Big Firms to Cut Worker Health Options Next Year, 50% More Higher-Cost 'Consumer-Directed'

NEW YORK (TheStreet) — Workers may see some shifts in the structure and servicing of their health care plans as companies try to keep a lid on rising costs.

According to the corporate-backed National Business Group on Health — the board of directors is filled with executives from such companies as Coca-Cola, General Mills and IBM — costs for health care are set to rise by 6.5% next year, a figure that is a notch below 2014's average health care cost for large employers (at 7%).

The NBGH says companies will seek to curb costs by shifting their health care insurance programs. Consumer-directed health plans as an only offering to workers will grow by 50%. (Such plans are designed to get consumers to spend less on health care by exposing them "to the financial implications of their treatment decisions," according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Consumers use health savings accounts, flexible health spending accounts and health reimbursement accounts to pay for health care expenses directly, usually with high deductibles.)

Read More: Obamacare Subsidies Allow Higher Level of Care

Companies will also branch out in other areas, such as raising cost-sharing provisions and emphasizing wellness programs to workers.

"Despite the many distractions that the Affordable Care Act has created, large employers haven't lost sight of the fact that rising health care costs remain a significant issue that needs to be constantly addressed," says Brian Marcotte, chief executive of the National Business Group on Health. "Our survey shows that many employers are, in fact, taking necessary steps to rein in costs. This includes partnering with workers to engage in health care decisions and educating them to be better health care consumers, as well as sharing more costs with workers and narrowing their benefit options."

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