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Companies to shift healthcare burden in 2010


As healthcare costs increase, so will the demand on employees to help shoulder the load.

In 2010, employers are expected to shift the burden of healthcare costs to employees through a variety of methods, according to human resources experts quoted in a CNNMoney.com report.

Companies are labeling the coming increases as greater “cost sharing” between the employer and employees and as employees “taking responsibility” for understanding the cost of health insurance, according to the report.

Employees can expect many potential changes to their health insurance plans in 2010 as companies wrestle with rising costs. Here are some changes likely to be on the table according to the report.

Higher out-of-pocket costs: Companies will raise deductibles, co-payments and out-of-pocket limits as costs could increase between 10 to 20 percent for insured workers.

Co-pay to co-insurance: Companies have been shifting from co-pay to co-insurance, meaning that employees, instead of paying a flat dollar fee that usually ranges from $10 to $35 for a doctor’s visit, will pay a percentage of the total medical expense that is typically an 80-20 or 70-30 split. The hope is employees will be more careful about using health care.

Fewer options: Many companies will provide a smaller array of healthcare plan options, and will reduce the number of HMOs and offer them only in specific geographic areas.

Consumer-directed health plans: Many companies will offer consumer-directed health plans (CDHP), which have both catastrophic illness coverage and employee-funded health savings accounts or health reimbursement accounts that are 20 percent less expensive than traditional provider organizations. These often make more sense for a healthy worker who doesn’t utilize care frequently.

Closer scrutiny: Companies could begin to impose a surcharge on premiums if a working spouse is also on the plan even though he or she has access to other health insurance.

More incentives: Companies could begin to offer incentives for healthy behaviors such as joining a program to help quit smoking or lose weight. The incentives could be in the form of lower premiums or even gift cards.

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