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THE MUSINGS OF A TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN DEMOCRAT

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Location: Douglas, Coffee Co., The Other Georgia, United States

Sid in his law office where he sits when meeting with clients. Observant eyes will notice the statuette of one of Sid's favorite Democrats.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Health-Care Costs Are Shifting to Workers

From The Wall Street Journal:

The health-insurance landscape of American corporations is in flux right now, thanks to pressure to keep costs in line and the moving targets of the Affordable Care Act.

But a few trends are clear, according to a recent Towers Watson survey on employee benefits. The consulting company polled 595 U.S. employers with 1,000 or more employees, and the results confirm what many people already suspect: costs are shifting to workers, and employers are chipping away at the benefits they offer.

Among the key takeaways:

—Workers are paying more for employer-sponsored health insurance, in both premiums and out-of-pocket costs. Workers this year are paying about $100 more a month in medical costs than three years ago. In the past year alone, employees' share of premium costs rose to $2,975 from $2,782, on average, an increase of almost 7%. In all, workers are taking on 37% of total health-care expenses this year, up from 34.4% in 2011.

—Coverage for spouses won't last. Only 56% of companies say subsidized insurance for spouses is an important benefit in the future, compared with more than 70% that offer it today.

—The number of employers offering subsidized insurance to retired workers, especially those under age 65, is declining. More than 60% of companies that currently offer pre-65-year-old retirees access to an employer-sponsored plan say they expect to eliminate those programs in the next few years.

Employers may not even offer health insurance in a few years. Only 25% say they're confident they'll provide this benefit to workers by 2024.

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