ARLINGTON, VA, October 11, 2022 — Pressured by rising costs, U.S. employers are looking at alternative ways to provide healthcare benefits to their retirees over the next three years. And some employers plan to replace their traditional group retiree medical benefits for pre-Medicare retirees with individual insurance through private marketplaces. These are among the findings in a new survey by leading global advisory, broking and solutions company WTW (NASDAQ: WTW).
The WTW Retiree Medical Survey found half of employers (50%) are concerned about increases in their costs to provide medical benefits for retirees. These costs for retirees who aren’t eligible for Medicare are projected to increase 4.8% next year, up from 3.6% this year. Costs for Medicare-eligible retirees are projected to rise 2.7% next year, up from 2.1% this year.
“With meaningful cost increases coming, employers aren’t sitting still. For now, they remain committed to offering retiree healthcare benefits and a positive retiree experience. But they’re looking for ways to provide them more cost effectively,” said Lindsay Hunter, senior director, Health & Benefits, WTW. “Employers are rightfully concerned about this growing burden and are studying all options, including private marketplaces.”
According to the survey, one in eight respondents (13%) expect to make changes to their retiree medical benefits over the next three years. Nearly half (49%) expect to introduce change because the benefits are too expensive for the company to maintain. Over a third (36%) are looking to address unacceptable financial risks, while 33% cited the need to reduce the plan’s administrative burden.
The survey also revealed that over one in five employers (22%) have either stopped offering a traditional group medical plan to early retirees or are considering a replacement. Among those employers that terminated a group plan, 75% are replacing it with access to and financial support for individual insurance through a private marketplace. Similarly, those considering a replacement are looking toward a private marketplace.
“The recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act is making private insurance marketplaces for individual coverage an even more attractive option for retiree benefits. In particular, the extension of premium tax credits and the improvements to Part D plans position private marketplaces to better offset rising healthcare costs for both organizations and their retirees,” said Trevis Parson, chief actuary, Via Benefits, WTW.
A total of 122 U.S. employers participated in the 2022 Retiree Medical Survey, which was conducted in July and August 2022. Respondents employ 1.9 million workers.
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