Employee Health Care Costs to Rise 7.2 Percent in 2018

Report finds projected hike for workers far exceeds increase for their employers.

As employees review their health plan options for 2018 during this open enrollment period, two things will become painfully obvious for most workers. Many will be paying more for the same health benefits they enjoyed in 2017. And the increase in their health care costs will exceed the increase in what their employers are paying out for their benefits.
That’s the takeaway from Aon’s latest annual analysis of employer health benefits costs. This year’s analysis by the Chicago-based risk management and benefits firm is based on health care cost and benefit data from 450 large U.S. employers offering 1,260 health plans to about 10 million employees and their dependents.
The report said total health plan costs per employee will rise 4.5 percent to $12,470 next year from $11,934 this year.
That roughly tracks with projections from two earlier reports from different organizations. Willis Towers Watson said employers’ health benefits costs will rise 5.5 percent in 2018. The National Business Group on Health said employers’ health benefits costs will climb by 5 percent next year. Twin Cities Business previously reported on the earlier projections.  
Of the $12,470 in total health plan costs projected by Aon, $9,792, or 78.5 percent, will be picked up by the employer, and $2,678, or 21.5 percent, will be paid by the employee, the company said.
Employees will be responsible for an average of $2,570 in out-of-pocket costs in 2018, bringing the total employee health benefits cost to $5,248 per worker next year.  That represents a 7.2 percent increase over this year, when an employee’s average combined premium and out-of-pocket costs were $4,895. The increases in 2017 and 2016 were 6.9 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively.
By comparison, employers’ share of health plan costs is projected to rise 4.5 percent next year following a 3.9 percent increase this year and a 3.6 percent increase in 2016.
“With the uncertainty around health care reform, companies have had to manage rapidly accelerating health care costs via cost-sharing and through other traditional strategies,” Aon said in a press release announcing the results of this year’s annual health benefits analysis.