Employers plan to take steps to slash their healthcare costs next year as the recession drags on, according to a survey by Mercer, a benefits consulting firm.
Some 46% of the 428 employers surveyed in March said that they will make more cost-saving changes to their health plans in 2010 because of the economy.
Employers now foresee an increase of 7.4% in health benefits costs in 2009 overall, up from about 6% in the past four years. To rein in spending, they are gearing up to bring their average cost increase down to 5.2% in 2010, Mercer reported.
To do so, the percentage of employers offering consumer-driven health plans, which often carry high deductibles and low coverage, could double next year, Mercer said. And half of respondents said that they intend to be more aggressive on cost-containment by conducting audits for appropriate payments and accurate dependent eligibility, according to the online survey.
For many employers, simple cost-shifting wont be the silver bullet this time around, said Linda Havlin, global intellectual capital leader for Mercers health and benefits business, in a written statement.
Fifty-eight percent of employers said that they have conducted layoffs since September, and 44% said more layoffs are likely, according to Mercer.