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Health care costs jumping 9% for Chicago workers, report estimates

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Updated: November 5, 2012 11:33AM

Chicago area workers can expect their average health care costs to jump 9.2 percent next year from 2012, according to an analysis by Lincolnshire-based Aon Hewitt released Wednesday.

Including employee contributions and out-of-pocket costs, health care costs are expected to rise to $5,595, up from $5,122 in 2012, the human resources and benefits consulting company said.

Average employee premium contributions are expected to rise to $2,713 from $2,508, and average out-of-pocket costs are expected to rise to $2,882 from $2,614. This year companies and workers in Chicago saw higher cost hikes than were experienced nationally, compared with 2011. The average health care cost per employee in Chicago rose 5.7 percent to a cost of $10,616 this year, including employer and employee contributions, but excluding employee co-pays. That compares to the national average of a 4.9 percent increase.

Per employee cost increases projected for 2013 match the national average of 6.3 percent.

To mitigate costs, Aon Hewitt noted more employers are adopting a “house money/house rules” approach to the health care benefits they provide. Among strategies employers are taking, Aon Hewitt said are:

*Wellness and health programs. A growing number of employers are offering incentives and beginning to link incentives to a result as opposed to employees simply participating in a program.

*Plan design strategies that encourage employees to consume less health care. These include health plans that replace co-pays with co-insurance, migrate employees to generic prescription drugs and mail order refills for maintenance drugs and surcharges for working spouses or additional dependents with coverage available elsewhere.

*Greater use of consumer driven plans. Such plans expose employees to the direct cost of care up to a limit. They result in more employee personal economic decisions about how to access care, how much care to use and what types of care to use.

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