According to a survey by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, LLP, medical costs for employers in the United States will rise 9 percent in 2011, a slight drop from 2010, but still a continuing upward trend. To control costs, many employers are turning to wellness programs and asking workers to bear more of the financial burden for their own health care.
“Employers are raising the stakes in their wellness and disease management programs,” reads the text of the report. “The use of incentives has continued to increase and broaden over the past two years.”
Approximately 60 percent of the American population under the age of 65 gets health insurance as a job benefit. To assimilate its data for the study, PriceWaterhouseCooper questioned 700 companies across 30 industries.
The most common type of insurance provided by those surveyed (63 percent) was a preferred provider organization or PPO. Since 2009, the deductible for such programs has been raised in about 43 percent of cases to $400 or more.
Fewer than half of the companies currently offered weight management programs (39 percent), with just 27 percent providing nutritional counseling, a disappointing result when two-thirds of Americans are overweight.
Kelly Barnes, U.S. health industries leader at PriceWaterhouseCoopers said in a statement, “Health reform delivers only a minor impact on the underlying medical cost trends in 2011 and introduces hundreds of changes in the health care system designed to reduce costs and improve efficiencies in the long-term.
“These changes could bring significant new cost savings opportunities for employers and payers as well as new choices and transparency for workers buying insurance.”