Survey Says, Employers Shifting Health Care Costs to Workers: Will Workers Shift to Work Comp?

In September, Jay Hancock wrote an article for Kaiser Health News, that reported that premiums for employment-based medical insurance rose moderately, to 4% in 2015, but that employers continued to shift in expenses to workers, according to a new survey.

According to Mr. Hancock, the average premium for single coverage rose to $6,251 while the average premium for a family plan increased to $17,545, according to a survey published by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust.

Deductibles have been rising substantially faster than total health costs, according to Hancock, and 46% of covered workers have a deductible of at least $1,000 this year for single coverage as employers shift to “consumer-directed” plans that give members incentives to seek less-costly care.

Deductibles are more than $2,000 for single coverage for almost a fifth of covered workers.

Drew Altman, KFF’s CEO said in the article, “The so-called great slowdown in health care costs has been all but invisible to consumers because deductibles have been going up so much faster than their wages.”

The following chart illustrates this shift from 1999 to 2015.

kff-image-1

Other takeaways from the survey of nearly 2,000 large and small employers are as follows:

  • In the face of measures from the 2010 health law that took effect this year to encourage coverage, some employers expanded insurance while a small percentage shifted jobs to part-time to avoid the obligation to offer a plan.
  • One in five companies with at least 200 employees expects its most popular plan to be liable for the “Cadillac tax” on high-value coverage that takes effect in 2018. Employer efforts to avoid the tax will probably shift new costs to workers, analysts said.
  •  It’s not only workers’ deductibles that are rising. The portion of premiums they pay has gone up, too. Employee premium costs have increased 83 percent since 2005 while the total cost of a policy went up 61 percent.
  • Worker wellness programs continue to surge, with nearly a third of large firms offering employees financial incentives to take health-risk screening tests.

A prior article I wrote stated that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may shift claims into workers’ compensation.

If employers continue to shift costs to their employers, their employees may shift the cost of their health care to workers’ comp. Case in point, another article I wrote in 2013 said that employees are not prepared for increased costs,  and may not want control of their options, and lack education about what is meant by “consumer-driven health care.”

So it is not too far out of the realm of possibility that some workers whose employers have shifted the cost of medical insurance on them, will turn around and shift it to their employer’s work comp carrier.

If that happens, and they require expensive surgeries, unique alternatives may need to be implemented, even if it is outside the box, and outside the border.

Original article by Jay Hancock, September 22, 2015, Kaiser Health News

 

 

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