Report: Companies increase worker cost sharing

As companies adjust to the post-healthcare reform market, many have been raising the costs employees have to cover for their health insurance, according to a new study from Aflac.

The study, conducted in January 2014, surveyed 5,209 employees and 1,856 employers at small, medium and large U.S. companies. More than half of the participating employers (56 percent) increased workers' cost-sharing requirements last year, including raising copays and/or premiums. And 59 percent plan to make similar cost-sharing changes by the end of 2014.

The study also found 19 percent of employers have shifted away from traditional health coverage by instead offering health savings accounts along with high-deductible plans.

Meanwhile, some companies are starting to provide additional coverage options available under the Affordable Care Act. Seven percent of businesses offered employees insurance through health insurance exchanges for small businesses or moved insurance coverage to a private exchange. And 6 percent gave employees a stipend to purchase their own plan through public exchanges instead of directly offering insurance. Many of those employees buying exchange plans chose a policy providing a different level of coverage than what they had, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

"The research shows how the need to control costs is driving workforce decisions. For four consecutive years we have witnessed this growing trend and can foresee the possible ramifications for the U.S. workforce," Teresa White, Aflac's executive vice president and chief operating officer, said yesterday in a statement.

In fact, 49 percent of the surveyed companies said controlling costs is the primary issue facing businesses. That's an increase from the 28 percent that cited costs as the leading business concern in 2011.

To learn more:
- here's the Aflac statement and study (.pdf)