Employers Shift Health Care Cost Increases to Employees

Kaiser Family Foundation released their 2013 Employer Health Benefits Survey last week. One of their primary findings, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, is that small business owners are providing healthcare benefits to their employees at close to the same rate as they were last year, belying the contention by ACA opponents that benefits would decrease.

However, they are doing so in what Kaiser Family Foundation CEO Drew Altman calls it “a quiet revolution in health insurance from more comprehensive to less comprehensive with higher deductibles.” Higher out-of-pocket costs for employees are seen to offset the rising costs on the employers’ end of providing the healthcare.

Though premiums for family plans only increased by four percent since last year, they have still increased at a higher rate than employees’ take-home pay. Higher premiums, higher deductibles, and comparably lower paychecks are likely to cause concern among families facing a difficult time paying for medical care.

While it isn’t yet clear if these higher-deductible plans will meet the ACA’s requirements for affordable care, in the short run the added financial strain may very well extend beyond the policyholders to their healthcare providers. Hospitals and other medical facilities may delay or withhold payment of invoices as they wait for their patients to pay, creating a gap in cash flow that will be difficult for many small businesses to overcome.

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