Health Care Ruling Affecting Health Benefits Strategies

August 27, 2012 ( – Following the U.S. Supreme Court decision about health care reform, two-thirds of companies say it has affected their overall health benefits strategy.

According to a Towers Watson survey of 440 midsized to large companies, one-third of them are waiting for the upcoming elections or the opening of insurance exchanges before making any significant changes to their health care strategy. Most employers (88%) have affirmed their commitment to offer health care benefits to their active employees for the foreseeable future.  

The 2012 Towers Watson Health Care Changes Ahead Survey found the actions and programs that companies are planning or considering include changing plan options (63%); significantly reducing subsidization of coverage for spouses and dependents (38%); and using spousal waivers or surcharges (29%). Additionally, some employers will pass along a greater percentage of costs to employees. Thirteen percent plan to increase their employees’ share of health care premiums in 2013 by five percentage points or more, while 42% plan to increase employees’ share by one to five percentage points.    

Towers Watson notes a projected 2013 per employee health care cost of $11,507, an increase of 5.3% from 2012. The $11,507 total cost represents an employer cost of $8,911 per employee and an employee cost of $2,596 per employee. While the overall increase in employee cost sharing is modest, it is meaningful to employees, as it outpaces average merit increases.