Employees, take note: Reuters reports that large employers are expecting significant increases in their 2012 healthcare costs, and those increases will likely be passed along to you. The National Business Group on Health notes that big companies are already dealing with increased costs over last year, at about 7.4 percent, and next year looks about the same, with increases expected around 7.2 percent.
The study reports that workers should anticipate bigger expenses, as they’ll be asked to pick up more of those costs. “More than half of the companies say they’ll increase the percentage that employees contribute to premiums, while 39 percent say they’ll increase deductibles for workers who stay in-network for their healthcare.” Out-of-network deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums may also rise, so all in all, it’s a tough time to be an employee. But there is hope.
One option is to skip the employer plan altogether and test the individual health insurance market. Some consumers are finding these individually-tailored plans to be cheaper – or at least more streamlined – than one-size-fits-all group plans, which often leave you paying for services you don’t even need. Check quotes at Custom Health Plans (www.customhealthplans.com) to compare individual plans with rates from your employer, and choose whichever plan offers the most affordable health insurance.
Another alternative to consider is pairing a high deductible health plan with a health savings account, or enrolling in a flexible spending account. Both offer tax savings, but only an HSA allows you to accumulate savings for the future.
It may also pay to get creative with your insurance coordination between family members. Spouses can stay with their own employer’s plan, or choose whichever employer offers the best family health insurance plan. Young workers should weight their options too, as they may find it cheaper to remain on their parents’ plans than to enroll in their own.
So at least we’ve got some options to combat the looming price increases. Consumers may just have to do more research, or get more creative, in choosing a health insurance plan that gets them the coverage they need at rates they can afford.