United Benefit Advisors is a confederation of health plan brokers and advisors that does a regular survey of employers regarding their health benefits. The 2013 survey has been released and covers about 10,550 employers. (UBA Survey) The survey finds that among the three most common forms of plans–CDHP, HMO and PPO–PPOs remain the most popular, but CDHPs are showing steady gains. The overall premium increase was about 5.5%, and was relatively similar across all types of plans. In 2013, overall employers picked up a greater percentage of the single premium but less of a family premium. But the employees also endured another large jump in out-of-pocket costs, with in-network deductibles rising to $1852 for a single person and $4225 for a family and out-of-pocket maximums increasing to $3641 for a single and $8043 for a family. Coinsurance borne by the employee rose to 20% from 10%. On the other hand, almost all CDHPs continue to provide first dollar coverage for preventative care. Public employees, however, saw their share of premiums go down, which means taxpayers are footing more of their health care costs. Self-insurance continues to grow in popularity, largely as a method to avoid some regulatory constraints, particularly at the state level. The northeast has noticeably higher premiums than the rest of the country, with the southeast having the lowest. In large part this is due to richer benefit designs in that region. The west region has relatively low utilization of CDHP designs. Large employers continue to offer many wellness programs, but medium-sized employers are showing the most rapid growth of these programs. The survey suggests that these trends will continue into 2014, as reform is completely rolled out (maybe).
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The Healthy Skeptic is a website about the health care system, and is written by Kevin Roche, who has many years of experience working in the health industry. Mr. Roche is available to assist health care companies through consulting arrangements through Roche Consulting, LLC and may be reached at [email protected].
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