The Cost of Employer Sponsored Healthcare

June 24, 2024

Josh Simerman
An older woman meeting her doctor

Navigating the Costs of Healthcare Together

Healthcare. It's something we all need, but it sure can be pricey. Especially for businesses that help pay for their employees' health insurance.

This isn't just about a monthly bill. It's about understanding how much companies and workers share the cost of staying healthy.

Let's dive into the world of employer-sponsored healthcare and see what it really costs.

Understanding the Basics

First off, what is employer-sponsored healthcare? It's when a company offers health insurance plans to its employees as part of their job benefits. Here's what you need to know:

  • Employer cost of healthcare: This is how much money businesses spend to provide health insurance to their employees.
  • Employee health insurance cost: The part of the insurance cost that employees have to pay.
  • Average employer health insurance cost: On average, how much companies across the country spend on health insurance for their employees.

The Financial Burden on Employers

Companies big and small put a lot of their budget into health insurance. Here are some key points:

  • Premium cost: This is the total monthly price for a health insurance plan. Employers usually pay a big chunk of this.
  • Premiums for family coverage: When employees have families, the cost goes up. Employers often help with these costs, too.
  • Fully insured plan vs. self-insured plan: Companies can either buy insurance from an insurance company (fully insured) or pay for medical costs directly (self-insured). Each choice affects costs differently.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, companies spend an average of $17,000 per employee each year on health insurance.

Two doctors looking at a laptop

Employer and Employee Cost Sharing

It's all about teamwork. Employers and employees typically split the bill for health insurance. Here's how it works:

  • Employer contribution: Most of the time, companies pay more than half of the premium cost.
  • Employees pay: Workers cover the rest, including premiums and a portion of the cost of their own care (like when they visit the doctor).

This sharing varies a lot. Big companies might cover more, while small businesses might struggle to pay as much.

Types of Plans and Their Costs

Not all health insurance plans are the same. Here's a quick look at the differences:

  • Group health plans: These are common in workplaces. They can be more affordable because many people join.
  • High deductible health plan (HDHP): These plans have lower monthly premiums, but you pay more out of your pocket before the insurance kicks in.

The type of plan changes how much everyone pays and what kind of medical care you can get. Some plans might be great for people who don't see the doctor often. Others are better for those with regular medical needs.

The Impact of Rising Healthcare Costs

Guess what? Employer healthcare costs are like a balloon that keeps getting bigger. This isn't just a problem for us when we pay our part. It's a huge deal for companies too. Here's why:

  • Medical expenses: These are all the costs for things like doctor visits, surgeries, and medicines. They're going up, and that pushes the cost of health insurance up too.
  • Managing overall costs: Companies must get creative to handle rising costs without making their employees pay too much more.

Employer Strategies for Managing Healthcare Costs

So, what's a company to do? Here are some clever ways businesses are trying to keep healthcare costs in check:

  • Choosing high deductible health plans: These plans have lower monthly costs. The catch? You pay more upfront when you actually need medical care.
  • Wellness programs: Some companies offer programs to help employees stay healthy (think: free gym memberships or quit-smoking programs). Healthier employees = less spending on medical care.
  • Alternative funding strategies: Big words for different ways to pay for health insurance, like setting aside a pot of money to cover medical costs directly.

Small businesses and large employers are getting smart about offering good health insurance without breaking the bank.

Employee's Burden: Premiums and Out-of-Pocket Costs

Okay, we've talked a lot about what companies are doing. But what about us, the employees? Here's the scoop:

  • Employee premiums: This is the part of the insurance cost that comes out of your paycheck. It's going up, but not as fast as the total cost of healthcare. Small victory?
  • Out-of-pocket costs: Even after insurance kicks in, there's money we have to pay when we get medical care. Things like co-pays and coinsurance.

It's a tough balance. Paying more for insurance means less money in our pockets for other things. But it also means better access to doctors and hospitals when we need them.

The Future of Employer-Sponsored Healthcare

What's ahead for employer-sponsored healthcare? Here are some guesses:

  • Changes in legislation and healthcare policies: New laws and rules can shake things up, making health insurance more affordable or possibly more costly.
  • Employers might have to keep getting creative: As costs go up, businesses will keep looking for new ways to balance the books while keeping us covered.

It's hard to say exactly what will happen, but one thing's for sure: Everyone wants to find a way to make healthcare work better for all of us.

Conclusion: A Shared Journey

Employer-sponsored healthcare is a big, complicated puzzle. Companies are working hard to keep costs down, but they also want to make sure their employees are healthy and happy. It's a tough challenge, but it's one we're all facing together.

As we look to the future, it's clear that we'll need to keep talking, keep sharing ideas, and keep looking for solutions that make sense for everyone. Whether you're running a small business, managing a team at a large company, or just trying to figure out your health insurance plan, remember: We're all in this together.

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About the Author

 Josh Simerman

Head of Carrier Relations and Placement, Employee Benefits

  • Josh has more than 20 years of experience in employee benefits consulting and organization management, with a focus on optimizing client benefit programs in niche markets and building placement and analytics tools and processes.
  • He focuses on strengthening World’s current insurance carrier and vendor relationships while developing and growing new partnerships and innovative solutions.