Employers’ moves to pass more healthcare costs onto their employees are creating widespread angst, as one out of three Americans now views those costs as their single greatest financial burden.

That finding comes from a recent survey by the personal finance site GoBanking Rates and reflects concern across the work-age population. “Every age group, with the exception of people under the age of 24 and people over the age of 65, chose healthcare costs as more significant than any other factor,” says Kristen Bonner, research lead for the financial web site.

Rising out-of-pocket costs and soaring health insurance premiums are the biggest factors behind the growing discomfort, contends John Park, chief strategy officer for Alegeus, a healthcare benefits administrator and provider of directed healthcare solutions.

“Historically a lot of employers subsidized a lot of those costs,” Park says. “What we are seeing now is more and more of that burden is being shifted to the employee.”

Park blames the move to consumer-driven health plans for creating much of the distress. Those plans can take many different forms, such as an HRA or an HSA account, but they were all designed to increase deductibles and to promote financial responsibility at an individual level.

“The creation of CDHPs was intended to couple high deductibles with a consumer account,” Park explains. “But that liability, that exposure is new to the consumer,” he continues. “I think what happened was that the burden was thrust upon the employees without giving them the proper tools and the education to help them make better decisions about the costs associated with their healthcare.”

John Park, chief strategy officer, Alegeus
John Park, chief strategy officer, Alegeus

Park says Alegeus has recognized the concerns and has created set of tools and strategies to educate employees and help them understand how to properly navigate through the many healthcare options and decisions that confront them.

“We are sitting on a lot data that allows us to help employers make better decisions about benefit designs, based on understanding how employees are actually spending their healthcare dollars,” he says.

He maintains that these insights can be used to design consumer-driven solutions that will reduce costs for both employers and their employees, helping both parties get the best value for their healthcare dollar.

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