6 Upcoming Health Care Changes

Health reform will mean big changesespecially for those who receive health coverage through work, according to a new report from the human-resources consulting firm Towers Watson.

Because of the increasing medical costs and new expenses caused by health reform, companies are looking for ways to compensate. The first step? Making some not-so-desired changes to workers health plans in 2012.

If you are among the millions of Americans who gets health coverage from your employer, here are six big changes to look out for come next year:

1. You may lose your retiree health plans. This process has already begun, says Julie Stone, a senior consultant with Towers Watson. According to the report, more than 25% of companies already plan to drop retiree health for some employees (i.e., new hires) in 2012.

2. You could pay more per dependent. 68% of companies said they would increase employee contributions per dependent covered in order to fight rising costs.

3. Your spouse may pay for it. To crack down on the $5,000 it costs employers yearly to pay for spousal health coverage, they may implement ineligible spouse surcharges. Meaning, if an employees husband or wife has access to health coverage through their own job but chooses to be added to his/her spouses plan instead, they can expect to pay a surcharge.

4. Penalties for unhealthy lifestyles. While many companies invest in wellness programs for their employees, encouraging participation in voluntary disease management, weight loss plans or smoking cessation is not easy. In order to promote healthier lifestyles, some employers are considering making a health risk assessment a requirement in order to receive health coverage.5. Your doctor could make a difference. In order to help workers manage their health costs, some companies may offer more coverage to employees who choose a higher-quality provider over one with a lower performance score.6. What the future holds. Ina Towers Watson survey in 2007, almost three-quarters of employers were confident thats theyd still offer health insurance in a decade. In 2010, only 38% reported such optimism for ten years down the road.
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