Employees are notorious for only spending a few minutes making their annual benefits selections, but you may want to communicate to them that this is definitely not the year to gloss over such choices.

According to Aon, employees likely will notice substantial changes to their medical plan for 2010, from increases to employee contributions to introducing a wellness program.

Aon surveyed 1,313 employers nationwide and report that 41% of employers expect to make more substantial changes to their 2010 medical program than they did this year. Specifically, 70% plan to increase employee contributions and 67% expect to raise deductibles, copays, coinsurance or out-of-pocket maximums.
 
In addition, more than half plan to introduce or expand a wellness program next year, and 34% expect to introduce or increase financial incentives for wellness programs.

“As in year’s past, many employers are expecting to shift additional health care costs to employees in 2010 to share the burden of double-digit rate increases,” says John Zern, Aon’s U.S. health benefits practice director.  “However, it may be more dramatic next year, as many organizations try to avoid taking other drastic measures such as layoffs or salary freezes.”

In addition to cost-shifting and increasing wellness investments as ways to lower costs, Aon finds employers also are looking to make 2010 the year of the audit:
* 20% plan dependent eligibility audits
* 16% electronic prescription drug audits
* 13% medical claims audits.
* 12% prescription rebate audits.

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