Employers expect their health costs to rise by more than 5% in 2022 as concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic linger, according to a new survey from Willis Towers Watson.

Including premiums, total costs per employee are expected to increase from $12,501 in 2020 to $13,360. Employer premium contributions are also set to go up, rising from $3,269 to $3,331.

“Rising costs and increased utilization fueled by a resurgence in deferred care are driving employers to find new ways to control costs while providing employees with affordable, high-quality care,” said Julie Stone, managing director of health and benefits at Willis Towers Watson, in a statement.

The survey also outlines a number of solutions employers are trying to address rising costs. For example, 22% of employers currently structure benefit contributions based on pay or job grade, and 8% said they are considering those structures in the next two years.

A quarter of employers said they include surcharges for covering a working spouse, according to the survey. Another 9% said they are planning to roll out similar programs or are considering them in the next two years.

Other popular strategies center around provider networks and centers of excellence, the survey found. Currently, 21% said they offer narrow networks focused on high-quality providers, but 30% said they are planning to adopt this strategy or are considering it in the coming years.

In addition, nearly half (48%) said they currently offer centers of excellence within their health plans, and 23% are considering or planning to add them to their network offerings, the survey found.

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