Time Is Running Out to Save on 2019 Health Care Costs

by November 20, 2018
new health and wealth data

Being informed counts, especially when it comes to saving money on health care costs. Here’s what your readers should know to save in 2019. (Photo via Flickr user Images Money. CC BY 2.0)

Being informed counts, especially when it comes to saving money on health care costs, which continue to rise relentlessly above the cost of inflation every year.

In 2018, health care costs increased at more than twice the rate of inflation, according to an analysis by FRED, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Yet “nearly half of U.S. workers spend 30 minutes or less reviewing benefits,” according to Unum, an employee benefits provider in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Open enrollment doesn’t end until Dec. 15, so there’s still time for you to help inform your readers about they can save money on health care costs and choose the coverage that best suits their needs. Local business reporters can look into one or more of the following angles, by posing these questions to their readers:

Are Local Employees Saving on the Best Employer Health Care Coverage?

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s 2018 employee health benefits survey, the vast majority of employees—93 percent—sign up for the same benefits year after year. That’s not good financial planning, as workers continue to pay more for their share of health insurance. In 2018, average costs increased 5 percent to $5,547, not including a deductible of $1,573.

Are employees in your area typical? Use your news organization’s social media channel to find out and host an online discussion. Include human resources staff at local small (less than 500) and large (more than 500) companies on the challenges they face every year in putting this issue before their employees.

Are Local Workers Maximizing Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)?

For 2018, contribution limits on one of these plans, which offers three tax advantages, are $3,450 for singles and $6,750 for a family with dependents, with an additional $1,000 allowed for those over 55. Yet HSA participants set aside only from $500-$1,500 on average in 2017, according to the benefits consultant Zenefits.com.

Invite both readers and local companies human resources experts to participate in a discussion. Be sure to include employees of both small and large companies, and also individuals and small business owners.

Are Local Millennial Employees Taking Advantage of All Employer Benefits?

Does an employer offer discounts, on auto, homeowners, or LTC (long-term care) insurance? Some employees, particularly Millennials new to the job market, may not be taking advantage of a potential discount such as disability insurance, which pays out three percent of a salary. More than one in every four of today’s 20-year-olds can expect to be out of work for at least a year before they retire, says Unum.