For Immediate Release
Washington, DC – The following statement should be attributed to Annette Guarisco Fildes, president and CEO, The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC):
“Today’s release of the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET) 2015 Employer Health Benefits Survey highlights the important role employer-sponsored health care plans play in the lives of employees. However, it is disturbing to see the cost of premiums, as well as cost-sharing and deductibles, on the rise.
ERIC members, large employers with workers and retirees in every state, design plans for their workforces in a way that will maximize benefits for their employees and families. Ever-increasing health care costs though are a continuing challenge to this effort.
Much of the blame lies with how federal agencies are implementing the Affordable Care Act, which raises plan costs substantially. Employers have had limited ability to deal with the cascade of regulations and compliance burdens. While employers are currently shouldering much of the increased cost, they cannot absorb the entire burden and are being forced to select from three undesirable options: change their plan’s design; increase premiums; or increase the cost-sharing burden of employees.
Employers face an additional challenge with the upcoming 40 percent excise tax on health care plans, beginning in 2018. Increasing premiums will raise the costs potentially subject to this tax. For many employers the only way to absorb the additional costs without adding to the excise tax burden will be to increase cost-sharing, radically change the plan design, or eliminate the plan completely.
The government’s decision to unilaterally decrease out of pocket cost-sharing in plans has also been hugely disruptive as most companies had already set pricing structures, including employee contributions, for 2016. Because the cost-sharing limits were changed so late in the year, companies are finding it difficult to implement the necessary changes, affecting their ability to provide high quality benefit plans and resulting in additional increased costs for their employees. ERIC believes that while some individuals may experience lower cost-sharing, all will face higher premiums.”