Tackling Rising Healthcare Costs

We are nearing the time of year where employees are informed of their upcoming health insurance costs. This year's increase is typical of the last three-around 10%. What is different is that employers now have a new scapegoat: health care reform.

Etti Baranoff, associate professor of insurance and finance at Virginia Commonwealth University, said: "It is a period of uncertainty with so much additional unknown about the reform. During such a period the risk of the new regulation tilts the balance into more cautionary behaviour."

Others reason that it's too early and thus unfair to measure the impact of the ACA, since its outcome will eventually depend on the characteristics of the workforce. The poor quality of coverage before the ACA should also be taken into account.

All things aside, employees will end up paying more for next year's coverage.

Employers are now looking into greater cost sharing with employees. Some schemes include having employees pay more for prescription drugs. On the other hand, employees can also expect more wellness programs and financial incentives to monitor health.

Consumer advocates recommend employees thoroughly read through their insurance plans; perhaps their existing plans will end up costing a great deal more next year. They can also look into mixing and matching plans, taking into account family members and joint plans.

Experts also recommend assessing medical habits before choosing a plan. For example, infrequent GP visits may mean higher co-pay and lower premium is best.