Large U.S. employers expect to pay 6% more for health benefits in 2009, the same rate of increase as 2007 and 2008, according to preliminary findings of a survey by Watson Wyatt Worldwide and the National Business Group on Health, writes Crain’s Business Insurance.
The cost increases were partially tempered by the growing use of consumer-driven health plans, which are now offered by 51% of employers, up from 47% in 2008, according to the survey. Employers where at least half of their workers enrolled in a CDHP have a two-year cost trend that is 25% lower than non-CDHP sponsors, the survey found.
While the rate of increase in health care costs has held steady for the past three years, it is still nearly twice the inflation rate, and that is prompting many employers to rethink their benefit strategies, according to the survey. For example, 30% have revamped their health care strategies and another 30% are planning to do so in 2009. Rising costs are also shaking employers’ confidence in their ability to provide health benefits 10 years from now.
The final survey will be published in mid-March and released at the NBGH’s annual Business Health Agenda, which will be held in Washington March 11-13.