Survey: Colorado employers concerned about insurance costs

DENVER — Rate increases for health insurance continue to be the greatest concern to Colorado employers, according to an annual survey of companies conducted by the Denver-based Lockton Mountain West Benefit Group.

The increase in the cost of health-care benefits was reported by 82 percent of respondents as their greatest single concern, according to the survey released Wednesday. Meanwhile, 78 percent ranked compliance with health-care reform and the new reporting requirements as their second-greatest concern.

The need to control the cost of coverage resulted in more than 65 percent of employers reporting using a deductible of $1,000 or more, while 37 percent reported using a health-maintenance organization as their health-plan provider. Thirty-nine percent reported adding a health savings account to their plans as a way to control costs, which is higher than the 26 percent reported by the 2015 Kaiser/HRET Employer Health Benefits Survey.

The survey revealed that the projected rate of increase for health plans in Colorado for 2016 is 8 percent — about the same as last year but before plan adjustments or increases to employee contributions. The average increase for 2016 after plan changes, (increasing employee premium cost, reducing benefits and/or changing carriers) was 4.4 percent, down from 5.3 percent in 2015.

“This news is generally positive, but troubling aspects include the fact the vast majority of surveyed employers are very concerned about the administrative requirements associated with the health-care reform law and the fact that costs for insurance remain high, and continue to increase at a significant percentage.” said Bill Lindsay, president of Lockton Benefit Group and the author of the survey.

The survey was sent to 647 Colorado employers. Survey respondents were selected based on size, industry, and visibility in the community. The survey was designed to engage a representative sample of Colorado employers to better understand the employee-benefit trends in the Colorado market, Lindsay said, adding that it is not to be considered a scientific sampling.

Ten percent of the survey responses came from the Boulder area and foothills locations, while 6 percent came from Northern Colorado.