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Employer health insurance costs expected to exceed $11,000 in 2011 Posted: March 14th, 2011

By Maryalene LaPonsie

In 2011, businesses expect to spend $11,176 on health care benefits for each active employee. The 7.6 percent increase in medical coverage costs is one of the key findings from an annual employer survey on purchasing value in health care conducted by global professional services company Towers Watson and the non-profit National Business Group on Health.

The survey tracks the strategies and practices of 588 employers for the years 2010 - 2012. Companies participating in the survey collectively employ 9.2 million full-time employees and have 7.8 million enrolled in health care programs.

According to the survey, four cost-cutting options being considered by employers for 2011:

  1. 68 percent expect to increase contributions for dependents
  2. 35 percent use or plan to use spousal waivers or surcharges
  3. 33 percent will reward or penalize employees based upon factors such as weight and cholesterol
  4. 26 percent plan to eliminate sponsorship of retiree health insurance

In addition, account-based health plans (ABHP) are becoming increasingly popular among employers. These plans generally combine high-deductible health insurance with a health savings account. In 2002, only 2 percent of employers offered their workers an ABHP option. In 2011, 53 percent will provide these plans, which can save up to $2,118 off the cost of family medical coverage.