Businesses large and small expect health insurance premiums to continue their double-digit inflation rates for at least the next five years and warn that employees likely will pay more for coverage in 2004, a new survey says.
Although companies generally remain committed to providing health insurance for their workers, 92% are likely to ask employees to contribute more dollars to insurance premiums, deductibles and co-payments next year, according to the study.
Business and labor groups, along with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, surveyed 600 large and small companies and released their findings Thursday as part of Cover the Uninsured Week efforts to raise awareness of uninsured Americans.
The companies surveyed expect health insurance costs to rise by 18% next year and by an average of 17% annually for the next five years. Still, those polled will pass along just one-fourth of the increase to employees, the report says.
Slightly less than half of the 600 companies indicate that they are likely to reduce employee health benefits within five years because of spiraling costs. And although just 4% of the overall survey sample expect to drop coverage entirely next year, one in seven small businesses--companies with up to 50 employees--may eliminate health plans if faced with insurance inflation for the next five years.
Additionally, more than 70 of the companies say that the number of uninsured Americans will increase over the next decade. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 41.2 million people lacked health coverage in 2002.