Although most employers only see minimal plan changes during the open enrollment season for the 2013 plan year, factors such as rising costs, health care reform, development of new delivery models, and new network configurations foretell significant changes to the structure of healthcare plans in 2014. According to the 2012 Towers Watson Health Care Changes Ahead survey, 63 percent of employers expect little to no change in their benefit plan design or premium subsidies for 2013. But 42 percent of employers are considering plan changes and 31 percent are considering subsidization reduction for spouses and dependents in 2014.
The Towers Watson survey predicts a 5.3 percent net increase to benefit plan costs in 2013. This is equivalent to a rise in the average cost per active employee from $10,925 to $11,507. The average that employees will pay will rise 22.6 percent from $2,436 in 2012 to $2,596 next year. Employees can also expect a variety of different coverage levels based on quality and cost, new networks of providers, and new methods of care delivery. More employers will also offer selection incentives and directly contract with medical providers and vendors while adopting new payment methods.
“As we move toward a post-reform environment, employers will sharpen their focus on new solutions to leverage emerging delivery system shifts, new technologies and holding employees more accountable for their personal health decisions. As a result, employees will be given more information, data and choices than ever before,” said Ron Fontanetta, senior health care consulting leader at Towers Watson. “The next few years will mark a major reshaping of how health care is delivered — but to control costs and improve workforce health, both employers and employees must prepare for the changes ahead.”