Employers continue to shift health care cost burden to employees

With health care costs continuing to rise, it’s no surprise to benefit advisers that their employer clients continue to seek benefit solutions that shift some of the cost burden to their employees — and new data reveals that trend shows no signs of stopping.

Most employers now require employees enrolled in group health plans to contribute toward the cost of their coverage. In 2013, more than 83% of employees enrolled for single-coverage in an employer-sponsored health plan made a contribution toward their plan premium, according to a medical expenditure survey released Wednesday by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

  • The survey found just 16.6% of enrollees taking single coverage did not make a contribution toward the plan premium; and only 6.9% of enrollees in employee-plus-one coverage and 7.9% of enrollees in family coverage did not.

The number of employers covering the full cost of health care plan premiums continues to decrease, says Beth Crimmel, a survey statistician with AHRQ. Although employers in the past often covered the full cost of a plan premium, “That’s becoming much less common,” she says.

  • In addition, average annual total premiums across all three coverage types were up in 2013 compared to 2012, she says. The average total premium for single coverage per enrolled employee was $5,571 in 2013 for the private sector — a 3.5% increase over the $5,384 single premium for 2012. For employee-plus-one coverage, the average total premium also increased 3.5% in 2013 to $10,990. Family coverage had an average total premium of $16,029 in 2013, up 3.6%.

The average annual dollar amount that employees contributed toward their premium also rose for all three types of coverage in 2013 versus 2012. For single coverage, the 2013 average contribution was $1,170, a 4.7% increase over 2012. For employee-plus-one coverage, the 2013 average was $2,940, a 4.1% increase. And for family coverage, the $4,421 average contribution was 4.4% higher than in 2012.

The survey also found in 2013, 51.3% of employees who enrolled in a health insurance plan through their private-sector employer chose single, employee-only coverage.

Modified from a Employee Benefit Advisor article

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