As employers try to control rising healthcare premium costs, their employees will continue to pay more for healthcare plans and face higher deductibles and copays, according to a recent survey from Wells Fargo Insurance, part of Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE: WFC). The survey of more than 70 insurance companies nationwide found that overall claim costs will continue to increase in the high single digits next year, a strong indication that employers can expect to pay higher rates.
“Employers are exploring all available options to maintain and improve the health risk of employees, mitigate cost, and maximize their benefit investment,” said Dan Gowen, national practice leader with Wells Fargo Insurance’s Employee Benefits National Practice. “We continue to work with our employee benefits customers to plan, design, and implement programs that best serve their employees and achieve their financial goals.”
The survey also indicated that the top three employer product innovations in 2014 are accountable care organizations (ACOs), increased wellness programs, and narrow provider network offerings. Forty seven percent of all participants said they will launch their own proprietary private exchange by 2015.
“We’re finding that employers are considering private exchanges and defined contribution strategies to manage rising costs,” said Nick Allen, national practice leader for Actuarial Services with Wells Fargo Insurance. “Defined contributions strategies are often just shifting cost to employees, and private exchanges are an option, but may do little to change health care utilization behaviors. Product innovation and consumer engagement remain critical in creating a culture of smarter health care spending.”The survey, conducted in February and March 2014, also found that dental costs remain lower than medical due to lack of cost shifting from public to private plans and improvements in the dental technology field. Prescription costs are consistent with prior results, but have increased steadily over the last two years. Continued increase in Rx trend is expected due to the higher cost and use of specialty biotech drugs as well as fewer generic drugs coming to market.