Two major reports find employees’ share of total costs has continued to increase, while innovations like transparency tools and telehealth are spreading.


May 25—Relatively slow growth in healthcare costs but increasing burdens on employees were found in two major reports tracking ongoing changes in employer-sponsored health insurance.

The two reports are the recently released 2015 national survey of employer-sponsored health plans from Mercer, which has been conducting the survey since 1993, and the 2016 Milliman Medical Index (MMI), which was released this week and has examined employee costs in employer-sponsored preferred provider organization (PPO) plans since 2001.

Here are some of the major findings:

  1. Total health benefit costs in 2015 averaged $11,635 per employee of companies with 10 or more workers, which was a 3.8 percent increase from the previous year.
  2. Enrollment in high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) reached a record 25 percent of all covered employees in 2015, with the largest enrollments among larger employers.
  3. Offerings of telehealth services increased from 18 percent to 30 percent of all large employers in 2015.
  4. Twenty-four percent of employers with 20,000 or more workers offered a price or quality transparency tool.
  5. Only 7 percent of small employers say they are likely to drop their health plans within the next five years, down from 21 percent in 2013.
  6. Enrollment in PPOs fell from 69 percent of employees in 2009 to 59 percent in 2015.
  7. Healthcare costs for the typical American family of four reached an average of $25,826 in 2016.
  8. The 4.7 percent increase in the MMI in 2016 was the lowest annual increase since MMI measurement started in 2001 but still well above the growth rate in the consumer price index for medical services or the average 2 percent annual increase in median household income between 2004 and 2014.
  9. At $11,033, the average employee’s total cost increased by 5.3 percent from 2015, while the average employer’s cost increased by 4.2 percent.
  10. In 2016, the MMI typical family’s prescription drug costs will reach $4,270. Prescription drug expenses grew by 9.1 percent from 2015 to 2016.

Rich Daly is a senior writer/editor in HFMA’s Washington, D.C. office. Follow Rich on Twitter: @rdalyhealthcare

Publication Date: Wednesday, May 25, 2016