Morning Briefing: Cost growth of employer health plans at record low

Morning Briefing: Cost growth of employer health plans at record low

Morning Briefing: Cost growth of employer health plans at record low Cost growth of employer health plans at record low
The growth in costs for employers of workers’ health benefits is expected to be 4 per cent for 2016/17 after changes such as switching carriers and raising deductibles.

A survey from Mercer reveals that the underlying cost, if no changes were made, would be a new record low of 5.5 per cent, which would mean cost-shifting of 1.5 per cent, lower than the 3 per cent average in recent years.

One reason employers may be doing less cost-cutting next year is the delay in the effective date of the ACA’s excise tax on high-cost plans from 2018 to 2020, which was announced last December. 

“Employers have been raising deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums for the past few years and many are reluctant to go any further. The delay lets them take a breather and focus on longer-term strategies with the potential to improve the health care system, like taking advantage of provider payment reforms and quality initiatives,” commented racy Watts, senior partner and Mercer’s leader for health reform.

The study asked employers what they would like changed about in the ACA with 80 per cent of large employers (500 workers or more) wanting it scrapped and 61 per cent favoring the elimination of the employer mandate.

Employers are less likely to end their own plans and send employees to the public exchanges with just 2 per cent of large employers and 9 per cent of small employers saying that is likely, down from 6 per cent and 20 per cent in 2010.

“The public exchange helps fill a critical gap in the U.S. health care system, but it hasn’t proven to be an attractive alternative to employer-sponsored coverage,” said Beth Umland, Mercer’s director of research for health and benefits. “Employers are in the health benefits game for the long haul and need to work together to make that a sustainable proposition. 
Manulife appoints new Quebec CEO
Manulife Financial has appointed Richard Payette as president and CEO for its Quebec business.

Payette also becomes a member of Manulife’s Canadian Division Executive Management Team, and the Global Leadership Team, and reports to Marianne Harrison, President and CEO, Manulife Canada.
Chubb eyes expansion in Southern China market
The burgeoning insurance market in Southern China is the focus for a new office opened this week by Chubb.

The global insurance group has based its regional office in the heart of Guangzhou and is licensed to provide commercial P&C and personal product lines to the Guangdong province.

"China is a strategic market for Chubb. Having a presence in Southern China is critical since the region is not only the trading and manufacturing center of the country, but also one of the fastest-growing insurance markets in China," said Zhang Bei, Chairman, Chubb Insurance Company Limited in China.
Insurance glitch grounds Nigeria’s largest airline
An administrative glitch with an insurance policy grounded all flights by Nigeria’s largest airline Arik Air Tuesday.

The airline said that operations were suspended “pending approval of aircraft documentation related to insurance renewal” and that the delay had been exacerbated by a public holiday Monday.

The airline resumed flights Wednesday including international journeys to New York’s JFK.