Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Most large employers revising their health plans for 2011

Most (53%) large American employers plan to make changes to their health programs for next year, in light of health reform and expected large cost increases, according to a survey by the National Business Group on Health. The rest are either (1) scaling back planned changes, (2) making no changes, or (3) unsure of what they intend to do.

Among the employers who are making specific health plan changes to comply with the new health reform law, the survey said that 70 percent indicated they will remove lifetime dollar limits on overall benefits while 37 percent reported they will make changes to annual or lifetime limits on specific benefits. About one in four (26%) will remove annual dollar limits on overall benefits while 13 percent will remove pre-existing condition exclusions for children.

"While the health reform law has forced employers to evaluate their health care benefit strategies and decide whether to comply with the law or lose grandfathered status, they haven't lost sight of the fact that controlling rising costs remains one of, if not, their highest priority. They have to foot the bill, not the government," said Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health. "In fact, with cost increases expected to accelerate next year, many of the plan design changes employers are making are being done to help curb those increases, as they have to do every year."

Other findings. Among other things, the survey found that more employers plan to increase the percentage employees contribute to the premium next year, while more employers plan to raise out-of-pocket maximums next year compared with 36% this year.

With the health reform law making Medicare Part D benefits richer via the closing of the “doughnut hole," five percent of employers plan to drop retiree health coverage in 2011 while 60 percent are considering doing so in the future.

For more information. For a comprehensive analysis of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and additional information on health reform and other developments in employee benefits, just click here.


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