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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Has your Employer Changed your Health Plan this Year?

During this year's open enrollment, as your employer changed your traditional health plan (HMO/PPO) to a high-deductible health plan?

Report: Employers Keeping Health Cost Growth Down.

The Hill (11/15, Viebeck) "Healthwatch" blog reports, "U.S. employers are making special efforts to hold down healthcare costs as they prepare to comply with the Affordable Care Act, according to a new survey" out of consulting firm Mercer. The firm attributed the lower costs to "the rise in high-deductible, consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs) and wellness programs," which can in turn be attributed somewhat to changes set in motion by the Affordable Care Act.
        The Los Angeles Times (11/15, Terhune) explains that that during this year's open-enrollment season, "U.S. workers are seeing more high-deductible health plans from cost-conscious employers." Specifically, the report shows that "36% of large employers offered consumer-directed, high-deductible health plans in 2012, up from 14% five years ago," and "enrollment in those plans has risen to 16% of all covered employees, compared with 5% in 2007." According to Mercer, "Employers are pushing these plans in part because they are about 20% cheaper than the cost of a conventional PPO - or preferred-provider organization - plan."
        The Wall Street Journal (11/15, Willhite) "The CFO Report" blog adds that according to Mercer, the trend toward high-deductible plans is partially responsible for 2012 seeing the slowest rate for benefits cost growth in 15 years, just 4.1% compared to 6.1% the year before. Explains Mercer's Sharon Cunninghis, "[The] PPACA requires that health plans cover, at a minimum, 60% of eligible health plan expenses. Some employers are resetting their health plan value to move closer to that minimum, and saving money as a result."
        The Washington Business Journal (11/15, Fischer, Subscription Publication) "WBJ BizBeat" blog and the Charlotte (NC) Business Journal (11/14, Thomas, Subscription Publication) also report on Mercer's findings.
        Mercer: Few Employers Planning To Drop Coverage Because Of ACA. The Hill (11/15, Viebeck) "Healthwatch" blog reports on a different aspect of the Mercer survey, which found that only a "small number of firms are planning to stop employee health coverage as the Affordable Care Act takes effect." Just 7% of large employers that responded say it is "'likely' or 'very likely' they will terminate employee health insurance over the next five years." Among smaller employers, "the number was slightly higher, at 22 percent." 

Source: ACPE Digest