5% increase in employer healthcare costs in 2022

Organizations expect their healthcare costs to increase 5.2% in 2022, according to Willis Towers Watson.

Employers expect their healthcare costs to increase by 5.2% in 2022, a large increase from the small increase last year and leading them to more aggressively consider strategies for managing risk. health costs, according to a new study from Willis Towers Watson.

Including bonuses, the employer’s total average cost for medical and drug benefits per employee is expected to increase to about $ 13,360, from $ 12,501 in 2020, according to the consulting firm’s survey. Employee contributions for bonuses will increase slightly to $ 3,331 from $ 3,269 in 2020.

The increase is slightly smaller than the 5.5% increase employers predicted for 2021, but well above the actual 2.1% increase in 2020. Last year’s increase was the smallest for decades and is considered an anomaly because many employees postponed elective care and quickly embraced telemedicine during the pandemic.

Rising costs, coupled with increased healthcare use fueled by a resurgence of deferred care, “is prompting employers to find new ways to control costs while providing employees with affordable, high-quality care,” explains Julie Stone, General Manager, Health and Benefits, Willis Towers Watson.

U.S. employers are prioritizing health care affordability and employee well-being over the next two years as health benefit costs rise, Willis Towers Watson says. Ninety percent of the 378 U.S. employers surveyed, together employing approximately 5.9 million workers, say achieving affordable and sustainable costs for the organization is a key priority, while 86 percent say affordable costs for employees, especially low-paid employees, are a priority, according to the survey.

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So how exactly do employers try to control costs? A quarter of employers say they include supplements to cover a working spouse, while 9% plan to roll out similar programs or consider implementing them within the next two years. And 22% are currently structuring employee contributions based on pay levels or ranks, and 8% are planning or considering doing so within the next two years.

The survey found that other popular strategies include the use of:

  • centers of excellence (48% use centers of excellence in their health plans, and 23% are planning or considering adding them),
  • narrow networks (21% currently offer a narrow network of better and / or lower cost providers, while 30% are considering or considering the approach) and
  • concierge services (31% offer access to concierge services with integrated care management programs, and 25% are considering or considering doing so).

Behavioral telehealth is also popular (89% provide coverage for these services, while 7% are planning or considering it) and on-site health promotion activities (55% offer on-site health promotion activities / in the workplace, of which 17% plan or consider it). ).

At the same time as they try to contain the rising costs of health care, the vast majority of employers (85%) are also focusing on improving the well-being of employees – a key priority that comes from the fact that health the physical and mental health of employees has been hit hard by the pandemic. Almost half of employers (45%) say they take advantage of wellness service providers to help improve the employee experience in terms of physical, financial, emotional and social well-being; 37% plan or plan to do so in the next two years. Additionally, 52% improve the registration experience, and 34% plan or consider doing so. And, 49% add more choice in all perks; 23% are considering doing so or are considering doing so.

“Those employers who take steps to keep their health care benefits affordable and easily accessible, enhance the well-being of their workers and create a better experience for employees will reap benefits in the future, namely a better workforce. healthier, more satisfied and more productive workforce, ”says Jeff Levin. -Scherz, MD, Population Health Leader, Willis Towers Watson.

Kathryn Mayer is EDHBenefits Editor and Chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered performances for nearly a decade, and her stories have won numerous awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and accolades from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds a BA and MA from the University of Denver. She can be reached at kmayer@lrp.com.