Mounting financial concerns
are pressing American employees from all sides. Two studies released this week
confirm more bad news about employee costs for health coverage.
The 2008 Employer Health
Benefits Survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health
Research & Educational Trust found that premiums continue to rise and more
employees are paying higher deductibles. Workers pay an average of $3,354 each
year towards employer sponsored family health coverage, more than double the
amount they paid 9 years ago. Employees in small businesses, with 3 to 199
workers, contribute more for family coverage, $4,101 each year, than those who
work in large firms. Small employers provide some good news since they are more
likely to pay a greater share of the cost of single coverage so employees pay
an average of $624 a year while those in large companies pay $769.
Enrollment in High Deductible
plans is growing rapidly. 18% of all covered workers are in plans with a
deductible of at least $1,000. This is a big jump from the 12% in High
Deductible plans in 2007.
The outlook for health care includes
continued increases and changes in plans that shift more costs to employees.
The changes and cost shifts have resulted in a larger number of Americans
facing medical bill problems. The Center for Studying Health System Change
released study reported that 1 in 5 Americans faced medical bill problems in
2007, up from 1 in 7 in 2003. One of the most striking findings is that most of
these individuals, 42.5 million out of 57 million reporting difficulty, had
Amid all the bad news
employers should not bury their head and shrug their shoulders. Smart employers
communicate the costs of health coverage. How many employees know that the
average yearly premium for family medical coverage through employers is almost
$13,000? If your costs and employee share are in line with, or lower than, the
average tell employees where you rank. You may want to find regional, local or
industry data that backs up your policies. If your employee contributions and
costs are higher add up the total budget. Tell employees how much work,
production, product or service it takes to cover the cost of these employee
Communicating about benefits
and their costs is not a once a year event confined to open enrollment.
Effective communication occurs all of the time to keep employees better
informed and reminded of their role as consumers.
How do you send out the
message about benefit costs?