Modest Increase In Employers’ Health Plan Costs In 2015

Modest Increase In Employers’ Health Plan Costs In 2015

Report says employers kept costs low by making employees pay more for cheaper coverage.

Businesses that did well financially in 2015 were likely aided by their ability to keep their health benefit expenses down last year. The latest annual Health Plan Survey by United Benefit Advisors found that the average employer health plan costs last year rose just 2.4 percent to $9,736 per employee.

The UBA is an Indianapolis-based employee benefits consulting firm. The group’s new 2015 Health Plan Survey is based on a survey of nearly 11,000 employers that offer more than 18,000 different health plan options to their workers.

The UBA described the increase in health plan costs as “modest” and attributed the small hike to employees enrolling in health plans that offered less generous benefits at smaller premium increases and employers shifting more of the premium expense to their workers. The 2.4 percent increase followed a 2.2 percent increase in 2014.

Of the $9,736 in health plan costs per employee, employers paid $6,403, or 66 percent, and employees paid $3,333, or 34 percent, according to the survey. The $3,333 represents at 3.3 percent increase in workers’ share of the total cost compared with 2014.

The report’s findings are consistent with the Health and Voluntary Workplace Benefits Survey conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute. That survey found that employees are less satisfied with their health benefits but continue to trust their employers to offer the best health plan available.

According to the UBA report, the average health plan costs per employee varied significantly by type of plan. At the high end were exclusive provider organizations (EPOs) that cost $10,793 per employee in 2015. At the low end were high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) that cost $9,210 per employee.  In between were: preferred provider organizations (PPOs), point of service plans (POS) and HMOs at $10,040, $9,905 and $9,446 per employee, respectively.

The average health plan costs per employee also varied significantly by region with the Central region, which included Minnesota, at the low end with $8,224. At the high end was the Northeast at $11,071.