* 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 employers will likely ask their workers to 12 percent
more of these costs out of their pockets, according to the
report from consulting group Hewitt Associates HEW.N.
The Hewitt report blames higher mostly on medical claim
costs and an aging population but also on U.S. healthcare
reform, which has become one of the most politically charged
issues in the coming November congressional elections as
disappointed voters learn they must wait for promised savings
to come into effect.
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.
The Hewitt report said changes such as allowing adult
children to stay on their parents' plans until age 26 and
barring insurance companies from denying coverage to children
with pre-existing conditions contributed about 1 percent to 2
percent of the total increase, or $8 to $16.
"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,"
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
(Editing by Jackie Frank)