Increases Expected for Employees’ Health Care Costs
U.S. workers' contributions to health plan premiums and out-of-pocket costs in 2007 are expected to increase by nearly 8% to $3,305 a year, according to an annual study by Hewitt Associates, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Workers' premiums are projected to rise by 6.5% to $1,678, while out-of-pocket costs are expected to increase by more than 9% for the second straight year, from $1,489 in 2006 to $1,627 in 2007. Companies' health insurance costs will rise by 7.7%, the smallest increase since 1999, to an annual cost of $8,340 per employee, according to the study.
The projections were calculated with data from 400 major employers providing health benefits to 18 million people. The survey focuses on large employers with 9,000 to 50,000 employees.
Hewitt based its projections on the negotiated health plan rates for next year and on how companies designed their plans. According to the Tribune, companies' premium cost increases have slowed in part because more expensive prescription drugs now are available in cheaper generic form.
At the same time, workers' out-of-pocket costs have risen as more companies offer high-deductible health plans.
David Stacey, a principal at Hewitt, said, "The true dollar cost is driving employers to make changes. The easiest thing for them to do is to shift costs" (Japsen, Chicago Tribune, 10/8).
The study is available online. Note: You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the report.