Employers Still Expecting Double-Digit Health Coverage Cost Hikes

August 31, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Employers expect a continual slow decline in the double-digit cost increases of the past six years in their health care costs, but still anticipate average expense hikes of 12.2% next year.

That was one of a series of findings of a recent 2005 survey by the Indianapolis-based United Benefit Advisors (UBA) of 12,176 health plans sponsored by more than 8,700 employers by the group. UBA is an alliance of the nation’s independent benefit advisory firms.

Additional survey findings included:

  • average premiums increased 9.6% for all plans (after any plan adjustments), but only 3.4% for consumer driven plans
  • average premiums have increased to $327 for single coverage, with employees contributing an average of $53
  • average premiums for the highest premium tier (full family coverage) average $927, with employees contributing $381 on average
  • 2.6% of employers currently offer consumer driven plans, with 1.9% of all employees enrolled in the plans.

Other findings include:

  • the median single PPO deductible is now $500, while in-network and out-of-network coinsurance is 80% and 60% respectively
  • HMO premiums on average are approximately 5% lower than PPO premiums
  • Employers continue to explore a number of cost-containment strategies for prescription drug benefits, with plans having only two copay tiers falling to only 10.9% of all plans, while plans requiring four copay tiers have become nearly twice as prevalent
  • plans providing coverage for same-sex domestic partners remain at approximately one of every six employers (17.3%).

Copies of the survey are available for purchase at http://benefits.com/national_surveys.htm .