The past year was chock-full of health insurance drama – suspense, speculation, Supreme Court hearings. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is no longer an uncertainty, however. With this knowledge, we can make the following health insurance predictions for 2013.
- The rise of defined contribution plans among employers. A defined contribution plan involves employers giving their workers a fixed sum of money and letting them purchase their own health insurance from an online marketplace. The defined contribution trend has been picking up major steam recently as a way for businesses to contain rising health care costs.
- Increase of private exchanges on the market. This prediction goes hand-in-hand with the first one. As employers want to offer more affordable solutions, the utilization of private health insurance exchanges will grow.
- New approaches to consumer marketing among health insurers. Let the branding wars begin! An estimated 9 million Americans will be eligible (and obligated by law) to purchase their own health insurance. That’s around twice the number of people who are currently doing so. Health insurers will focus their efforts on becoming more “consumer friendly” than ever.
- More focus on prevention and wellness programs. Another way employers can save money on health insurance in the long run is to offer these types of programs. Wellness and prevention programs run the gamut from subsidized gym memberships to in-office exams and physicals.
- Growth in number of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). As costs of health insurance continue to increase, many consumers are opening HSAs in conjunction with high deductible plans. HSAs are bank accounts that allow you to save tax-free money to pay for health-related expenses.
- Creation and implementation of LGBT health insurance benefits. Some employers currently offer benefits to same-sex couples, but it still remains an issue in the LGBT community. As the market becomes more competitive and health insurers strive to appeal to more consumers, we will see more plans that cater to this community.
- Health insurance cost increase. Sorry to end on a sour note and please, don’t blame the messenger. This prediction comes directly from Aon Hewitt’s most recent analysis. While 2012 premium rates were at their lowest in six years, they are expected to jump 6.3 percent in 2013.