Employees are shelling out 28% more for workplace health benefits than just three years ago.
Most probably realize their monthly premiums are going up because they see more taken out of their paychecks. Workers are seeing their premiums rise year after year, going up by 19% on average since 2011, according to a report issued Thursday by Towers Watson/National Business Group on Health.
This is happening though the overall growth in health care spending has slowed in recent years.
Companies, meanwhile, are paying 14% more for their share of the premiums than they did in 2011, as they seek to shift more of the expense to their employees. Premiums cost an average of $9,560 per worker in 2014, up from $8,364 three years ago.
But where workers are really being socked is how much they have to pay out of pocket to go to the doctor or get a procedure. Deductibles, co-pays and co-insurance costs are all rising swiftly, soaring 40% on average since 2011. Overall, employees are shouldering 37% of the total cost of their benefits, up from 34% three years ago.
There are two main reasons for this, explains Randall Abbott, senior consultant at Towers Watson. One is because employers want their workers to be more aware of the true cost of health care. If employees have to pay more themselves, the thinking goes, they may be more conservative and cost-conscious in making doctor appointments and getting tests and procedures.
Employers are also concerned about the looming "Cadillac tax" that takes effect in 2018 as part of Obamacare. Companies with health plans that cost more than $10,200 per individual and $27,500 per family will have to pay a 40% tax on the amount in excess of these figures. That gives companies the incentive to keep premiums down by raising employees' out-of-pocket burden because premiums are counted in the tax calculation, but out-of-pocket costs are not.
"As their employers get closer to hitting the excise tax, employees will have to pay more at the point of service, may see [doctor] networks narrowed and see some benefits modified or eliminated," Abbott said.
While 95% of companies surveyed said subsidizing health care coverage is very important, almost as many said they plan to make moderate or significant changes to benefits by 2018.
Workers who put their spouses or children on their company health plan can expect to pay more too. A growing number of companies are levying surcharges or cutting back on their subsidies for spousal coverage, especially if the spouses have access to health insurance at their employer.
The survey looked at 595 large U.S. employers.
Cold weather can freeze the job market.
Snowstorms have become the excuse du jour for weak job growth this winter. After months of stronger job growth, hiring was weak in both December and January, and now economists are expecting more mediocre numbers for February.
Economists surveyed by CNNMoney expect only 150,000 jobs were added during the month. The Labor Department plans to release the official numbers on Friday.
It may seem odd that a MOREAnnalyn Kurtz - Mar 5, 2014 10:32 AM ET
Nowhere is the divide between rich and poor more apparent than in the backyard.
Home values in the top 10% wealthiest communities are worth more than six times that in the bottom 40%, a new survey has found.
Put another way, these rich communities hold nearly 52% of housing wealth, compared to only 8% owned by the lower rungs, according to The Demand Institute, which assessed 2,200 largest communities across the nation. MORETami Luhby - Feb 28, 2014 6:00 AM ET
And the most unequal city in America is… Atlanta! Where the rich earn nearly 19 times the poor.
A new study from the Brookings Institute analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau and ranked America's 50 largest cities. It compared the household income of the richest in each city -- defined as the 95%th percentile -- with that of the poorest, or the bottom 20% of households.
But the reason Atlanta is so MORESteve Hargreaves - Feb 21, 2014 12:40 PM ET
Need to see a doctor, but it's not an emergency? You might have to wait a few weeks, though it depends on where you live.
Dallas residents may be able to get an appointment to see a family physician in five days, on average, but Bostonians might have to flip two months ahead on the calendar to mark the first available appointment for new patients.
Merritt Hawkins, a physician recruitment firm, surveyed MORETami Luhby - Feb 17, 2014 6:00 AM ET
If takes fewer workers to make your Valentine's Day chocolates these days.
Americans consume about 5.5 pounds of cocoa beans a year, about the same as they did 20 years ago. Meanwhile, American jobs producing the candy have been on the decline.
In 1990, about 54,000 Americans worked at facilities making chocolate candy, but now only 38,000 do.
The decline reflects two broader trends playing out in the manufacturing industry: Technology is eliminating MOREAnnalyn Kurtz - Feb 13, 2014 1:27 PM ET
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