Rates Expected to Climb 4% in 2017 as Workers Grow Weary of Cost-shifting

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A new survey by Mercer Human Resources has found that average premiums for group health plans should increase by about 4% for 2017 after employers make plan changes like increasing deductibles and switching carriers. Employers have enjoyed health plan cost increases of about 4% or less each year since 2011. Prior to that, essentially before the Affordable Care Act became law, costs were increasing by double-digit percentages for many years. The new findings come after the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research & Educational Trust released its own employer health benefits survey, which found similar increases for this year. Premiums…
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High-deductible Plans Gain Favor, but PPOs Still Tops

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More employees than ever are opting for high-deductible health plans (HDHPs), but preferred provider organizations (PPOs) are still the most popular among group health plans, a new study has found. Thirty-four percent of employees selected an HDHP for 2016 when it was offered alongside a traditional health plan, with millennial employees over age 26 the most likely to choose the option at 40%, according to a report by benefits management technology provider Benefitfocus Inc. The company analyzed enrollment data from 2,400 midsize employers using its technology platform. The study found that 87% of midsize employers offer traditional plans – health…
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Four trends in dental plan design

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Subtle yet important trends are reshaping dental benefit plan designs as employers continue to search for ways to keep costs in check while making minimal impact on what they offer to their employees. While few employers are dropping dental coverage outright (in fact the number of employers offering them has grown), they are instead resorting to some new strategies, including: • Higher deductibles, • Lower plan coinsurance, • Adoption of preferred provider organizations (PPOs), and • Switching certain procedures from one category to another. While new products have emerged in the health insurance arena, there have not been the same…
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Specialty Drugs Raising Concerns for Employers, Employees

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While rapidly rising drug costs are starting to raise concern among employers, one major driver of health care costs is drug spending that’s not even part of the pharmacy benefits you offer your staff. Most health plans never anticipated including in their drug benefits packages specialty drugs – a new class of pharmaceuticals that are tailored to individuals based on their genetic makeup or other factors. The problem is that they typically have high price tags that can exceed $100,000 a year, and the costs are often difficult to detect since the cost is often listed as a medical billing,…
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