Workers with employer-sponsored health insurance paid 42 percent more for their health care in 2012 than five years earlier, according to an annual survey of large employers by Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health.
More than 80 percent of employers surveyed plan to continue to raise the share of premiums paid by employees, including rethinking their subsidy strategy for dependents. Subsidies for retiree medical coverage have declined, with only 15 percent of companies offering them to newly hired employees today.
But some employers might find cost-effective alternatives for retirees when the health insurance exchanges open in 2014, researchers said. Almost 30 percent of employers said they are already offering access to an exchange-based solution for retirees in 2013, and another 36 percent plan to do so over the next three years.
But most are unlikely to send current employees to shop for their own coverage through exchanges. Eighty-two percent said it is not at all likely that their organization will direct active employees to an exchange without a subsidy in the next five years, and 60 percent said the same, even with a subsidy.
Meanwhile, most employers, 66 percent, offer a health plan paired with a health savings or reimbursement account, and 79 percent plan to do so in 2014.
Almost two-thirds of respondents offer workers financial rewards to encourage them to participate in health programs, but tougher requirements are planned. About 16 percent of companies now require employees to reach certain targets, such as healthy blood pressure or weight goals, to earn rewards, and another 31 percent are considering the strategy for 2014. Interest is growing in expanding financial incentives to include spouses, with 59 percent of employers anticipating doing so by 2014, up from 23 percent that did so in 2012.