THURSDAY, Sept. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Americans who have health insurance through large, employer-sponsored health plans will see a number of plan design changes in 2011, and they'll be paying more for that coverage, employers and benefits consultants say.
"You're going to see higher premiums and higher contributions from the individual members of the plan," said Ronald Bachman, president and CEO of Healthcare Visions, an Atlanta-based consulting firm.
"Health-care reform doesn't change the fact that costs are going up, and cost-shifting is going to continue to occur between the employer's portion of the cost and the individual's portion of costs," he said.
Employer-sponsored health plans cover 159 million people, or 52 percent, of all Americans, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured and the Urban Institute.
Employers project that health-care costs will rise 8.9 percent, on average, in 2011, according to a report released last month by the National Business Group on Health (NBGH). This year, the average increase was 7 percent.
Sixty-three percent of employers intend to increase employees' share of premium costs, compared with 57 percent who did so this year, the survey found, while 46 percent plan to raise out-of-pocket maximums, up from 36 percent this year.
More than six in 10 employers in 2011 will offer a consumer-directed health plan, a type of coverage that combines a high-deductible health plan with a health savings account, or HSA. (An HSA allows consumers to pay for medical expenses with tax-free dollars.) The number of employers that intend to offer this type of consumer-directed plan exclusively -- replacing other health-plan options -- doubled from 10 percent this year to 20 percent in 2011.
"We fully expect interest in CDHPs (consumer-directed health plans), and especially full-replacement plan
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