Report: Milwaukee health plan costs increase but remain below national average

Milwaukee-based HCTrends, a “market-oriented forum for health care solutions,” has released its annual Greater Milwaukee Employer Health Care Benefits Survey.

The survey says health plan costs in Milwaukee increased at double the national average in 2013. Even with the 2013 plan increases, the report says, Milwaukee’s health plan costs continue to be in line with the national average.

When including both the premium paid by employees and employers, the average per-employee-per-year plan costs for Milwaukee employers was $9,550 in 2013, 5 percent less than the $10,100 national average reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET) survey.

While the cost for single coverage in Milwaukee is six percent higher than the national average, the cost for family coverage is 12 percent lower.

“We do have higher individual costs (in Milwaukee), but family premiums are significantly lower than the national average,” said Dave Jenson, editorial director at HCTrends. “Part of that is because there are higher out of pocket costs for employers — that’s why it’s keeping that down. We have higher deductibles and higher out of pocket maximums for both single and family than the national average. That’s one of the tools employers have used over the years, from 2004 on, to help constrain health care costs.”

More than half of small employers reported double-digit cost increases, while most large employers held their increases to less than seven percent.

29 percent of employers with fewer than 20 employees and 13 percent of employers with between 20 and 99 employees say they are “likely” or “very likely” to terminate their health plans and have employees purchase policies through the federally-facilitated health care exchange.

HCTrends conducted the survey in August with more than 200 employers, representing an estimated 156,000 employees. The survey was produced in cooperation with the Benefit Services Group, the Business Group on Health, the Wellness Council of Wisconsin and the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.

More information on this report can be found at

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