It’s no surprise healthcare costs will increase in 2013. They increase every year. But what may surprise you is the extent to which they’ll increase.
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Health Research Institute — using input from health plan actuaries, industry leaders, analyst reports and 1,400 employer surveys — is projecting a growth rate of 7.5% for overall healthcare costs.
Now that number on its own may not seem that surprising to some, but it’s actually pretty low when compared to the double-digit increases companies became used to seeing just a few years ago.
The reason for slowed cost increases: With the recession came a reduction in the use of medical services by cost-conscious consumers, along with increased efforts by employers to hold down healthcare cost increases — efforts companies say they’ll continue in 2013.
The two primary strategies are using to keep costs down:
- Expanding wellness offerings, and
- Increasing employees’ share of costs.
According to PwC’s research, 72% of employers currently offer wellness programs.
The most popular offerings:
- Employee assistance programs (84% of employers with a wellness program offer and EAP)
- Health risk assessments (80%)
- Biometric screenings (71%)
- Smoking cessation programs (67%)
- Disease management programs (58%)*, and
- Weight management programs (56%).
* Of those who offer disease management programs, the most common are for diabetes (63%), cardiac disease (56%), asthma (54%) and cancer (39%).
Here’s are the most popular cost-sharing strategies:
- Increasing employee contributions to pay for health insurance premiums (31% said they’ve already done this and 57% are considering it)
- Increasing prescription drug plan cost sharing through plan design changes like higher co-pays and deductibles (21% with 52% considering)
- Increasing medical plan cost sharing through plan design changes like higher co-pays and deductible4s (34% with 50% considering)
- Implementing a value-based design (6% with 45% considering)
- Implementing a high-deductible plan as a full replacement option for medical benefits (13% with 42% considering)
- Implementing a performance-based network (4% with 41% considering), and
- Offering a health savings account (33% with 40% considering).