The percentage of large employers offering consumer-driven health plans will double to 12% next year, according to a survey of 650 major companies by Hewitt Associates.
Reporting an average 14% increase in healthcare costs next year, large employers are taking many other steps to cut their losses, according to Hewitt, an employee benefits consultant in Lincolnshire, Ill.
For example, Hewitt says employees next year will be required to pay 23% of the premium for employee-only coverage, up from 21% this year, and 27% of the premium covering dependents, up from 25%.
Hewitt says nearly three-fourths of companies also will offer "condition management" programs to their employees in 2004.
It adds that 21% of the companies with condition or disease management programs will offer incentives to employees who take wellness or other health-related programs, and 10% will provide incentives for at-risk individuals to participate in programs or comply with recommended therapies.
The report also states that nearly as many employers believe that using pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs) increases their costs (34%) as those who believe they decrease their costs (43%).
Also next year, Hewitt states that:
- 10% of employers will require employees to pay extra if working spouses don't take coverage from their own employer, and 9% will require working spouses to get coverage from their own companies;
- 5% of employers will offer "tiered" hospital coverage, which involves paying higher co-pays for more expensive hospitals; and
- 23% will use "step therapy" programs, which require employees to try cheaper medicines for certain ailments before getting more expensive drugs.