Business Briefs – September 14, 2016

Employers Turn to Workers to Help Slow Health Cost Growth

WASHINGTON (AP) – A growing number of U.S. workers are covered by health insurance that sticks them with a bigger share of the medical bill but also softens that blow by providing a special account to help with the expense.

Companies are turning more to these so-called consumer-directed health plans, which push patients to shop around for the best prices for care, because they can cost less than other types of coverage and help hold down future increases.

Nearly 3 out of 10 employees have this kind of coverage, up from 2 out of 10 in 2014, according to an annual study of private insurance trends from the Kaiser Family Foundation released Wednesday.

Small Businesses Wait For Verdict On 2017 Health Care Costs

NEW YORK (AP) – Autumn is an anxious time for many small and medium-sized business owners as they wait to learn whether their health insurance costs will go up for 2017 — and if so, by how much?

Whether a business sees a minuscule rise, a double-digit percentage increase or even a decline depends on factors including the state where the company is located and how much its insurance carrier paid in claims over the past year. If the average age of a company’s employees rose or fell significantly — quite possible in a business with 10 or fewer employees — that could also affect the outcome.

Most of the increase in insurers’ costs is a result of rising prescription drug prices, says Darren Ambler, a managing director at Insight Performance, a Dedham, Massachusetts-based human resources provider.