healthcare costsIncreases in healthcare costs happen virtually every year. However, a recent report has put out some more specific numbers. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Health Research Institute has recently projected the growth rate of overall healthcare costs to hit 7.5 percent next year. This number is relatively low when compared to the increases experienced by many companies during the recession, often reaching double digits.

The slowing rate of increase in costs is typically thought to originate from the reduction in medical care usage during the recession combined with a growing rate of employers turning to healthcare cost reduction measures. The primary tactics used in order to keep costs as low as possible include growing the types and number of wellness programs offered and increasing the amount of costs shared with employees. The report went on to state that 72 percent of employers currently offer wellness programs.

The most popular forms of these wellness programs include:

• Employee assistance programs (84 percent of employers)

• Health risk assessments (80 percent)

• Biometric screenings (71 percent)

• Smoking cessation programs (67 percent)

• Disease management programs (58 percent)

• Weight management programs (56 percent)

The most popular cost-sharing strategies include:

• Increasing employee contributions to premiums (31 percent have already implemented this strategy with 57 percent considering it)

• Increasing prescription drug plan costs (21 percent implementation and 52 percent considering)

• Increasing medical plan costs sharing (34 percent implementing and 50 percent considering)

• Implementing a value-based design (6 percent implementing and 45 percent considering)

• Implementing a high-deductible plan (13 percent implementing and 42 percent considering)

• Implementing a performance-based network (4 percent implementing and 41 percent considering)

• Offering HSAs (33 percent implementing with 40 percent considering)


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