Employees beware: Higher healthcare costs ahead

Posted on August 31, 2011

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – Large employers expect big increases in healthcare costs in 2012, and say they’ll pass more and more of those costs on to their workers. That’s the result of a new survey by the National Business Group on Health, a trade group for these large companies.

“It’s a huge burden on businesses and employers,” says Helen Darling, the group’s president. “Healthcare costs continue to gallop along at over seven percent.” Members say they expect their 2012 costs to be 7.2 percent above their 2011 costs, which are trending 7.4 percent above 2010 costs. (Separately, Standard & Poor’s reported more modest increases in actual healthcare costs. The average per capita cost of healthcare services covered by commercial insurance and Medicare programs increased by 5.61 percent over the 12 months ending in June 2011. Click here to see the study: http://link.reuters.com/mup33s)

That means bigger expenses for workers, who will be asked to pick up more of those costs. More than half of the companies say they’ll increase the percentage that employees contribute to premiums, while 39 percent say they’ll increase deductibles for workers who stay in-network for their healthcare.

Other employee burdens that can be expected to rise are out-of-network deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums. Companies are also moving away from fixed-rate co-pays, moving instead to cost-sharing models that require employees to pay a percentage share of all rising costs, says Darling.

“Employers are being much more aggressive in their use of cost-sharing techniques and cost-control programs,” she says, adding that in 2012, companies can be expected to pay almost $12,000 per employee for healthcare costs.

Ouch. That’s definitely adding insult to injury or illness. What can employees to do to keep their own healthcare costs from eating the family budget? Here are some tips to consider, as open enrollment season looms in the not-too-distant future.

Full article- http://news.yahoo.com/employees-beware-higher-healthcare-costs-ahead-184709897.html

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