by VR Sreeraman on  October 20, 2009 at 4:53 PM Health Insurance News
 Workers to Pay More for Health Care Next Year, Consultants Say
Co-pays and deductibles are likely to increase in 2010 for employees, Hewitt Associates, a consulting group, says.

The Wall Street Journal reports that more companies will ask employees to fill out health-risk questionnaires to get benefits, but won't cut back on wellness programs. "Workers will be picking up the extra costs because cash-strapped businesses won't, benefits consultants say. And higher out-of-pocket costs make it even more important for consumers to evaluate their needs, compare plans and use a flexible spending account if it's available."

Average costs will likely rise 6 percent to $9,120 in 2010, up from just over $8,600 in this year. Premiums and out-of-pocket costs will also rise 10 percent while the average salary will only increase 1.8 percent (Mincer, 10/18).

CNN Money reports that other factors including an aging of the population, more technology use in medicine and government cost-shifting will drive up rates, according to analysts.

Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health "said companies have been shifting over the past five years from a co-pay, a flat dollar fee ranging between $10 and $35 that employees pay at each doctor visit, to a to co-insurance model. With co-insurance, employees pay a percentage of the total medical expense.

Experts say co-insurance rates are typically split 80-20 or 70-30 between the health plan and the insured worker." Other changes include an increasing reliance on things like health savings accounts, health reimbursement accounts and a surcharge on your premiums if you have a working spouse who can get other health care coverage (Kavilanz, 10/19).

Source: Kaiser Health News

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