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Employers Taking Various Steps to Manage Health Care Costs

From a high of 14.7% in 2002, the expected health care cost increase for 2017 is 5.0% after plan changes and 6.0% without.

By Rebecca Moore editors@plansponsor.com | May 08, 2017
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Recognizing that no single change will radically transform the cost structure of health care programs, U.S. employers are instead following a strategy of taking many concurrent steps to manage costs, according to a survey by Willis Towers Watson.

Employers said their top three priority changes for 2017 are: increasing employee point-of-care costs by adjusting deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums and out-of-network coinsurance (51%); modifying vendor strategies by expanding wellness programs or changing vendor partners (32%); and adding new provisions to prescription drug plans to encourage appropriate utilization (30%).

The Willis Towers Watson 2017 Emerging Trends in Health Survey of 666 U.S. employers also found that curbing pharmacy spend will remain a focus over the next three years, with the cost and delivery of specialty drugs as the top priority for 58% of employers.

“Employers have learned that building a high-performing health care program requires juggling many things at once,” says Julie Stone, a national health care practice leader at Willis Towers Watson. “Through careful management of participation, subsidies, and the efficiency of their health care and well-being programs, employers can outperform their competitors by keeping health care costs down.”

From a high of 14.7% in 2002, the expected health care cost increase for 2017 is 5.0% after plan changes and 6.0% without.

NEXT: Priorities for health and wellness programs

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