The annual Employer Health Benefits Survey conducted by The Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research & Educational Trust provides a wealth of data and insight for CFOs and HR to evaluate their organizations’ health benefit programs. With breakdowns by company size, geography and other metrics, companies can use this data to benchmark their plan costs and features against the programs offered by other employers.
Of course, the key finding this year focuses on costs. Average premiums increased 4% for family coverage and 3% for individual coverage, with average annual premiums of $5,615 for single coverage and $15,745 for family coverage. When evaluated by company size, smaller companies pay slightly less ($15,253 for family coverage) than larger companies ($15,980). The survey is based on responses and interviews with 2,121 employers ranging in size from three employees to more than 5,000 employees.
Without further ado, let’s look at some of the other key findings:
• Despite a great deal of talk about cost shifting, the percentage of health insurance premiums paid by employees (18% for single coverage, 28% for family coverage) on average did not change from 2011 to 2012. On a dollar basis, this works out to employees paying an average of $79 per month or $951 annually for single coverage and $360 per month or $4,316 annually for family coverage.
• The cost of high deductible health plans (HDHP) with a savings option are much lower than for other types of plans--$4,928 annually for single coverage and $14,129 for family coverage. Compare that to premiums for the most popular plan type—preferred provider organizations (PPOs)—which charge $5,850 for single coverage) and $16,356 for family coverage. Employee costs for HDHPs with a savings option are also considerably lower for both single coverage ($765 per year) and family coverage ($3,720 per year).
• Like premiums, health plan deductibles have not increased since last year. The average annual deductible for single coverage is $691 for health maintenance organizations (HMOs), $733 for PPOs, $1,014 for point of service (POS) plans, and $2,086 for HDHP with a savings option. Average deductibles for family coverage are $1,329 for HMOs, $1,770 for PPOs, $2,163 for POS plans, and $3,924 for HDHPs with a savings option.
Looking ahead to 2013, the news is less bright. Benefit consultants Mercer is still conducting its annual health benefits survey, but it offered a glimpse of what lies ahead based on the responses of the 2,000 employers that have already participated in the survey.
This year’s relatively low cost increase is not likely to be repeated next year, according to these numbers. The Mercer survey found that most of the employers surveyed so far would face health care cost increases averaging 8% in 2013 if they make no changes to their plans. However, as many of those employers plan to shift a higher percentage of health care costs to employees and make other plan changes, the actual increase is likely to be closer to 6.5%. For comparison purposes, Mercer’s survey in prior years found a 6.1% increase in 2011 and predicted a 5.7% increase for 2012.