When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, medical costs suddenly went flat. People began putting off elective surgeries as a safety precaution, and medical providers, needing to increase hospital capacity, stopped performing these procedures as well.

According to a study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and National Public Radio, 1 in 5 Americans delayed health care during the pandemic. As a result, big PPO carriers found themselves with a considerable amount of money left over, allowing them to keep 2021 renewal rates lower than years past. But that relief likely won’t be permanent.

Total health care costs are projected to climb to an average of roughly $15,500 per employee in 2021. That equates to $10,850 for employers, who pay roughly 70% of the costs, and $4,650 for employees.

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