5% for midsize businesses in 2002. According to the survey, conducted by the benefits company Marsh, the percentage of small businesses that offered health insurance to employees decreased to 62% in 2002 from 66% in 2001. In addition, the survey found that preferred provider organization deductibles increased between 2001 and 2002; 20% of midsize businesses and required PPO deductibles of $1,000 or more in 2002, compared with 15% in 2001. Roger Edgren, national practice leader for Marsh, said that as a result of increased health care costs, more employers may begin to require employers to cover a percentage of their health insurance costs, rather than make set copayments. The practice would require employees to cover a larger share of their health insurance costs and could prompt them to make more cost-informed decisions about their health care, which could reduce costs for employers over the long term, Edgren said (Appleby, USA Today, 7/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.