SURVEY SAYS: What's Your 2008 Health-Care Costing?

September 20, 2007 ( - 'Tis the season for health-care package rollouts, and while there have been signs that the rate of increase is slowing, there doesn't seem to be much hope that, in the absence of plan design changes, workplace health-care costs are actually going to decrease for 2008.

This week, I asked readers about the trends with your health-care costs.  

Having not taken into account things like plan size or location, it is difficult to match up this week’s responses with some of the national surveys we have covered previously.   Nonetheless, based on this week’s responses, 2008 will not be a pretty year.   Just over a third ( 35.9% ) said that their health-care costs were going up by more than 7%, the most common response.   About a quarter said the increase was between 5%-7%, and one in five was looking at a 1% to 5% increase.   However, in a number of situations, respondents indicated that while costs were increasing, they had been able to shield workers from most – or all – of it.

One in 10 said they had managed to hold costs flat, and a comparable number said they were actually contemplating a decrease.   And – those wellness programs appear to be having an impact!

More than 40% were contemplating making changes to their programs, but 25% were not – and roughly a third simply said, “not yet.”  

Still, as one reader noted, “I wish I could hide under my desk and avoid the news.”   Another said,  “It’s got to stop! A ‘modest’ 6% increase in health-care costs still outpaces inflation.”

But this week’s Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said, “We have raised deductibles, employee payroll contributions, copays and out of pocket maximums. This has caused the entire employee population to hate HR and any emails that come from us, despite the fact that all of this gets communicated only during open enrollment and there are lots of other things HR sends out. What I want to know is, what planet do the employees who don’t understand how costly medical insurance is live on?”

Thanks to everyone who participated in this week’s survey.   You’ll want to check out this week’s VERBATIMS – some very informative descriptions of program changes and designs that I know you’ll find useful.

Overall, about 8% HMO costs increasing 5% PPO costs increasing 9%
The airline said it best: "up, up and awaaay". I'm not sure of the percentage as we get our health care package info about November 29th so we have at least 2 partial days to respond. I guess they want us to make our choices before the shock wears off.

If we stayed with our current health ins provider, our rate would have increased 25%. Only because that was the cap or it would have gone up by 32%.

This was due the the "slip-of-the-knife" of a doctor during and abdominal operation on one employees. The surgeon "nicked" her intestines and the local hospital did not seem to notice her 48 hour progression into a coma! This resulted in her having to be flown out to a shock/trauma facility!! And once she fully recovers, which may be months, she has to have the initial operation over again!!! Care First of MD has lost so much money on this case, they need us to find another provider. This is one of those nightmare cases you read about.

We are large group so our rate increase with usage or claims submitted. Other than 1 birth, there were no other large claims. This is why we could hold the rate down by moving to another provider. We made sure of our facts and dates with the case above and when we put the contract out to bid, we had 3 very reasonable quotes from providers other than Care First.

It would have been up about 14%, but we made some changes, described below.
As a recorkeeper, I am not privy to information about rate increases. However, it was announced by HR that although costs went up for the company, the employee's rates will remain even - meaning that the company will be paying a larger portion this year than last. In an age where employers seem to be cutting back on benefits this was a nice change.
Well, bottom line is down but that is mostly a result of selling two divisions and closing two others. So we are "down" but per person we are probably "up" by 1-5%. (Nothing is ever cut and dried at my company.)
We self insure. A combination of factors including changing providers, wellness education, and luck on claims filed, reduced year to year costs by 40%
Increase of 14% (sadly, an improvement over last year's 26%).
Increase of 12.7%
They haven't told us yet. But they are giving us $360 off if we participated in a wellness check-up; that's up from $260 last year, so maybe (doubtful) that will cover the increase.
No ongoing or potential claims exceeding the excess loss coverage. No "specific" claims for past 12 months. (Reduced Aggregate Loss Ratio.)
20% increase (previous carrier wanted 30%)
We were expecting about a 5% increase this year in health care costs. Our associates have enjoyed 4 years of NO INCREASES in health care costs from 2004 through 2007, so this will be the first increase in FIVE years.
We have raised deductibles, employee payroll contributions, copays and out of pocket maximums. This has caused the entire employee population to hate HR and any emails that come from us, despite the fact that all of this gets communicated only during open enrollment and there are lots of other things HR sends out. What I want to know is, what planet do the employees who don't understand how costly medical insurance is live on?
Added naturopathic care as a covered benefit, added a service to assit employees with coordinating their care
Increase copays for specialist visits; place pharmacy program with an indpendent pharmacy manager
Increase ER visits.
We increased the deductible (from $300 to $500) and the stop loss (from $5,000 to $7,500). So our maximum annual out-of-pocket costs increased for employees from $1,300 to $2,000, and for families from $2,600 to $4,000.
We are offering new dental/vision plan with expanded coverage for less cost to the company. Unsure at this time, if that cost savings is going to be passed on to the employees. We are also offering a dual option medical plan, whereby employees who opt not to have an "out-of-network" benefit, will pay less in premiums.
Not really a plan design change but freezing in preparation of eliminating the "richer" of our two plan designs.
We are still looking at other carriers to determine whether we want to migrate. If we do not, we most likely will be looking at design changes.
We've increased individual and family annual deductibles by $50.
Increased prescription co pays, Insurance break points & employee payroll contributions.
There are no plan design changes left to implement. Our co-payment and co-insurance rate is already very high for our industry! Our only recourse is to again increase the employee's cost share and promote the wellness program, which is beginning to pay off!
We're offering 3 different choices as to the level of coverage, including a CDHP that features a pool of money to be used towards the annual deductible. THe pool of money is started by the ER with $1000 and each employee and their covered spouse can earn up to $250 to add to it by joining a gym, Weight Watchers, taking health screenings, getting flu shots, etc.
Fewer plans will be offered, in hopes of attracting more employees into our HDHP/HSA plan.
!. Single deductible and Out-of-pocket is embedded in the family deductible and Out-of-pocket. (No one individual will have to meet more than the single deductible or single out-of-pocket) 2. Implemented HSA provisions (psrt of the Health Opportunity Patient Empowerment Act of 2006)-Increased annual HSA contribution regardless of individual's deductible or the month of eligibility. 3. Prescription Drug Program changed and made HSA Compatible. 4. Deductible waived for "Wellness" expense (PPO or Non-PPO).
Change carriers; increase deductibles
Higher premium sharing. Lower co-pay for generics and higher co-pays for brand Rx.