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Small Business Employee Benefits and HR Blog

The Rising Cost of Healthcare: Not Just the Individual Health Insurance Market

November 21, 2016
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There has been a lot of discussion recently about the rising cost of individual healthThe Rising Cost of Healthcare: Not Just the Individual Health Insurance Market insurance plans on the Obamacare exchanges. Some Marketplace shoppers are facing double-digit increases in addition to having fewer options to choose from with the exodus of Aetna, Humana, and UnitedHealth; however, the individual health insurance market is not alone. Prices are up across the country for group health plans as well—and this trend seems to be sticking around.

Health Insurance Costs Are Up Across the Board

Over the summer, Fortune reported that employer-sponsored healthcare costs were expected to rise 6.5 percent in 2017. The data is still trickling in and quotes are not yet finalized, so time will tell what the real prices are, but one thing’s for sure—2017 prices will be higher than 2016.

According to Fortune, there are two major factors in the price of healthcare: “how much is being consumed and the price for services and drugs”—neither of which are trending downward.

In August 2016, medical costs alone increased by 1 percent, which is the largest increase since 1984. In addition, people who were previously shut out of the market are finally able to seek medical treatment for pre-existing conditions, causing the amount of care being consumed to increase sharply.

How to Gain Control of Your Individual Health Insurance Cost

With the rise in prices, many employers are cutting back on their share of the cost. Some have switched to high-deductible health plans (HDHPs), while others have simply chosen to pay a smaller percentage of the overall premium. Regardless of which option is chosen, a larger financial burden is shifted onto employees.

For those who are enrolled in group health insurance, ask your HR director if health savings accounts (HSAs) are possible. HSAs can be an effective way to plan for expenses and save for retirement.

If your employer offers defined-contribution plans instead of group coverage, you have more control over your individual health insurance costs. By shopping around during open enrollment, you may be able to find a more affordable health plan that fits your family’s needs.

Conclusion

The rising cost of healthcare is frustrating for many, but remember that everyone is feeling the pain—not just the individual health insurance market. You can gain control of your costs by comparing prices and plans during open enrollment and by planning ahead with HSAs.

How are you controlling your individual health insurance costs? Let us know in the comments below.

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