Survey says: Health-care benefit cost increases biggest concern for employers

DENVER — The increasing cost of health-care benefits is the greatest single concern of Colorado employers who responded to a survey regarding health-benefit costs and coverage.

Seventy-seven percent of the 280 employers surveyed said increasing costs are their No. 1 concern, and 58 percent ranked compliance with health-care reform and the new reporting requirements as their second-greatest concern, according to Denver-based Lockton Mountain West Benefit Group, which conducted the survey.

Meanwhile, the need to control the cost of coverage resulted in self-funding becoming the most-prevalent financing mechanism in the history of this survey, and use of high-deductible health plans increasing to 57 percent.

Despite this pressure, companies are increasingly using benefits to attract and retain workers, given a very tight labor market, the report said.

The survey revealed that the projected rate of increase for health plans in Colorado for 2017 is 7.6 percent, though employers took various actions to manage the increase to 4.7 percent.

Tactics employers used to bring the initial increase down included increasing employee premium cost, reducing benefits and/or changing carriers. Employers have been more targeted using strategies that target managing pharmaceutical costs, large claims, and other key benefit expense drivers.

“With a new administration, the existing construct of the Affordable Care Act will certainly change, but the lack of specificity coming from Washington puts employers into yet another period of uncertainty,” Leo Tokar, executive vice president of Lockton Mountain West and the author of the survey, said in a statement.

The survey was designed to engage a representative sample of Colorado employers to better understand the employee-benefit trends in the Colorado market, but it is not considered a scientific sampling.

 

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