Mercer: Health Insurance Costs Expected To Rise Next Year – Again
Costs for U.S. employers are expected to increase at the lowest rate in years, but costs for workers will likely outpace their earnings.
Los Angeles Times: U.S. Firms Expect Health Care Costs To Rise At Lowest Rate Since 1997
Health care expenses for U.S. employers are expected to increase next year at the lowest rate in more than a decade, but the cost of benefits for workers is likely to outpace the growth of their earnings, a national survey has found. Companies expect their bills for health benefits to rise 5.4 percent on average next year, the smallest increase since 1997, according to preliminary results from a survey of nearly 1,600 employers by benefits consulting firm Mercer (Helfand, 9/22).
CNN Money: Health Insurance Costs To Rise Again Next Year
Employee health care benefits are expected to increase 5.4 percent next year, according to an annual survey released by Mercer. While the projected health insurance increase would be the smallest recorded in 15 years, it still remains well above the general rate of inflation, which stands at 3.9 percent, and salary growth. Employers surveyed by Mercer say they have been trying to contain health care costs by raising deductibles, increasing paycheck contributions, and moving employees to lower-cost health plans. "While 2012's slower cost growth is welcome news, it's still higher than the [consumer price index] — which means employers won't be letting up their efforts to control costs anytime soon," said Susan Connolly, a partner in Mercer's Boston office (Brunswick, 9/22).
In related news, KHN reports on corporate efforts to make employees savvy shoppers. And NPR reports on an essay contest about health care costs.
Kaiser Health News: Companies Steering Workers To Lower Priced Medical Care
Sarah Gardner wants her company's employees to be savvy medical shoppers. So this year, she rolled out a plan that sets limits on how much the company will pay toward a range of tests and procedures, from MRIs to hysterectomies. Workers at Buffalo-based Prodigy Health now know to call their employee insurance plan to find a list of local doctors and facilities that meet the price. Or they can choose to go to a higher-price center elsewhere in the insurer's network and pay the difference themselves (Appleby, 9/21).
NPR's Shots blog: How You Might Turn Your Health Cost Story Into A Little Cash
If you can write a compelling essay about a problem, you could win a thousand bucks. Not to be outdone by health care inflation itself, this year's contest sponsored by the nonprofit group Costs of Care is awarding four prizes, up from two last year. The group, founded by a young doctor and a group of medical consultants, has the goal of teaching physicians to be more aware of the economic aspects of health care (Rovner, 9/21).