Compliance and higher medical costs over the past few years helped fuel a more than 1,000% increase in the share of employers embracing high-deductible health plans for their workers.
The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, also played a role in the trend.
That was one of the highlights of the latest Zywave report on employer-sponsored health plans in the U.S.
“Generally speaking, the continued movement toward plan designs that expose employees to additional costs appears to be the result of employers coping with the rising costs of health care,” said Jacob Hanke, senior market analyst at Zywave. “While the trend was often the result of cost shifting, in some areas, ACA requirements have seemed to act as an accelerant by establishing an acceptable upper threshold that employers quickly adopted.”
Under the ACA, all health plans – whether acquired through one of the exchanges or not – must cover more services than they were required to in the past, including things like preventive screenings and contraception at no extra charge to customers.
Zywave, an insurance industry software firm, bases its report on data it collects on nearly 60,000 employer-offered health plans.
It said that in 2012, plans with a deductible between $6,000 and $6,999 represented only 3 percent of the market. By 2016, more than 35 percent of plans were in this segment — an increase of more than 1,000%.
Elsewhere, Zywave said its data also showed an increase of 3.6% in plans with an office copay of $50 or more. While it noted a 4% decrease in plans with copays of $20 to $34, those plans still represent about 56 percent of all plans it examined.
Another survey released last fall said annual family premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance rose an average of 3 percent to $18,142 in 2016.
A separate Kaiser study showed that average family health insurance premiums rose 20% from 2011 to 2016. That rate of increase came in at 31% from 2006 to 2011 and was 63% in the five years before that, from 2001 to 2006.
Workers on average contribute $5,277 annually toward their family premiums, according to the 2016 Employer Health Benefits Survey, released in September by two nonprofit health research organizations: the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust. The survey is based on responses from more than 1,900 small and large employers contacted through June 2016.
A separate, earlier Kaiser study showed that average family health insurance premiums rose 20% from 2011 to 2016. That rate of increase came in at 31% from 2006 to 2011 and was 63% in the five years before that, from 2001 to 2006.
U.S. health-care spending is expected to keep growing in the years ahead as Americans age and prices rise.
The nation spent $3.4 trillion on health care in 2016, a number that is projected to grow to $5.5 trillion by 2025, according to the latest federal study.
That study, by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, projects that the average growth in health spending will be even faster between 2016 and 2025, clocking in at 5.6 percent per year, driven by inflation in the cost of medical services and products and the aging population.
Scott McGraw is Vice President of CCIG’s Employee Benefits division. He can be reached at 720-330-7924 or email@example.com.Back to Resources