Report: Employer cost-cutting measures could be hurting workers

Most employers have been shifting healthcare costs to employees by increasing their copays and premium costs, according to a new report from insurance provider Aflac. The report indicates the trend will continue.

The 2014 Aflac WorkForces Report found 56 percent of employers increased their employees’ copayments and premiums last year, and 59 percent say they plan to do the same this year.

“Over the past several years, a growing number of companies have adopted cost-cutting strategies that include higher deductibles and out-of-pocket costs for employees,” the report says. “However, most workers are unaware of, or unprepared for, the impact such plans may have on their finances.”

The study found only 17 percent of employees are really prepared to pay for major out-of-pocket healthcare costs. Half said they would be able to afford costs less than $1,000 and a quarter said they could only afford costs less than $500. 

The report also found 19 percent of companies in 2013 adopted medical plans with deductibles over $1,000. 

According to Aflac, the sums employees pay toward health insurance premiums in most plans have grown three times faster over the past three years than average salaries, a shift that could strain workers’ finances.

“Given the growing move toward making employees more responsible for their health care costs and the fact that many workers are already in a financially fragile situation, changes to insurance plans could prove too burdensome for the average U.S. worker,” the report says.

Aflac says that while employers are trying to find ways to curb healthcare costs, they should consider offering workers supplemental insurance policies, which provide them with more protection beyond major medical insurance. 

Aflac is the leading provided of supplemental insurance in the United States, according to its website.