The cost of providing employee health care benefits at the nation’s largest employers is projected to increase 7% in 2014, according to a new survey from the National Business Group on Health, released Wednesday in Washington.
It’s the third consecutive year employers budgeted this amount, the nonprofit association of more than 365 large U.S. employers, said of the survey conducted last May and June of 108 member companies in a range of industries and employer sizes.
Despite the modest increase “rising health care costs remain a serious concern for U.S. employers,” said Helen Darling, the group’s president and CEO. “Employers spent considerable time and energy this year designing health plans that comply with the various provisions of the Affordable Care Act.”
Noting that the survey was conducted before the Obama administration implemented a one-year delay of the employer mandate, Darling explained that although the delay provided some relief, “it’s easy to forget that we have not solved the problem [of rising] health care costs and we have to do that.”
Overall, employers reported that using a consumer-directed health plan was the most effective tactic for reducing health care cost increases, with 36% of employers rating it as most effective.
Many employers have traditionally used wellness programs as a way to control health rate increases. Twelve percent of employers rated wellness programs as the most effective tactic for controlling rate increases, while 21% cited it as the second most effective tactic and 25% said it was the third-most effective tactic.
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