The New York Times explores how employers are wrestling with approaches to health costs, as well as the health law's new requirements.
The New York Times: Employers Test Plan To Cap Medical Spending
Hoping to cut medical costs, employers are experimenting with a new way to pay for health care, telling workers that their company health plan will pay only a fixed amount for a given test or procedure, like a CT scan or knee replacement. Employees who choose a doctor or hospital that charges more are responsible for paying the additional amount themselves. Although it is in the early stages, the strategy is gaining in popularity and there is some evidence that it has persuaded high-priced hospitals to lower their prices (Abelson, 6/23).
Related, earlier KHN story: Companies Steering Workers To Lower Priced Medical Care (Appleby, 9/22/11)
The New York Times: Why A Health Insurance Penalty May Look Tempting
Once new health insurance exchanges are up and running in October, companies with 50 or more full-time employees will face a choice: Provide affordable care to all full-time employees, or pay a penalty. But that penalty is only $2,000 a person, excluding the first 30 employees. With an employer’s contribution to family health coverage now averaging $11,429 a year, taking that penalty would seem to yield big savings. Yet there may be costs in employee satisfaction, especially if companies don’t raise pay enough to keep workers whole when they buy insurance on the exchanges (Bernasek, 6/22).