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Nation’s Small Businesses Could See 10% Hike in Health Insurance Costs in 2009

April 23, 2009

The National Small Business Association, SBAM’s national affiliate, reports that Mercer, a leading human resource consulting firm in New York, has released preliminary data from their National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans 2008. The data indicates that 59 percent of employers will shift their rising health costs to their employees in 2009 by raising deductibles, co-payments, coinsurances or employee out-of-pocket spending limits.

Survey findings show health care costs for workers and employers to increase 5.7 percent in 2009– the lowest increase in more than 10 years. Despite the lower rate of increase in comparison to previous years, health care costs are still growing faster than the rate of inflation and workers’ wages.

The preliminary data was collected from 1.317 early respondents, nearly half of the 3,000 employers that will participate in the survey by the end of the year. Based on the early findings, the total costs for employers to renew their current health plan – if they were to make no changes – would grow by nearly 8 percent on average in 2009. Above all, small employers – those with 10-499 employees – costs would increase at 10 percent on average in 2009.

The survey also found that 19 percent of employers will lower their 2009 costs by adding a consumer-directed health plan – a high-deductible plan with an employee-controlled spending account (health savings account (HAS) or health reimbursement arrangement). The remaining 47 percent of companies are encouraging enrollment in health plans with lower premiums and higher deductibles.

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