Large U.S. employers expect health insurance benefit costs to increase 6% in 2017, just as they have in the past two years, according to a survey the National Business Group on Health released Tuesday.
The annual survey also found that employers are planning to change their plans to hold increases at about 5%. That is despite a large increase to specialty pharmacy costs, which one-third of respondents said was the highest driver of healthcare costs.
Brian Marcotte, CEO of the NBGH, said that despite the increase remaining steady and predictable, it is still three times the increase in the Consumer Price Index and two times those of general wages.
“It's really unsustainable from a cost perspective, and it's the No. 1 thing employers care about,” he said.
The survey found that 90% of employers will make telehealth services available, which is an increase from 70% this year. Tools to manage care will also be more available. About 80% of respondents said they will offer nurse coaching for care and condition management and nearly two-thirds will provide employees with decisionmaking tools.
Marcotte said the use of accountable care organizations and high-performance networks is increasing and could be useful to cut costs, but their worth is unproven for many.
“Most employers are still unsure of what you get from these new delivery models,” he said.