“Employers will likely face health-care cost increases of 8.5 percent in 2012, but they’ll mitigate that burden by pushing more costs onto employees and making other changes to benefits,” reports The Wall Street Journal‘s Katherine Hobson.
All told, employers will pay 7 percent more in health-care costs next year, a PricewaterhouseCoopers report has concluded. The report surveyed 1,700 employers, as well as hospital executives and health-plan actuaries.
Provider consolidation, cost shifting from Medicare and Medicaid by providers, and stress related to the bad economy are all causing costs to rise. “Several health plans interviewed indicated they were seeing more claims for stress-induced illnesses,” the report states. “Specifically, as stress levels increase, health becomes less of a priority and people are less likely to maintain a healthy lifestyle.”
Cost sharing and a large number of drugs that will go off patent next year are helping to keep costs down somewhat, however.
But employee health plans are getting less attractive, with employees being asked to pay higher deductibles. “We’re projecting by 2012, most (covered) employees will have a deductible of $500 or more in-network and $1,000 or more out-of-network,” said Michael Thompson, principal with PricewaterhouseCoopers’ human resources practice. (Read more)