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Employers Up The Ante For Workers’ Health

More than half of employers are likely to keep offering insurance rather than use state health insurance exchanges when they become available under health care reform in 2014, reported a survey by an insurance broker.

Willis Human Capital Practice released results of its Health Care Reform Survey 2010, which showed 55 percent of employers would keep their health plans in 2014 even if the new state exchanges offer competitive prices. The survey sampled 1,400 employers of varying sizes, industry sectors and geographies whose plans cover more than 9 million employees and dependents (including retirees).

Key findings from the survey include:

• 88 percent believe that group health plan costs will increase as a result of health care reform;
• 76 percent expect administrative compliance costs will increase;
• 72 percent plan to increase employee contributions in an attempt to offset higher administrative and premium costs.

Employers might maintain plans by passing on more costs to employees, or by decreasing or cutting dental or vision benefits:

• 53 percent of employers expect the adult child coverage mandate to increase their health plans’ costs;
• 52 percent anticipated an increase in the number of employees covered.

In another twist, employers are more likely to offer incentives for employees to adopt healthier habits, including by paying lower premiums or with good old-fashioned cash rewards. The Los Angeles Times reported that more companies are adopting incentive programs, and are upping the requirements of those program, such as maintaining healthy weight or weight loss, and undergoing more extensive tests. But, cautioned the experts, such incentive programs can backfire. People are notoriously difficult to program that way, especially if they’re being coaxed into something they wouldn’t normally do.

As long as employers expect health care plans to rise, and as long as they continue to plan to offer them anyway, businesses will try to figure out ways to keep the costs lower.

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*


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