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Health Reform 101

with Lisa Zamosky

WebMD helps readers understand their health insurance and the new health care reform law. The Affordable Care Act is bringing sweeping changes to American health care. Lisa Zamosky is here to help you navigate the health care maze and understand how these changes affect you.


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Thursday, March 21, 2013

5 Ways Your Employer Benefits May Change

By Lisa Zamosky

man with papers

There have been many dire predictions made about the effects of the Affordable Care Act, including that employers are going to stop offering health insurance to employees.

However, the latest annual survey by consulting firm, Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health, found that large companies with at least 1,000 employees remain committed to providing employee health benefits, at least for the foreseeable future.

Still, changes are ahead. According to the survey, employers will design their benefit packages differently in an effort to gain control over rising healthcare costs.

Most people still get their health insurance through their employer. If that’s the case for you, here are 5 changes you might see in your health benefits over the next several years.

1. Your coverage will cost more. Today, employees pay 42% more for their health care than they did just five years ago. That’s a trend likely to continue. More than 80% of the 583 employers surveyed said they plan to continue to raise the share of premiums employees pay for their health benefits.

2. You’ll pay more for your spouse. Increasingly, companies are making it costlier to add your spouse onto your work-based plan. Today, 20% of companies questioned said they add a surcharge for spouses, and an additional 13% say they plan to add one next year.

3. You’ll take on more responsibility. For years now, employers have been encouraging employees to think more carefully about the medical services they use by moving them into plans that require them to spend more of their own money up front. Today, 66% of companies offer high-deductible health plans combined with medical savings accounts in the form of either a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) or health savings account (HSA). By 2014, another 13% expect to offer them.

More drastically, 15% of companies are now offering only high-deductible health plan options, and nearly 25% say they may offer only these types of plans by 2014.

4. Retiree benefits are fading. The last two decades have seen a sharp decline in companies providing employee health benefits for retirees; currently, only 15% of companies make retiree benefits available to newly hired employees. Those that do continue to offer some assistance to pay for retiree health benefits increasingly plan to shift them into account-based plans like those described in #3.

5. Wellness programs become more important. Almost seven in 10 companies responding to this survey report offering both employees and their spouses financial rewards to participate in wellness programs. What’s more, employers are getting tougher about doling out rewards – this year 16% of companies (up from 10% last year) only pay up when you show measurable results. That means simply signing up for a weight loss program won’t cut it; you need to show some progress on your weight-loss goals.

What changes have you seen in your work-based health benefits? Share your experience in the comments section below.

Posted by: Lisa Zamosky at 2:45 pm


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