As employees make their open enrollment selections this fall for the 2013 plan year, they are likely to see only minimal plan changes compared with last year. However, with mounting cost pressures, health care reform, the emergence of new network configurations and the rapid development of new health care delivery models, employees can expect significant change in 2014 and beyond, according to experts at Towers Watson (NYSE, NASDAQ: TW), a global professional services company.
According to the 2012 Towers Watson Health Care Changes Ahead survey, released in August, nearly two-thirds of employers (63%) expect little or no change to their health benefit plan design or employee premium subsidies for 2013. Yet 2014 promises to be a different story, with 42% of employers considering changes to plan options and 31% considering reductions in subsidization of coverage for spouses or dependents. Likewise, the percentages of companies planning to use spousal waivers or surcharges when an employee’s spouse has access to employer-provided coverage elsewhere is expected to increase moderately in 2013, but grow significantly in 2014.
|Used in 2012||Planned for||Considering for|
|2013||2014 or 2015|
|Change plan options||14%||21%||42%|
|Significant reduction in subsidization of coverage for spouses/dependents||6%||7%||31%|
|Use spousal waivers or surcharges (when other coverage is available)||20%||4%||25%|
The survey projects a 5.3% net increase in total health benefit plan costs after any plan changes are taken into account, increasing the average cost per active employee from $10,925 in 2012 to $11,507 in 2013. Of the 2013 total, employees will pay an average of $2,596, or 22.6%, up from $2,436 in 2012.