Health Insurance Costs Slowing For U.S. Employers As Firms Cut Costs

Employers across the U.S. are expecting to pay less for their employees’ health insurance in the next year. It is workers who could feel the pinch, however, with some firms moving employees into lower-cost health plans, or raising insurance deductibles to slash expenses.

A new national survey by benefits consultancy firm Mercer reveals companies expect their health benefits costs to rise 5.4% on average in the next year – that’s the smallest increase since 1997.

Mercer say various factors play a part in this. In the current weak economy, workers are more reluctant to see doctors. And, on a more positive note, Mercer thinks conditions are being spotted earlier and corporate programs to improve the health of employees are paying dividends. As Mercer’s Susan Connolly says:

“Earlier risk identification and health education … are keeping people with health risks and chronic conditions away from the emergency room. And consumers are more aware that overuse and misuse of healthcare services will directly impact their wallets as well as their employer’s budget.”

Despite the slower increase in costs to firms, Mercer’s survey discovered that many companies will still raise deductibles, contributions to insurance premiums, or co-payments to visit the doctor.

Mercer’s initial findings come from the polling of 1,600 firms. Final results from all 2,800 employers in the survey will be released by the end of the year.

Do you enjoy healthcare insurance as part of your job? And if so, is your company planning tweaks to its healthcare policy?