* Health insurance premiums double since 2011
* Employees shoulder 22 percent of premiums
WASHINGTON, Sept 27 U.S. employers can expect
to pay nearly 9 percent more for health care costs for their
workers in 2011, the highest level in five years, according to
a forecast released on Monday.
And employees will have to pay more than 12 percent more
out of their pockets, according to the report from consulting
group Hewitt Associates HEW.N.
The Hewitt report blames higher medical claim costs, an
aging population and U.S. healthcare reform.
Dubbed "Obamacare" by opponents, this legislative victory
for President Barack Obama has become a lightning rod for
Republicans opponents ahead of the November congressional
elections. Republicans are expected to gain seats in Congress,
but not enough to win the majorities they would need to fulfill
their pledge to repeal healthcare reforms.
The report projects average health care cost per employee
will rise to $9,821 in 2011, up from $9,028 in 2010. Employees
will pay $2,209, or 22.5 percent of the total premium, up 12.4
percent from 2010.
"After 18 months of waiting for healthcare reform to play
out, employers find themselves in a very challenging cost
position for 2011," Ken Sperling, Hewitt's health care practice
leader, said in a statement.
Sperling said positive effects from healthcare reform,
including savings, would take a few years to show up. Many of
its provisions do not take full effect for several years.
"In the meantime, employers continue to struggle to balance
the significant health care needs of an aging workforce with
the economic realities of a difficult business environment,"
For instance, the new law lets parents keep their children
on their health plans until their 26th birthday, something the
White House says can add up 2.4 million young adults to plans.
Another measure bars insurance companies from denying
coverage to children with pre-existing conditions.
Hewitt's report projects an 8.8 percent average increase in
health insurance premiums for employers, compared to a 6.9
percent rise in 2010.
Health care premiums will have more than doubled since
2001, from $4,083 to $9,821 in 2011, Hewitt said.
For its forecasts. Hewitt uses a database of census, cost
and plan design information for 350 large U.S. employers
covering nearly $52 billion in health insurance costs for 14.4