News: Employers to pass on more health-care costs to employees

October 17, 2008

As health-care costs continue to rise, 59 percent of U.S. businesses admit that they intend to increase their employees' out-of-pocket spending limits in 2009 for employer-sponsored plans.

As health-care costs continue to rise, 59 percent of U.S. businesses admit that they intend to increase their employees' out-of-pocket spending limits in 2009 for employer-sponsored plans, according to results from a nationwide survey conducted by Mercer, a human-resources consulting firm. However, of the 1,317 employers surveyed so far, the rise in cost will be an estimated 5.7 percent, which would be the lowest annual increase in more than 10 years. (Increases were in the double digits for the first half of the decade.) Between 2003 and 2007, the median family deductible for in-network services in a PPO rose from $1,000 to $1,500. About one in five employers plans to cut costs through consumer-directed health plans, which typically include high-deductible insurance combined with a health savings account. While less costly to employers, this trend requires practices to collect from more patients directly, rather than through insurers.