Employers Enjoyed Small Increases in Health Benefit Costs in 2017

Two more reports confirm employers’ health costs were relatively stable this year.

With the calendar year coming to a close on another health insurance cycle, two more organizations closed their books on how much more employers paid this year to provide health benefits to workers.
United Benefit Advisors, the Indianapolis-based employee benefits consulting firm, said the average annual health plan cost per employee rose 2.1 percent this year to $9,934 from $9,727 in 2016.
UBA reported the results in its 2017 Health Plan Survey. This year’s annual UBA survey is based on information from 20,099 health plans offered by 11,221 employers to their employees in 2017.
The most expensive health plan type this year was an exclusive provider organization, or EPO, at an average annual cost of $10,664 per employee. That was followed by a point-of-service, or POS, plan ($10,580); a PPO ($10,311); a consumer-directed health plan, or CDHP ($9,601); and an HMO ($8,877).
Meanwhile, Mercer, the New York-based benefits consulting firm, said the average total health benefit cost per employee rose 2.6 percent this year to $12,229 from $11,920 in 2016.
Mercer released the results in its annual National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans report. The report is based on a survey of 2,481 employers.
The 2.6 percent increase this year followed a 2.4 percent bump in 2016. Mercer is projecting a 4.2 percent increase in the average total health benefit cost per employee for 2018.
As previously reported in Twin Cities Business, several other organizations also put a price tag on this year’s health benefits costs and the anticipated increase next year.

Although the figures on employers’ health care cost increases this year varied by source and survey—ranging from a low of 2.1 percent to a high of 5 percent—the good news for the business community is that all the estimates were confined to the low single digits in 2017.