Cutting costs

Big biz, small biz, they’re all feeling the pinch: The cost of offering health insurance to employees continues to ratchet upward. Health benefits costs rose particularly high in 2021, due to climbing medical costs and an increase in benefit use as employees resumed care on items deferred during the height of the pandemic.

While many companies are swallowing the costs themselves to stay competitive (and empathetic) amid a tight labor market, employees and their families still find themselves struggling to manage their own share of the expense. In fact, nearly half of insured adults report difficulty paying for out-of-pocket expenses, and 1 in 4 report challenges affording their deductible, according to an October 2021 Health Tracking Poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

So how can companies reign in — or better yet, dial down — health benefit costs for not only themselves but also their employees? One recent yet rapidly rising solution is switching from traditional group plans to Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangements (ICHRAs). New to the marketplace in 2020, ICHRAs are an employer-funded, tax-advantaged health benefit used to reimburse employees for qualified medical expenses, including premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.

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